QUAERITUR: changing the blessing at the end of Mass

From a seminarian:

A priest at the seminary has been blessing saying "May almighty God bless you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

Another priest mentioned this was wrong and even heretical for a priest to bless at this part of the Mass "in the name".

Do you know anything about this?

I don’t know about heresy, but I do I know this:

Priests should Say The Black and Do The Red. 

I believe the missal has a form to be used by the priest at the end of Holy Mass: Benedicat vos omnipotentis Deus, Pater et Filius et Spiritus Sanctus… May Almighty God bless you, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.   Buy WDTPRS stuff!

I would therefore wonder if the priest just didn’t pay adequate attention to the book and never really double-checked the proper form,… which is likely… or whether on his own initiative he decided that he knew better what the Church should do and changed it.   

Surely once he finds that he has been doing something wrong he will make a change.

Back to the question of heresy.   I am not sure in what the heresy would be found. 

There are other blessing forms, but I cannot call to mind one whereby the priest blesses "in the name" of the Trinity.  Priests call down invocative blessings but seemingly in their own name.  Either way, God is doing the blessing at the invocation of the priest.

Perhaps a reader or two might have something useful to contribute on this point.

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  1. Oneros says:

    I think the fear of heresy comes from this idea of asking God to bless in the name of the Trinity as if they were two separate things.

    It is humans who bless (or absolve, etc) “in the name of”…God simply blesses.

    “In the name of” implies that you are standing in for someone and acting on their authority (basically as their plenipotentiary). But God doesn’t stand in for Himself. He IS Himself.

    “May God bless you, in God’s name”…is silly and ungrammatical, to be sure, but I don’t know about heresy. It does show, however, a huge lack of understanding of what the phrase “in the name of” means which makes you wonder if the guy knows what exactly it is he’s saying even when he DOES use it correctly, or whether he’s just repeating by rote.

    I hate to say this, because I am all for something better than the patronizing ICEL translations…but maybe this demonstrates that people ARE stupider (or at least more thoughtless) when it comes to seemingly straightforward language than we’d like to think…and, at the very least, a LOT of catechetical (and just elementary-level English) training will be needed.

  2. ghlad says:

    It seems to me that there’s an implied break between the two phrases and a hastily omitted “I ask this”, so what the priest surely means is “May God bless you. I ask this in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.” Which wouldn’t be poor form, would it?

    Alternatively, doing something “in the name of” something means doing it with the aforementioned authority. God blesses of his own volition after our petitions, and does so in His own authority and for His own purpose?

    Maybe there’s not heresy or implied quaternary Godhead afterall?

  3. Dcn Larry says:

    The only place I know of where the priest says “In the name of …” is the blessing he gives the deacon who asks for his blessing before proclaiming the Gospel. “The Lord be in your heart and on your lips that you may worthily proclaim His Gospel. In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The deacon answers “Amen.” The priest does not say “Amen” at the end of the blessing.

  4. I think it’s more like: May God (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) bless you. It’s just that Latin lets you do weird stuff with word order without affecting the meaning, and English insists that if the names are at the beginning and the end, they must be doing something else at the end.

    But I’m not a Latinist, nor do I play one on the Internet, so I wouldn’t trust my reading very far.

  5. Rob Cartusciello says:

    It’s not that subtle a distinction between the two phrases, but I wouldn’t call it heresy.

    Crying heresy too often can be akin to crying wolf.

    Not that there isn’t enough real heresy out there…

  6. newyork says:

    In my experience, more common changes from the text are for the priest to say “May Almighty God bless us . . .” or “May Almighty God bless us all . . .”

    This seems to me to diminish the status of the priest as having the power to invoke God’s blessing, as well as changing from the selfless prayer for a blessing of others.

  7. I cut out a few comments not because they were bad, but because I wanted to keep this focused on the point of the difference of the forms of blessing.

  8. I think the mistake made by the priest is probably a very easy one to slip into. As Catholics we are so trained to make the sign of the cross and say, “In the name of the Father…” that it may just be a trained reaction.

    As for whether or not it could be considered heresy, I don’t believe so. For one, certainly we know from Scripture that we may refer to the “name” of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as we see in Matthew 28:19. So the reference to the “name” of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is certainly not heretical. It’s also how we bless ourselves.

    The question then is can it be heretical to ask God to baptize in the name of the Trinity? Again, I don’t believe so. [Good thing. Because we do baptize “in the name of” the Trinity.] It might be grammatically awkward because it sort of has God referencing Himself in third person, but ultimately all it comes down to is asking God to bless in His name.

    I agree with Rob C., let’s save the H word for real heresies. Of course, as you point out, this could all be avoided if our priests and those assisting would just say the black and do the red…

  9. steve14530 says:

    I doubt that the priest was trying to do this but by implication the form of the blessing he used denied the Trinity, becase it stated that God and the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were two diferent things instead of one God in three persons.

  10. Rob C: It’s not that subtle a distinction between the two phrases…

    Okay… then explain it!


  11. Christopher Milton says:

    Could it be that he just carried over the “in the name of the” from the sign of the cross? Simply automatically inserting, because, I’m pretty sure, he prays the sign of the cross more than he does a blessing. You know, a force of habit.

  12. chonak says:

    I think the problem is not so much heresy as meaninglessness:

    A phrase about Almighty God blessing us “in the name of” Himself is just incoherent.

    Incidentally, I wrote this comment in the name of chonak. :-)

  13. [Good thing. Because we do baptize “in the name of” the Trinity.]

    Haha, yeah, that was a typo on my part. I meant to say “bless” instead of “baptize”. :-P

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