From a reader:
On Priesthood Sunday just before Mass ended, the resident nun took to the ambo and asked the congregation to extend their hands to bless the priest. She then led a fairly lengthy blessing. My wife and I were uncomfortable with this, so we were the only ones who did not pretend to give the blessing. Were we right in not going along? What should we do next time? (This was not the first instance of congregational blessing.)
At best this is sentimentalism. At worst this indicates a confusion about the roles of the ordained and of the laity. It is interesting that it took place on “Priesthood Sunday”, which I presume has something to do with promotion of vocations.
No, this was not a good thing to do.
Please understand that it is good for people, everyone, to “invoke” God’s blessings for others. We do so, to use a mundane example, when other people sneeze.
However, this instance seems to seek to communicate that the lay people can do what priests do when they bless, which is quite a different thing.
Furthermore, this happened during Mass, not before or after. Therefore, it was also a serious liturgical abuse, since there is no point at which the congregation is supposed to “bless” the priest that manner. If this sort of thing is done regularly, you might send a note to the local bishop asking for an explanation of the action. You could also direct your request for an explanation to the Congregation for Divine Worship in Rome. They could perhaps give you a clearer and quicker answer were they to have a printed bulletin with the text of what the congregation was to do or perhaps even a little video from your mobile phone.