A priest on giving blessings at Communion time

I have in the past written about the wide-spread practice of giving blessings during Communion time. This is not to be done, because it is outside what is prescribed at this very important moment during holy Mass.

Of course this practice is so wide-spread now that a priest who doesn’t give blessings at Communion could be thought to be “mean”.

Furthermore, lay people, EMHCs, distributing Communion imitate priests and give “blessings” in the manner of priests, which they have no business doing. I suspect some EMHCs are told to give blessings.

In any event, we could use more and intelligent conversation about this wide-spread practice.

A contribution to the conversation comes from the blog Omne quod spirat by Fr. Cory Sticha.

Why I refuse to bless children at Communion

By Fr. Cory Sticha

I’ve been thinking more and more about my concerns around giving special blessings to children at Mass. There are a number of people here who are continuing to express concern because of my stance on not blessing children in the communion line. To be clear, this is a position taken not out of spite, but out of a respect for the liturgy and for the documents of the Second Vatican Council. In paragraph 22, Sacrosanctum Concilium states, “Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.” A priest does not have the authority to add a blessing to the liturgy for anyone, because a priest does not have the authority to add anything to the liturgy. It doesn’t matter if other priests go beyond their authority and do it in disobedience. In my mind, it is inappropriate, and I will not. Period.

Of course, people don’t like to hear that. They think it makes the kids feel “special” that they receive this blessing. (As an aside, I think the parents and grandparents get the warm-fuzzies more than the kids do.) Of course, they can’t be blamed. For 30+ years, they’ve been fed a mindset that the liturgy is malleable to whatever we want to do with it. Blessing for kids? Sure, we can add that right during Communion. Having kids come up for the homily and sit with the priest on the sanctuary steps? Sure, we can do that. Holding hands during the Our Father and running around the nave greeting people during the Sign of Peace? Absolutely! Whatever makes you feel good!

As I’ve studied more about the theology of the liturgy, I’ve come to the realization that this “feel good” approach is sending the wrong message about the liturgy. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?] I’ve also become concerned that this has dangerously damaged their relationship with God, and they are blissfully unaware that any damage has been done. Instead of liturgy being the community focusing their minds and hearts on worship of God, it has become a social activity, focusing on ourselves. Now, we don’t come to liturgy to turn to God, but to ourselves. For this reason alone, I despise blessing children (and yes, I chose that strong language very carefully), and encourage other priests to stop immediately. [I am sure he is still talking about blessings during Communion.]

There’s another reason, more cultural, that should be of concern to these same parents and grandparents: the culture of entitlement. One of the arguments frequently given in defense of blessing children is, “They feel like they get something.” Yes, because we wouldn’t want our children to learn how to do something without getting something in return.


Parents and grandparents, I beg you: work with me on this! Please don’t continue to argue about it. My decision is made, the issue is done. This is truly done in the best interest of your children and grandchildren, as well as for you. Use this opportunity to help the children to see how special and important receiving Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament truly is. Help them to see that the liturgy is about worship of God, and not us getting something and feeling good. Then, when they can come forward to receive Holy Communion for the first time, they will truly understand what it means to be special enough to receive Our Lord.

You can go over to Fr. Sticha’s place to read the part that I excised for the sake of space.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Tradster says:

    Excellent post by Father Sticha. I congratulate him. Sadly, as of this post it seems roughly half of the comments on his blog are still against his stand. Proving yet again that there are none so blind as those who refuse to see.

  2. Mike says:

    I agree 100%.

    Every major liturgy at my parish is under this delusion, that the liturgy is, really, at the end of the day, all about us. Hence our pastor, God bless him, take three minutes to thanks all involved in the Easter Vigil, with applause at every name….because we’re sooooooo wonderfuuuuuuuulllllll.

    But then, making this case, you can sound like you’re against thanking people in general, or FOR taking people’s efforts for granted.

    Or, in Father’s case, you’re against blessing kids, or against kids period.

    The depth of ignorance about the meaning and purpose of our liturgy is not to be underestimated.

  3. Titus says:

    For the same, or a similar file, “Effects on Children of Things Done at Mass”: I have become even more irritated with people who want to hold hands during the Our Father. It’s a rare phenomenon at our parish, but a common one at a nearby church where my wife routinely goes for daily Mass. Our seventeen-month-old has a knack for learning hand motions or gestures, and the daily-Mass congregants have convinced her that we’re all supposed to hold hands during the Lord’s Prayer. I should not have to deal with this sort of thing.

  4. chris1 says:

    This is one of those issues I am truly torn on. I love the faithfulness to the liturgy that I see in my parish…I tell my kids not to hold hands for the Our Father and correct their posture when they attempt to use the orans during the Our Father (because they see adults around them doing it!)

    But it is impractical / distracting / a dumb idea to leave my kids in the pew while my wife and I go to receive Communion. They cross their arms and go forward; honestly, if the priest didn’t bless them they wouldn’t notice, probably, so I don’t raise cain when the priest doesn’t bless them (this happens once in a while.) So my kids have to approach Communion with me, and if the priest blesses them, I recognize it is because he thinks he is expected to…if he doesn’t he might be seen as mean spirited or something.

    As Father says in the blog post, this is one of these things things that would be way easier to deal with if it had never been started.

  5. Random Friar says:

    I would be interested in the method priests use for catechesis or instruction, especially “on the spot.”

  6. William says:

    Younger clergy need take note. Their desire to rectify faulty practices will be met with hostile resistance. Clergy now in charge show no interest in making their successors’ loads lighter. A truly “pastoral” priest would see this coming and do all he can to accommodate the next generation of pastors.

  7. mamajen says:

    I am not very old, but I have never in my life encountered a priest who didn’t bless children who accompanied their parents to communion. This includes the very traditional priests who refuse to distribute communion in the hand and still use the altar rail. I fail to see how it is inherently harmful. I assume Father Sticha understands the culture and motivations of people in his own parish and that has informed his decision and the opinions he expressed, but I don’t believe that for every parent bringing a child up to communion and appreciating a blessing is about “warm fuzzies” or entitlement or any other undesirable attitude. In fact, that he “went there” with his opinion is rather offensive to me, but I must remind myself that he was speaking of conditions in his own parish and probably didn’t expect his post to go viral. He could have stopped after “a priest does not have the authority to add anything to the liturgy.”

    My son is three. I would not think about leaving him in the pew alone. My husband and I use the opportunity to teach him to approach the altar reverently, with his hands folded. I would never pitch a fit or even feel angry if a priest didn’t bless my child for whatever reason, but it is something we appreciate and one of the reasons we insist on receiving from a priest or deacon rather an an EMHC. In any case, since blessing children is something that is done in every parish I have ever been to, I will keep Fr. Sticha’s thoughts in mind and do my best to ensure that none of his cultural concerns with the practice apply to my family.

  8. irishgirl says:

    Bravo to Father Sticha! What he said!

  9. kjmacarthur says:

    Why can’t one parent go to communion, leaving the child/ren with the other parent, return to the pew and take over child-minding while the second parent goes to communion? It worked for us.

  10. Giuseppe says:

    I fondly recall that for years, when I was a child, I would accompany my parents to communion. I wouldn’t stand in front of them, as though I were in line, but I would stand next to them (or when I was very young, they would hold me). The priest generally would put his hand on my head (sometimes to mess my hair, which I loved, because it drove my mother crazy) and say “God bless him.”

    As for adults — I am not sure why they would come up just for a blessing, but if they do come up, I really don’t see why a quick “God bless you” causes such harm. Then, the priest can make a simple statement: “If you are not going to receive communion, the proper place to be during the distribution of communion is in your seat in prayer” every week at the end of the homily and write it in the church bulletin every week for a few months. This, plus periodic reminders, will change the culture back to communion line for communion.

    But children accompanying parents should always be welcomed and given a little “God bless him/her”. WWJD? I really think that’s what Jesus would do.

  11. Suburbanbanshee says:

    When I was a kid too young to receive, and my dad didn’t happen to go with us to Mass (he was United Methodist, so this happened at least 1/4 of the time), my mom didn’t have any problem either having us follow her to Communion or precede her to Communion, all lined up like little ducklings in a row (and it would never have occurred to us to act up then!) or when we were all a little older, to leave us kneeling and praying in the pew (and again, it was clearly not the time to act up). (I suppose if there’d been a Communion rail, we would have just stood back and waited until Mom was done; but we didn’t have one.)

    There were three of us, and we were rambunctious kids — but not at Communion time. We knew perfectly well that Communion wasn’t for us yet. We were used to adults and older kids having privileges we didn’t have. It wasn’t a big deal.

    And if a kid is five years old, he can go to kindergarten by himself, so he can stay in a pew by himself or older siblings for three minutes of parental separation. I wouldn’t leave toddlers or babies in the pew with siblings unless the sibling is much older than the toddler, though.

  12. Liongules says:

    I am a EMHC in my parish and I was a bit dismayed when our new pastor had a training session with all of the parish ministries (ushers, lectors and EMHCs) and during it he “taught” us how to bless someone when they came up for Communion. I’m hoping no one will ever come up to me. Normally we only handle the wine, so no one asks for a blessing there, only when the first reach the priest or deacon who are distributing the hosts.

  13. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Re: blessing of kids —

    If a parish has had kid blessings during Communion for a long time, it might be wise for Father to institute some parish fiestas for saints associated with kids (And there’s tons of ’em) at the same time he’s going back to the way things were meant to be. Or Father could even announce that he’ll be blessing kids out back after Mass as well as shaking hands. He might also make sure people know that he’s willing to bless sacramentals, cars, etc. (And that the deacon can do it, too.) He could also teach parents and grandparents how they’re allowed to bless their kids and grandkids (because they are).

    The facility to bless is not a minor thing, and people rightly yearn for blessings. But it’s also right to make sure people receive blessings in the way God taught His Church to provide them, not as some kind of “Communion lite.”

    And Father should also preach about spiritual communion, and about times when even those who can receive Communion shouldn’t be. If more people stayed in the pews when necessary, there wouldn’t be this push push push for everyone to robotically line up to get something.

  14. Aquinas says:

    I was at a Church when I witnessed an EMC allowing intinction, and giving blessings to children!
    The assistant priest announced one Sunday that he didn’t have a homily prepared because he didn’t feel inspired ! I remember it was on the feast of the Anunnciation. I was gob smacked! Kids round the altar holding hands during the Our Father.
    I was livid, I don’t go to Mass to get upset over these kind of abuses.
    After Mass I made a formal complaint to the priest in charge, plus I wrote to the Bishop and did receive a very good reply. I have since moved away from that parish. But the priest in charge was mad at me for complaining.
    More people ought to complain.

  15. yatzer says:

    I think adults sometimes use the opportunity to go up to the altar like everybody else, getting a blessing instead of Communion so as not to be conspicuously sitting in the pew.

  16. mwa says:

    Would it be the case that in the vetus ordo does away with this problem since the priest makes the sign of the cross over the communicant with the host prior to reception, so that a child who was not to receive but was there with the recipient would also be blessed? (Of course, this doesn’t cover those adults who come up to receive a blessing rather than communion.)

  17. digdigby says:

    We are all like a bunch of ‘theater critics’ thanks to VII – [I point which I also gleaned from the great book by Martin Mosebach.] is this ‘really mass’ is that really kosher… I can’t stand it any more. My intensively trained, devout EF priest and confessor blesses children with the sign of the cross. I’ve never met Father Sticha (or Father Z for that matter – no offense intended!) but I haven’t a moment’s doubt that MY priest would, without hesitation, die for his flock. “Let the little children come unto me and I’ll ignore them.” [I don’t think that is a fair characterization of the point he is making.]

  18. Y2Y says:

    I used to consider this a harmless practice that I had no objection to. Having followed Fr. Z’s various posts on the matter, I am now persuaded that it is inappropriate. Small children can always be held next to their parents at the rail without having to present themselves for a blessing.

  19. Darren says:

    Then I think of when a certain couple celebrating a 50th wedding anniversary is brought up after thehomily to receive a special blessing… or when the school’s basketball team comes to a certain mass together and receives a special blessing… or when the Rosary Altar Society installs new members during a mass and they receive a special blessing… or when… and the list goes on and on and on… …and I often have to sit someplace different in the church when they have these “special masses for this or that group/ministry” because they reserve the first 8 pews (and half the time only 3 are used and the rest remain empty).

    What about the special blessings for Mothers and Fathers on those days? I have no children, but I am a Godfather twice and I just don’t get up anymore when certain priests ask all fathers, grandfathers and Godfathers to stand for the Father’s Day blessing.

  20. kelleyb says:

    One of our lil grands is three. She and her family go to Sunday Mass with us most weeks. Her mom taught her to cross her arms when she accompanies one of the adults in the Communion line. I have taught her to bow before the Holy Eucharist with me and stand next to me as I receive. She asks why she can not have Jesus. We tell her she must be older and know more about Jesus before she can. She asked me how old she would be. When I told her she said she can’t wait that long. I suggested she talk with our pastor. She said she would. I love the innocence of children.

  21. heway says:

    I disagree with Father….and I think Our dear Blessed Lord does also. [?!?] He warns us not to keep the children from him. [I don’t think that has much to do with the issue of blessings during Communion.] In my home I always have a picture of Christ with children all around Him and on His lap! The law was made for man; but man was not made for the law. We were made for love and children should always be shown that love that springs forth from our relationship with Jesus Christ. As for laymen providing a blessing…I bless people all day long and they bless me! Jesus Christ himself has provided us with the right and responsibility to do this. May it never cease! [I invite you to continue thinking about this.]

  22. jacobi says:

    A blessing is not necessary for non recipients during Holy Communion since one is given to the whole congregation at the end of Mass.

    Lay distributers of Holy Communion, where they are used, do not have authority to give blessings to the congregation.

    As for holding hand during the Our Father, where on earth did that come from? It doesn’t happen in my part of the woods!

  23. heway says:

    Interesting article- here

  24. yatzer says: I think adults sometimes use the opportunity to go up to the altar like everybody else, getting a blessing instead of Communion so as not to be conspicuously sitting in the pew.

    That would be one more reason to lengthen the pre-Communion fast: to provide cover for those who for one reason or another can’t receive, and feel embarrassed not to go up.

  25. maryh says:

    I totally agree with what @Suburbanbanshee says, especially about people feeling they *have* to go to communion. There have been many times I shouldn’t have gone to communion but I did anyway, just because it was difficult to get to confession (we have 45 minutes total once a week, except when it’s cancelled altogether) and I’d have to explain myself. I realize neither of those are good reasons and so far I’ve managed to stop doing that, but it would be much easier to avoid or resist the temptation if we had confession available more often (although I know the priest shortage is a factor there) and if there were some allowance for expecting people not to go to confession. The old regulation for not eating three hours before communion was a wonderful way to do that – it emphasized the sacredness of communion while at the same time giving people who hadn’t had a chance to get to confession an “out” for not receiving.

    As for the question of blessing children, I think it’s important to separate the question of children going up to communion with their parents from the question of blessing the children. Sometimes a parent has to go up to communion with a small child – there isn’t always another parent available (maybe they went to another Mass with other children, especially in a large family). That in no way implies the priest has to bless the child or that it will be a problem if he doesn’t. I guess I’m probably older than you, @mamajen, because I’ve seen quite a few priests who don’t bless children: some priests do it, some don’t, and it’s only a problem if the parents (or parishioners) make it a problem. That is, it depends on what the parents and the norms of the parish teach the child to expect. The statement about the “warm fuzzies” though, seemed unnecessary.

    I also like @Suburbanbanshee’s suggestions about other child-friendly activities or blessing children after Mass. That would make clear that it is a question of appropriate time and place, not any problem with children. Blessings aren’t “communion lite,” and I do see how they can come to look that way.

  26. Mary Jane says:

    I have a big problem with adults going up to receive a blessing. Not the time nor the place. Plus it can be confusing for the priest – “are they receiving or not?”

    I don’t have a problem with children going up with their parents. If the priest decides to bless the children or not, the parents shouldn’t be upset either way.

    There is a couple in our choir (they both sing) who has a toddler, and the wife is expecting again – they can’t leave their toddler up in the loft while they receive communion, and they can’t go “one at a time” because they have to both get back up to the loft to sing the propers / hymns / motets during communion. So they take their toddler with them.

    It seems this may be a more widespread issue at OF masses…not trying to pick on the OF, but I’ve never seen an adult present him/her-self for a blessing at the communion rail at an EF mass…

  27. mrsschiavolin says:

    Yes, I would never leave my 4 and 1 year old in the pew. No, I don’t mind if a priest blesses or doesn’t bless. No, I would not switch off with dad so that one person has to disrupt a pew of kneeling people.

    One question I have for eastern rite brethren. The priest at a particular Eastern rite places the chalice on my babies and prays a prayer about Jesus being with them till they can receive Eucharist. Is this normal? My impression is that the East is both more elevated and relaxed than the West.

  28. introibo says:

    Until fairly recently, I’ve almost always had a babe-in-arms when going up to Communion. The priest automatically gives baby a blessing. I usually bring up said baby /toddler at Communion until he or she is old enough to sit back in the pew with remaining kids who have not yet received Communion without unduly fussing. One problem was brought home to me recently…I knew latest child was too old to be up there at the rail when she put on her most pious expression with hand folded at the rail….and the priest looked at me questioningly, wondering if she was to receive.. (she was only 4)..

  29. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Fr. Sticha is absolutely, 100% right. However, he has no idea of the fight he has gotten himself in. The typical Amchurch Catholic, or Novus Ordo-ized Catholic, always has a knee-jerk reaction to any issue involving children, and he will definitely be seen as the Anti-Christ before this fight dies down. Traditional priests do well not to walk into these hornets nests.

    I can still recall the many WDTPRS threads where this was previously discussed, and how angry and irrational most people get when they think their children aren’t receiving something from the Church which they should be getting. [Indeed. You have said. This is why it is good for us on occasion to tack back over this topic and review it with old-timers and new readers. This topic needs wider discussion.]

    So, a two pronged approach for my brother priests. First and foremost, give an instruction on why we should only handle the Blessed Sacrament, and pay attention to the Blessed Sacrament, during the Communion line. IMMEDIATELY mention how you love seeing the children, that they are angels from heaven, the Church’s greatest treasure, and that you love blessing children. But ask your people not to demand this during Communion time, because you enjoy blessing children outside at the door after Mass when you do not have to ignore the Blessed Sacrament and become distracted during Communion time.

    Secondly, greet people at the door after Mass and do indeed bless any and all kids who come up to you, and show them kindness and a demeanor which is fatherly. The one line in Fr. Sticha’s post which made me cringe was using the phrase “I despise blessing children.” I know he meant the Communion line, but still, what he meant to say and what comes across are two very different things. What he despises, I’m sure, are the Novus Ordo-ized parents who get in his face about Communion blessings and hide behind their children as an excuse for trash behavior and trash manners toward a priest.

    A better line would have been, “I love blessing the children, but then at the same time, I’d like to slap their parents.” In fact, it really is hideous how rude and entitled parishioners can act even in the Communion. But “despise” and “children” are two words which should never be in the same sentence. It is only fodder for liberals and dissenters to go after a good priest.

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  31. Pax--tecum says:

    There is a blessing of children in the older Rituale Romanum (Chapter III: blessings of persons, nr. 4-7). I don’t know if it was included in the book of blessings, I hope it is. The priest could give this blessing after Mass, as I suppose the parents would remain in the church some time to pray before the tabernacle in thanksgiving after receiving Holy Communion.
    I hope your blogpost encourages priests to do the red and say the black, without adding, removing or altering some part of Mass. Thank you, Father!

  32. lucy says:

    Amen, Fr. Sotelo!

  33. Of course, there will be those who don’t know that priests can be and many are real men and know themselves to be true fathers of their parish families and act accordingly.

    Sure, many have never seen that before, and will miss the aging hippy anything goes and that’s what religion is for me type. They’ll just have to get over it.

    Welcome to say the Say the black, Do the red Church, where priests are men and men are fathers.

    Anecdote: I was born in 1960. Long before my First Holy Communion I also went up to kneel at the linen covered altar rail like everyone else. I didn’t expect to recieve. What was going on was very sacred and I knew I had not yet been prepared. This was fine with me.

    I felt privileged to be close to the Mystery before whom I was kneeling though I wasn’t actually receiving Holy Communion. I also had a sense of anticipation. I loved all this. I didn’t feel like I had to be pandered to, like there had to be games for me to play. As a child, I loved being before the Sacred Mysteries. I was taught this just by the fact that those around me we’re so happy to kneel before the Sacred Mysteries. We were all before Jesus, including me. And that was wonderful. I remember it all very clearly to this day.

    If we could provide that for children, that would bode well for the future of the Church.

  34. ericrun says:

    I have a 6 year old daughter who does NOT like to be touched. In fact, she threw a fit on Sunday because holy water landed on her hair. This has made for some upsetting situations where people commonly think it’s OK to touch other people’s kids when they really shouldn’t take that liberty.

    When she became old enough, we warned her that we couldn’t stop the EMHC from touching her, but she would probably be safe if she stayed behind us, but more than one EMHC would go out of their way to move their feet and reach for her. Because of this, she has refused for a long time to accompany us to communion, which obviously isn’t a problem. But due to her sensitive nature, I worry about just what will happen when she’s ready for her first communion in 2 years.

  35. pseudomodo says:

    I am an RCIA director an I always instruct catechumens and candidates NOT to go up for a blessing as it is a COMMUNION procession and not a BLESSING procession. That being said however I also say that if they have a BURNING DESIRE to recieve a blessing, at least go to the priest for the blessing as he is the only on empowered to give a liturgical blessing. If you recieve one from an EMHC then you have recieved no blessing at all!

    Parents, if you have a burning desire for your children to recieve a blessing, wait till after mass and then ask the priest for a specific blessing otherwise BLESS YOUR CHILDREN YOURSELVES! At least you have THIS authority!

  36. Banjo pickin girl says:

    ericrun, if your priest is approachable maybe you could talk to him about it? I think nowadays people are more sensitive at the differences between people and more accepting of them then they used to be.

  37. Fr. Z, thanks for your post, and for pointing out my very glaring error! Unfortunately, I think it caused some confusion on the part of several commenters on my blog. The error has been fixed.

    Fr. Sotello, I’m all too aware of the fight this evokes. My diocese is positively saturated in the feel-good, modernist hermeneutic of rupture, and many are “hurt” (buzzword for “you’re not doing what I like”) by this decision. I don’t want the fight, but I’m also not the one who started this by deciding it was a good idea in the first place.

  38. Agree with Father 100%…

  39. Chrysologus says:

    While I respect any priest’s right not to give a blessing that is not prescribed by the liturgical books of the Church, I disagree with his assertion that, by wanting their children and grandchildren to be blessed by a priest during Mass, people are “dangerously damag[ing] their relationship with God.” I don’t see how such an extreme conclusion could follow from what is, by all appearances at least, a basically trivial matter. If a priest doesn’t want to do it because it’s not an official part of the liturgy, fine, but trying to justify that position with overblown rhetoric about how parents are being self-centered is, to me, not in accordance with the truth of the matter, nor helpful to the people in the pastoral care of this priest.

    Frankly, I think the problems that the Church and our world are facing right now are so serious, that I no longer see any value in worrying about people receiving blessings during Communion or holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer, neither of which has been explicitly proscribed by ecclesiastical authority.

  40. MaryW says:

    I was in Arizona visiting family a few weeks ago and at the church I attended, there was this cautionary note for the EM’s in the parish’s bulletin: “Remember, if someone comes to you for spiritual communion, do not touch them because particles of the Eucharist can transfer to the communicant’s clothing.” Now, personally, I would not be comfortable receiving a blessing from a lay person, EMHC or not, but at least the point is stressed that one is not to take lightly their role as an EMHC.

    Is this a common instruction given to EMHC in all parishes/dioceses?

  41. Matthew says:

    Some liturgical abuses are worth dying in a ditch for; I’m not sure I see that this is one of them. Does it really undermine the final blessing any more than the Blessing of Catechists during the Mass, for example, does? Personally, it’s not about “warm fuzzies” for my children. I assumed they received special and particular blessings from the priest’s blessing. Why wouldn’t I want that for my children? I can only think of the Gospel of Matthew as I read the back-and-forth here:

    “Then were little children presented to him, that he should impose hands upon them and pray. And the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said to them: Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to me: for the kingdom of heaven is for such.”

  42. St. Epaphras says:

    Holy Souls Hermitage said: “Of course, there will be those who don’t know that priests can be and many are real men and know themselves to be true fathers of their parish families and act accordingly.
    Sure, many have never seen that before, and will miss the aging hippy anything goes and that’s what religion is for me type. They’ll just have to get over it.
    Welcome to say the Say the black, Do the red Church, where priests are men and men are fathers.”

    Yep! A “real man” is a truly wonderful gift of God (in Holy Orders or not) and fatherhood lived out as God intended is priceless. Thank you, men!

  43. Lisa says:

    I am comfortable leaving my older two children in the pew while my husband and I get in line to receive communion, but not my 18 month old. So either my husband goes first and I go when he gets back, or I just take the little one with me. Sometimes a priest blesses him, sometimes he doesn’t. I don’t really mind, or even think about it, except when the priest actually places his hand on my son’s head – then I’m really concerned about particles of the Host.

    When we attend Mass at the FSSP parish, there is a special blessing for children afterward, when the kids go to the altar rail and the priest comes and blesses them, and sprinkles them with holy water.

  44. The Cobbler says:

    The rather odd thing in my mind is that I was, at a time, under the impression the blessing of those who may not receive Communion was a traditional (small-t) practice — not necessarily that I knew whether it was done back in the pre-conciliar form of the Mass, but that I thought it was one of those few standard acts of piety that still lasted into this generally anti-piety age. Obviously it sounds as though that impression was incorrect, either partially or entirely, inasmuch as there is not leeway in the rubrics to perform such a blessing at such a time; but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it even at parishes where they typically do the black, say the red, and chant the parts of the Mass whether in English or in Latin, which makes me suspect that at some point there was general confusion on this particular point that allowed it to spread beyond the typical entitlement culture… or, perhaps, a once common but now obscure and forgotten temporary permission of the sort that has to be renewed every year, and which no longer applies since no one has talked about it, let alone renewed it, in a generation or two? Just saying that I wonder; if anyone could trace the genesis of the practice I’m sure it would be enlightening and suspect it might (if presented tactfully and not in a manner of dismissively explaining away) be an interesting tidbit to include when explaining to folks why it’s not to be done (even if technically it makes no difference to the fact that it’s simply not permitted at this time).

  45. Julia says:

    I’m 67 and I don’t remember it being done until the last 10 years or so.

    I went to a different parish for Easter Sunday Mass.
    Before Communion there was an announcement that non-Catholic guests are welcome to come forward with their arms crossed across the chest and they will be given a blessing instead of Communion which Church rules limit only to Catholics in good standing. No mention of children.
    That might be a tactful way of dealing with an increasing problem of non-Catholic people coming forward for Communion.

  46. TMKent says:

    I understand why this is wrong but can’t help but feel the cure may be worse than the disease. I’m a child of Vatican II and I’ve raised two sons in Catholic school as members of an above-average N.O. parish. I love our parish deeply and our pastor has been making incremental steps toward orthodoxy and improving our liturgies. Our sons are good about confession – not weekly, but they have no fear and have come to appreciate it and even seek it out as teenagers. Our youngest was home this weekend from college and I knew he had not recently gone to confession. On Good Friday he went up and received a blessing. This is a huge admission on the part of your average nineteen year old boy that he may not be worthy of the Eucharist. There was no opportunity for him to go to confession during the rest of the Triduum and knowing that many nominal Catholics were receiving on Easter he chose to receive. We’ve talked as much as he can take and he’s promised to make it back to confession. This same son has brought his evangelical girlfriend to mass and she has gone up for a blessing. I watched both of my brothers leave the church during college. Such things as blessing and hand-holding have been part of the church as he has seen it all his life and I can’t help but feel that this bit of “warm fuzzy” may be the very thing to get him through these difficult transitional years. The small affirmation may cause him to remain part of the Church long enough to mature in his faith and understanding as I have – perhaps converting his girlfriend as it did his father. It is not ideal, but neither is it sacrilege.

  47. Lauren says:

    This kind of stuff happens at my sister’s church in Texas – everything – holding hands at the Our Father, kids running up and down the church to get a kid’s bulletin, and the blessing of children. Drives me INSANE! I end up feeling like I’ve sinned throughout Mass because I am so annoyed at all the things done during Mass.

    When I was a child and could not receive communion we always went up to the front of the church with our parents. But we stood beside our parents and looked up to see them receive communion. Nobody was left behind in a pew.

    We did WANT to receive communion and we were taught by our parents that we could receive it at a certain age after taking CCD classes.

    No problems, no complaints, no sense of entitlement by anyone.

    Congrats Father Sticha. This is hard for you, I know, but this kind of silliness MUST end. At least for my sake – I’m tired of coming out of Mass shaking, with a headache and a heart that full of guilt and remorse for being so mad during Mass. :) :)

  48. Fr_Sotelo says:

    The comments about catechists, or mothers, or fathers, being blessed deals with another issue. After the homily and before the prayers of the faithful, there is an appropriate moment in the liturgy when blessings can be carried out, for special groups, on special occasions. But during the Communion time, Father is holding Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, in his hands. He literally has to put the Host back in the ciborium, glance away from Our Lord, and direct his attention to a small child while he makes up some gesture and/or words of blessing.

    There are moments when the priest’s eyes, his gestures, his words, and his thoughts, should be on Eucharistic Jesus, and only on Eucharistic Jesus only. Picking up the sacred Host, and then, “Oops, there is a child to bless” then putting Jesus back in the ciborium while He is momentarily ignored for some other para-liturgical action, is just not right. Please let the priest do what he is supposed to do, and do not ask him to do anything else. Let him focus on the Host, the communicant’s hand or tongue while the Host is carefully placed there, and then back to the ciborium and the other sacred Host which is to be given to the next communicant.

    It is called Communion time. If you want blessings for you or the kids, fine. Let me put the ciborium back in the tabernacle, give you your blessings (and no Holy Communion) and then continue on with Mass. I was, however, under the impression that you came to Mass and got into the Communion line because it was Jesus in the Host you wanted to receive, not my blessing.

    If that is not appealing, pleasing, or agreeable to your children, of whatever age, then perhaps they simply do not get what being Catholic is about. In that case, we are not “losing” them, because we don’t really have them to begin with. Yes, we have them, but according to their terms and conditions, which if you think about it, is not Catholic at all.

  49. LisaP. says:

    If Christ walked into the church during Mass, you bet I’d drag my kids as close to Him as I could, and I would probably shamefully shove aside any priest or minister who stepped in our path to give my kid a blessing. So I think removing the blessing that has become customary is perfectly appropriate, easily explained to kids, and in no way prevents me from walking with my children to receive.

    I do think probably there are a few other things I’d reform sooner, and I think part of the kickback may be that Catholic parishes (the ones I’ve seen, at least) have seemed to become increasingly hostile to families and to children in recent decades. We shuffle babies off to the cryroom and young kids leave for the “Children’s Liturgy of the Word” during the readings. I can attend most Masses at my parish and find we stick out with our three — count ’em, three — kids. It’s not unusual to find less than a dozen kids in all at a Mass. Lots of older folks and middle aged couples with no or one kid. I think it’s misguided to get upset about kids not getting a blessing at Communion, but it might be good to consider what the distress might indicate. I attended a parish once that sent out a diagram of how the parish worked. In the center circle was the priest, a concentric ring around him included the parish council members, the next circle contained ministers, the next administrators, then the congregation — very Dante. It was shocking that no one had noticed before sending this out that God was nowhere on the page. But additionally it reflected what has become a huge problem, the “social club” inclination many parishes go in for, where you are either part of the “in” crowd or you are just one of the unwashed, and kids can’t ever be part of the “in” crowd and families usually aren’t, either, because they don’t have the leisure time that retirees have to become ministers or council members. I think it’s worth considering why people find that little personal gesture towards their children so important, and I don’t think it’s all selfishness.

  50. Fr. Thomas says:

    When I was growing up, my brothers and I went with our parents in the Communion line so we were not left alone in the pew. However, when either my father or mother was receiving the Eucharist (whoever had been sitting closest to me at Mass) I simply stepped to the side (or I should say a well placed hand on my back or shoulder to remind me to more over) and waited for them to receive the Eucharist. It was simply what I and my brothers had been instructed to do. I grew up in the 1980s, so it is not one of those long ago practices.
    I am somewhat interested in learning when and where this practice began. I do not think it has been around for more than a decade.

  51. Reading this thread reminds me once again of the great chasm that separates OF and EF sensibilities.

    Of course, no one at an EF Mass would object to a parent bringing to the communion rail children who are too young to be left unattended in the pew. And of course, no traditional EF priest would pay any notice–blessing or otherwise–to a child obviously too young for communion.

    At an EF Mass, where everyone knows why they’re there–solely to worship God–it’s impossible (for me) to imagine this issue ever arising. Though perhaps, with an EF first-timer (priest or lay), it has (unawares to me) sometime, somewhere.

  52. mamajen says:

    @The Cobbler

    Exactly! There must be more to the story of how this practice started than “hippie priests”, “warm fuzzies” or an entitlement culture. Some of the priests I know who have been blessing children at communion time for decades are strict adherents to the liturgy, have fought tooth and nail to maintain traditional parishes, and would be some of the last people on earth to knowingly and willingly participate in liturgical abuses. Likewise, for many parents this is something that is “just done”. Especially when we see good, traditional priests doing it, we assume that it is a licit practice that has some special significance, and we even appreciate it. That’s why I resent the generalizations/assumptions being made about the motives of the parents who bring their children with them to receive communion. I would very much like to know how the traditional priests in my area came to learn about the practice and why they participate in it.

  53. mamajen says:

    @Henry Edwards

    My son was blessed (with a sign of the cross made over his head) whilst kneeling next to me at the altar rail on Good Friday. I’m not sure if the priest would have done so at the EF mass he says every Sunday, but the altar rail is used at that church for every mass, OF or EF.

  54. paterscotus says:

    Of course we must understand that the issue is as Fr Sticha states: that we do not have a right to add anything to the liturgy. But we should also understand that this isn’t limited to taking away “warm fuzzies” from kids. In a widely circulated private response to a question on this matter a few years ago the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments came out strongly against the practice of blessings during Holy Communion, additionally considering such situations as when a couple married outside the church come up with arms crossed – what does it say when they priest “blesses” them? We should not presume to have a different mind than that of the Church: the Communion procession is solely for those are intending to receive the Holy Eucharist.

  55. BillyHW says:

    Having kids come up for the homily and sit with the priest on the sanctuary steps? Sure, we can do that.

    Stop it! Stop it! You’re bringing back nightmares.

  56. RuralVirologist says:

    In the Eastern Rites, the children take communion anyway, from an early age. Some local Protestants are starting that practice, adopting it directly from the Orthodox.

    I once attended a Divine Liturgy when the Catholicos of one of the Indian Churches (Orthodox) visited our area, and used our parish church (the Latin Rite priests there served all the Catholics and Orthodox for miles, as there was no nearby church for them.) I didn’t understand a word, so I thought people took Communion twice. Apparently the first event was blessed bread, pre-consecration, which anyone could receive – the kids could be added here (if they don’t receive Communion later). The Latin Rite doesn’t have this, though. Some Eastern Rites allow for this bread to be taken home and stored in a shrine. The 2nd event followed the consecration and was Communion – then only those meant to receive the Eucharist went (too long ago for me to remember if babies took Communion).

  57. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Until they are SOLVED, problems will just keep coming back: http://www.canonlaw.info/2009/05/lay-ministers-of-holy-communion-should.html

    [I hope the Congregation will state something authoritative about this in the proper form and instrument of communication.]

  58. Joy says:

    I had to chuckle as I read this post. I returned to the church 2 1/2 yrs ago, after having been away for nearly 20 years, and was surprised to find many things had changed. I distinctly remember the first time I brought my then 2-yr old with me to Mass and carried him with me to Communion. The priest reached out to “bless” my child (I had no idea what he was doing), I instinctively turned him away from the priest and probably gave him quite the look! It caused a second or two of awkardness, but that particular priest never again attempted to bless my son :-).

  59. monmir says:

    you do not “handle the wine” , in your hands you carry the cup containing the blood of Christ.

    I was EMHC briefly once, when I saw the abuses (including the “wine” thing, the blessings, and .. running back to the sacristy to get more hosts -not consecrated and give them to the EMHC- and refilling cups from a pitcher as EMHC were offering the cup !!!)I stopped and left the OF for the EF Mass. What a relief!
    How terrible it looks for someone in plain clothes coming from the pews going to the altar and “serve the Mass” and then go back and purify the vessels (!)
    No this is too much for me to bear.

  60. RichardC says:

    I read I every comment before the posting of this one. Imo, they were all worth reading, and that is a good sign.–imo.

    If I understand this, if a priest fully understands the rubrics and such, he committing a sin by giving a child a blessing in the Communion line. I can’t think of any other circumstance when it would be a sin for a priest to give a child a blessing. If there is a way for a priest to be committing a sin by giving a child a blessing, we Catholics will think of it. (If I am wrong about the above, please correct me.) Of course, terror of his congregation, and such, is a mitigating factor.–I think.

    If I was a priest–and I had the courage, I would say, “Look, I would like to bless your children and anyone else who comes up for a blessing, but I have obligations of obedience and you ask me to sin by doing this. Please don’t ask me to commit sins and I won’t ask you to commit them either.”

    This is my best understanding of the situation. AMDG.

  61. fatherrob says:

    I too have had to cope with the children’s-blessings-at-holy-communion problem. The practice is widespread, but I have yet to be able to find anyone who can tell me where the practice comes from, or give me a coherent liturgical rationale for it. It seems to me that the relevant church statements about the communion procession, and a responsum ad dubium given several years ago concerning the practice of EMoHCs giving blessings during communion, tend against the practice. However, I will admit there has, as of yet, been no outright proscription. [I also admit that there is no outright prescription against listening to or pronouncing certain prayers or readings while standing on one’s hands, unless by doing so you might be impeding some hand gesture which is prescribed. And yet I think we would also know that, even though standing on one’s hands during Mass is not forbidden, it also would be wrong.]

    Contrary to what some have contended, I have heard, both from priests and DREs, the justification given for the practice that “it helps kids not to feel left out”, and that “it give the kids the sense that they are getting something from Mass”. Needless to say, I find both of these justifications deeply insubstantial and unpersuasive.

    My opinion: giving blessings to kids during communion is one of those “nice ideas” someone who was well-intentioned but not liturgically competent came up with. The problem is that just because something is a “nice idea” doesn’t justify its inclusion in the liturgy.

    My own practice, in two parishes (including the one I am administrator of now, which I took over last fall), has been the following:

    1. Catechesis about the Mass over several months in homilies, bulletin columns, etc., touching the infinite privilege of participating in Mass even if one does not receive communion – being made present to Calvary, etc. I also spend some time explaining how true “active participation” begins interiorly, with the uniting of our hearts and minds to the prayers and sacrificial actions of the Mass. I stress the idea that “participation” at Mass does NOT necessarily mean “doing stuff”.
    2. Encouraging parents to teach their children, at their own level, all of the above. For example, I suggest that they ask their kids before Mass what they will bring to their prayers during Mass, and what they will offer to Jesus in their prayers as the priest offers the host and chalice. I stress the idea that all of us, adults and children, are offered, with our prayers, needs, etc., with the host and chalice.
    3. Ask the religious ed and school teachers to stop instructing the kids to come up for blessings during communion, with some liturgical catechesis on why it’s inappropriate.
    4. Liturgical catechesis to the parish on how the liturgy belongs to the whole church, and that we are not free to change it, even with our “nice ideas”.
    5. Finally, an announcement that, we will no longer give blessings to the children during communion, (not, I’ll jokingly say, because I don’t like children or blessings) because it is an extra-liturgical action that is out of place during communion. Instead, I explain, I will give blessings to children after the Prayer after Communion. I invite them to come up, say a prayer over them, and then bless them individually. This is done at only one Mass on Sunday (the one that has the most families with children). Furthermore, it won’t be done during penitential seasons (Advent and Lent), or at Masses where there is a solemn blessing.

    I also announce then (and I have done so periodically during this Lent) that any child can come to me anytime before or after Mass, and I will happily give them a blessing. Some take me up on it.

    (I am considering moving the childrens’ blessing to after the homily, because it strikes me as still out-of-place after communion. Of course, the real problem is that it is out-of-place anywhere in Mass, because it isn’t part of Mass.)

    This is done, as I said, over the course of several months. In two parishes now, parents have, generally, received the change calmly. I’ve only had one or two parents get upset or complain about the change I made.

    In this way the blessings are no longer done when it is clearly inappropriate, and I have hopefully started moving the parish back to a sounder understanding and practice. Personally, giving the childrens’ blessing after communion feels like a compromise, and part of me would prefer to eliminate the blessings altogether. But I recognize that it’s not just about what I think should be ideal liturgical practice. And I recognize that you can’t just take things away from people, ESPECIALLY where their kids are concerned.

    Undoing the false understandings and attitudes people have been given by “nice ideas” won’t take place overnight. My object is to move the parish to faithful liturgical practice, but to do so as much as possible by winning people over to it by gradual steps.

    [Gradual. Yes. This is going to take time and patience and kind explanations, even in the face of irrational complaints.]

  62. Athelstan says:

    Hello Mary Jane,

    I have a big problem with adults going up to receive a blessing. Not the time nor the place. Plus it can be confusing for the priest – “are they receiving or not?”

    Exactly. It’s not the children who bother me so much as the adults.

    As some have rightly pointed out here, it is often not possible for parents to leave their young children behind, or even go up separately while the other stays with the children. And I have often seen, even in EF masses, the priest make a kindly gesture or even a quick blessing of the infant/toddler as he moves down the communion rail.

    Unfortunately, people feel entitled now, no matter that this is a quite new practice – abuse, really – that has only begun in the last decade or two. Fr. Sotelo’s advice seems soundest to me as a corrective for this: Present it positively, emphasize a proactive effort to bless children as they leave after mass. Again, though, I think the real problem is the adults (or even adolescents). And that may only be fixed through a larger cleanup of catechesis and liturgical reform in the parish.

  63. APX says:

    I’m 26 and I don’t remember where this idea came from. To my recollection, I always remained in the pew while my family went up to receive.

  64. lucy says:

    LisaP – I would invite you to attend an EF Mass somewhere in your area. At mine, there are numerous children. Most of us homeschool as well. I find there what we need: good priests to give our children good role models, a well-said Mass with no funny business, real Catholic teaching, and best of all – no blessings at the altar rail!

  65. James Joseph says:

    The whole give a blessing thing undermines the holy Eucharist…. the mindset is based on the idea that there is no blessing in the presence of the Eucharist, beholding Him with our eyes, and so since the only other blessing available to recieving the Eucharist is having the priest actively bless the individual instead. I dare say it is also based, at least partly, on the mindset that the holy Eucharist is merely blessed rather than consecrated.

    Either way… if little Johnny needs to be blessed…. a priest’s hands are efficacious but so are his own biological father’s hands (as long as dear old dad is in a state of grace, and especially after recieving Our Lord.) It seems to me, if a family man, wanted to emphasis the role of fatherhood and the corporate reality of the holy Eucharist, he would ensure he remains in a state of grace, receieve Our Lord, and faithfully bless each of his own children, and then when opportunity arises and it is prudent to have his children blessed likewise by their grandfather (especially paternal), parish priest, and their bishop…. as well as any other priest.

    So… with that said… when are they going to send the good father to liturgical Siberia over this one?

  66. LisaP. says:

    Thanks, Lucy — I’ve only attended one EF Mass, it was wild, I had no idea that the Mass my folks attended looked like that. Unfortunately, we’d be looking at 3 hours of driving (round trip) in good weather to go every week, so my husband is not a fan of the idea . . . . but I have heard exactly what you are saying about the parish here, too, and am still looking for a way to make it happen.

  67. poohbear says:

    This was a great post and I shared the original on my FB page yesterday. I think this issue really stems from the lack of understanding of what Mass is all about. People want to ‘get something’. Look at how packed churches are on Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday when people ‘get something’. Also, why can’t mom or dad stay in the pew with the kids? There is no requirement to receive Holy Communion other than once a year.

    It is also very unsanitary for father to be touching kids hair and then touching the host which will be consumed, not to mention the particles of host which may now be in junior’s hair.

  68. robkphd says:

    The issue comes form when we instituted the silly idea of ushers guiding rows up for Communion rather than when we went up when we were ready (this coincided with the change from use of kneeling). Apparently the lines needed to more orderly. It made it basically impossible for someone to stay in their place – or for parents to tag team leaving small children in the pew. SO, we would probably need to ditch the whole row by row thing – or the inane practice of row by row from the back as STILL done in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

  69. filiusdextris says:

    The basic premise of Fr. Sticha cannot seriously be argued. But, to the extent his or any other Catholic’s position amounts to a rant, it would seem misplaced. While there might be some outright abuses or bad theology involving EMHCs which may require bull-headedness (and to a lesser extent involving entitlement theories), I would consider the vast majority of child-blessings-by-priests during Communion to be a spontaneous, loving action upon a child who simply accompanied his parent(s) without his or their expectations. Gentle catechesis is the better teaching vehicle. I would find it hard to characterize such a blessing as a “bad thing” but rather simply short of the prudential ideal. If Jesus does suffer some objective indignity, He can deal with it and such instances would be in His permissive control at worst. Such cases represent a matter of misplaced prudence, and should be handled gently, at least at first until subjective obstinate disobedience against church teaching also forms a role in the action.

  70. CarismaTeaCo says:

    Even when I did go up to up to the ‘line’ the deacons went out of their way to go to those individuals in their pews claiming in an audible voice, ‘I still have to give you your blessing’ and insist on touching our foreheads /hair with their hands!!!!!!!

    EF for me

  71. Joy says:

    CarismaTeaCo: I understand your frustration. These days when our current priest blesses one of my children, I just sigh and try to pretend it didn’t happen. But he will also wander around the building (we worship in a small, multi-purpose building: our Easter crowd of approximately 120 was standing-room-only) after Communion to find those who did not “come up” and first offer them Communion and if they decline he will give them a blessing!

    I think perhaps he used to work for Bell phone systems. (all sing: “Reach out, reach out and touch someone!”)

  72. Supertradmum says:

    Sadly, this blessing business was done at the Easter morning Mass which I attended and the female EMHC gave blessings to all those who came up with crossed arms-children and adults, as instructed by the Deacon. This is common practice here and is confusing. I do not know why this odd custom continues and I do not understand why lay people think they have the power to bless anyone, except their own children.

    This false idea must be dealt by an authority greater than us lay persons pointing out the silliness of such blessings by the laity. Ass to the priest doing this, I have not seen that lately, only the Deacons and EMHC. Bad idea all around….

  73. Imrahil says:

    Also, why can’t mom or dad stay in the pew with the kids?

    Because they want to receive Holy Communion – yes, even beyond their once-a-year requirement. Yes, it is legitimate to go beyond mere fulfilment of requirement and yes, this is also legitimate if it is pleasant.

  74. Supertradmum says:

    great apologies for ass rather than as

    I have just walked three miles in a rain storm and it is midnight, so excuse typing….and impatience with the same errors happening over and over again in several countries…When will these abuses be corrected by obedient and thoughtful priests? I used to think such nonsense was confined to my old liberal diocese in the States, but now I have seen such abuses and ignorance of the guidelines in several European countries as well. It is discouraging.

  75. palecap says:

    i come from a place where we had Spanish missionaries for over 200 years. They blest the babies held in mama’s arms with the host and the custom continues though we have no more Spanish priests. Isn’t there something about tolerating long-held customs, even in the liturgy? I think I’ve read things in Fortescue about “if it is customary,” etc.

  76. MissOH says:

    I understand and support what the priest said and after I almost tripped over a child coming over from the other aisle (which had an EMHC) to father’s line for a blessing I was about ready for a similar announcement from our priest. I looked at the blog post and I agree with what he said. I don’t expect the priest to bless my child in the communion line, though I don’t move her away. It is so ingrained into some priests. It just feeds into the navel gazing and “everybody gets a trophy” mentality that is not helping for children to be part of the church militant.

  77. Sal says:

    I respect Fr. Z for his encyclopedic knowledge of Canon Law, the Catechism of the Church and Church Doctrine. That being said, I think that Fr. Z and Fr. Sticha are making a mountain out of a molehill on this point. I am 57 and I cannot think of any parish I have visited in the US (or even in Italy) in the last 30 years where the Priest, Deacon and Eucharistic Ministers did NOT give a quick blessing to children and others approaching with arms folded. This is not a matter of changing the liturgy. [No. Distribution of Communion is liturgical.] Changing the liturgy is stuff like changing the Eucharistic Prayers or changing vestments, etc. At most this is a small gesture of participation for children and babies. [I invite you to think about this more.] Since when did giving a blessing become a bad thing? [It is you who have said it is a “bad thing”, not Fr. Sticha nor I.] In our diocese under 2 bishops for 30 years, Eucharistic Ministers (Extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, if you prefer [I prefer the accurate Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.]) have been trained to do this. [That doesn’t make it right.]

    For the sake of argument, this might rise to the level of a minor regulation as opposed to a major element of Church doctrine. I suspect that if you ask the average priest in this country, 98% would agree with me. [So, it’s majority rule… ] It just is not something that threatens the Church or our salvation.

    An analogy: Certainly there is a very complicated process for the Church to canonize a saint. However, in ancient times the populace would popularly proclaim a saint. Similarly, while their cases are being processed, John Paul II, John XXIII and Mother Teresa are unofficially considered saints by large elements of Catholicism. Remember the chants of “santo subito” at the funeral of John Paul II?

    [Yahhhh…. you need to think about this for a while longer.]

  78. Mike says:

    “If Christ walked into the church during Mass, you bet I’d drag my kids as close to Him as I could, and I would probably shamefully shove aside any priest or minister who stepped in our path to give my kid a blessing. So I think removing the blessing that has become customary is perfectly appropriate, easily explained to kids, and in no way prevents me from walking with my children to receive.”

    Don’t mean to pick on this comment, but I think most commentators here would really benefit from reading, or re-reading “A Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist” by Abbot Vonier, written in 1925.

    If Our Lord walked into a Church during Holy Mass, it would be an entirely un-sacramental moment.
    Read Vonier, who follows closely Aquinas and Trent.

  79. Dave N. says:

    This entire liturgical nightmare is an attempt to compensate in some way for the excommunication of baptized children, i.e., it’s simply a symptom of a problem, not the problem itself and sadly, I think the West went off the rails on this one. “They are infants, but they receive his sacraments. They are infants, but they share in his table, in order to have life in themselves.” –Augustine

  80. Alice says:

    When I was a small child 20+ years ago, one parish in our town blessed children, the other didn’t. (They all do now.) I think it had more to do with the fact that at one parish, the pews are extremely close together so climbing over people, even 5 year olds, is difficult. I suspect they have had row-by-row Communion since the church was built in the 1920’s. Personally I preferred to stay in the seat once I was old enough because I wasn’t stupid enough to think that a blessing was a substitute for receiving Jesus. My older son had that figured out by about 2.5 as well. I’m with Dave N and pray that the Latin Church brings back infant Communion.

  81. Nobody is saying not to bless children. All that’s being said is that children shouldn’t be blessed at Holy Communion.

    Shall we put the execrable practice of having children run up to the sanctuary to drop their dollars in the collection basket next on the list of liturgical abuses to correct?

  82. dominic1955 says:

    Its an irrational emotionalist issue. People think children are special in some way because they are cute and whatnot, but they are subject to the same rights as Cardinal Pie applied as the only ones deserved by everyone-death and hell.

    We (generally speaking) quit being Catholic a long time ago, it was just that not every hang-on of Catholic culture died immediately. I remember when I was very young (a mere 20 some years ago) and our regular parish (non-traditionalist) had a traddier prayer ethos that the trad parishes I go to now. Such a thing would have never happened there because that simply was not what was done. Its just not part of legitimate Catholic orthopraxis. People have adopted the ways of the philistines around us-anywhere and everywhere. I’ve seen traditional priests bless kids at the rail, so its not even a OF vs. EF thing.

    People now days think they need to cram every bit of religiosity into Sunday Mass. Getting things or people blessed is a very good thing, that is what the Rituale is for. However, get blessings any other time except for Mass.

  83. JoyfulMom7 says:

    As far as priests blessing children at EF Masses, the FSSP chaplain at my Latin Mass Community seems to bless infants and children by making the sign of the cross over them, but not by touching their heads or saying anything (at least audibly). Usually these are very young ones, babies or toddlers too little to stay behind alone in the pew.

    Fr_Sotelo – love your comments!

    Fr. Cory – praying for you! Hang in there!

  84. ReginaMarie says:

    Dave N. : I could not agree more.

    “As a mother will not deny her children food until they understand what they eat, so too the Church will not deny the spiritual food of the Eucharist until a person understands.” ~ St. John Chrysostom

    “That infants and children not yet come to the use of reason may not only validly but even fruitfully receive the Blessed Eucharist is now the universally received opinion.” ~ Council of Trent

  85. justanothercatholic says:

    IMHO I think we are trying to see a great slippery slope in a blessing. I think it is wrong for people to manifest their state of sin (don’t tell me it is because you had a tic tac before mass and you missed fast!) but it someone shows up or even a child, a blessing (from a cleric mind you) is not the end of the world. I would treat manifesting sin in the pulpit, but in the Communion line I would not make a fuss as it isn’t strictly forbidden.

    And even then, remember the supreme law is… salus animarum. It might have a pastoral reason.(Don’t cringe at the sound of pastoral…)

    Wanna talk about breaking rules… The Roman basilicas are employing priests to be deacons in their ceremonies just to sing. That is against the rules. Yet it isn’t the end of the world is it?

    [So! Those people are doing something wrong! Let’s do something wrong too!]

  86. nykash says:

    I’m personally glad for Fr. Sticha’s post on the matter. As a kid, I would wait in the pew, as would my younger brothers. People who take offense to his post need to take a step back and examine why they are taking offense.

  87. FrG says:

    Here’s my one reservation: with the Communion fast practically non-existent, those in mortal sin have no “face-saving” excuse for remaining in the pew without attracting unwelcome conjecture. At least the three hour fast provided a cover. Now, it takes a lot of moral courage to sit pretty much alone in the pew rather than commit sacrilege. So at least if they go up for a blessing, they save face without receiving unworthily. Maybe it’s not the strongest argument, but I think it’s something to consider. The emphasis on not giving blessings just seems misplaced, especially when there is good pastoral reason, out of love for sinners, to have it. Also, in the Extraordinary Form, the priest makes the sign of the cross with the Host, which looks like a blessing to me, before placing It on the tongue.

  88. RichardC says:

    I couldn’t keep this idea from coming into my head. Since, when an EMHC gives a blessing its is a non-event, perhaps the best solution would be to ONLY have EMHC’s give blessings in the Communion line, as since it is a non-event, it would not be breaking the rubrics. For some reason, I don’t think too many people would be pleased with this solution.

  89. Deesis says:

    I think we are confusing “customer service” with the role of a priest. How is the priest supposed to know who to give a blessing to and who to give Communion to? It is frustrating enough now. Hand or tongue? In a big city parish is this person a Catholic or have they just come up to take Communion for the ride? What about Communion under both kinds. Listen the priest or deacon is there to handle and distribute Communion in a respectful and orderly way. What we have now is chaos. A priest has to interpret body language of hundreds of people.
    The traditional way of giving Communion is easy and reverential.
    There are blessings given at the end of Mass… why give blessings, touching heads etc while holding the host? Is the priest wiping his fingers on people?
    Just chaos and if I were a priest I would not have it. Communion is for Communion! Not anointings. not hand shakes, not blessings!
    Also a priest should LIMIT if not eliminate physical contact. Touching heads of children etc is a big NO NO!

  90. kat says:

    I find the whole topic a bit fascinating. I have attended the EF all my life, and have 6 children of my own. We receive Communion at the rail, kneeling, on the tongue, and I would venture to guess most of us close our eyes when we receive, (and we try to teach the children that too, so they aren’t staring at the priest as they receive.) At any rate, I don’t think about whether or not the priest is blessing my child as he passes, (they are usually on one or the other side of me, standing at the rail; I only have one young one left now. I make sure their hands are low and off the railing so they do not touch the priest or server by accident). I know that our pastor, as he is saying the Latin words and picking up a host as he moves to the next person, will make a quick sign of the cross with the host still over the ciborium, as he passes the babies/small children. Some of the other priests do or don’t…I honestly pay no attention, as I am preparing to receive and then I get up and leave with my child. The priests who do a quick sign of the cross do not take any extra time, do not say anything, and do not touch the children (they do not separate their finger and thumb after the Consecration until the ablutions). We don’t specifically take our children up to receive a blessing. They are with us because they are too young to leave alone. (And I usually attend daily Mass so there is no one else to leave them with). Our minds as communicants are on preparing to receive Our Lord; not about any blessings. Adults do not get blessed at all at Communion.
    The topic itself has never come up in my family, or with other mothers or anyone. It just is a non-issue. What a shame some people would get angry with a priest for not doing a blessing, though. It’s not what Communion is about.

  91. Y2Y says:

    @RichardC –
    Beacause it’s not a “non-event”. It is a simulation of a blessing by someone with no power to impart one. It is at best confusing and at words sacrilegious.

  92. RichardC says:

    @ Y2Y

    Y2Y, I agree with you completely. I was proposing that only EMHC’s give blessings at Communion time in the same sense that Jonathon Swift suggested eating babies to end the Irish famine, in A Modest Proposal, although, obviously without the same wit.

    These, EMHC’s, as I understand, are wittingly or unwittinlyg committing a sin by giving a blessing when they have no such authority–and that is one more cause for grief.

  93. Bill Russell says:

    I thought no blessing of any sort is to be given in the presence of the Eucharist exposed, as the Blessed Sacrament itself is the blessing. That is why, for instance, incense is not blessed before it is used at Benediction.

  94. Rachel K says:

    I do feel disappointed reading this post and comments. I don’t think it is good to use the word “despise” , even where it has been qualified by Fr Sticha. I appreciate that he and other priests may find this practice frustrating and it may indeed be non-liturgical, but this frustration has been presented in too strong a manner. However, I agree with mamajen’s comments which are balanced and calm. Here in the UK, this practice is widespread. When we have visited churches on the continent, ie, France, Italy etc, there is no sign of it at all. We also attend some masses here where it is not practiced. This does not bother me- if the priest blesses my children I am happy, if he chooses not to, I am happy.
    We also have the universal practice here (and in the US) of praying the Hail Mary after the prayers of intercession- this is not liturgical either. Do we need to expend the same energy and print over this practice too?
    What about the blessing we receive at benediction? We are blessed by the priest holding the Blessed Sacrament towards us. How does this fit in with Bill’s comment above?
    I do not think that blessing children at communion has any weakening effect on the faith of those present, child or adult. There are other things which happen in Mass which may indeed do this, but blessing children is not one of them.
    This is a bit of a “storm in a teacup” and there are much more pressing items to put our minds to. This is not to say we shouldn’t be trying to perfect our love of God in the liturgy, but let’s follow the Holy Father who is so serene and reverent even when faced with less-than perfect liturgy.

  95. Tradster says:

    I’m sorry but I have to shake my head at some of these negative comments. Most of them center on “face-saving”. Excuse me? Isn’t it a sin of pride to feel you need to perform a sacriligious act just to “save face” in front of your neighbors? Do people really give a rat’s tail whether others around them receive Communion or not? If so, that would be their problem, not yours. They should be praying instead of taking notes.

    So many times we hear complaints – true, exaggerated, or false – about the “TLM Nazis” (nearly exclusively older women) who berate for dress, head covering, children, etc. not being up to their self-imposed standards. Well, if there are such busybodies in your parish taking note of the Communion lines then there is a bigger problem in the NO than the similar complaints lodged against the TLM.

    In short, if you are more worried about what your fellow parishioners think than giving offense against Jesus, you need to take a hard look at your priorities. Get over it!

  96. Tradster says:

    As an additional thought. If people who have no intention of receiving Communion remained in their pews then perhaps there would be less excuse for having the Extraneous Ministers of Holy Communion.

  97. Blaise says:

    In the UK I supsect the practice stems not so much from children as from the presence of adults who are not in communion. In an effort to be “welcoming” to those who are not able to receive, they are actively encouraged to come up in the communion line for a blessing, whether it is the presence of a specific group of separated brethren or just various non-Catholic family and friends we wouldn’t want them to stand out by sitting out the communion procession.
    Of course once all the adults (whether catholic or not) go up and once there is a blessing for those unable to recieve communion that will obviously be applied to children.

    As a father of two young children, I take them up with me and they get blessed (by the priest); I would not complain if they did not get blessed. I don’t ask for the blessing. I take them because they are too young yet to remain in their seats and not run around. Besides everyone else goes up so they would be confused (yes, I could explain).
    On Sunday my son (coming up to 4 years old) coming up with me in the procession (or queue if you prefer) genuflected as we approached the priest and then ran off before the priest could bless him. I called him back because I didn’t want him running round the church, he therefore got blessed which prevents him wailing in frustration that he missed it (even through his own fault) two minutes later. But if the priests said “only come up if you are going to receive communion” then I would be happy with that.

    Actually what this debate highlights to me is that people assign very little value to the final blessing. I think that is the place to start as a priest in turning the tide. Tell us why blessings are valuable, remind us of the grace and power of a priestly benediction. Remind us of the value we (laity) see in the first blessing from a priest after his ordination. Then point out that we get a blessing from you at the end of every mass, that it is important, that it is not just a signal that mass is (?finally?) over. And also encourage us to get things blessed by you (new missal with the new translation, gift for a godson/daughter at first holy communion, or before, new home, bus …. the list could be endless). Combine that with preaching about the sacred, the responsibility of the communicant to be in state of grace, the eucharistic fast. Then you have answered all the criticisms.

    Of course those priests who want to stop giving blessings will do all this as they have described. Why do I not hear about this from the other priests? Why can I not be as angry about the lack of such elements of the Church’s teaching in what is preached to me as someone is about “taking away” the blessing from their child?

  98. Supertradmum says:

    Repeat–Lay people cannot bless. Period.

  99. AdamB says:

    As much as I am in favor of sticking to the rubrics of the Mass I feel I have to question this one a bit. Not that I am saying I necessarily agree or disagree but that I would just like to see it discussed a little bit, as the commentators are doing. For one thing, when the people bring up the Offertory gifts to the Holy Father when he celebrates Mass, they kneel before him and say some words to him. He then blesses them and let them go on their way. This is not in the missal, yet is a practice frequently done by the Holy Father. I think we have to be very careful when it comes to turning away children in any sort of way. I’m not saying in all instances, but in this case I would. Now should parishes say that parents have to bring their children up for a blessing? I don’t think so, but if it’s done, why refuse? Keep in mind it was the apostles who tried to stop the children from being received by Our Lord, who then said “let the children come to Me.” It is in the eighth psalm in which God says “on the mouths of infants and babes I have found perfect praise.” I pretty much agree with anything posted by Father on whatever matters he posts about but this I think deserves a little more discussion than just simply being thrown in the fire. Even Our Lord praised the woman who likened herself to a dog licking the scraps off the ground. Why not those who cannon receive communion receive, if they wish, a small blessing? FrG who commented above said something about priests making the sign of the cross with the sacred Host before giving it to the faithful, but I know there’s even a part after the consecration where the priest with his own hand, not with the Host, actually blesses the Host.

  100. RuralVirologist says:

    Not to stir up trouble, but how does natural development of a liturgy occur, if not by breaking a rule? For a pope to come up with a new idea is not natural – it’s an artificial development. When an abuse that has some redeeming value, e.g. holding hands during the Our Father becomes widespread, is it not a natural development? In 300 years, could we see a pope saying, “This nonsense with [insert absurd activity here] is now forbidden; we will only permit what has been common practice for at least 200 years, such as holding hands during the Our Father.”

    Some Eastern Rites have fancy metal discs on long sticks that rattle when shaken over the altar by altar boys, much like ringing bells in the Roman Rite. They became part of the liturgical paraphernalia of those rites through natural development. Originally they were fly swatters to keep flies in hot climates (e.g. India) off the Eucharist. At least so I am told by someone of a rite that uses them.

    Surely once upon a time the Liturgy of St John Chrysostom was a novelty, and the Dominican and Sarum rites abuses of the established Roman Rite?

  101. Suburbanbanshee says:

    “We also have the universal practice here (and in the US) of praying the Hail Mary after the prayers of intercession- this is not liturgical either. Do we need to expend the same energy and print over this practice too?”

    My understanding is that there’s an indult for that practice. (And it’s hardly universal in the US. I’ve seen it done live maybe twice my whole life, and the first time was very worried by it. Fortunately, I was able to find out that it was an okay option.) And technically, it’s just another prayer of the faithful anyway.

  102. AnAmericanMother says:

    There’s a difference between unconscious, natural development and self-conscious attempts to force change. Altar girls are a clear example of the latter. Holding hands for the Our Father is somewhat less clear, but still probably forced. The extraneous blessing of children etc. may have arisen more spontaneously, but then again it might not have. Somebody with better knowledge of how the practice developed may be able to better inform us.
    You see the same thing in the difference between actual “folk music” and the manufactured junk that purports to be “folk music” – which far too often forces its way into church under the guise of being the “authentic voice of the people”, which it ain’t.

  103. justanothercatholic says:

    That is the thing. It already received a quasi-official status. [How did it do that? It is written down somewhere in some quasi-official way?] Not to do it at this point is anti-pastoral.

    (pastoral reasons! pastoral reasons! how many crimes are committed in thy name! )


    What is the juridical good being protected in these laws? Is it being harmed? First of all we would have to determine what law and then if the good it seeks to protect is in danger.

    I frankly don’t see it. I don’t agree with the practice MAINLY because it is an evident manifestation of a state of sin, which is, objectively speaking, a sin of scandal. In fact, if a person enters the Communion line, in NORMAL circumstances they should receive Holy Communion regardless of their state, because if they were not aware of mortal sin at the moment they got into it, they do not commit sacrilege and are allowed to receive Communion (AT THAT MOEMENT OF COURSE!) But today people get into the line KNOWING that they are in a state of sin… Objectively a scandal, but due the common circumstances of a regular parish in 2012 it isn’t.
    100 years ago getting into the line and getting out was a clear manifestation of sin, so the person should receive. Not getting up at all meant nothing because people went to mass without the intention or possibility of receiving all the time.
    Today it hardly has that effect . The practice should be gently curtailed. But not in the Communion line. In the sermons and CCD.

  104. RuralVirologist – I am certainly am amateur at deciphering the development of the liturgy, but it strikes me that there is a very real difference between the kind of deliberately disobedient changes and abuses that have flooded the liturgy in the latter-half of the twentieth century, and the kind of change that would allow a natural evolution from, say, the Roman Liturgy to the Dominican Rite. When you contrast, for example, a typically celebrated (in America, that is) Mass in the 1980’s that is woefully and violently different from the Missal of 1962, and which has piled on top outright disobedience of the Holy See regarding various rubrics and instructions, to the development between the Roman Liturgy and the Dominican Rite, there is no comparison and it’s easy to see which one is deliberately breaking organic development and which one is itself an organic development. The Roman Liturgy and the Dominican Rite are very close in their celebration.

    Also, have you read “The Spirit of the Liturgy” and “The Organic Development of the Liturgy”? Type ’em in at amazon.com, it might be helpful to give them a read.

    [Spirit of the Liturgy click HERE. Organic Development click HERE.]

  105. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Dave N.’s comment (9 April 2012 at 6:30 pm) was striking, but my guess is that there is more involved, in that it is not only about baptized infants.

    My guess is that it is (also) an attempt (by whom?) to contrive some sort of a ‘Latin’ or ‘Western’ or whatever (curiously?) ‘intra-Liturgical’ analogue of the ‘Eastern’ antidoron.

    I have never seen anything such as RuralVirologist describes (9 April 2012 at 3:06 pm). Nor do I have any sense of what place (if any!) the antidoron has in which ‘Eastern’ or otherwise ‘non-Latin/Western’ (so to call them) Rites.

    Metropolitan Kallistos Ware wrote in the first edition of his ‘The Orthodox Church’ (‘Pelican’, 1963) that (p. 295) “In most Orthodox parishes non-Orthodox present at the Liturgy are permitted (and indeed, encouraged) to receive the Antidoron, as an expression of Christian fellowship and love.” He also made clear that this occurs “After the final blessing with which the Liturgy ends” (p. 294).

    For what it is worth as an additional datum, something like this ‘Personal Blessing during (and instread of) Administration’ has existed in the Church of England for at least thirty years (though how ‘Canonically’ or otherwise I do not know).

    But perhaps I am guessing wildly! Are there any good (online) reference works about the ‘antidoron’ and analogues?

  106. RuralVirologist says:

    @AnAmericanMother and @JonathanCatholic – thanks. I agree that some things are truly contrived abuses; I suspect the blessing of children during Communion and holding hands are not that deliberately contrived – a family holding hands around the dinner table saying grace could easily result in them doing so at Mass, and other people taking it as a nice gesture, and spreading the practice. I can imagine it may be acceptable in 200-300 years if it survives. I neither try to hold hands nor refuse to hold hands – the Mass isn’t my place to make a scene or prove a point. I do tend (in the Ordinary Form, and completely subconsciously) to develop a nasal itch and blow my nose prior to the Our Father, and if that happens I continue to rub my nose with my hanky because I don’t want to then hold someone else’s hand. I don’t develop a nasal itch during the EF because I find it too fascinating, it being so new to me.

    The blessing during Communion … dunno. I didn’t realise it was a problem until I saw this post. I agree with the arguments against it; I don’t think it would hurt if it survived.

    The books – I am waiting for the former to become available again (availability is on and off) through my local internet bookshop – I stopped buying from Amazon when our customs people complained that I made 3 purchases in one year. It is (now they are) on my to-do list.

    @Venerator Sti Lot – antidoron is the word! Wikipedia and the Catholic Encyclopedia have articles on it. Thinking back I can’t fully remember whether it came before or after Communion, but I am 99% sure it came before, because Communion was given with a spoon, and the antidoron was not, and a lot was said and done between the two events. I am sure, though, that all of this took place before “the final blessing with which the Liturgy ends“, because everything looked very liturgical up till that point, and the only think after that was the sermon. I may, however, have my memories in the wrong order – it was 11 years ago, and was, I think, the first (and only, apart from the Maronites, whose Liturgy is far more similar to ours) Eastern Liturgy I’d ever been to. In Malayalam (or a more liturgical language??), and with no less than a Catholicos singing the Liturgy, it was a tremendous information and sensory overload. I can say it was St Thomas Sunday, the Sunday after Easter, and being St Thomas Christians of the Orthodox variety, if antidoron is distributed only on special feast days, this would be one of their most special days.

  107. twittry says:

    For some time now, I always find your posts quite insightful and apropos, Fr. Z! Thank you for blogging. It seems that perhaps many of us Americans have a hard time with the fact that our Holy Church is not a democracy, and I don’t think our American Bishops are all immune to this democratic mentality. Because most of us commenting here are lay folk who have no real authority in overturning such matters as these communion time blessings, maybe we should resolve to pray for the liturgists and Bishops who should be ensuring that all the faithful are particpating in an authentic liturgy as it has been outlined in the rubrics and other church documents. [Thank you very much for that suggestion. I hope people will take that as good advice.] God sees all and knows all, and those He left to feed and protect His sheep are not escaping the Almighty’s watchful eye. Maybe we should all offer a few extra prayers whenevever we witness these liturgical abuses and reassure our priests and bishops that the faithful really want to do “the work of the people” AKA, the liturgy the way God intended it, and those who get upset always have a choice to accept, obey and remain, or reject, disobey and go find another form of worship. After all, doesn’t the mass really belong to Him?

  108. Pingback: Blessings of children « The Catechesis of Caroline

  109. RCPR says:

    At the risk of coming off as a middle aged liberal, which I’m not, i fail to see what the issue is here. To extend a brief blessing, or have an EMHC simply say “God bless you,” provides some avenue of recognition for those unable to receive. Ommunion, particularly children and non- Catholics. This is particularly welcome at weddings and funerals, and other occasions when a significant number of non-Catholics are in attendance. Yes, we short be orthodox in presenting the Church’s teaching, but circumstances can present themselves when it is best to extend some way to accommodate those visiting with us without seeing it as an assault on the faith. As for adding things to the liturgy, I seem to recall John Paul II reciting the Angelus during the Mass in Baltimore in 1995, certainly not in the rubrics. Yes, he was the pope, but the point is that I see nothing disruptive to extending a blessing to a child or non- Catholic. It does no harm.

  110. justanothercatholic says:


    I think this is the best answer I’ve seen so far. He says let the Church decide on it because it is murky as to if it is possible. [A unique reading. The article comes down on the side of the top entry.]

    Anyhow, I don’t believe that argument is valid in this case. Scratching your head would break that rule as it isn’t in the rubrics if you wish to interpret things that way.
    Even here many people have argued for things not explicitly cited in the modern rubrics, such as the maniple. The Bishop’s blessing with the Gospel book was for a long time (and still not in the Ceremonial of Bishops) without rubrics giving it force. Yet bishops adopted it everywhere! The rubric came in time.

    Like I said, I am against it. But the Communion line isn’t the moment to blast this. [Who is talking about blasting?]

    You know the saying” Be a lion in the pulpit and a lamb in the confessional.” [Where does that saying come from?] Imperfections cannot always be rooted out manu militari. Take it from Pope Benedict XVI. I bet he has a list in his head of things to do. [You are psychic?]But he didn’t go out and “Habemus Papam” and he goes “Well you losers I’m coming out for you!!”

    If the first missionaries in the Americas came out foaming at their nakedness and culinary choices (Blessed Anchieta once had to console an indian who was suffering because she stopped eating children and it was hard for her!) then the world would have ended a long time ago because iniquity would have taken over the world and the Americas would still be in the darkness of paganism. It was with a determined but prudent and motherly manner that the missionaries made the Americas the hope for the Church.

    Don’t you think the New Evangelization is of similar or if not great adversities?

  111. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Thanks to RuralVirologist (10 April 2012 at 2:29 pm) for pointing out two places I should have thought to look first about the ‘antidoron’ and analogues!

    The 1907 Catholic Encyclopedia article has many interesting details: “It may seem strange that the earliest historical reference to this custom should be found in the Western Church. It is mentioned in the 118th letter of St. Augustine to Januarius (now known as the 54th letter in the new order. […]), and in the canons of a local council in Gaul in the seventh century. Originally it was a substitute, or solatium for such of the faithful as were not prepared to go to Communion or were unable to get to the Holy Sacrifice. If they could not partake of the body of Our Lord they had the consolation of partaking of the bread which had been blessed and from which the portions for consecration had been taken.”

    And “The canonical regulations of the Russian Orthodox and Greek (Hellenic) Orthodox Churches require that the antidoron should […] not he distributed to unbelievers or to persons undergoing penance before absolution. While the rite still continues in the East it was finally given up by the Western Church, and now only survives in the Roman Rite in the pain bénit given in the French churches and cathedrals at High Mass, in certain churches of Lower Canada, and occasionally in Italy, on certain feasts.”

    If this is accurate, things have changed among (many) of the “Orthodox Churches” since 1907. In effect, the “solatium” has been extended.

    Is this also the case with what the article calls “the Greek Rite” (and other ‘non-Latin/Western’ Rites)? And what has become of the “pain bénit” since 1907?

    Obviously, to apply the words of twittry (10 April 2012 at 4:29 pm), “the liturgy the way God intended it” is ‘multi-ritual’ (so to put it). Would increased ‘bi-‘ or ‘multi-ritual’ practice be a way to extend ‘solatium’ without dangers of irregularity and sin?

  112. justanothercatholic says:

    [Who is talking about blasting?]

    A total refusal in the Communion line is powerful. [Again, you exaggerate. Not doing something which is not permitted is not a “total refusal”.]

    [Where does that saying come from?]
    St. Alphonso if I am not mistaken. [If you could dig it up, that would be helpful.]

    [You are psychic?]
    Please Father… Don’t need to be. You lived in Rome (well close enough) . So did I. We all know there is an agenda and how it is all calculated. [You seem to think the “agenda” is not good. Why would an “agenda” of doing things properly be bad?]

  113. justanothercatholic says:

    Well I think the “not permitted” is the murky stuff. Is it really not (in the current circumstances)

    I will look for the quote.

    I am totally for the agenda.

  114. Pingback: Blessings and the Communion line < MOTU PROPRIO

  115. James Patrick John says:

    I respectfully disagree with the opinion that blessings by the church of small children that are being pulled toward the Savior is errant. [I respectfully point out that that is NOT what we are talking about here. Go back to the top and read again what the subject matter is. This is about blessings during Communion.] I am not in anyway an expert on the minutiae of the Canon of the Mass, but I am aware of and can see the power of Christ in the yearning in these children. If I do not give them Holy Communion then has anything changed? The Lord prescribed blessings of children in Numbers 6:23′”..Thus shall you bless the children of Israel, [The children of Israel is the entire People.] and you shall say to them: 24 The Lord bless you, and keep you. 25 The Lord show his face to you, and have mercy on you. 26 The Lord turn his countenance to you, and give you peace. 27 And they shall invoke my name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them.” The Lord also said in Matthew 19;14 “..Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to me: for the kingdom of heaven is for such. ”
    Please know this, that should my pastor or Bishop in the future instruct me to not do these things I will obey.

  116. Sal says:

    If you are still monitoring this entry, I think that Fr. Joe is a good counterpoint to your position at


    It sure does not sound from his description that one can label him a wild-eyed liberal.

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