From a reader…
Our Pastor has started a practice that makes me deeply uncomfortable.
Typically, the first weekend of the month after the announcements, anyone with a special day (birthday, anniversary, etc.) is asked to stand up to receive a special blessing. The congregation is then invited to “raise and extend your hands to pray for those standing.”
During mass this weekend there was a baptism, and afterwards we were all invited to do the same, extend our hands to pray for the family.
This just feels so icky and Protestant-y to me, but I am wondering if this is an abuse of some kind? I live in small-ish town Texas and the entirety of our diocese has some “issues,” so another parish is no better. The closest Latin Mass is 5 hours away…. :(
Praying for you, Father. I hope you are well. Thanks very much for entertaining the question. I can’t tell you how uncomfortable it makes me feel!
Oh, it’s definitely an abuse.
No one, not even a priest, is to alter the ritual of the Mass. That includes adding in rituals like this.
This sort of thing is probably born of sloppy thinking, sentimentality and a weak priestly identity rather than malice.
When this sort of thing is done, it undermines the community’s conception of the priesthood and the ability of the priest to bless and consecrate. If we all can gather around “Myrna” and bless her as she begins her new “ministry” as a checker at the local Piggly Wiggly, then how does this differ from the priest’s blessing?
This is an abuse and the bishop should be notified. Whether he does anything about it or not is an open question. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
From a priest…
Thanks for your response on blessing Myrna. Just yesterday we had the installation for our pastoral council. We used a blessing we received from the diocese. When I blessed the council the congregation was supposed to be asked to extend their hands as I said the blessing.
I omitted that thinking that it was just another misunderstanding of the priesthood. We’re just “presiders” after all :)