ASK FATHER: Blessing weapons

From a reader…

QUAERITUR:

As a Catholic and a practitioner of the 2nd Amendment, I was wondering if or there are blessings for firearms.

The priests in my local parish strike me as a bit squeamish when it comes to firearms, so I haven’t approached them directly. But, if I found a priest who was willing, are there any prayers or Saints that you recommend? A web search turned up a Canonized priest who chased away some bad guys with a pistol. I was looking for something more.

My front runners so far are St. Michael the Archangel and Our Lady of the Rosary for her intercession at the Battle of Lepanto.

In the old Roman Ritual there are blessings for all sorts of things, tools, machines, gizmos, etc.  There is not a specific blessing for weapons.  The Ritual says that it is intended as a model for the local development of rituals that include blessings, etc.  I once adapted a blessing in the Roman Ritual mountain climbing equipment for the hardware that was to go into someone’s knee replacement.

There are blessings for lime kilns.  Why not guns?  There are blessings for cars.  Why not guns?  There are blessings for telegraphs… ships….

We want tools which we use to work, especially in time of urgent need.

When you are hanging on the edge of the mountain, you want those ropes and picks and Karabinerhaken not to break.   When you are in the car at 60 MPH, you want it to be steerable and brake-able.  Right?  When you need to use a gun, for hunting or defense, you want it to function, right?   We do our part to make sure that all our kit is in good repair, that our ships are ship-shape and Bristol fashion and that our guns are clean and in proper condition.

But there are the unknowns.  We ask God to do His part.

I always warn people that whenever I bless cars by request, they usually are involved in an accident soon after.  One time when I did this, sure enough, the lady came back and told me she had been in a fender bender.  I mentioned that I had warned her, but she reposted, “Just think about how bad it might have been if you hadn’t blessed the car!”

There is a blessing for “all things”, which is what we use when there is no specific blessing.

After the usual introduction, the blessing prayer is…

Deus, cujus verbo sanctificántur ómnia, bene+dictiónem tuam effúnde super creatúram istam (creatúras istas – PLURAL, of course); et præsta, ut quisquis ea (eis) secúndum legem et voluntátem tuam cum gratiárum actióne usus fúerit, per invocatiónem sanctíssimi nóminis tui, córporis sanitátem, et ánimæ tutélam, te auctóre, percípiat. Per Christum Dóminum nostrum.

Yes, one can bless weapons.  Weapons are tools, like any other tool.  They are, in themselves, morally indifferent. They can be blessed. We can ask God to be especially mindful of their safekeeping, for their proper function, that that not be used for evil purposes, and, in the case of your guns, bows, trebuchets, etc., that each projectile fired with them may find their intended mark.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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20 Responses to ASK FATHER: Blessing weapons

  1. frbkelly says:

    I agree. There is a blessing for battle standards, so why not for weapons as well?

  2. Heck, there are blessings for beer, wine, cheese and lard. There is a blessing for butter (already per se blessed, in my opinion, but there is surely no such thing as a superfluous blessing). Further proof, in my judgment, that the Catholic Church is the True Church. Only the True Church would come up with blessings for everyday objects, because nothing is too small for love.

    http://v-forvictory.blogspot.com/2012/02/god-not-devil-is-in-details.html

  3. Jared Clark says:

    This is a medieval sword blessing I saw on facebook awhile back. Would it be licit for a priest to adapt this to a gun? (While also fixing the typo and blessing it according to modern threats and uses proper for the average citizen, of course)

    https://www.facebook.com/TheCatholicGentleman/photos/a.1400749850138532.1073741828.1400421293504721/1440190782861105/?type=3&theater

    [We need the Latin text!]

  4. Thorfinn says:

    One essay in Crisis proposed G.K. Chesterton as the patron saint of handgunners (once canonized):

    http://www.crisismagazine.com/2015/chesterton-patron-saint-handgunners

    The is a separate push for Saint Gabriel Possenti’s patronage of the same subject.

  5. frbkelly says:

    What about the Knights of Columbus swords? or the Swiss Guards’ Halberds? There must be a blessing for them? Perhaps one of these blessings could be adapted. hmm…

  6. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Is there a blessing for the Czar?

  7. Clemens Romanus says:

    Benedictio ensis

    Exaudi, quaesumus, domine, preces nostras, et hunc ensem, quo his famulus tuus N. se circumcingi desiderat, majestatis tuae dextera benedicere dignare, quatinus defensio atque protectio possit esse ecclesiarum, viduarum, orphanorum omniumque Deo servientium contra saevitiam paganorum, aliisque insidiantibus sit pavor, terror et formido. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

  8. iamlucky13 says:

    I shouldn’t, but I can’t resist…

    I believe the blessing for handguns can be found in both Latin and the approved English translation in The Book of Armaments, chapter 3. Most people expect to find it in chapter 1, since the handgun is a more common weapon than a hand grenade (chapter 2), but the latter actually takes precedence due to its special patronage to the saints of Antioch.

  9. Spade says:

    I also saw the sword blessing on the Catholic Gentleman and via searching found in the “Encyclopedia of the Sword” on Google Books that it is from the 10th Century.
    I’ve got a buddy studying for his PhD in Latin and I wonder if he could translate it.

    I’ve got an approved SBR Uzi with Hebrew markings about to be completed, and a Spike’s Tactical Crusader lower receiver about to get built into a rifle, so I’m covered for both the Old and the New.

  10. There are a number of blessings in the Pontificale Romanum for military purposes:

    De Benedictione et Impositione Crucis Proficiscentibus in Subsidium, et Defensionem Fidei christianae, seu Recuperationem Terrae Sanctae
    De Benedictione Armorum
    De Benedictione Ensis
    De Benedictione et Traditionis Vexilli bellici
    De Benedictione novi Militis
    See: http://www.liturgialatina.org/pontificale/150.htm

    But since they are in the Pontificale, I think the mind of the Church is that they only be used by bishops. Thus, I think Fr. Zuhlsdorf’s suggestion of the use of the blessing of all things is a good one.

    Here is the benediction armorum:

    Pontifex benedicturus arma, quae aliquis ministrorum coram eo tenet, aut supra altare vel aliquam mensam ponuntur, stans sine mitra, dicit:

    V. Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini. R. Qui fecit coelum et terram. V. Dominus vobiscum. R. Et cum spiritu tuo.

    Oremus. Benedictio Dei omnipotentis Pa + tris, et Fi + lii, et Spiritus + Sancti, descendat super haec arma, et super induentem ea, quibus ad tuendam justitiam induatur. Rogamus te, Domine Deus, ut illum protegas, et defendas, qui vivis et regnas Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. R. Amen.

    Alia Oratio.

    Oremus. Deus omnipotens, in cujus manu victoria plena constitit, quique etiam David ad expugnandum rebellem Goliam vires mirabiles tribuisti, clementiam tuam humili prece deposcimus, ut haec arma almifica pietate bene + dicere digneris; et concede famulo tuo N. eadem gestare cupienti, ut ad munimen, ac defensionem sanctae matris Ecclesiae, pupillorum, et viduarum, contra visibilium et invisibilium hostium impugnationem, ipsis libere et victoriose utatur. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. R. Amen.

    Deinde aspergit ea aqua benedicta.

  11. YoungLatinMassGuy says:

    I’ve got an approved SBR Uzi… Spike’s Tactical Crusader…

    Looks like I gotta add jealousy to the list of sins to confess…

  12. Art says:

    Of course there is always the perennial favourite from the Book of Armaments:

    …And Saint Attila raised the hand grenade up on high, saying, “O LORD, bless this Thy hand grenade that with it Thou mayest blow Thine enemies to tiny bits, in Thy mercy.”

    If only someone can render it into Latin….

  13. Spade says:

    This popped up in a search.

    Benedictio ensis

    Exaudi, quaesumus, domine, preces nostras, et hunc ensem, quo his famulus tuus N. se circumcingi desiderat, majestatis tuae dextera benedicere dignare, quatinus defensio atque protectio possit esse ecclesiarum, viduarum, orphanorum omniumque Deo servientium contra saevitiam paganorum, aliisque insidiantibus sit pavor, terror et formido. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

  14. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    When I was in 3rd grade I went crashing thru a window and ended up with about 35 stitches. Fr. Ferris duly blessed my stiches and I healed up just fine. As the doc removed them some weeks later, I informed him that those stitches had been blessed and, as a result, they needed to be burned, not simply tossed in the trash. My mom told me the poor doc needed several minutes to recover from his laughing fit, but that he did promise to burn them.

  15. tjmurphy says:

    Dr. Edward Peters asked…
    Is there a blessing for the czar?

    “May God bless and keep the czar…far away from us!”

    That was the first thought I had when I read the beginning of this article.

  16. spock says:

    What about the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch? It is one of the sacred relics that Brother Maynard carries with him. Pie Iesu Domine, dona eis requiem. 1 .. 2 .. 5 !!!

  17. KateD says:

    It’s just a harmless little bunny (//religion of peace)…

  18. Semper Gumby says:

    It’s good to be Catholic on a Sunday in April. Holy Mass, an excellent discussion here on blessing weapons, along with great comments about the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch and killer bunnies. And today, after a long winter of discontent, is Opening Day for God’s game: baseball!

  19. spock says:

    Yes baseball bats. Those can be weapons as well. Perhaps the prayer for them should be that they are not used in that manner.

    I just saw an old rerun of Sanford and Son. Aunt Esther’s purse was also a weapon as well. But it is a protestant purse so I guess we don’t bless those.

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