Blessing smart phones. Wherein Fr. Z rants about blessings and demons and present day stupidity.


Yes, I have blessed smart phones, tablets and computers.

Consultation with exorcists will inform you that demons are really good at infesting electronic equipment.  I’ve heard enough scary stories from exorcists about that to leave me cautious and, at times, alarmed.

Hence, yes, I have blessed smart phones, tablets and computers.

Today I see at The Catholic Thing an offering about this very topic by Ines A. Murzaku. Let’s have a glance at some of it with my usual treatment.

A Blessed Smartphone?

A blessed smartphone or tablet? Yes. Parishioners at St. Matthew’s Church in Marsala (Sicily) were asked by Fr. Alessandro Palermo, a 30-year-old parish priest, to bring their smartphones and tablets to church for a special benediction this year before Christmas on the feast of St. Lucy: “With the advent of the Internet, social media and the technological revolution, mobile phones have become very important, we keep them always with us.”


Misuse of a cell phone or smartphone can result in a number of physical problems: digital eyestrain, blurred vision, headache, and other symptoms.

But worse than physical damage, misuse of technology can cause moral damage. “Eyes and sight must be educated, protected, trained even when we look at the screen of our mobile phone. It is not a question of health (staring too much with your eyes on a screen can hurt people’s vision), but it is also a moral issue,” explains Fr. Palermo.

In other words, smartphones can tempt us to evil thoughts through evil sight, so the eyes of the person who uses technology need protection and benediction. The tragedies caused by misuse of smartphones have ruined lives and have caused even death. “That is why a blessing can do good, not to the phone but to the people who use it,” said Fr. Palermo.  [Ummm…. I’m going to disagree with Father.  Both object and person can and must be blessed.  First, people should get into the habit of asking priests for a blessing.  That’s what priests are for.  However, I think that the phones, etc., ought to be blessed as well, precisely for the reason that I mentioned at the top.  Demons can infest places and things.  The sinful use of places and things can result in demonic infestation, which I think we will all agree is a sub-optimal situation.  But there’s more, I think, behind Father’s statement… read on.]


But what does Saint Lucy have to do with smartphones?

Saint Lucy (Santa Lucia in Italian) was a Christian martyr, patroness of Syracuse in Sicily who lived between A.D. 283 and 304 and died during the Diocletian persecutions of A.D. 304. According to tradition, she had her eyes gouged out. So she is the patron saint of the blind, glazers, and authors – and by extension seems poised to become a special guide for the beneficial use of digital media. [Taking “custody of the eyes” to a new level.]

“That is why I want to bless the smartphones,” comments Fr. Palermo. It’s important to understand what happens when the Church blesses an object. The Catholic Benedictionary or Book of Blessings includes benediction of “the instruments of social communication” (No. 927), or the blessing of things designated for ordinary usage.  [Herein lies the problem.  The “Book of Blessings” – which I will never use, contains all sorts of prayers which bless the people who might use something, but doesn’t actually bless the places or things.  The preface in the book eliminates the distinction between invocative and constitutive blessings, which is very bad indeed and reflects the worst of post-Conciliar, modernist tendencies.  The numbering of the Latin De Benedictionibus is different from the edition cited in the article, but I found the referenced “blessing” (not).  More, below.]

The Church sees reasons to bless many kinds of things: from grapes to wine for the sick; from medicine to beer, cheese or butter; from lard and oil to salt and oats for animals; from fire and airplanes to railway cars. Then, why not bless the most cherished modern object: the smartphone? The following formula from the Rituale Romanum of 1962 may be used by any priest for the blessing of anything that does not have its own special blessing:

God, whose word suffices to make all things holy, pour out your blessing + on this object (these objects); and grant that anyone who uses it (them) with grateful heart and in keeping with your law and will, may receive from you, its (their) Maker, health in body and protection of soul by calling on your holy name; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

[It (they) is (are) sprinkled with holy water.]  [I’d use Latin.  The Devil really hates Latin.  And, yes, that blessing blesses things with a constitutive blessing.]

The Church has always displayed a passion for and attention to communication, through word or image, pen or paint. For every affliction and addiction, the Church has a Benediction. However unusual it may at first appear, in blessing mobile devices, the Church has begun a much-needed outreach, urging people to get the best out of technology and to use smartphones smartly, so that, rather than instruments of immorality, our devices become instruments of virtue and well-being.

Again, in that last part, the writer gets that the phone should be blessed.  The Sicilian priest said not the phone but the person.

Fr. Z says, both the phone and the person.

In De Benedictionibus (the dreadful Latin edition of the “Book of (non-) Blessings”) I found a section for “”Buildings for advancing social communication”, which would be radio stations, movie theaters, etc.  De Benedictionibus was issued in 1984.  I have its 1993 reprint.  In other words, this was before smart phones. I suspect there are newer editions… though I will never buy one.   I suspect that in any newer edition, the same wrong-headed and newfangled notion would be followed.

In the aforementioned “blessing” of a, say, TV studio, we read, “famulos tuos, Domine, respice benignus, qui his utentur technicis istrumentis…  O Lord, look kindly on your servants who use these gizmos…”.  Later the formulary blesses the people present, not the things to be used.  FAIL.  That’s the “Book of Blessings”, however.  Always the people, never the things or places.

Take things to Father to be blessed.  And head off the horrid Book of Blessings by taking with you a copy of the blessing from the Rituale Romanum “for all things” (or the more precise one if you can find it, for example, at the useful Sancta Missa site),

V. Adiutórium nostrum Cross Symbol in nómine Dómini.
R. Qui fecit cælum et terram.
V. Dominus vobíscum.
R. Et cum spíritu tuo.


Deus, cuius verbo sanctificántur ómnia, béne + dictiónem tuam effúnde super creatúram istam (creatúras istas): et præsta, ut quisquis ea (eis) secúndum legem et voluntátem tuam cum gratiárum actióne usus fúerit, per invocatiónem sanctíssimi nominis tui, córporis sanitátem et ánimæ tutélam, te auctóre, percípiat. Per Dóminum nóstrum Iesum Christum Fílium tuum: Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitáte Spíritus Sancti Deus per ómnia s?cula sæculórum.

R. Amen.

Sprinkle with holy water (hopefully blessed with the older Rituale).

Now, please allow me to rant.

As I have written before, …

Does anyone believe that the Devil stopped attacking in the 60’s?

My recollection of the 60’s suggests that Devil’s attacks redoubled and with great effect.

Consider how the liturgical “reformers” with the inexplicable approved of Paul VI, dropped the exorcisms from the rite of Baptism, despite the teaching of the Church about the Enemy and  the effects of Original Sin.

Consider how the orations of Holy Mass in the Roman Rite were stripped of their clear references to sin, expiation, propitiation, judgment.

Consider how a “Book of Blessings” was issued that doesn’t really bless things or places, despite the clear fact of demonic activity.

Consider how a new rite of exorcism was published, which greatly diminished the power and efficacy of exoricisms.

Consider how the “Leonine Prayers” after Low Masses were dropped, which included the invocation of St. Michael the Archangel.

It is as if the Church simply caved in before the world and its Prince.

“But Father! But Father!”, you snivelers yammer from behind your Fishwrap, “The Council was lead by the spirit!  The spirit of the Council!  Everything is so much better now! It’s undeniable.  But yoooooou… you and your … your… GAH!  Vatican II didn’t go nearly FAR ENOUGH!   Küng says so!  But yooooou… you can’t see that because you don’t have the spirit of the Council!  And she doesn’t like you at all!  Why?  WHY?!?  Because YOU HATE VATICAN II!”

I love Vatican II so much that I won’t lie about it.

These days we have all manner of priest and prelate feeding us B as in B and S and in S about 2+2 equaling 5, and even worse phonus-balonus that people who are in the state of mortal sin can without a firm purpose of amendment receive the sacraments.  They attack the very foundations of the Faith.

This is the work of Satan.  You can tell that it is from the Enemy of the soul because it is creating greater and ever more bitter division and confusion.

And yet the great spiritual weapons Holy Church has in her arsenal are not being used, and indeed are being locked away by those who should have them firmly in well-trained battle-toughened hands.

Our Savior said that this world has its Prince.

We are in a constant state of spiritual warfare.  The Enemy neither lays down arms nor ceases the attack just because we idiots stop defending ourselves.  How stupid is that, anyway?

When we bless things or places with constitutive blessings, we rip them from the grasp of the Prince of This word and hand them over to Christ the King.

We must reclaim what has been lost and reintegrate it into our regular practices and daily lives.  We need what was won for us and handed down through the centuries of our forebears’ experience.

We need a wide-spread renewal of the older, traditional Roman Rite.

For the umpteenth time, no initiative we undertake in the Church will succeed without a revitalization of our sacred liturgical worship.


  • Use the older Rituale Romanum.
  • Learn the older, traditional Mass.
  • Turn those altars back towards the Lord.
  • Reinstate devotions such as novenas and Exposition with Benediction.
  • Preach about and hear confessions.
  • Teach about sacramentals.
  • Bring the Church’s language Latin back into your liturgical lives.
  • Reclaim your patrimony, your identity.

Don’t be afraid.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Blessing electronic devices is a great idea, and using the old blessing has to be part of it, with properly blessed holy water [the full ‘leaded’ version, also from the old Ritual].
    There are all kinds of reasons including demonic manipulation, physical health effects, electronic addiction, and perverse influences of certain kinds of content.
    I’ve been known to sprinkle ‘leaded’ holy water on my computer when I couldn’t seem to resist its consistent pull from getting my daily duties done.
    I know of a handheld phone getting untraceable messages, calls and texts from “nowhere”. These friendly-at-first messages turned into misleading influential messages. The recipient believes that these messages are from a dead husband.

  2. grumpyoldCatholic says:

    OK in the beginning you mentioned that you talked to exorcists.. In pre Vatican II days the office of exorcist was part of all Holy Orders. used to be porter, exorcist, lectern, and acolyte When they changed the ordinal in 1968 they left out exorcist and porter as part of the process of becoming a priest [Different thing.] Thanks again Vatican II. Secondly I have here an old Collectio Rituum from 1964. It is in both Latin and English and has the older form of baptism with the three exorcisms. The book was from Liturgical Press Collegeville Minnesota. And one more thing if I may. I thought that St. Agnes was the saint that you prayed for for custody of the eyes

  3. FrAnt says:

    Why would someone question blessing cell phones? We bless cars, farm equipment, buildings, cemeteries, etc.
    I was recently warned not be bring up ad orientum with our new bishop, he’s not a fan. [How about ad orienTEM?]

  4. jflare29 says:

    I think blessing a cell phone a rather bad idea. [Nope.] Maybe for someone [?] who is well versed in traditional norms it might work, [?] but most people [?]don’t fit that category. Someone [?] whose faith follows more closely with “modern” ideas about the Church would be much more likely to ignore the intent of the blessing. Besides that, a cell phone is far more easily sold, lost, stolen, or damaged than are other items we might consider. I think it would be smarter to bless the person. [Read the top entry again, please.]
    MAYBE if the priest has ample confidence that the person in question “gets it” about the faith. Otherwise, it’s too easy for such a blessing to be seen to more like some sort of good luck charm, which is not helpful for a serious understanding of faith.


  5. grumpyoldCatholic says:

    Can you please explain your comment on my previous post? PreV2 there were minor orders Porter lectern exorcist and acolyte. next were major orders sub deacon ( which has also been removed ) deacon and priest. And there was no such nonsense of the permanent diaconate. I started reading some of this and found it interesting
    have you ever seen or read any of it?

    [A man with the minor order of exorcist is not the same as a priest.]

  6. Imrahil says:

    With all due respect to the dear jflare29,

    Otherwise, it’s too easy for such a blessing to be seen to more like some sort of good luck charm, which is not helpful for a serious understanding of faith.

    I’ll be a bit provocative on this:

    It would be helpful to a serious understanding of the faith if we all saw these things rather more as “some sort of good luck charms”. [I don’t know what’s going on where you are, but I preach about the meaning of sacramentals and blessings.]

    People all the time when any religious thing is encountered always insist “it’s not magic”. And in the sense the word is used in Church tradition, it is needless to say they are right. But they say it a bit too often.

    Because Tom, Dick or Harry in the street does not think “demonic” when he hears “magical”. Nor does he hear “forcing preternatural powers by technical means” when he hears “magical”. He thinks “supernatural” and, why not, bringing good luck:

    and there can’t be doubt that the Church’s sacramentals certainly are the former and at least with a high probability (so to say) the latter.

    In this sense, note the emphasis, we should be more anxious to suggest inverted-comma “magical” beliefs than to quench them.

    To take an extreme case, talk to a well-meaning but ignorant non-Christian person about the Holy Eucharist (not to someone versed in Church tradition). Tell her, well, when the priest has said the words, the bread is gone and the Body of Christi is there, though with the appearance of bread; the wine is gone and the Blood of Christ is there, though with the appearance of wine. So far so good; she may not believe it, but she’ll know what you believe. And then try to say “but of course that’s in no way magic!” I think our well-meaning inquirer must be excused if he can only think “huh?” after this exclamation. [Oh dear! Someone said, “Huh?” I guess we ought to stop saying Mass and confecting the Eucharist!]

    [At a certain point, I don’t care what non-Catholics think when it comes to sacramentals. I certainly and not going to stop using them or preaching about them because some non-Catholic – or poorly catechized Catholic – “doesn’t get it”. Nope. I am not going to keep my 9mm holstered in a mortal fight just because some bystander doesn’t get it, or doesn’t like the 2nd amendment, etc. We have to bless sacramentals and use sacramentals far more than we do. At the same time we have to recover these poorly catechized Catholics for the Faith. This is spiritual war we are talking about. Let’s stop namby-pambying around.]

  7. Imrahil says:

    My point was, in brief, that use the word “magic”, “charm” and the like in a way different from the way others use it; and I still think that is correct. I also still think that the transsubstantiation would seem quite “magical” to the outsider, and that the right approach in this case is to say “well, God does do this miracle”.

  8. JMody says:

    Father Z, two questions on this post –
    (1) ref using Latin, who was it that said he was asked to perform a baby’s baptism in English (pre-V2) and responded that he would stick with Latin because the baby understood neither but the devil certainly understood Latin, and [Sounds like Ronald Knox.]
    (2) ref the new exorcism ritual, weren’t all exorcists granted a blanket permission to drop the new book and stick with the old after a few of them complained that the new form simply didn’t seem to be effective? [Yes, I believe exorcists can use either one.]

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  10. Semper Gumby says:

    Amen. Spiritual Warfare indeed.

    Paul Thigpen wrote a travel-size (1/3 the thickness of the 1962MR) leather-bound book: “Manual for Spiritual Warfare.” There is a Know Your Enemy opening section, then there are excerpts from Encyclicals, the Catechism, many excerpts from Saints, and a large selection of prayers, devotions, and hymns, and recommended reading. 340 pages.

    A commenter here last year recommended The Spiritual Combat by Dom Scupoli. Thanks, it’s now in the ol’ Stack of Books.

  11. Chuck4247 says:

    “I love Vatican II so much that I won’t lie about it.” This should be a quote for some Z-Swag, possibly a coffee mug with a picture of JPII?

  12. Mick Mombasa says:

    Hi Father, it is my understanding that blessed items can’t be sold. How does this effect those who wish to trade in or sell old blessed smartphones, tablets and cars etc.?

    [I don’t think it affects them at all. They can sell the phone or not sell the phone as they please.]

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