ASK FATHER: Blessing objects through plastic wrapper, box, etc.

From a reader…


Today I asked a priest to bless a green scapular. I had the package open for it to be taken out, but to my surprise the priest left it inside the plastic packaging, sprinkling the holy water on the outside.

Can the scapular be considered blessed even if the holy water did not touch it?

Green scapular, eh?  Did you know that a parish in the Diocese of Madison, where we have had a couple of Pontifical Masses, was slated to be the Shrine of the Green Scapular?  It was not to be.

First, let’s review. There are invocative blessings, by which we call down down God’s graces and blessings on a person. There are also constitutive blessings, by which we ask God to make a person, place or thing a blessed person, place or thing, that is, to rip it from the Prince of this world, and hand it over to the King. That’s, by the way, the distinction that the new and dreadful “Book of Blessings” sought to eliminate. But I digress.

Constitutive blessings have pretty good penetration power and great range, even in the vernacular. Yes, they can go through plastic wrappers and even boxes, as in the case of salt to be blessed or statues, etc. Holy Water is blessed inside a container, although in the older, traditional rite we open it to mix in blessed salt.

To give you an idea of penetration and range, I once blessed the entire 19th Precinct of Manhattan from an airplane flying up the East River, through the glass double window.  Wow, right?  I can assure you, it worked…. I think.  I’m working on another plan to do a better job down the line.

You might compare the penetration of constitutive blessings to those great slow mo videos of bullets going through clear ballistic gel blocks.

For visual example of what the Devil feels when he gets hit with one of these bad boy blessings, imagine that your priest just used English and gave the blessing to that green scapular still in the package. That’s like a .22LR…

Not bad, right?

But wait!  Here’s the Latin version, more like a .357 Magnum…

And there’s more.

Here’s the Latin version in cassock and stole while wearing the liturgical Beretta.

When a bishop consecrates something, for example a chalice or a bell, I suppose it would be like this a 12 gauge slug… although, come to think of it, it would unlikely for the chalice and the bell to be in boxes or wrappers… but who cares, it’s cool video!

So, what – you are by now asking – would an ordination to the priesthood do to the Devil?

Okay, maybe I’ve gotten a little off topic.

I’m ratcheted up right now because I’m visiting my mother, the retired cop, and celebrating her 83rd birthday. We went to the range this morning to try out her new 9mm Glock, as one does with one’s mom.  She hasn’t really shot much since she retired in ’87, and she hasn’t ever shot anything but a light-weight .38sp snub revolver.

Results? Mag after mag she shot groupings like this:


And with the Viridian laser [HERE] engaged…

I’m pretty chuffed.  Way to go Mom!

So, with that evidence I can assure you that your green scapular is blessed, even though it was still in the wrapper.  My mother would agree.

And I’ll say to all the priests out there reading this:

Use the older, traditional Rituale Romanum and use Latin.

Make sure the Devil has a really bad day.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, ASK FATHER Question Box, Hard-Identity Catholicism, Lighter fare, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Semper Paratus, Si vis pacem para bellum! and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. majuscule says:

    Wow! Happy birthday to your mom!

    I was glad to read about blessings penetrating wrappings. On a pilgrimage, we gathered in a meeting room the last evening so our priest could bless the objects we had gotten at the wonderful holy shrine we were visiting. Items were piled on a table and some people had forgotten their items in their rooms. One of Father’s assistants said that the blessing would penetrate the walls and bless anything we’d forgotten to bring. Whew!

    I am in possession of a small amount of well exorcised Epiphany Water and the salt that was blessed in the old rite at the same time. When you hear the prayer of exorcism you do not have to understand the Latin to know what is going on!

  2. Joy65 says:

    PLEASE fly over Louisiana and bless it (especially the southern part). :)

  3. Charles E Flynn says:

    Please do not ask Father Z such hypothetical questions as “If you were in Ten Forward, could you bless an object being towed by the Enterprise’s tractor beam? Would the blessing still work at warp speed?

  4. Way to go, mom! That is awesome!

  5. Kathleen10 says:

    I thought at first you were kidding, but I don’t think you are. I don’t recall you mentioning your mother was a police officer. That explains it. It must seem weird to people who aren’t Americans, that our cultural heritage includes weaponry. It’s our history, and a great one. Growing up around guns is a pretty typical American experience. One of my relatives has my dad’s 1940-era Beretta 12 gauge that I would dearly love to have.
    Happy Birthday to your mom!

  6. BarberRB says:

    Please do pardon me. I am a new Catholic, and my mind was linking invalid butt baptisms with the water not touching the sacramental.

  7. Semper Gumby says:

    Happy Birthday to your Mother Fr. Z and well done with those groupings.

    Those videos and the exhortation that “the Devil have a really bad day” got me a-thinkin’. The Devil likes to lay down a minefield on our path to the New Jerusalem. What if we laid down a 100 yards of Church writings from the Bible and the Church Fathers to Summorum Pontificum? That would be a powerful breach in the Devil’s minefield. Hmm…

    Behold the MICLIC (Mine Clearing Line Charge), a rocket trailing a 100-yard long Slinky filled with a ton of explosives that blasts a path through a minefield:

    A side and aerial view:

    [Very cool. That reminds me of the effect of a Sunday morning Asperges!]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  8. JesusFreak84 says:

    The other lesson here is Don’t Mess With Father’s Mom!

    [That’s for sure.]

  9. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Heartfelt prayers and best wishes for your dear mom on her 83rd birthday. She is very blessed to have a son who is such a dedicated priest, but especially, who is so kind as to gift her with a 9mm Glock for her birthday. You did well.

  10. rcg says:

    Wow! Nice shooting, Ma Z. I guess it really does take a Spartan woman to bear a Spartan man. (“Z” does not stand for “Zeugma”).

  11. Sconnius says:

    Yeah, the Shrine status left IHM when Fr Mersberger was reassigned to a different parish but our current pastor is working on a small side project to get the status back.

    Alas, the original statue of Our Lady now resides somewhere in Virginia, and those folks aren’t keen on letting it go.

  12. Semper Gumby says:

    Fr. Z wrote: …the effect of a Sunday morning Asperges!


    [“Hey, Scratch! CATCH!”]

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