First Blessings by new priests. Indulgenced? NO! Interesting Latin texts. And Fr. Z rants.

There have been quite a few ordinations in the last month or so.  I am always glad to see the pictures or good video.  However, year in and year out, I note with a measure of concern among the newly ordained and younger priests a trend to be curtailed as soon as possible.

Fathers, when you give your first blessings, don’t hunch over people and grab their heads as if you were a dark wizard extracting their life force for your own evil purposes.

Firstly, don’t hunch.   Next, stand up straight.  If you simply must hold your hands over someone, hold them straight and parallel to the ground.   When you make the Sign of the Cross, put your left hand on your breast while you make the Sign with your right.

And… just how much do you think you can squeeze into a blessing before people get impatient or lost in what you are trying to say?  There is no need to throw in all sorts of other ingredients as if those to be blessed were lined up at a salad bar …  sprinklings of pious imagery, vague invocations of niceness and holy fluff, rambling discourses that dead end in words like “beautiful” … you know of which I speak.

Say the blessing and get over yourselves.

The blessing:

Benedictio Dei omnipotentis Patris, et + Filii, et Spiritus Sancti descendat super te [plural: vos] et máneat semper. Amen.

May the blessing of Almighty God, Father, + Son, and Holy Spirit/Ghost, descend upon you and remain with you forever. Amen.

Memorize this.

This is also the blessing the priest should give to servers after Mass.

HOWEVER: There are some blessing prayers for people having to do with their state in life.  Some, quite lovely.  You would probably have to have these texts.   Alas, I don’t have their provenance.  I had an old file that has gone from computer to computer over the years and eventually to this blog.   These are blessings prayers for new priests.

Formulæ Benedictionum


Resúscitet in te Dóminus grátiam Spíritus Sancti quam per mánuum impositiónem accepísti, ut sis dignus mínister Christi et fidélis dispensátor misteriórum Dei – sis sal Christi numquam infatuándum et incérna ardens in domo Dei – memor sit Dóminus omnis sacrifícii tui, et holocaústum tuum pinque fiat. Tríbuat tibi Dóminus longitúdinem diérum et finálem grátiam, ut possis bonum certámen certáre et cursum tuum felíciter consummáre, adjuvánte Dómino nostro Jesu Christo, qui vivit et regnat cum Deo Patre in unitáte Spíritus Sancti Deus, per ómnia saécula sæculórum. Amen.

Clerico [Let’s call this deacons and major seminarians]:

Effúndat super te Dóminus Spíritum sapiéntiæ et intelléctus, consílii, sciéntiæ, fortitúdinis, pietátis ac timóris Dómini, ut evádas sacérdos secúndum cor Dei. Adímpleat Deus petitiónes tuas et omne consílium tuum confírmet, ac omni benedictióne cœlésti ac terréstri benedícat te Deus Pater et Fílius et Spíritus Sanctus.  Amen.

Regulari vel Moniali:

Deprecatiónes tuas admíttat Dóminus ad sacrárium exauditiónis suæ, ut possis gloriári in cruce Dómini nostri Jesu Christi, per quem tibi mundus crucifíxus est et tu mundo, et cui fidéliter desérvis, ipse sit tibi merces tua, qui vivit regnat cum Deo Patre in unitáte Spíritus Sancti Deus, per ómnia saécula sæculórum. Amen.

Patri vel Matri [adjust if they are together]:

Accipe Pater (Mater) benedictiónem a fílio, qui tibi sit báculus in senectúte tua, benedícat te Deus benedictiónibus cœli et terræ, ímpleat omnes petitiónes tuas, det tibi ómnia secúndum cor tuum, confírmet omne consílium tuum. Largiátur tibi de abscóndito thesaúro suo, plenitúdinem omnis grátiæ et longitúdinem vitæ tuæ; cum autem defécerit virtus tua non derelínquat te Dóminus, sed tríbuat tibi finálem grátiam meque in ætérnæ claritátis gaúdio fáciat te vidére, qui vivit et regnat in saécula sæculórum. Amen.

Fratri vel Sorori:

Accipe frater (soror) benedictiónem a fratre tuo, quam Deus ratam hábeat in conspéctu suo (reliqua si sit adolescens, ut infra pro adolescente; si virgo, ut pro virgine.)


Omnipoténtia ætérni Dei Patris consérvet te, Fílii Dei sapiéntia erúdiat te, et Spíritus Sancti cáritas inflámmet te, ut crescas sapiéntia et ætáte, ac grátia apud Deum et hómines. Sis báculus in senectúte tuórum paréntum, et vídeas bona Jerúsalem ómnibus diébus vitæ tuæ, ac omni benedictióne cœlésti ac terréstri benedícat te Deus, Pater et Fílius et Spíritus Sanctus.


Tríbuat tibi Dóminus de abscóndito thesaúro suo grátiam, ut sis virgo sápiens, et una de número prudéntum. Effúndat super te Spíritum pietátis, castitátis ac timóris sui, ut sponso cœlésti complacére, et ad thálamum eius admitti mereáris, qui vivit et regnat in saécula sæculórum. Amen.

Benedictio communis: [along with the other one, above, the winner!]

Omni benedictióne cœlésti et terréstri, benedícat te omnípotens Deus, Pater et Fílius et Spíritus Sanctus. Amen.

Benedictio generalis: in casu innumerabilis populi ambas manus extendendo dicit:

Pax Dómini nostri Jesu Christi, et virtus sanctíssimæ passiónis, et signum sanctæ crucis, et intégritas beatíssimæ Maríæ Vírginis, intercessiónes ómnium Sanctórum et suffrágia electórum Dei sint in vobis, ut inimícos vestros visíbiles et invisíbiles, máxime in hora mortis superáre valeátis, et omni benedictióne cœlésti et terréstri benedícat vos omnípotens Deus, Pater et Fílius et Spíritus Sanctus.

Per impositiónem (extensiónem*) mánuum meárum sacerdotálium, et per intercessiónem beátæ Maríæ semper Vírginis, et Sancti (Sanctæ)…, et ómnium Sanctórum; Benedíctio Dei Omnipoténtis, Patris, et Fílii, et Spíritus Sancti, descéndat super te (vos) et máneat semper Amen.

*Extensiónem” was/is used for anyone tonsured or for consecrated nuns.  You wouldn’t touch them.

Another thing about 1st Blessings.

While there is a plenary indulgence given to the faithful who assist devoutly at the first Mass of a priest (and also as his 25, 50, 60 and 70 year anniversaries, as per Enchiridion Indulgentiarum, art. 27), there is no indulgence now for receiving the first BLESSING of a priest.

HOWEVER: The law permits diocesan bishops the right to grant partial indulgences to their subjects (Enchiridion 7).   Hence, a new priest could ask the bishop to grant for a period of time – say 30 days – a partial indulgence for those who receive his first blessing.  In the case of religious, the newly ordained’s major superior could ask the bishop to grant this.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Thanks for this. My head still hurts after the first blessings I received last week. Now, if we could only convince the young trad diocesan priests to shave those beards.

  2. Fr_Sotelo says:

    I always get a laugh at how Fr. Z describes the hunched over priest giving a blessing, with hands gripped firmly on someone’s head, as if to suck out their life force (LOL!) while endlessly chattering on before finally making the sign of the cross.

    And I think it will be eons before we return to the clean shaven diocesan priest of past times. There’s some weird fascination with beards among young men now, as if facial hair is a gauge of manliness or helps us to mimic the Eastern Orthodox clergy.

    And yes, even the trad seminarians think full beards are all the rage.

  3. Lemonaam says:

    Are there any videos out there of a proper first blessing in action?

  4. Diana says:

    I got a first blessing today! I had never received one before, and it was very exciting! The priest asked us all before he blessed us who our patron saint is. I said St Catherine of Siena, bc she is my confirmation saint, but I have so many beloved saints… as we all do. I was so pleased when he followed up St Catherine with St Teresa of Avila, St Therese, and a few other saints who I love. And I noticed that with each person, the saints changed… I wondered if they might have been nudging him. :) I wouldn’t doubt it. What a joy.

  5. NB says:

    The same thing happened at my FSSP parish today.

    In my case, he also asked for our young children’s patron saints, and gave them first blessings as well. When I gave him my patron saint, he added 2 more saints, one of whom happenes to be my confirmation saint.

    My pastor did say today that we would get a plenary indulgence today if we satisfied all the usual conditions. Didn’t mention anything about the bishop being involved or differentiate about Mass vs just first blessing. Good to have the clarification.

  6. NB says:

    The new FSSP priest I saw today was clean-shaven.

  7. TonyO says:

    I have seen some clean-shaven new priests, including one from our parish who was home-schooled.

    I have no problem either way, in general: as long as the priest is well groomed, it’s fine.

    There’s some weird fascination with beards among young men now, as if facial hair is a gauge of manliness or helps us to mimic the Eastern Orthodox clergy.

    I have long wondered whether wearing a beard is, in principle, something of a third-order signal of a guy’s sex, kind of like long hair worn by women. Sure, there is nothing necessary or essential about it, but I have yet to run across a group of wholesome red-blooded men who don’t generally like to see women wear long hair. Alternatively, can a priest wearing a beard indicate (in a tiny, unimportant way) wanting to “be more like Jesus”, say, to make it easier for lay folk to think of him in terms of in persona Christi? I tend to doubt it means much that way, but I wonder. Maybe it would do so better in a society in which men generally had no facial hair, so that a priest stood out?

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  9. Imrahil says:

    And yes, even the trad seminarians think full beards are all the rag.

    By a relatively new tradition – only from the 19th century, I would guess, when (from what I hear) colonial Europeans had to wear beards to be respected by the natives, so a really new one, but then we Catholics always have been additive – this is of course a sign they consider themselves sent into mission territory; and probably there’s something to it.

  10. Antonin says:

    Re: beards (and full disclosure I sport one !)

    From Slate

    In the absence of any divine exposition, many theologians have posited that a hairy face is a symbol of masculinity bestowed upon men by God. St. Clement of Alexandria, who was among the most emphatic proponents of this view, argued: “But for one who is a man to comb himself and shave himself with a razor, for the sake of fine effect, to arrange his hair at the looking-glass, to shave his cheeks, pluck hairs out of them, and smooth them, how womanly! And, in truth, unless you saw them naked, you would suppose them to be women.” St. Augustine seconded Clement’s characterization, noting, “The beard signifies the courageous; the beard distinguishes the grown men, the earnest, the active, the vigorous. So that when we describe such, we say, he is a bearded man.”

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