ASK FATHER: A Transitional (to priesthood… not something else) Deacon asks about how to give people blessings

From a transitional deacon…


I am a transitional deacon soon to be ordained a priest. As that day draws near, I realize that my seminary has taught me absolutely nothing about how to bless people and things. As I am doling out first blessings, do I impose my stole on people’s heads? Do I simply hover my hand over objects? Please help meor not look like a buffoon.

Thanks for asking about this.   Your seminary has not covered it?  Imagine my shock.

I have written about it before, but these things bear repetition for the sake of a new wave of priests and for the sake of the faithful.

First, keep it simple.

PRIME RULE: When you give your first blessings, don’t hunch over people and grab their heads, whispering archly, as if you were a dark wizard extracting their life force for your own evil purposes.

Don’t hunch.   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”.   I’m pretty sure you know what I mean.

Say the blessing prayer and get over yourself.

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.  It is not out of bounds to touch the person’s head lightly at that “te” with an extremely brief “laying on of hands” gesture.  With “vos” that might not be practical.

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 are quite lovely.  You would probably have to have these texts at hand.   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 use by new priests.  By ready to adjust for plurals.

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 for plural 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.

NB: 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. kurtmasur says:

    “ 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”. I’m pretty sure you know what I mean.”

    I have a priest friend who is assigned to a major shrine that attracts its fair share of pilgrim tourists. He spends a good chunk of his time on call at the sacristy to greet pilgrims, many of whom seek a blessing. He actually imparts his blessings with a lot of extra pious imagery, even adding “Praise Jesus! Alleluia!” at the very end, followed by the sprinkling of holy water. I once asked him why he does this, and he told me that it has happened a few times that some people receiving blessings have actually whined to him that they feel their blessing was not “good enough” or “too simple”, or simply because he had said “more words” while imparting a blessing on other tourists who had been ahead of them in line, etc. So now he just uses this routine to put as many extra words as possible into his blessings just to be on the safe side….ha! Also, if there’s too many people waiting in line, he just makes sure to put everybody in a group and impart a general blessing on the whole group. I guess I should add that the vast majority of these pilgrims are NO Catholics, my priest friend included.

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