So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

"Blessings" at Holy Communion

On the question of offering a blessing to those not receiving Holy Communion (italics and bold type added):
h/t Fr. Z.
ASK FATHER: Blessings by lay people at Communion
On to the topic of the question.

The notion of giving blessings at the time of Holy Communion originated No-One-Knows-Where. Perhaps it was a well-intentioned priest giving a kind blessing to a baby in the arms of his mother. Perhaps it happened when someone whom the priest knew was not Catholic, unwittingly came forward at Communion time and the priest, rather than embarrass the poor misguided soul, gave him a quick blessing and sent him back to his pew.

Then it became expected. (Read the quote by St. Cyprian at the end of this post.)

The rubrics of the Mass do not make any provision for blessings at the time of the distribution of Holy Communion.

On the grand scale of liturgical abuses, something like this ranks far below using invalid matter for the Eucharist, or giving the last blessing whilst dressed as Barney the Dinosaur, but it still needs to be recognized as something that ought not be done.


There is a blessing at the end of Mass. You can also ask the priest for a blessing outside of Mass. And you should!
One reader adds in the combox:
benedictgal says:

I think that someone forgot to reference to 2008 letter from the Congregation for Divine Worship that would seem to put the kibosh on all of this nonsense.

“This dicastery wishes to limit itself to the following observations:

1. The liturgical blessing of the Holy Mass is properly given to each and to all at the conclusion of the Mass, just a few moments subsequent to the distribution of Holy Communion.

2. Lay people, within the context of Holy Mass, are unable to confer blessings. These blessings, rather, are the competence of the priest (cf. Ecclesia de Mysterio, Notitiae 34 (15 Aug. 1997), art. 6, § 2; Canon 1169, § 2; and Roman Ritual De Benedictionibus (1985), n. 18).

3. Furthermore, the laying on of a hand or hands — which has its own sacramental significance, inappropriate here — by those distributing Holy Communion, in substitution for its reception, is to be explicitly discouraged.

4. The Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio n. 84, “forbids any pastor, for whatever reason to pretext even of a pastoral nature, to perform ceremonies of any kind for divorced people who remarry”. To be feared is that any form of blessing in substitution for communion would give the impression that the divorced and remarried have been returned, in some sense, to the status of Catholics in good standing.

5. In a similar way, for others who are not to be admitted to Holy Communion in accord with the norm of law, the Church’s discipline has already made clear that they should not approach Holy Communion nor receive a blessing. This would include non-Catholics and those envisaged in can. 915 (i.e., those under the penalty of excommunication or interdict, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin). ”

Even though the letter, Protocol No. 930/08/L was written in response to a private query sent by two laymen, it does quote what is already in the books.

The short answer would be that EMHCs should refrain from doing this. My parochial vicar stopped blessing when he read the letter. One pastor down here did the same thing.

We cannot invent things and insert them into the Mass at will. This is an abuse. We form a line to receive SOMEONE, Jesus in the Eucharist, NOT something, a blessing, that EVERYONE will receive at the end of the Mass.
In the words of Saint Cyprian:
Consuetudo sine veritate vetustas erroris est. 
Custom without truth is simply error grown old.—Saint Cyprian of Carthage. Letter to Pompeius, 73/9.

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