Sunday, August 22, 2010

Protestant Catholicism: Going up for a blessing at Communion time.

And now, another edition of "Mass Chat"...
Fr. Z has posted helpful advice on the strange novelty of everyone getting up at Communion time and going forward to receive either the Eucharist, or a blessing.  His post should be developed into official guidelines for the reception of Holy Communion and printed on the back covers of Missalettes. 
It always annoys me when I see lay EMHCs (Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion) bless little kids or anyone else who approaches communion with their arms folded over their chest because for whatever reason they are not able to receive the sacrament.  Some EMHCs touch children's heads in blessing while others pretend to offer a priestly blessing - laity can bless, but it is not the same as a priestly blessing - yet they do it anyway.  Crossing one's arms over one's breast is the Byzantine manner of receiving Holy Communion anyway.  In the Latin rite it is a sentimental novelty of recent development, and in the United States I believe it's probably an idea picked up from Evangelical Crusades or Pentecostal religious revivals, when everyone goes forward to confess Jesus as Lord and Saviour.  Catholics already do that liturgically at the Creed.
Fr. Z:  Letter - 'lay Communion minister wouldn't bless me'...

  • First, lay people who are helping to distribute Communion have no business giving blessings. Therefore, I am glad that the person didn’t attempt to bless you in the manner of a priest. Yours is a good example why lay ministers of Communion should never make the gesture of blessing in the manner of a priest. Such a practice confuses people, just as you were confused in the moment you described.

  • Second, it is a matter of debate whether blessings should be given at the Communion rail at all. I am of the opinion that they should not be. Holy Mass has its moment for a blessing: at the end. The time of Holy Communion is the time for Holy Communion, not for blessings even if they are from the deacon or priest.

So knock it off.


  1. +JMJ+

    Another blogger priest (one of the Ragemonkeys, if I recall correctly!) made a similar post several years ago. He says he doesn't bless anyone who goes up for a blessing instead of Communion. He will gladly bless the whole congregation over again, one by one, after the Mass, but he doesn't want anyone to think of him --or any priest--as some sort of dispenser machine whom everyone is entitled to get something from during the Mass.

  2. I like that Enbrethiliel - thanks!

  3. Anonymous12:02 PM

    I have always encouraged people to go and get a blessing, if for some reason they are not able to take Communion--well, I'll stop encouraging them--except for my little grand-baby Philip :)

  4. Okay, I can't bless anyone, but God can. So that's why when I am EMHC and someone comes up with their arms crossed, I make the sign of the cross in the air over them with the Host. The liturgical police haven't busted me for it yet(actually they told us in training that was okay). And even if blessing people is a sentimental custom that was influenced by (gasp) Protestants, it still doesn't mean it's a bad thing. Far from feeling like a dispenser machine, most priests and deacons I know like to bless the little kids (if they don't want to they don't have to do it). It's also a way to have some sort of connection with the ones who can't receive Communion.

  5. What did we do before V2? Did you just sit it out? I did that many times when I couldn't receive.

    What about if you had kids under 7 - did Mom just go up for Communion and leave the kids in the pew or did she take them up to the rail and she received and the kids just kneeled with her? This is an honest question - I was born in the 60s so I really don't know.

  6. There has been a couple of times in the past (it's been a few years ago) as an EM where I've had to "pinch hit" for an absent deacon and assist our priest in distributing the Precious Body..(and once to assist our elderly Deacon who at the time who was very frail and could not stand long, and a visiting priest who could not negotate the steps) talk about being put on the spot! For people wanting blessings I would make the Sign of the Cross over them with the Host. Since then my current priest has said that if they want blessings to direct them over to him. I haven't had to do it since, and the occasion hasn't come up.

    There also has been several occasions where I offer the Precious Blood to infirm folks sitting in the front row. They so much appreciate it.

    I am there to assist the priest, nothing more. And I serve at his pleasure...when he no longer requires my assistance I am positive he will let me know :) It is an awesome responsibility, something that I take very seriously. There is nothing more precious in all the Universe that I am holding than that small cup of Precious Blood...


  7. Melody - actually the way you do it sounds just fine. I suppose it is up to the priest when there is no directive.

    Angela - before the council people remained in their pews - in fact most remained in their pews. Some who may have desired to receive but couldn't made spiritual communions. A mother could bring her children with her, and the kids would remain standing while mom knelt, or she could lock them in a closet at home while she went to church. (That last part is a lie.)

    (I was born in the 70's but I studued this in college.)

  8. This was the very argument of contention in my car (Christine) after mass this morning.

    Why do Catholics want to be protestants? Why do Catholics allow their faith to be watered down and unrecognizable?

    Why do I have to sing charasmatic/protestant songs during mass? Why do I have to hold hands during our father? Why is the goth girl allowed to serve at mass with her dog collars and black lipstick with fishnet stockings...

    I just want to be Catholic. Honestly, it's all I want from this life ...

    There is much to offer up.

  9. what belinda said.

  10. @Belinda, I think we belong to the same parish..LOL.

  11. I don't get it. When I can't go to communion I stay in my pew. If anybody is looking at me and wondering that's between them and God.

  12. There are any number of issues here; I decline to address any of them but this one:
    a family at our EF Mass requested that I bless their infants, toddlers, etc. at Communion.
    I don't have a problem with that; and contrary to what some are saying at another blog (!), I touch them with the last two fingers on my hand, which prevents any particles of the Sacred Host to touch them...oi!
    I don't have a problem with the babies and kiddies.
    I DO have a problem with the "everybody head to the front" kinda mentality; it does NOT give a clear signification of the reality that if you are not prepared (for whatever reason) to receive Holy Communion, you should remain in your pew.
    Alas, I, in my present situation (the parish in which I live) cannot "dissent" without all hell breaking loose (the pastor wants it for the lst and 2nd graders at school masses who are not yet prepared to receive Holy Communion).
    I'm probably a horrid comprimiser;
    I have to choose my battles; this one, until the Church makes it eminently clear, is going to be as is, I'm afraid.
    I still don't like it.
    Not at'all.


Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.