In the news: Blessings at Communion

An item has resurfaced in Catholic blogdom that deserves some attention.

It is the issue (more contentious than I had thought) of blessing children (and by extension, non-Catholics) during the reception of Communion by the faithful. An American priest, Fr Cory Sticha, has made an impassioned plea to put an end to a practice that he loathes with some gusto. In fact he writes,

“I despise blessing children in the Communion line (and yes, I chose that strong language very carefully), and encourage other priests to stop immediately.”

The ubiquitous Fr Z has taken note of this blogging priest’s statement and supported it, reiterating his own earlier disaaproval of the practice. I, for one, find myself rather torn on this issue, and cannot offer unequivocal support for the good fathers’ position (perhaps a surprising stance for a liturgical conservative).

It’s not that Fr Sticha does not make some excellent points. He laments the persistent ‘feel-good’ factor that has blighted so much of post-conciliar liturgy, and the destructive shift of the focus at Mass from God to “us”, the human community; it is destructive because it is inimical to worship of God, which is what Mass is all about. The memory of the 1980s buzzphrase regarding Mass, “celebration of community” still brings chills and migraines. So if parents are dragging kids up for a blessing just so that they can feel good, feel included, then perhaps something is indeed seriously wrong with their understanding of the Mass.

Likewise to be scorned is the attitude that everyone needs to feel they get something, which Fr Sticha rightly sees as a symptom of the modern “culture of entitlement” and its endless assertion of rights (all too often without any mention of obligations). We do not go to Mass primarily to get something, but to give something: our praise, our worship, our time, our bodies as a living sacrifice (cf Romans 12:1) united with Christ’s sacrifice made present on the altar. The Communion we might receive is the supreme expression of our unity with Christ’s Body that sacrifice and with Christ’s Body in the Church, and should be the consummation of our prior self-giving. Moreover, Fr Sticha is right when he says that kids need to learn that there are some things you just have to wait for, and work for. And of course, as he rightly points out, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion have no business offering pseudo-blessings – that makes the whole thing a nonsense.

It is hard not to agree with any of this. However, a couple of things needs to be considered as well. First is his claim that blessing children at Communion is in violation of the conciliar teaching that no one “even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, #22). This is an important and oft-forgotten teaching of the Council. Yet I am not sure blessings at Communion are really in violation of this. Nothing is being added to the ritual as such, no violence is being done to the integrity of the liturgical rite. A too-literal interpretation of this would remove any possibility of unscripted remarks, even when they are allowed. It would also be the end of the “rite of parish notices” which predates the conciliar reforms in many places. Mind you, that might not be such a bad thing…

At the abbey, many families come forward as a group at Communion, even if some cannot receive. The presence of these children, and the unity of the family, merits some acknowledgement. Far from working against the necessary lesson that there are some things for which we must wait, the blessing given to children in contrast to the Communion received by parents and older siblings might actually reinforce the message that Communion is something to which they are not yet entitled. Nevertheless, their presence there, and the presence of the family as a group, is something that pleases God and rightly deserves his blessing. Is it such an abuse to offer such a blessing at Communion? (It may be, but I remain to be entirely convinced).

Furthermore, it is not just children who come forward for blessing. Here, at the abbey, we have a goodly number of non-Catholic adults who accompany their Catholic spouses to Mass. Their presence too is cause for joy, for their exposure to the liturgy is integral to the movement God is working within them, a movement towards the Church. All of them approach with reverence and a serious and sober demeanour. It is not mere tokenism for them. In the early Church non-Catholics and those under instruction (the catechumens) were dismissed after what we would now term the Liturgy of the Word. I need to check, but I suspect that their dismissal was not without some sort of encouragement and blessing. We no longer dismiss the catechumens and non-Catholics; we still need to bless them for their presence, and their exposure to the Truth; just as we need to bless the family unit, and the mixed marriages in which the non-Catholic spouse is willing to come to Mass and at least hear the Word. Blessings in such cases seem both to guard the sanctity of Communion, and acknowledge the divine stirrings in the hearts of those still unable to receive Communion. Naturally the need for good catechesis and teaching remains.

Nevertheless, the issues which prompt Fr Sticha to lament the practice of blessings at Communion are serious issues, and need to be addressed more effectively. If that were achieved, perhaps the issue of blessings at Communion might not be so contentious. A possible compromise might be to find another place for some sort of blessing of non-communicants. The danger would be that a quasi-rite could develop that gives such a blessing too much prominence, and thus too much importance. There is something fitting about the discretion of the current practice of blessings in the course of Communion. It may not be traditional; but tradition is not comprised solely of things done before. The Leonine prayers added to the end of the pre-conciliar Mass date from 1884, so are hardly of ancient use, yet their addition was quite uncontroversial. Of course, the difference is that they were papally mandated.

In 2008 the Congregation for Divine Worship issued a response to a question submitted regarding the practice of blessings in place of Communion. It is not supportive, though it makes no mention of blessing children at all, only of adults. Its particular concern centres on those who are separated from the Church by a deliberate act, who might use such a blessing as a “back-door” form of acceptance. That indeed would be reprehensible. The letter from the Congregation’s under-secretary carries no force of law, though that does not mean it can somehow be dismissed out of hand.

In the meantime, there is no explicit ruling either for or against. The Church may well legislate specifically if the issue gets up a head of steam. For now, one can take refuge in the old theological principle, ubi dubium, ibi libertas: where there is doubt, there is freedom.

38 thoughts on “In the news: Blessings at Communion

  1. I’m against the blessings at communion, not only for liturgical reasons (there’s a quite adequate blessing for everyone at the final dismissal), but also for a hygenic reason. I can’t count the times when I’ve seen someone come up for a blessing and the priest puts his right hand ON THEIR HEADS, and then go back to distributing Holy Communion with the SAME HAND. Now, I’m not a germ freak, but I find that disgusting. Givung a blessing at communion also throws me off as I’m distributing the sacrament. Another reason that I don’t do it is the “feel good” idea that has already been mentioned. If, because of sin, someone cannot receive communion, they should remedy the situation by the means the Christ has provided for his Church. And any blessing given to anyone could in no way equal the blessings of the Eucharist. It’s not a cafeteria.There’s nothing to be done at communion time be receive Holy Communion. What if I just gave the children a piece of candy instead? The dentists would rejoice, but it would still be infinitely less than the grace of the sacrament. Finally, if that’s not adding something to the liturgy by one’s own authority, I don’t know what is. Who started it? Where did it come from? Is it part of our tradition? Unlike the Greeks, we don’t have antidoron to distribute after the liturgy. Anyone can receive that, and they do.
    After saying that, please understand that I want people to feel good all the time. I’m not trying to be a buzz kill. However, I have to believe that this trivializes the holiest thing in the cosmos.

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    1. Furthermore, if there is a doubt, or if something has not explicitly been forbidden, then it would seem as if any priest could add almost anything wherever and whenever he wanted to. The sacred liturgy is not a plaything for us. And we shouldn’t play around with it.

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      1. Pax.

        I quite sympathise with all that you have written, Dom Gregory, as I think should have been clear in my post. And certainly I have seen occasions in other churches when blessings become trivialising, distracting and a true menace to worship. However, it need not always be so.

        Not everyone who comes for a blessing is culpably estranged from the Church. Some in fact are enquirers, pre-catechumens, who are serious in their investigation of the Church and its teachings. If we brought back the Mass of the Catechumens, my issues would be solved: we could preach to them, and then dismiss them with a blessing of their own. But that has gone, and there remains a pastoral need, small to be honest, but real.

        Your mention of the antidoron of the eastern churches is apposite. That is exactly the sort of thing that could be recovered from liturgical tradition given that we no longer have closed liturgies. It seems an excellent way of acknowledging the presence of non-Catholics. However, there is of course the modern danger that the blessed bread would be confused with the Bread that is the Body.

        A couple of points you raised should addressed. When you implicitly equated a blessing with giving candy to children at Communion, I presume you were letting rhetoric run away with you. There is no valid comparison, and it devalues your otherwise sound argument. Likewise I was hardly suggesting that Mass should become a de facto cafeteria.

        You are right about the issue of grease- and dandruff-tainted fingers for those priests who lay on hands when blessing. When distributing Communion I always keep thumb and forefinger together no matter what happens, and this should be a habit all priests have. In fact, of course, such laying on of hands is forbidden already.

        On your last point, I do not think trying to meet a real pastoral need necessarily equates to “playing around” with the Mass. For some priests it might be a symptom of such an attitude, but that would come out in many other ways. Indeed blessings at Communion are only noticed by those whose attention has strayed from preparing for Communion or making a thanksgiving having received it. It is discreet, and so far is not forbidden. Some bishops in the States apparently support such blessings in some instances. This is not so clear-cut an issue as is made out.

        That said, I am not really happy with it myself, but I can see the need it seeks to address. Better solutions would be restoration of the Mass of the Catechumens, or more radically, the adoption of the distribution of the antidoron, which has sound traditional precedent. In fact I remember hearing that the Greek Catholics of Italy do in fact give the antidoron on some occasions. Maybe there lies a solution?

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  2. One need not look so far afield for a precedent: the distribution of blessed bread on Sundays is also alluded to in the Sarum books. A beautiful custom, well worthy of restoration.

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    1. Ben, you champion! I had no idea that it was a part of the Sarum Rite. How English can one get? Maybe we should start a campaign to replace blessings at Communion with the distribution of blessed bread to children and non-Catholics at the end of Mass. It would meet the need that seems to be quite prevalent, and would employ tradition to meet it.

      Could you let me have some more information on the Sarum practice?

      Pax tibi.

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  3. Dear Fr. Hugh,
    thanks for presenting a balanced article in what has become a heated debate (read, war). I share you sensibility on this.

    As a somewhat studied layman but still a layman could you help me out by fleshing this out just a little more, “Nothing is being added to the ritual as such”.

    If and only if you have time. Thanks.

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    1. Salve Owen!

      Better late than never, a clarification on what I meant by nothing being added to the ritual as such. From the outset, understand that I was speaking loosely, really, but sincerely. Blessings at Communion violate no specific rubric in the Missal; they add no ritual action as such, only a discreet action that should be noticeable by very few, namely those immediately around the recipient of the blessing (as one would hope all the others are praying both before and after receiving Communion). There is no disruption to the ritual of the Mass – kids acting out little plays; lay people making “reflections” from the pulpit; liturgical dancing; the priest leaving the altar at the sign of peace: all these disrupt the liturgical ritual in an obvious, unavoidable way, and are contrary to explicit rubrics; and they are all true, substantial additions to the liturgy. Likewise a priest changing the words of Eucharistic Prayer would be a serious change to the ritual words of the Mass, which are prescribed, and never optional.

      I find most additions to, and deviations from, the ritual action and text of the liturgy, tend to be expressions of a greater or lesser degree of exhibitionism, or grand-standing if you will. That alone is reason enough to abhor them! Blessings at Communion seem to me to be so discreet as to avoid such exhibitionism. They provide a quick way of acknowledging a non-communicant’s presence and safeguarding the integrity of the Eucharist. I suspect that it would be easier in fact for non-communicants to remain in the pew. It must be quite a bracing reality check to come so near to the Body of Christ and not yet be able to receive it, while others around you are. I would hope that this would strengthen their resolve to take the necessary steps to enter into full Communion with the Church.

      Does this make my meaning any clearer? It is a bit rushed, I grant you. If some further clarification would be helpful, do let me know.

      Pax.

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      1. Great reply and thanks. There are some solid connecting points for me there that help more than you could know. I’m a rule guy by nature. I’m working on grace (not wishy washy though as true grace is anything but that). Thanks Fr. Hugh.

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  4. In Australia, the Bishop have directed that a cross be traced on the foreheads of those who come forward in the Communion line and indicate they will not be receiving Communion. I gather it is an old Irish parental practice, and is also part of the Baptismal Liturgy.

    I am guessing that this direction was made to deter priests, acolytes and extraordinary ministers making a sign of the cross with the host over such people, or acolytes and extraordinary minister making the sign of the cross as if they were a priest.

    i do not find the arguments given by Fr Sticha et al. against the practice to be convincing. This is hardly a major issue. Sometimes I find liturgists are like custard – they get upset over trifles. Adult disciples tried to stop little children when they came to Jesus. He willingly blessed them.

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    1. Salve Fr Ronan!

      Thank you for stating the practice set down by the Australian bishops. It is interesting. The physical contact would upset Fr Sticha who is worried, not unreasonably, about the cleanliness of priestly hands at the distribution of Communion. But its rationale, as laid out by you, makes sense: removing the possibility of little Eucharistic benedictions and quasi-sacramental blessings by the non-ordained. Of course it is also reminiscent of Ash Wednesday, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

      Noting your culinary image for liturgists (a keeper), I tend to agree that this is not a major issue, all things being equal. In places where such blessings are not done properly or decorously, then it is a major issue and needs to be addressed. But in places where non-Catholics and families come forward to the Lord in humble submission (and here most adults and some children do bow their heads for the blessing), like you I can see no compelling reason not to bless them quickly and discreetly.

      Of course if Rome decrees the practice to be forbidden, so be it. So far, Rome has made no real move to do so.

      Pax!

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  5. Wait and work for the Eucharist? We do not merit the sacraments and/or God’s grace. No one is any more entitled to the Eucharist than anyone else is to a blessing.

    I am sympathetic to the concern that it is an improper insertion and foreign to the Roman liturgy, but the social argument that we need to teach kids they need to work before they earn the Eucharist is a terrible theology. As Dom Gregory said, the use of antidoran–breaking and sharing the very same loaf–is strongly symbolic and expresses the calling and movement we all have to come forward and welcome the Lord into our most inner selves, especially within the context of Christian community and liturgical worship. As with all liturgy, the physical movement matches the spiritual reality by using the senses and the intellect to point to the Lord.

    A better appreciation of how the Roman rite acknowledges and addresses this desire is definitely called for. I agree fully with this: “Nevertheless, the issues which prompt Fr Sticha to lament the practice of blessings at Communion are serious issues, and need to be addressed more effectively. If that were achieved, perhaps the issue of blessings at Communion might not be so contentious.” Working to merit the Eucharist (or the imposition of hardship and sacrifice on others so that they can learn to offer it up through their waiting) is not, to my knowledge, among the options.

    Why does the Roman Rite restrict communion from the young? Because they are said to be in a state of perfect grace already and, fully satisfied, not in need of the “medicine” or nourishment the sacraments of Confession and Eucharist provide to strengthen or reinstate our relationship with the Lord. How much more beautiful and satisfying is this theology than being told their little brats need to learn they aren’t entitled to God’s grace or that they’re bad parents for desiring God’s blessings on their children? The church’s teaching is beautiful enough to address these concerns! You need not look elsewhere than back to the fullness of tradition your own rite already contains.

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    1. Salve Isolde, and welcome.

      In a sense you are right that we do not, of ourselves, merit the sacraments or grace. They are gifts. By the same token, no one has right to the sacraments, including the Eucharist. No one can have a right to a gift. What is more the gift of the sacraments is given first to the Church, which then administers those sacraments, and the grace they bear to those rightly disposed to receive. It administers them by virtue of the power of the keys, “What you bind on earth is bound in heaven; what you loose on earth is loosed in heaven”. So it is the Church which determines who may receive a sacrament and under what conditions and circumstances.

      So if we interpret “work” as merit, then indeed we need to be careful with regard to grace and the sacraments. Nevertheless, if we take “work” as meaning the task of making oneself properly disposed to receive a sacrament, and of meeting the conditions required for the administration of any sacrament, then that is work we can, and must, do. So, for example, we must be in state of grace to receive the Eucharist. We must labour to resist temptation, we must labour to obey God’s commandments, we must not fall into mortal sin. The Eucharist is not the medicine for mortal sin, but for venial sin. Confession/Penance is the medicine for mortal sin. Or, on a more mundane level, we must have fasted for a least an hour if we are to receive Communion. This too is a “work” of preparation.

      In the early Church, and still in the Orthodox churches, infants receive Communion immediately after Baptism; not because they need the grace so much as to complete their incorporation into the communion of the Body of Christ. Afterwards they do not receive again till many years later.

      I quite agree that perhaps parents need to hear it said more often that children below the age of reason have no need for blessings or Penance, or even Communion, being immune from mortal sin. But I have never heard any priest or layperson say that a child in so entitled to God’s grace! That would be silly since they are in a state of grace in the first place.

      Perhaps what motivates parents to bring their children forward is a need they feel to have their children acknowledged as members of the Church within the context of the weekly gathering for worship of the local Church. The going forward to receive Communion evokes a sub-conscious sense of belonging. For those in mortal sin or under excommunication, they is a sense do not belong, so coming forward for a blessing would not be right. [By “not belong” I do not mean that they have no place in the Church. The Church is the refuge of sinners. They belong by the desire of Christ and his Church; but there is an impediment to full belonging, or communion, that only the individual can effect to remove. S/he must repent, submit to Christ through his Church, do penance for the sin in question; then, once again, they belong in fact and not just in desire.]

      The blessing at Communion acknowledges this desire for a family to feel that they “belong” as a family to the Church. There may be better ways of meeting this need. The restoration of the antidoron may be one possibility; there could well be others that cause less confusion among the faithful who take the matter of Communion very seriously. Communion should be a profoundly sacred and intimate moment. I cannot but think of converts, many of whom have had to wait some time and undergo some hardship in order to come to full communion and finally receive the Body and Blood. That labour of faith, that work of preparation, should not be lightly dismissed by cradle Catholics like me. For them Communion have added levels of meaning and significance.

      Pax!

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      1. “In the early Church, and still in the Orthodox churches, infants receive Communion immediately after Baptism; not because they need the grace so much as to complete their incorporation into the communion of the Body of Christ. Afterwards they do not receive again till many years later.”

        Father, I’m not sure whether I’m understanding you correctly, but it is certainly not true that infants or children don’t receive Communion regularly after having received it once after baptism and chrismation. If anything, at least in my experience of the Church, it is the children that go to Communion when adults all-too-often don’t – not that the latter is an ideal situation.

        I must say that I also find this statement that “children below the age of reason have no need for blessings or Penance, or even Communion, being immune from mortal sin” really weird, but then I suppose that it’s not for nothing that I’m Orthodox as I increasingly realise when I come across things like this!

        I’ve just discovered your blog from your comment (which I rather appreciated) at The Blogging Parson, and will come back again…

        Oh, and as a PS, my priest allows non-baptised children, or others who cannot receive Holy Communion, to venerate the chalice at the time of Communion. I’m not sure that this is really necessary but it seems to be a practice in some places.

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      2. What is weird about acknowledging that a child below the age of reason is free from mortal sin. The child has neither full knowledge, full freedom nor full responsibility, and so cannot sin mortally, cannot definitively reject God. The sacraments are primarily to fortify the life of grace within us that is so endangered by sin, especially mortal sin. An infant or small child is not so endangered by sin, and moreover is not fully able to comprehend what is happening in receiving a sacrament. Sacraments given to people who do not comprehend them in their essentials can end up being seen as quasi-magical.

        SO if that is weird, I stand quite happily condemned as a weirdo.

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  6. So much discourse on what I see as a fairly ubiquitous practice… Communium is a chance to invite all to the lord’s table… I can’t imagine anyone wanting to exclude groups of people from recieving it… 😦

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    1. eof737, I do not say this contentiously and I do take your point, I only wish to clarify that something being ubiquitous is not in an of itself a validation of its merit or mode thus such a thing is worth evaluating.

      In terms of exclusion from the Lord’s table that is not being discussed as the people receiving or not receiving a blessing are by objective truth not at that present time able to receive the literal body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ in Communion. Some things are not a matter of “To each his own.”

      That said, I am not contending on way or the other on the issue at hand but only commenting on the two points in your assertion and hoping to help. Peace.

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      1. Your comment wasn’t contentious 🙂 Beyond our individual point of view and no matter how common a belief or practice may be is an objective truth, an understanding of which is what is being sought here and why it does matter. While different perspectives are expressed above I am confident each person is looking for something beyond their own interpretation that we might share the mind of Christ as expressed through His Church. Peace.

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  7. Thank you both for your exchange. Actually perspective is important here, and the need to recognise that the Catholic Church has a particular perspective on Communion that dates from the earliest days of the Church.

    To put it briefly – to receive Holy Communion is not a means to building communion in the first instance, but a recognition of communion already attained (however frail it might be at times). To receive the Lord’s Body in Communion one must be in communion with the Lord’s Body, the Church.

    In other words, Communion is less a means to an end than an (earthly) end in itself. Of course the ultimate end is communion with God unveiled, in heaven. Holy Communion is certainly a means to THAT end.

    Pax.

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  8. For such a small subject, so many comments. All to the good. Here’s a situation: the Benedictine Oblates of our abbey are not all Catholics. The Episcopal Church gives communion to almost everyone. The same TEC oblates expected to receive communion at the abbey. They were told (since it is the discipline of the Church) that they couldn’t receive the Eucharist, but that they could come forward and receive a blessing only. Many hurt feelings, and an eventual falling away of Episcopal oblates. This is another reason why I believe that if not receiving, people should stay in the pews. How far do we go to make people feel good, when in this case the same thing made them feel bad? What is needed is Church unity. When that happens, these problems will disappear. My gut feeling is against blessings. However, I will do whatever the Church commands with a joyful heart.

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    1. Well, experiences are different. A number of our oblates are non-Catholic, and indeed a pretty active one is a Baptist minister. But it is made clear upon their joining that while they can share in the Benedictine spirituality of the community, they cannot share in Communion. They can receive a blessing. I have heard no complaints, no tears, no drama. They understand the explanation, though they might not like it; if they cannot accept it then they are free not to become oblates. The non-Catholic oblates in fact seem to appreciate being able to come forward to receive a blessing. The compromise maintains the integrity of the Eucharist as a sign of communion already achieved, and allows the non-Catholic oblates not to feel too much on the fringe of things.

      I should hope that we all do what the Church asks with a joyful heart!

      Pax.

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    1. Hi Henry, I am sure someone will note it but a blessing is not the Sacrament so I would not think either of the citations directly addresses a Communicants right regarding a blessing in the Communion line. For centuries those unable for to receive the Sacrament for whatever reason would remain seated. Here I am not speaking for or against the idea but speaking only to the idea of trying to use the articles you mention as reason to claim any right. Peace.

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      1. Owen, quite rightly, has pointed out that a blessing ranks nowhere near a Sacrament, and in fact we can be as liberal as we want with blessings! Still, of course, no one could actually claim a right to a blessing. No gift can be claimed by right, else it is no longer a gift.

        However, if Henry is referring precisely to the faithful’s right to the Sacraments, then it needs to be remembered that such a right is not an absolute right: it is a conditional right. The faithful have a right to a Sacrament only if, for instance, they fulfil the conditions laid down by the Church for its reception. Thus, if a Catholic has had a snack 10 minutes before weekday Mass, then that person has no right to receive the Eucharist. She or he may otherwise be in the best standing with the Church, but in this instance any right to the Sacrament lapses as the person has not fulfilled a condition for its worthy reception. (Of course, if Father has preached for 30 minutes that snacker might just be able to receive after an hour has passed!)

        Perhaps it would be better to say that, all things being equal and all conditions being fulfilled, a Catholic in good standing has a right to a Sacrament.

        Pax.

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  9. Well that is a relief! In the light of the Book of Blessings published by the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship in 1984 (ET: ICEL, 1987) is a ‘pseudo-blessing’ in your view?

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    1. Of that book I do not have a copy, so if you could give me the full quotation I might be able to comment.

      The first thing that comes to mind is a lay-person simulating a priest’s blessing (which is a sacramental – the “-al” is crucial here).

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  10. The English version is more accessible than the Latin: Book of Blessings, (Washington DC: ICEL, 1987). You would find the foreword to this US edition useful. “In 1984, a Book of Blessings was published by the Vatican CDW. It includes many texts for blessings to be used by both clergy and laity.” Perhaps blessings given by lay people are pseudo-blessings, because they are not sacramental?

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  11. Greek Catholics also follow the Orthodox practice of communing infants. I find it odd that this is not better known amongst the Romans. What do you do when a Greek Catholic family presents their children for communion?

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  12. The Church is as divided on this topic as the country is divided in it’s politics. I’ve been in Diaconal ministry for over 25 years and have never bought into the idea of giving blessings during Communion. To me it’s a procession coming forward to receive the Lord Jesus. When one wishes a blessing then the Procession is broken. I’ve seen some instances where Celebrants have dropped the Sacred bread in their effort to make sure that child get his/her blessing. My goodness what a spectacle. Most people in the parish know my feelings on this so they go, with their children, in the other line where the Celebrant will give them their blessing. Regardless, there are some who’re most resentfull of my not giving a blessing and they continue to spew their vitrial at me. And they make sure its immediately following Mass and in the presence of other parishioners. And of course the Pastor thinks I’m “rigid”. I’ve become used to it now and when this happens I think of Jesus on the Cross and Mary at His feet suffering in silence. I just don’t see the wisdom in this and am unable to “go along with the crowd” because “everyone else is doing it”. If the Curia comes up with something on this subject I will joyfully be obedient and follow what ever change(s) come about.

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    1. Well, Jim, I sympathize with you entirely, and I too have seen priests more eager to give blessings than Communion. One priest I know even says “thank you” to those who come for a blessing!

      Michael Voris would say that the reason you receive vitriol from some parishioners is that you violate the precepts of the “church of nice”, and he is probably right. “That nasty deacon won’t give blessings! So uncaring.” Which is, of course, total tosh. They betray their real reason for going to Mass: to feel good about themselves. Yet again, the “me” generation intrudes into the Church.

      Keep the faith. And keep doing what you do. Until those who disagree with you can provide an argument against your practice rather than call you names, they can be safely disregarded.

      Pax.

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  13. I would be inclined to agree except for the fact that His Holiness, himself, blesses children during the mass. If our holy father blesses children then why should his holy priests deny blessing to children. With that said a priest should not touch a person with the hand he is distributing communion with. It is a bit unsettling that Jesus could be spread in the hair of children. The abuse that really irks me is seeing a priest give the Eucharist to children who are obviously too young to receive. Just because a child mimics the postures of adults in line doesn’t mean that they have already received their first holy communion. That is a gross perversion of the Eucharist. So is a parent breaking the host in half and illegally giving it to a young child in defiance of the church. Your children do have to be catechized and be worthy of reception of the Eucharist but to make a fuss over a simple blessing of a baptized christian child is ridiculous! I receive communion from a priest who will NOT communicate in the hand but who will bless children and non-catholic christians. The blessing of children by EMs (some using the Eucharist in those blessings is a no,no-that is the privilege of the priest! God Bless,Mary

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    1. While I agree that it is best not to make a mountain out of the molehill of blessings at Communion, it is not ridiculous to see the inherent problems in both its practice and the reasoning behind many of those who come up. Many come up because they want to receive “something” just like all the Catholics are; they want to feel included even though they are not in communion. This is a phenomenon that has arisen only in the last couple of decades. At no time before then were such blessings given, and in the early Church the catechumens would have already been dismissed from Mass completely!

      It is not quite so problematic with children, if they come up with their parents who receive: a quick blessing is no problem. But all such blessings, for child or adult, should be quick. It does become a nonsense when the smooth rhythm of Communion is broken by lengthy blessings of non-Catholics.

      Non-Catholics are blessed with everyone else at the end of Mass, so it is hard to see what another blessing will add. They get no “more” grace. They get the psychological satisfaction of feeling included. But if they want to be feel truly included, in communion, then let them become Catholics. Simple.

      Pax!

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