The following showed up recently on New Oxford
Please Don't Bless My Children Los Angeles Mass.
February 2006By Larry A. Carstens
Larry A. Carstens teaches English in a public high school and community college in the
Nowadays, another practice has crept into the Mass in various dioceses throughout the country. It seems a very sensitive area, and objections to it are likely to offend a large number of people. But my concern is the proper worship of God, not approval among men. But how do you tell a sweet little old lady who loves the Lord and cheerfully does her best to assist at Mass that what she's doing might not be the best way to honor God?
Quite some time ago, there developed among priests distributing Communion at Mass the custom of placing their hands on the heads of children too young to receive the Sacrament to bless them. I have no objection to this practice at Mass, as long as the person blessing the children is an ordained priest (or deacon). However, as time has passed and more and more Eucharistic ministers have been distributing Communion at Mass, these helpful, but non-ordained, persons have taken it upon themselves -- or have been instructed -- to bless children in the manner of an ordained priest. And herein lies the rub: It does not seem appropriate for the non-ordained to bless children at Mass.
I know this will annoy some readers, but I would only ask such persons to consider if it really serves the purposes of our Faith for non-ordained persons, many (if not most) of whom are women, to imitate the actions and office of priests at Mass. I really do not believe that our Lord is best served by this relatively new practice that is creeping into the Mass.
If you believe that the Faith, which was handed down to us from the Apostles and preserved by the Magisterium through two millennia, is true and guided by the Holy Spirit, you will perhaps admit that God's plan for His Church has never included priestesses, and that therefore any steps in that direction, however subtle they may be, are steps away from rather than toward Him. Perhaps, too, you will recognize that the practice I have described has crept into the Mass in an illegitimate, and therefore inappropriate, manner.
And so, as the father of five children, all too young to receive Communion, my respectful but sincere message to all non-ordained Eucharistic ministers is this: Please don't bless my children during
I’d like to answer in the words of a priest-friend:
"Is it proper for lay extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion to give a 'blessing' to young children
or people who cannot (or choose not to) receive the Eucharist?"
I ask and will try to answer this question in the light of some Catholics who say: Extra-Ordinary Ministers of Communion can not bless people who come before them, saying: Ministers of Communion don’t have the Authority of the Church to bestow blessings. Their blessings are valueless. This empty gesture is useless and deceiving. Imitating the Priest's gestures at Mass (even at his request) is confusing to people who don't know that there is a difference.
Actually the laity actually do have their own limited authority, the authority of a parent, the head of the family, a husband, etc. to ask God’s blessings. That authority is applicable for use in household blessings and under certain circumstances in church.
There are many ways of distinguishing kinds of blessings and sacramentals. One such distinction is between constituent and invocative sacramental.
The effect of a constituent sacramental is to transform the person or object being blessed in such a way that it is separated from profane use. Examples would include the blessing of an abbot [or] the blessing of holy water. Practically all of these blessings are reserved to an ordained minister and sometimes are the exclusive preserve of the bishop.
Invocative blessings call down God's blessing and protection upon a person or thing without sacralizing them in any way. Some of these blessings are reserved to the ordained, such as the blessing of the assembly at the end of a liturgical celebration.
Some blessings may also be imparted by lay people by delegation or by reason of some special liturgical ministry, above all when an ordained minister is absent or impeded (see general introduction to the Shorter Book of Blessings, No. 18). In these cases lay people use the appropriate formulas designated for lay ministers.
This latter situation is probably the case of the extraordinary ministers of holy Communion who ask that God's blessing may come upon those who for some good reason approach the altar but do not receive Communion.
Finally, some simple blessings may be given by lay people in virtue of their office, for example, parents on behalf of their children.
Catechism of the Catholic Church #1669 teaches: Sacramentals derive from the baptismal priesthood: every baptized person is called to be a "blessing," and to bless. Hence lay people may preside at certain blessings; the more a blessing concerns ecclesial and sacramental life, the more is its administration reserved to the ordained ministry (bishops, priests, or deacons).
The primary difference is that the Priest blesses the people (or a person) with the Authority of the Church, Lay people can not. As intercessory prayer, also called invocative prayer, they are asking God’s blessings for the good of another. It is an exercise of a sacramental which is valid for a lay person to impose.