Should Lay Ministers Give Blessings in Lieu of the Eucharist?

by Steve Ray on May 11, 2009

Lay ministers of holy Communion should stop offering “blessings-in-lieu-of-Communion” at Mass

Concerns about swine flu have prompted many parishes to discontinue the routine administration of the Precious Blood. Okay, fine.* But there’s another Communion rite practice that should also cease if only out of concerns for public health. This time, however, it’s a practice that (unlike distribution from the Cup) is an abuse per se, namely, that of lay ministers of holy Communion purporting to confer “blessings-in-lieu-of-Communion” on every Tom, Pat, and Harriet who comes up in line.

Read about it here: http://www.canonlaw.info/2009/05/lay-ministers-of-holy-communion-should.html

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

DCMDC May 12, 2009 at 12:40 PM

I think that the link provided is spot on. However, the article gives the impression that the Extraordinary Minister is doing this of his own accord (mini-benediction). Often times this is not the case. If the celebrant of the mass is telling people to come up for communion and cross their arms before their chest as a sign of not wishing to receive…they will the receive a blessing from the EM. What is the EM to do? The article makes it seem that the EM has conncoted his own ritual of blessing when perhaps he was instructed by the priest to give a blessing of some sort but not given proper direction. Perhaps the article would have more impact if it was directed to the priest/pastor.

Brian Bowman July 25, 2009 at 9:44 PM

I’m an EM in a very large Parish. During our EM training, I ask the Parish Pastor about the authority/validity of lay EM’s pronouncing a blessing on those who don’t receive the Holy Eucharist (most often young children or those in the RCIA process who are awaiting confirmation). Our Priest’s response was basically “any Christian can bless anyone”, so I simply say “God bless you” and touch their head lightly with my hand.

I’ll admit that I’m not all that comfortable pronouncing these “blessings” given that I’m just a lay person. However, many many families seem to want this for their young children and it is part of the “current culture” in our Diocese. I have seen a handful of families directly their young children away from lay EM’s, only allowing the Priest, if they happen to be in his line, to perform the blessing. This is fine too.

STEVE RAY HERE: I THINK YOUR PRIEST IS CORRECT AND INCORRECT. ANYONE CAN BLESS ANYONE, **BUT** ONLY A PRIEST CAN GIVE A REAL BLESSING BLESSING. I SUGGEST YOU POST YOUR QUESTION ON MY DISCUSSION FORUM AT HTTP://FORUMS.CATHOLIC-CONVERT.COM.

Brian Bowman July 25, 2009 at 9:49 PM

…. also since the flu has become an issue EMs in our Dioceses have began washing hands throughly before and after serving Holy Communion. I have not heard anything about discontinuing the practice of “blessing” due to health concerns though. Perhaps this would be a good time to revisit the topic.

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