A priest writes: “Why I refuse to bless children at communion” — UPDATED

This doesn’t happen a lot at my parish, but it’s prompted a couple of priests (including Fr. Z) to weigh in against the practice.

Here’s Father Cory Sticha on the topic:

I’ve been thinking more and more about my concerns around giving special blessings to children at Mass. There are a number of people here who are continuing to express concern because of my stance on not blessing children in the communion line. To be clear, this is a position taken not out of spite, but out of a respect for the liturgy and for the documents of the Second Vatican Council. In paragraph 22, Sacrosanctum Concilium states, “Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.” A priest does not have the authority to add a blessing to the liturgy for anyone, because a priest does not have the authority to add anything to the liturgy. It doesn’t matter if other priests go beyond their authority and do it in disobedience. In my mind, it is inappropriate, and I will not. Period.

Of course, people don’t like to hear that. They think it makes the kids feel “special” that they receive this blessing. (As an aside, I think the parents and grandparents get the warm-fuzzies more than the kids do.) Of course, they can’t be blamed. For 30+ years, they’ve been fed a mindset that the liturgy is malleable to whatever we want to do with it. Blessing for kids? Sure, we can add that right during Communion. Having kids come up for the homily and sit with the priest on the sanctuary steps? Sure, we can do that. Holding hands during the Our Father and running around the nave greeting people during the Sign of Peace? Absolutely! Whatever makes you feel good!

As I’ve studied more about the theology of the liturgy, I’ve come to the realization that this “feel good” approach is sending the wrong message about the liturgy. I’ve also become concerned that this has dangerously damaged their relationship with God, and they are blissfully unaware that any damage has been done. Instead of liturgy being the community focusing their minds and hearts on worship of God, it has become a social activity, focusing on ourselves. Now, we don’t come to liturgy to turn to God, but to ourselves. For this reason alone, I despise blessing children (and yes, I chose that strong language very carefully), and encourage other priests to stop immediately.

There’s another reason, more cultural, that should be of concern to these same parents and grandparents: the culture of entitlement. One of the arguments frequently given in defense of blessing children is, “They feel like they get something.” Yes, because we wouldn’t want our children to learn how to do something without getting something in return.

We live in a culture of entitlement, where a large percentage of the population expects to get something for nothing. There is a large population in the United States and other countries who believe that they are entitled to anything and everything their hearts desire without any commitment or work on their part. They should “get something” for just being there. Is that the message we want to give our children in the Church? I don’t, and firmly hope that parents and grandparents don’t want to send that message either. Unfortunately, this mindset that children need to “get something” at Communion time only enforces this idea.

Read more.

In my experience, I encounter maybe one or two people on a Sunday who present their kids for a blessing.  Another blogger — I think it was Msgr. Pope — suggested this simple formula, which is not a blessing but simply an admonition: “Receive Jesus in your heart.” I’ve adapted that and I think it’s a suitable solution.

Personally, I’m not a fan of the blessing-during-communion trend — among other things, it’s not the place for it, and everyone gets a blessing at the end of Mass anyway — but I don’t think it’s helpful to refuse a blessing to a child, either.

This — and other issues involving the reception of communion — might be a good topic to address from the pulpit on Corpus Christi.

UPDATE: I got an interesting e-mail from a priest friend, who noted:

The conversation has puzzled me since I first ran across it (in Homiletic and Pastoral Review a few years ago). It seems to be presented as a postconciliar aberration. Yet I remember growing up in Queens as a young boy, kneeling at the altar rail and unfailingly receiving a blessing. It’s definitely not a new thing, and it has always seemed to me that Eastern European immigrants expected it (which suggests that it is rooted in those cultures).   It seems to me a natural thing to do.
Meantime, there’s a good overview of relatively recent teaching on this matter here:
A document has appeared in several Internet sources which indicate that the Holy See is tending toward a negative view of the practice. The document is a letter (Protocol No. 930/08/L) dated Nov. 22, 2008, sent in response to a private query and signed by Father Anthony Ward, SM, undersecretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship. 

As a private reply the letter is not yet a norm with legal force and, as it makes clear, is not a definitive reply. However, it provides some valuable pointers on the legitimacy of this practice and the mind of the Holy See regarding it.

The letter said that “this matter is presently under the attentive study of the Congregation,” so “for the present, 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 or 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).”

Although the letter as such is not legally binding, some of its points, such as No. 2 on the prohibition of lay ministers giving liturgical blessings, are merely restatements of existing law and as such are already obligatory.

Nor did the letter deal with all possible circumstances, such as the case of small children mentioned by our reader. Because of this, some dioceses have taken a prudent wait-and-see attitude regarding these blessings. For example, the liturgy office of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, while reiterating that “the Archdiocese has no policy prohibiting the use of blessings at the time of Holy Communion,” prudently suggested to pastors that it “may be appropriate to avoid promoting the practice until a more definitive judgment regarding its value in the liturgical celebration can be obtained.”

There’s much more beyond that.  Read it all.
Comments closed.

Comments

  1. Oh brother. Entitlement? They’re kids. They enjoy coming up with their parents. What’s so bad about them feeling good, or even feeling like they’re part of the community? I always bless them and am happy to do it. In a way, it prepares them for Communion. Besides, some parents need to bring up their children because they can’t leave them alone in the pews.

  2. Families with children are already forced into crying cages, but this is perfect! Just what we need to encourage families to come to Mass! A wonderful take on the new evangelization!

  3. This is why we ought to return all the initiatory sacraments to early Childhood, ala the Eastern practice (and western practice until the late middle ages.

  4. deaconnecessary says:

    I teach and serve in a Catholic Middle School/High School where many members of our student body are not Catholic. At our weekly liturgies, all the kids come through the Communion line. Our practice is the above mentioned “Receive Jesus in your heart” for the non Catholic students, teachers and parents.
    It works out well since it’s not a “blessing.” Also it maintains the spirit of community.

  5. ron chandonia says:

    It’s bad enough that this pompous priest refuses to bless little kids; it’s even worse to claim that the practice of parents bringing along their children to communion (or embracing their neighbors at the sign of peace or linking hands with fellow Christians at the Lord’s Prayer) “has dangerously damaged their relationship with God.” It’s difficult to imagine what sort of God would think so, but I’m quite sure it’s not the One who raised Jesus from the dead.

    Yesterday Deacon Greg posted the very moving story of Father Everett Hermann, a servant leader who remains gracious and loving to his flock even as he himself faces a painful death. Can you imagine Fr. Hermann denying a blessing to a little child because he has decided Sacrosanctum Concilium should be read as if it were an updated list of liturgical rules? Only one of these priests “gets” Vatican II, and it is not the one who turns away little children at the communion table.

  6. ‘But Jesus said to them: Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to me: for the kingdom of heaven is for such’ – St Matthew 19:14 (DRB).

  7. Dwayne Van Wyhe says:

    I am reminded of the Gospel story where the apostles tried to hurry the childern away from Jesus. He would have none of it – nor should we. While I repect the liturgy, I have to believe Jesus would say “Let the children come to me.”

  8. Ben Story says:

    I think one of the problems with this particular Priest’s view is that he sees God and community as mutually exclusive. I’ll admit it, I’m a hand holder during the Our Father and I like the occasional Children’s Homily where the kids are brought up near the Priest instead of shuttled off to a separate chapel for something else. Often times God works through us to touch others and I know of no better place for a sense of community than in the Liturgy which is supposed to be the work of God’s people. Rules, rules, rules, that’s all I hear about from the hierarchy lately. Mechanical, cookie cutter worship doesn’t focus on God, it focuses on the rule book.

  9. Anthony Andreassi,CO says:

    In my parish I and the other priests always bless small children when they come up with their parents. It is a small act of kindness. I just don’t get why a priest wouldn’t do this. It is beyond me. And the argument based on the “rules” is a form of legalism beyond words. God help us.

  10. fiestamom says:

    I try to attend daily Mass a couple of times a week. I usually bring my (now) 4 y/o. When I receive Holy Communion, my son gets on both knees. I have never instructed him to do this, he just knows it’s Jesus there. The priest always blesses him. I wouldn’t be offended of the priest didn’t bless my son. But I bring him up b/c he’s too rambunctious to leave by himself. I actually don’t like it when an EHMC “blesses” my b/c I know it doesn’t count. I like the Deacon’s idea of a homily explaining why a priest wouldn’t do this.

  11. George McHenry says:

    Sounds like something in the Diocese of Trenton with its new Chief Pharisee, oops I mean Bishop O’Connell.

  12. Yay! Just in time for Easter season: Judgmental Catholic Combox Wars!

    My favorite part was when Father Cory says that those spoiled little brats are greedily looking to be given a gift they haven’t earned. Excellent.

  13. Southern Deacon says:

    I have to say that Fr Z has this as his opinion backed up by Rome’s view. I think they loose the view of Christ that says “bring me the children” and He admonishes the Apostles for trying to keep them away from him. When Christ is uniting himself in Communion with His people, aren’t we doing the same as the Apostles by denying the same love of Christ through a simple gesture, words of welcome, or a blessing. This point of view is what causes people to dislike their priests because they tend to control access by denying someone access to Christ in the simpliest and loving way. These children, maybe even the adults who present themselves, might not understand enough to receive Communion but they surely understand the connection of a blessing and /or a simple word. “May Christ who loves you, bless you & protect you from all evil.”

  14. For all those arguing on the basis of Christ’s admonition to “let the children come to him”, why not be consistent with your own argument and advocate the reception of all of the sacraments of initiation at the time of baptism as our Eastern brothers and sisters do and give the Eucharist to these little ones?

  15. I think those who want to excoriate Fr. for not treating people with charity should examine whether they are treating him with charity. There is a way to disagree without denigrating your opponent.

  16. Leo Zanchettin says:

    If there is no provision for the blessing of children during communion, then perhaps a carefully worded pastoral statement should be issued explaining it. Sadly, this is not that document.

    It is unfair to assume that the simple act of including your child in a communion line is the same as thinking that the liturgy can be anything we want it to be, or that we are reducing it to a mere social event. It is unfair to assume that we are just spoiled brats who think we should get everything we want without paying for it. Assumptions like these are insulting to the many dedicated lay people who often put in a significant amount of time and effort just to get their kids to Mass, let alone to teach them how to open their hearts to God during the liturgy. Believe me, there are plenty of other places we could go on a Sunday morning that are far more kid-friendly than a standard Sunday liturgy. But we don’t. Because we love our church. Because we love Christ. Because we want our children to encounter Christ in this highest form of worship.

    I include my children in the communion line and hope they receive a blessing because I want to prepare them for the far greater blessing of receiving Jesus in the Eucharist. I want them to learn the rhythms and reasons for what we do in the liturgy. I want them to develop the habit of full and active participation–the entire reason for Vatican II’s document on the liturgy. If a priest or deacon or extraordinary minister chooses not to bless my kids, I’m not offended. But I also know that my kids feel closer to Jesus when they do get blessed. They feel welcomed, valued, and loved by representatives of the church.

    By all means, let’s work to make the liturgy resemble the church’s understanding of what it should be. But please don’t take unnecessary, unsubstantiated swipes at the lay faithful in the process.

  17. I’m visualizing the look on the young girl’s face I saw yesterday, looking up at the Eucharist as her mother received. Awe, wonder, joy, longing, desire. Not greed or entitlement.

    Should God not attract??? Should we not desire God so much? Should this desire not grow and grow? Should we use the word “despise” in this context? What does that teach our children?

    (As to arguments in the Communion line, I can still remember the argument my mother had with a priest who wished to refuse me the Sacrament — at least two years after I made my First Communion. I was tiny, but absolutely entitled, and she wasn’t going to give up.)

  18. Hypothetical Situation 1:
    I have commented a mortal sin. I am fulfilling my Sunday obligation. It is time for Communion. Everyone gets up and goes. I’ve always gotten in the Communion Line since I was a little kid cause you get something, be it a blessing or the Host. I can’t possibly sit in the pew. No one else is. It’s no big deal to get up and get in line.

    Hypothetical Situation 2:
    I only go to Mass on Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday, because I get something. You go to Mass to get something.

    I think the root problem is that many Catholics have lost the point of Communion. They think it is something that you get.

    Father Charles speaks about this in his post today http://friarminor.blogspot.com/2012/04/unprecious-blood.html

    We have lost the sense of sacred. Maybe we need to go back to the rules to get it back.

    As to my own experience, this was not done when I was a little kid. To me it makes the whole experience of receiving Communion more important. It was something to look forward to, the day I was finally allowed in the line.

  19. Question (a real one): what do you do if someone doesn’t want to hold your hand? (Or do you take care to sit near someone who always does?) I’m asking because I am not a hand-holder and I’ve gotten some looks, ranging from amazed, bemused to offended. (If I am in a different parish than usual, I take care to site at an end, or very far from others, to avoid that confrontation.)

  20. @Mike, absolutely agree.

  21. I really struggle with the idea that a priest seeking to be obedient to the Church is somehow denying children something that they need or have a right to. Also, what happens in the parishes where there are 6 or 8 EMHCs? Wouldn’t it then be unfair that only the children in Father’s line get a blessing and not the others? Or do we add an additional layer of disobedience by having the lay people give blessings despite having zero authority to do so?

    Lay people simply do not have the authority to give blessings in the context of the mass. If you want your children to receive a blessing, then the mother and father should be giving them parental blessings at bedtime (or some other opportune time). Parents have authority over their children, and can give blessings. Lay people do not have authority at mass over other lay people.

    The real problem here is lack of catechesis. This whole problem arose with the addition of a number of things to the liturgy that were about making people feel good, without thinking of proper theology. So, to eliminate these additions, people will need to be catechized on what should be happening, and why. Any time people feel that something is being taken from them (even something they have no particular “right” to), there will be an uproar, usually involving some variation on the WWJD theme.

  22. Doesn’t count? You have to be kidding.

  23. And (to stay on topic): I have no strong opinion re: blessings. It usually has not come up in our parish, unless someone is carrying a baby–and then, how can you not bless a baby? My daughter went up with me b/c I did want to leave her alone in the pew, but I did not expect her to get a blessing, nor did she present to the priest the (somewhat weird) crossed arms pose that I’ve sometimes seen. Of course, communion at an altar rail would solve the problem ;-).

  24. Catholic Dad says:

    Maybe this is part of a new ecumenical outreach initiative. Children aren’t even welcome in many Protestant churches. Perhaps this is an attempt to meet our wayward Christian brethren halfway on such a fundamental theological issue.

    This extraordinarily picky and doctrinaire griping smacks of someone who is either angry about some larger issue, or who simply doesn’t like children. Jesus wasn’t a misanthrope. Members of the clergy shouldn’t be one either.

  25. Catholic Dad says:

    Thank you.

  26. I don’t sense from this post that Father does not like children. Of course, many people think that telling a child no or letting them fail is hating children.

  27. Franços Robert Laliberté-Fournier says:

    Mein Got! This priest read too much, or should ask for a transfer in the diocese of Rome. Please read Mc 10, 13-16. A reading that I use for baptism of children.
    Since 1983, I see cilhdren come whith their parents in the communion line. And i mark their head with the sign of the cross, and say:” Jésus soit dans ton coeur comme au jour de ton baptême” Bad traslation will be:” Jesus be in your heart , as the day when you were baptized” I was giving the communion rigtht beside my bishop when I heard him saying that. Refusing a blessing for an ordained minister is like refusing a piece of bread to a poor sitting on the sidewalk begging for something to eat!
    What a poor church I live in sometime!

  28. The “somewhat weird” crossed arms pose is in some parts of the world how everyone comes up for Communion.

  29. ron chandonia says:

    The “WWJD theme” is popular because that is the question Christians ought to keep asking themselves. But those who are fixated on the notion of “authority” seem to find the question offensive or even ridiculous. Not surprising. Jesus must have spent so much time and effort talking about the religious leaders of his day because he realized the topic would hold a lesson still applicable centuries later.

    BTW, in a situation perhaps more weighty than this one, Cardinal Schönborn of Vienna recently overruled one of his priests and allowed a gay man in a same-sex partnership to serve on a parish council. The cardinal is not known as a wild-eyed radical, but he explained his decision in exactly the same terms as we’ve seen in this thread:

    Cardinal Schönborn said that he had initially intended to uphold the priest’s decision–but then, he said, “I ask myself in these situations: How did Jesus act? He first saw the human being.”

  30. It seems to me that this issue is making a mountain out of a molehill. To quote from the Vatican II document on the Liturgy is way out of proportion to what is just a nice gesture, not part of the essential rubrics for the celebration of the Mass.

    I went to the website of the source of this post and read the twelfth comment by someone, identified as a traditional Catholic, who attends a Latin Mass.

    “Today at the COMMUNION RAIL, there were little ones kneeling by their parents. When the priest came to the children, he momentarily rested the base of the ciborium on their heads. The children I saw bowed their heads in great reverence. It was moving for all involved, and I believe quite proper. … Solution: Get back to the Communion rail.”

    “Rested the base of the ciborium on their heads” – What???

    However, I do like the black cowboy hat that Fr. Sticha wears but I wonder if it is considered appropriate priestly attire.

  31. My three year old despises the children’s blessing at communion, and our parochial vicar knows better than to put a hand on his head (and kindly doesn’t, bless him!) or he’ll flip out. The pastor (and EMHCs also, but that’s a different rant), on the other hand is stubborn and puts a hand on his head for the blessing anyway. I have to have a good hold on both my sons’s arms and keep him back far enough so he can’t kick.

    Scrapping the kid blessing at communion would reduce my Mass headaches by a good third.

  32. The problem is that asking the WWJD question is usually an automatic shut-down the discussion. It’s usually a way of saying, “I’m right and you’re wrong, because Jesus would’ve done xy.”

    What Jesus would do is a complicated question, not just a simple, “He’d let the kids come to him.” Well of course he wants the kids to come to him, but there’s more than just that. Do we think that Jesus also wants His priests to be obedient to legitimately established authority? Or does Jesus want priests adding things to the liturgy whenever they happen to think, “This is what Jesus would have done” regardless of what the Church says they actually should be doing? As Catholics, we have a divinely established Church that gives us guidelines to suggest how Jesus might have acted, and it can be tricky trying to substitute our individual judgment for the Church’s.

    As a parent sometimes the loving thing to tell a child is, “No, that’s not appropriate at this time.” Jesus, the Incarnate Son of God is the embodiment of perfect love, and love isn’t simply a matter of permissiveness, but of doing what is best for the other, even if the other doesn’t actually think that’s what’s best.

  33. Catholic Dad says:

    Point well taken. I don’t know Father and should allow the benefit of the doubt.

    Having said that, not a single one of the arguments parents supposedly make – entitlement, feelgood – has ever crossed my mind. They are straw-man arguments.

    I don’t take my daughter to the altar to get the warm fuzzies. First, I don’t want to leave her in the pew. Second, I know from the questions she asks and the discussions we have had about communion that there is an awe, desire, and longing in her heart. I will do everything I can to foster those sentiments, and telling her she is not welcome – whether explicitly or implicitly, is counterproductive. Fortunately I belong to a parish where the pastor understands this.

  34. naturgesetz says:

    I really think that this business of giving blessings to children in the Communion line is something the priests invented so the children would like them. It’s to make the priests feel good. In effect it turns the child’s focus (which might be on the Sacred Host) to the priest. So it’s not about the children “coming to Jesus,” it’s about them coming to the priest.

  35. There you go!

  36. Dwayne Van Wyhe says:

    Anthony – Thanks for the reply. I am not knowledgable enough to speak intelligently about your suggestion. I’d be interested in learning more about this.

  37. naturgesetz says:

    Some Sunday, try letting him loose. It could teach that stubborn priest a valuable lesson he’ll never forget. LOL

  38. naturgesetz says:

    That verse has nothing to do with the case. The children are already as close as they can be until they make their first communion. What happens is that the priest makes himself the focus of their attention.

  39. 1. Fr. Sticha is correct in each instance.
    2. WWJD is a diversionary tactic. Try dying on the cross and then ask what He’d do. Too many people hijack this idea for their own ends, not Christ’s.
    3. DON’T grab my hand for the Lord’s Prayer. My head is down, my hands are clasped in front of me. Don’t poke me on the arm to get my attention. Ain’t gonna do it.
    3. Lay people acting as EMoHC have no business extending a blessing to a child in that setting, because it appears to blur the line between ordained minister and lay-person.
    4. The arguing here proves the point that clear lines need to be drawn and followed to prevent completely and utterly making Holy Mass irrelevant.

  40. I am concerned about the comment from Father “We live in a culture of entitlement, where a large percentage of the population expects to get something for nothing”. Jesus gave freely of Himself, and we are not entitled to it. It is a gift freely given. In many ways none of us are worthy to receive Him. I do not see parents with their kids in the communion line as a symbol of entitlement. I actually see it as an uderstanding of the gift of Jesus. He is here for all of us, young and old and in the middle, and comes to us in a way we can understand.
    More problematic though is that this seems to push kids away from the very place and person they should be trying to get closer to. I know in our parish the priest and the deacon and EHMCs have simple phrase, a variant on what Deacon Ed mentioned.

  41. I agree with Father Cory on this issue 100%. Creativity, regardless of intention is absolutely forbidden in the Liturgy. Father didn’t say…don’t bring your kids in the communion line. He is simply following the rubrics to the letter, and I for one appreciate it. Jesus speaks through the Church, her teachings, and the Liturgy obviously…

    I happen to know Father a bit, and I’m sure that he’s been properly preparing his parish on aspects of the Liturgy with catechesis. Some of you may disagree with Father’s post, but there is absolutely no need to attack his person…No where did he say this is a pastoral statement, it is his opinion, and he has a right to it. (The documents with real authority, Vatican II, GIRM, etc…discourage the practice of blessing children for Communion). No where did Father attack individual parents or question their motives. He’s describing a situations in society, which all of us should agree that are happening…

    Where in the Institution of the Roman Missal does it give the authority for priests to give blessings DURING MASS? (You’re not going to find it, and all things that are not allowed in the Liturgy should be stopped too)…For those that aren’t disposed to receive Holy Communion, approach the throne of grace with confidence in the Sacrament of Confession.

    Thank you Fr Sticha for following the rubrics of Holy Mother Church! What Fr Sticha mentioned in his post is noticable in the comments. Pax.

  42. Ben Story says:

    I never force my hand on anyone. I offer it up turned and if someone grabs on that’s their choice. Unfortunately most times our church attendance is so sparse you have to really move around to find someone to offer the Sign of Peace to.

  43. EMHCs are not supposed to be doing blessings at Communion.

  44. Deacon Bill says:

    I agree, Jim. In our parish (my first year at this parish), MANY people came forward for a blessing, not just the kids, and I blessed them happily. Why? Because most of them were visitors and had come with friends and family to the Mass. This was not a time for rejection and posturing, but for welcoming and rejoicing in the Risen Lord. And, didn’t I read someplace that someone once said, “Let the little children come to me”?

    Bless now, explain later.
    God bless,
    Deacon Bill

  45. Deacon Bill says:

    Dear Anthony,

    Many of us have been supporting this idea for years.
    God bless,
    Deacon Bill

  46. ron chandonia says:

    “Making Holy Mass irrelevant”? To whom? To the angry, hateful God whose relationship with each of us Father Sticha claims to know even better than we hand-grabbers do? Sounds like.

  47. naturgesetz:

    Re your comment about the selfish motivation of priests giving a blessing to children in the communion line.

    I would never have thought that. But I am not going to thank you for pointing it out, because I don’t know where you are coming from with such a sweeping judgmental generalization.

  48. I don’t doubt; it’s just new to me, that’s all.

  49. Bill Tooke says:

    Fr. Corey is dead solid perfect. He is what a priest is supposed to be. Obedient.

    I never understood why so many Catholics just do what they want. I guess it’s bad catechesis or whatever, but I think it’s a bit of a reductio ad absurdum argument.
    There comes a time when the average lay Catholic should make the effort to know what is proper and what isn’t at Mass. When I go to a Tridentine Mass or a Maronite Qorbono, or Byzantine Divine Liturgy I try (and I often don’t succeed, but I make an effort to try) to do what is expected of me. Not because I’m proud. I’m a vile sinner who needs redemption daily. But because it’s the least I can do for Christ.

    Blessings at Communion to be honest don’t bother me. If a priest wants to do it, I don’t besmirch him, though I don’t think they are necessary. But things like hand holding, Orans Position (which irks me quite a bit more than hand holding… hand holding might be vapid and Protestant, but at least it’s not a blurring of priest and laity like Orans is for the West. For the East it’s perfect orthopraxis) all this stuff. It’s reducing the Mass to going to the Elks Lodge or something.

  50. I wish people would stop using the gay-man-parish-council story as an example of anything. The man is free to attend Mass and I don’t see why he can’t sit on the council – as long as he doesn’t attempt to receive the Sacraments while he is living in direct opposition to the Church’s teachings.

  51. Fr. Cory is blessed with great courage, wisdom, compassion and love to openly inform his “flock” of his full duties, roles and responsibilities to them as their priest, pastor and as the celebrant of the liturgy. Only in the US and probably some other english speaking countries where you’ll find so many “misuse and abuse” of liturgy during Mass. Why?!? Because of our so called “liberties and rights” to interpret things not as they are, but to “suit our needs, wants, desires, lifestyles, etc.” and to “make the Church fit us and not us into the Church.” That’s the American way!!

    Since Vatican II, so much misdirection, misinterpretation, and what-have-you has been “twisted” in regards to the liturgy and the norms of liturgy by not only priests but bishops as well, mostly here in the US. Some of our bishops and priests have taken on the Mass as a “stage” show with an attitude of “hey, look at me!” and thus liturgy becomes irreverent at times. Catechesis on the Mass and liturgy is not even properly taught at the formation stages of faith. So how do you expect children to understand?? Well, not from parents because parents have become “open” and “liberal” in regards to the Church and faith.

    Just read the comments on this matter. From clergy to laity, the bashing continues when someone who takes the command of Jesus of “Be not afraid” to fully exercise his pastoral responsibility to teach the faith and liturgy as it should be and not by consensus. Remember, it was by consensus that Jesus was crucified.

    The Catholic “culture” in the US is really very sad in every sense. The “culture” from one diocese and/or parish to another is just beyond explanation, all because of poor pastoral guidance and direction. It is really sad when our clergy “give in” to the “cry” of the people just so everyone “feels good” about going to Church and belonging to a community.

    “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” on which our Church is built upon. And we who are baptized are to continue to build upon that “cornerstone” which is Jesus Christ, not to enhance, beautify, change, etc., as we “feel like it should be,” but on the “one, holy, catholic and apostolic church,” the four pillars of our faith.

    Fr. Cory and for all other clergy and/or laity who courageously with much love and compassion teach the truth of Jesus Christ, I offer my most humble prayers, love, and joy for you to continue to proclaim all the truth that the Catholic Church teaches, professes and believes in the spirit and name of Jesus Christ.

  52. Joe Cunningham says:

    I also teach in a Catholic school with a number of non-catholic students. When they come up with their hands folded across their chest, I simply say, “May our Lord bless us”. It’s important to remind Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist that they are not empowered to bless anyone, as that is the perogative of the deacons and priests.

  53. A blessing by an EMHC is no more efficacious than if you were to ask the person next to you for a blessing, or if you were to say, “God bless you” after someone sneezed.

  54. Joe Cunningham says:

    Your comment was lacking in charity.

  55. I am also a non hand holder and have had people reaching long distances in the past to try to grab mine. Our diocese expects the folks in the pews to do the “orans” position during the Lord’s Prayer and it has kept the hand-grabbers away. Not to mention that I get to shake that same person’s hand and look them right in the eye not more than a minute later.

  56. Our parish priests and EMs all give blessings…. even when I try to move my kids before they can reach their hand out and place it on their heads. I don’t “present” them for a blessing. They just come with us so they aren’t left in the pew by themselves. My kids are 6, 4, 2 (almost 3), and 1. In our parish, it is not an option. They do it even if they have to lunge to reach the kids. I know. I hate it. When we’ve actually gone to Mass somewhere else now, my 6 year old stands and waits for a blessing. I had one poor priest be uncertain if he was supposed to give her Holy Communion since she was clearly standing there waiting for him. I think it sends all the wrong messages and, as a parent, it gets under my skin that I have strangers putting their hands on my kids.

    Anyone know a way to not have their child be blessed without leaving them in the pews alone, I’m all ears.

  57. Setting aside the issue of the blessing of little children, when adults come up before an EMHC with arms folded expecting a blessing, they really do put the EMHC in an untenable position.

    An EMHC, as a lay person who is but a lowly servant, has no power or charism to give a liturgical blessing. But neither is the communion line the place or time to stop and explain to this to the adult. And if they were to do so, it might very well provoke an argument, maybe even exploding into a big controversy like Barbara Johnson.

    Something along the lines of Monsignor Pope’s suggestion of a non-blessing seems to be about the best balance here (although even “receive Jesus in your heart” sounds a bit too much like a blessing, maybe something like “go with God”?).

  58. To those who understand that Holy Mass is not yet another feel-good get-together.

    Your relationship with God has nothing to do with holding my hand while praying the way Jesus taught us – and if we are talking about WWJD – He didn’t tell us to join hands while we do.

    Nice diversionary, ron, what with all that anger/hand-grabber talk.

  59. You know, this was never an issue in my childhood. There were some reasons that we might do well to ponder.

    1. My parents did not bring me to Mass until I was old enough to understand something about its sacredness. They took turns going to Mass so someone would be home with me. This was a sacrifice for them, as my father would have to get up very early on his day off to get to the early Mass, so he could come home and take care of me while my mother went to Mass. So, I gained the idea that Mass was something extremely important and worth sacrificing for. They also didn’t inflict my infant and toddler screams on the rest of the congregation. They did bring me to church outside of Mass so that I would get familiar with the place and learn to pray. They also gave me religious materials and a child’s explanation of the Mass (a little missal) suitable for my age, so that I would have a connection with and something to look when I did go to Mass. Now, my parents were immigrants from Ireland, with limited education and limited means. The time frame was the early 1950s. If they were able to do this then, how much more could today’s educated parents, with better tools, be able to do!

    2. When I was able to go to Mass, they took turns going to Communion, so I wasn’t left alone in the pew. They didn’t drag me onto the line with everyone else, since I wouldn’t be able to receive. I didn’t get into a Communion line until the day of First Communion.

    3. It certainly made it easier on everyone. Priests didn’t need to decide if they would or would not give a blessing or what words to use (the fact that they can make up the words suggests that this is indeed an extraordinary practice, not something stated in the rubrics for Mass). In addition, it eliminated doubt about who had or had not received First Communion. If you were on the line, you had received.

    I’m an EMoC at my parish (in fact, I’m the organizer of the EMoCs) and I see the kids coming wth their parents. Some are reverent and awed, as others have described in comments. Others look bored out of their minds and fidgety. The difference may possibly lie in the personality of the individual child (children being just personality differentiated as adults) or it may be in the amount of catechesis the child has had, or it may be a reflection of the attitude of the parents. It’s not my place to explain, I only observe.

    I have no idea whether our clergy give them blessings or not because I’m uusually too busy to notice. That’s their business.

  60. Regina J. Faighes says:

    A few years ago, a fellow parishioner shared with me a beautiful and deeply moving story about this. When her daughter (who is now an adult), was a little girl, the priest placed his hands over her head and gave her a blessing. Later that day, the family went out for a walk, and they met a neighbor who was very elderly and infirm. The little girl reached up put her hands around an imaginary object over her own head and then placed it over the head of the elderly and infirm lady. When her Mom asked her about that, she explained that during Communion the priest had given her a blessing, and she, in turn was giving the blessing to someone who needed it more than she did. No wonder Jesus said: “suffer the little children to come unto me.”

  61. I disfavor the blessings in the communion line approach.

    Sadly, the priest’s message is a *very* poor one. His screed against entitlement reads like warmed over Fox News fodder (I certainly do have issues with entitlement, but I’d word mine far more carefully than this priest did, as the culture of entitlement is quite entrenched among the rich, the clergy, prelates, et cet., in ways far more damaging to the social fabric than more conventional social welfare programs).

  62. The argument that it isn’t the rubrics thus should be removed is fine enough for me. Whatever my preference, doesn’t matter, as from that logic it makes sense.

    But, then, accusing that it is done out of a “feel good” mentality and out of entitlement is way off base, at least in my household. It may have not been the priest’s intention (as one random blog post doesn’t let me know him!), but it, reading it possibly out of context, adds on to what I’ve been reading/hearing lately in the Catholic blogosphere and in person.

    I’m a father of a two-year old, a one-year old and one on the way. I know full-well I’m not welcomed at Mass with my family. Yes, in theory, all are welcome, but with the many online comments, the “reminders” that we have a cry room when my youngest drops her water cup (as my two-year old, as a “big toddler” knows that we do not eat or drink during church) and the dirty looks, I know.

    Plenty of people tell me to “switch off” with my wife. Leave the kids at home. Maybe they’re right, but in my heart of hearts, discerning as well as I can what God wills for me as the spiritual (and biological) father of my household–my domestic church–I can’t see dividing a married couple and leaving kids at home, short of a true behavior issue. An occasional cry is not such an issue, yet, the impression we have is that we’ve sinned greatly by being so inconsiderate.

    Sure, perhaps, there are parents looking for warm and fuzzy. If I wanted that, I’d stay at home on Sunday and go to the neighborhood park. Plenty of other parents shower praise on each other’s kids there.

    The cry room, sadly, for some parents mean a place where they no longer need to try to keep their kids quiet. We avoid those since we don’t want our girls to think that is acceptable. Our parish’s problem, though, is that the cry room (e.g. Mother’s Chapel) has the only padded pews in the church, which means it fills quickly with older people looking for a more comfortable seat. Which is fine, but then we get the same looks (although not the comments since we’re already in the cry room!) for the slightest of squeaks. We’re damned if we want our kids to see the example of everyone else paying attention and we’re damned if we let them see the example that they don’t need to pay attention.

    On getting a blessing or not, I’m really fine with not being given. It makes sense in terms of the purpose of Communion. We don’t see people getting in line during Confirmations for a blessing from the Bishop, or people in line at Ash Wednesday to refuse the ashes and want a blessing. So, I get the rationale there and fine with applying the “no changes/additions to the liturgy”. Frankly, presented in that way, I actually completely agree.

    I’m a young guy, only been to an Extraordinary Form Mass a couple of times, so I don’t know how life was pre-revised Liturgy. Were crying kids less of a concern since during Low Mass? You weren’t trying to listen to the priest, as much as follow along with bells helping you keep place? Is our church’s sensitivity to children a by-product of our liturgy requesting our active participation, which we infer now means we have to be not only focused on the act on the Altar, but able to be free from distractions? I don’t know; I’m just trying to figure it out.

  63. Deacon Norb says:

    Just a practical factoid about how often this happens — in my geographically limited experience.

    My new pastor ALWAYS blesses the children brought down the aisle. Of the 250 or so who were in his line at Communion time at our largest Easter Mass (maybe 800-900 attendance), he probably blesses 20-25 children. One in ten — maybe a bit high — but that’s Easter for you!

    Adults who come forward with the “arms-crossed” posture asking for the blessing in lieu of Eucharistic reception are much rarer. Maybe one out of every three-four hundred or so who come forward in that manner (which means we see at least one at every Sunday Mass).

    The Deacons in our parish do bless children and adults in this way but the raw numbers/ratio coming to our stations are no where near that high during Weekend Masses– kinda hard doing that blessing when you are a “Minister of the Cup.”

    NOW, at our Saturday morning “free-standing” Communion Services — which are the total responsibility of the Deacons — our attendance regularly sits at 30 and I’ll have at least three children who come forward at Communion time for the blessing then. No big deal — I am a “Real-Grandpa” already to 14 and those who do attend already sense that.

    The EMHC’s do not bless in our parish.

  64. Bridget N says:

    I prefer not holding hands for the Our Father. I simply fold/clasp my hands, close my eyes, and say the prayer. I am easily distracted anyway, so closing my eyes and focusing on the Mass itself – and not the people around me – is sometimes the only way I can really focus.

  65. Julian Klee says:

    Matthew 19:13 Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them and said “Send those entitled brats away. God’s not here to make you feel good; they shouldn’t be misled into thinking that an encounter with the Christ, the son of the living God, is something to be enjoyed, something to look forward to”;

    14. but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.”

  66. THIS! Also, our spankin’ new church was built with a lot of nice things, but one thing conspicuously absent is a cry room.

    Children are a part of the Church. They’re not her future, but her present. And we ignore that to our peril.

  67. Eh. We just commune them until they reach the age of reason. Problem solved.

  68. ron chandonia says:

    Ah, but was this child “authorized” by “authorities” to “give a liturgical blessing”? If not, then God will clearly hate her. Or so the super-Catholics on this thread evidently believe.

  69. Catholic Dad says:

    Growing up in my parish, the parents simply pushed their kids to the side once they reached the front of the line. I always sensed that my mother enjoyed it – even accidentally knocking me off my feet once. Sent a great message to all us kids, but at least we followed the rules and avoided a heretical scandal such as children being blessed.

  70. Speaking of blessings, Ron Chandonia:
    Many parents bless their children. I am fairly certain that such parents do not consider the blessing to be part of a liturgy.

    Regina J. Faighes’ comment reminded me.
    I used to make the sign of the cross on my son’s forehead, especially when he was sick. Then, one day when I was sick and confined to bed, he came in to talk and made the sign of the cross on my forehead before he left.

  71. Amen to this. We need some practical solutions here.
    I am a relatively new Catholic; just three years in the Church as of yesterday, and I want very much to be obedient to the Church as I have seen the result of disobedience. I only discovered a year or so ago that we are not supposed to assume the “orans” posture during the Our Father so my family and I have been bowing our heads and folding our hands.
    It was VERY difficult for my 4 year daughter to digest that everyone else was holding hands or assuming “orans” and we were not. I hated that it seemed so cold. It would have been so much easier if we had known the right thing to do from the get-go.
    Our last priest had stopped the altar servers from assuming the orans and even though he has moved on, the kids are still just folding their hands and bowing their heads. Most of the rest of the parish, however, is holding hands or assuming orans.
    I have thought a lot about the blessing issue. It has just been what we have been introduced to. And we have been lucky enough to have loyal bishops and priests who love the church. My daughter is almost 6 now and her greatest desire in life is to receive Holy communion. Her life’s ambition is to be a saint. I want always to encourage this love in her and I want us to be obedient to the church.
    I very much dislike EMHC giving her a blessing but I’m not sure what to do about it. We still have 2 more years until communion. We mostly try and get in the priest’s line.
    I miss the altar rail. Why is it gone? We had one in my old Anglican church. I loved kneeling before (what I thought was) Our Lord.

  72. I too have had to cope with the children’s-blessings-at-holy-communion problem. The practice is widespread, but I have yet to be able to find anyone who can tell me where the practice comes from, or give me a coherent liturgical rationale for it. It seems to me that the relevant church statements about the communion procession, and a responsum ad dubium given several years ago concerning the practice of EMoHCs giving blessings during communion, tend against the practice. However, I will admit there has, as of yet, been no outright proscription.

    Contrary to what some here have written, I have heard, both from priests and DREs, the justification given for the practice that “it helps kids not to feel left out”, and that “it give the kids the sense that they are getting something from Mass”. Needless to say, I find both of these justifications deeply insubstantial and unpersuasive.

    My opinion: giving blessings to kids during communion is one of those “nice ideas” someone who was well-intentioned but not liturgically competent came up with. The problem is that just because something is a “nice idea” doesn’t justify its inclusion in the liturgy.

    My own practice, in two parishes (including the one I am administrator of now, which I took over last fall), has been the following:

    1. Catechesis about the Mass over several months in homilies, bulletin columns, etc., touching the infinite privilege of participating in Mass even if one does not receive communion – being made present to Calvary, etc. I also spend some time explaining how true “active participation” begins interiorly, with the uniting of our hearts and minds to the prayers and sacrificial actions of the Mass. I stress the idea that “participation” at Mass does NOT necessarily mean “doing stuff”.
    2. Encouraging parents to teach their children, at their own level, all of the above. For example, I suggest that they ask their kids before Mass what they will bring to their prayers during Mass, and what they will offer to Jesus in their prayers as the priest offers the host and chalice. I stress the idea that all of us, adults and children, are offered, with our prayers, needs, etc., with the host and chalice.
    3. Ask the religious ed and school teachers to stop instructing the kids to come up for blessings during communion, with some liturgical catechesis on why it’s inappropriate.
    4. Liturgical catechesis to the parish on how the liturgy belongs to the whole church, and that we are not free to change it, even with our “nice ideas”.
    5. Finally, an announcement that, we will no longer give blessings to the children during communion, (not, I’ll jokingly say, because I don’t like children or blessings) because it is an extra-liturgical action that is out of place during communion. Instead, I explain, I will give blessings to children after the Prayer after Communion. This is done at only one Mass on Sunday (the one that has the most families with children). Furthermore, it won’t be done during penitential seasons (Advent and Lent), or at Masses where there is a solemn blessing.

    I also announce then (and I have done so periodically during this Lent) that any child can come to me anytime before or after Mass, and I will happily give them a blessing. Some take me up on it.

    (I am considering moving the chidrens’ blessing to after the homily, because it strikes me as still out-of-place after communion. Of course, the real problem is that it is out-of-place anywhere in Mass, because it isn’t part of Mass.)

    This is done, as I said, over the course of several months. In two parishes now, parents have, generally, received the change calmly. I’ve only had one or two parents get upset or complain about the change I made.

    In this way the blessings are no longer done when it is clearly inappropriate, and I have hopefully started moving the parish back to a sounder understanding and practice. Personally, giving the childrens’ blessing after communion feels like a compromise, and part of me would prefer to eliminate the blessings altogether. But I recognize that it’s not just about what I think should be ideal liturgical practice. And I recognize that you can’t just take things away from people, ESPECIALLY where their kids are concerned.

  73. friscoeddie says:

    Hey Joe..As a grandfather my blessing is the best you can get.

  74. Amen Joe! It took reading the entire thread to find one person who gets the importance of obedience over feelings, especially to the Liturgy.

    By all means parents should still bring their kids up to communion with them. If they want them blessed, they can do that, as parents are authorized to bless their own children. The ones who are too young to understand, nothing lost, the older ones, good opportunity for a teaching moment of obedience and the sacredness of the mass. To me that’s far more “loving” than “Oh, it’s for the kids, we can bend a bit.”

  75. Fiergenholt says:

    Fr. Rob:

    I am convinced that this practice, like a lot of other liturgical actions that are out of the ordinary, surfaced first in approved extra-parochial movements within our wider church and then, slowly, crept into the mainstream as the members of those movements themselves came back to their home parishes in solid numbers.

    I first saw the “crossed-arm” approach maybe 30+ years ago within some of the liturgical gatherings of the Cursillo movement. In that specific diocese at that specific time, that movement was an ecumenical one and having non-Catholic folks attending and participating in their Catholic gatherings was common. All knew about the prohibition of non-Catholics from receiving the Eucharist but also knew about the custom of an “altar-call” that was so common among the non-Catholics. The “crossed-arm” approach, then, became an acceptable compromise on both sides of the divide. in fact, I did witness two Roman Catholic deacons use that option once when attending — vested — a funeral liturgy for a prominent Lutheran pastor. The presiding Lutheran Bishop was a bit surprised but he offered the blessing none-the-less.

    Holding hands at the Our Father is also a custom that surfaced within the Cursillo Movement first, then was adopted by the folks who were part of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and now that has spread into the mainstream.

    I see something similar happening with the growing custom of praying the Rosary before Mass. The folks who organize and plan it in our parish are all devotee’s of EWTN and use the EWTN additions when praying the Rosary. They have been doing this for years and slowly these EWTN routines have become normative — BUT — I am still uncomfortable with those routines because that is not HOW I learned to pray the Rosary — way before EWTN was evena dream.

    Bottom line: look for more such variations when — for instance — “focolarini” or “C&L” folk become more active in their own mainstream parishes.

  76. Considering how infrequently this situation presents itself, isn’t it just easier to finesse it vis a vis Deacon Greg’s suggestion?

  77. Klaire, you always have the best posts. PS I’m Catholic now and have received communion 3 times! Saturday night, Sunday and this morning!

  78. Cancel that, go check out Klaire’s answer below.

  79. I wish you could xx out stupid posts you make.

  80. I have tried moving my children to the side. The EMs will stop and move to reach my children and put their hand on them and bless them. Either they are completely missing the hint or I am not supposed to have the option.

    Perhaps your mother enjoyed it. Did you misbehave in Mass that badly that she would enjoy knocking you over? I don’t enjoy anything about it. And, frankly, your sarcasm is rather rude and uncalled for. I never said anyone else couldn’t do it. I said I wanted the option for my family not to do it and you seem offended by that? I never said it was a “heretical scandal.” I said I think it sends the wrong message. If it is a matter of choice or preference, where is my choice for my children not to receive it, without leaving them alone in the pew?

  81. I’m sure Father Sticha’s intentions are good. But this has stirred up a lot of attention about an issue which isn’t that important in the big scheme of things. Seriously, a blessing given to a baby is ad libbing the liturgy? Better to worry about the children (and their families) who aren’t at Mass, than begrudge a blessing to those who are there.

  82. Wow… Fr. Sticha is the poster-child for the removing the church’s current practice of celibacy.

    He needs a wife to tell him when he’s going overboard (or acting like a you-know-what).

    ———————-

  83. What’s so bad about them feeling good, or even feeling like they’re part of the community?

    Because feeling good is not the source and summit of our being.

    Because the time for Holy Communion is for just that: an intimate and unique encounter between Creator and creature, not to be appropriated and cluttered with countersigns.

    Because the Blessed Sacrament is not to be instrumentalized as a mood-setting accessory for affirmation of community or any of its members or their aspirations.

    Because it’s an abuse of the liturgy to adapt it at our will for another purpose, and an abuse of the faithful to suggest that possibility to them.

    Because blessing is a sign of authority, which lay servers do not possess.

    Tell you what, Father: we are getting into ordination season. What do you think about my attending a nearby Jesuit ordination, and coming forward (with children, perhaps) for a blessing. All of us would be baptized and therefore members of the “community”. You OK with that?

  84. When I attended a Rachel’s Vineyard retreat 3 years ago, there was a Catholic priest available for spiritual direction for those of us who were Catholic and an Anglican minister for the Protestant participants. The Catholic priest was very new and the youngest one in our diocese- I believe he was just 28.
    On the Sunday morning, we all went to the chapel to worship. the Catholic priest said Mass first and then the Anglican had a service.
    I remember the young priest looking over at me when the time came and mouthed the words “Do you want to go up for a blessing?” I nodded enthusiastically as I felt that it was respectful and ecumenical. So the Catholic priest and I both went up and were blessed by the Anglican minister.

  85. You would say “God bless you” to someone who sneezes, and not mean it?

    Wow.

  86. Dcn Luis says:

    20+ years ago when I was in formation we had to write a reflection paper on the sacraments. It was not for grade but for discernment (TPTB not mine). I got hung on this thing about the Sacraments of Initiation and after starting smoking again banged out 14 pages leading with that Baptism, Confirmation and 1st Holy Communion should be instituted at one regardless the age of the person.

    I am convinced that we only spread it out as a carrot. Well many after eating the carrot don’t come back until they get another.

  87. To give a geographical perspective, in my diocese the bishop has directed that anyone who is not receiving communion is welcomed to come in the line with arms crossed and receive a blessing. When we have masses with any significant numbers of non-Catholics who are new (for example a funeral or wedding) the priest will give an instruction before communion telling the non-Catholics that this is what is expected of them. In my parish it is not uncommon that the children receive communion while their parent(s) who is(are) not Catholic, or are party to an invalid marriage, come forward to receive a blessing…

    In a previous diocese we had a pastor who tried to introduce the practice when he came to the parish. He had incardinated from another diocese, though, and we just assumed he was attempting to import the foreign practice. When my family moved here it became more obvious what the rules are here.

    Here it seems to have more to do with the issue of NOT having open communion, and giving adults who are not receiving communion some reason for being in line. And the practical issue of people having to climb over you to get in/out of the pew if you stay behind.

  88. Bill Tooke says:

    That’s a militantly offensive comment.

  89. Bill Tooke says:

    Praying the Rosary before Mass was ubiquitous pre Vatican II.

  90. Aaron Streeting says:

    Where I live, the arms-crossed-for-a-blessing practice is fairly common. I understand the liturgical arguments against it, and I certainly don’t get offended if the priest doesn’t bless my two preschoolers when they come up with me.

    That said, I have spoken to my pastor about this and he believes that in some cases, there is a legitimate pastoral reason for priests to give blessings at communion time: to help prevent sacrilege. The development of row-by-row communion has surely led to a number of unworthy receptions by people who didn’t want to stand out. These days, it is norm for almost everyone in the congregation to go to communion. My pastor advises people struggling with purity or drugs or other grave sins (but are afraid of being conspicuous in a sea of empty pews) to approach the altar for a blessing if they are scared about standing out to their family and their friends. And even if they aren’t judging, people will notice if someone doesn’t go up for communion.

    I admit that this is largely a result of post-conciliar abuses, but isn’t it better for someone in a state of grave sin to receive a blessing than to receive communion?

    Apparently in the 1950s, when the fast was longer (and more frequently observed), the percentage of people who didn’t go to communion was much higher. It wouldn’t be unusual for Mr. Smith to stay in the pew while his wife and several of his kids went to communion. Additionally, people did not approach the communion rail in an orderly line with the rest of their pew. They went up whenever they wanted to.

  91. Bill Tooke:
    My memory:
    Praying the Rosary DURING Mass was ubiquitous pre Vatican II.

  92. Paula, when blessings are discussed, it’s important first of all to understand what a blessing is. It’s not just an expression of good will, but a benediction — a solemn conferral of spiritual power and sustenance. Blessings are a gift that lies in the hands of just anyone, but of those empowered to give them. We legitimately turn to priests and bishops for blessings because they have received that power. Children receive blessings from their parents because parents have authority over them. It’s as meaningless for Catholics to seek or accept a blessing from non-Catholic clergy as it would be for me to expect a random child on the street to seek my approval or care about my regard.

  93. Mark Greta says:

    Agree 100% on this. We have an amazing gift in the liturgy if we could just get the pastor of each parish to insist that the liturgy correct and in line with authentic Catholic teacing as detailed by Rome. Keep it very simple, put away pride, and obey with full trust in Christ and His Church.

  94. Both customs were ubiquitous before Vatican II. In some places praying the Rosary before Mass continued after Vatican II (like in my parish growing up during Holy Week). In some places, for some of the oldest generations, praying the Rosary during Mass continued after Vatican II (I’ve witnessed it).

  95. I guess we shouldn’t ask Protestants to pray for us either????

  96. PHYLLIS ZAGANO says:

    When I preached at the Episcopal Cathedral in Denver a few years ago, I was invited to receive a blessing, and did. The building did not fall down. Then again, yesterday I saw a lay minister at a Jesuit retreat house bring communion to a wheelchair bound woman at her place–and then give her a pat on the cheek.
    Maybe better to stick with a combination of rule book and custom in reverencing the dignity of the sacrament?

  97. You’ve completely misunderstood. Blessings are given by some person who has some form of spiritual authority over another person. Two examples given are that of parents or grandparents over children/grandchildren, and priests over their parishioners, or perhaps other laypeople they may come in contact with. This is completely different than asking a person to pray for some intention. If there is a Protestant who has authority over you for some reason (relative, of an older generation, perhaps), it’d be perfectly reasonable to ask for their blessing, or their prayers.

  98. Where in this comment does it say that I would not mean it? Where?

    WHAT I DID SAY was about the efficacy of saying that. Efficacy does not mean “insincere.”

    And with respect to efficacy, there is a difference between a priest, who has been ordained, giving a liturgical blessing and a simple lay person saying “bless you.”

  99. isn’t it better for someone in a state of grave sin to receive a blessing than to receive communion?

    This is a good example of the logical fallacy called the “false dilemma.” It is better to do neither. In fact, if people do even take notice of someone remaining in his seat, they might actually think more highly of them, that they are being respectful, if they give it any thought at all. It seems awfully presumptuous and uncharitable for your pastor to simply assume that his parishioners are so judgmental.

    Besides, exactly what is the appropriate blessing for one who is in grave sin? Specifically, what is being done or asked of God in blessing a grave sinner?

    In any event, doesn’t the sinner bother to stick around a few more minutes until immediately after Communion, when he will hear the priest say, “May almighty God bless you, + the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit”?

  100. Catholic Dad says:

    You didn’t have to say it was a heretical scandal to treat it as such. You “hate” that some well meaning priest tries to bless your child? Good grief.

    I knew better than to act up at Mass in my family – I saw the consequences with my older siblings. My mother’s sole motivation was the same orthodox approach that can’t even contemplate the blessing of a child.

  101. Regina Faighes says:

    HMS: What a loving and beautiful gesture on the part of your dear son!

  102. Peter A Bishop says:

    What you should be doing is giving them Communion and not a blessing. Children should be receiveing Communion since baptism.
    The Orthodox have the right idea.

  103. I am a Eucharistic Minister in the Cleveland Diocese. When I went through training, and again at a refresher course a couple of years ago, we were instructed to absolutely not give blessings while distributing Holy Communion. I was rather relieved to hear it, not because I did not want to extend a blessing, but because I did not want to have to juggle a ciborium or chalice to do so and risk spilling the Precious Blood or mishandling the Body of Christ. We were also told, as you mentioned, that everyone is blessed at the end of Mass. All in all, I think these reasons are sensible, and the Diocese asked us to follow these rules in order to protect the Blessed Sacrament while it is in our hands, and to maintain proper dignity during Holy Communion. It is not meant to be mean-spirited.

    A very happy Easter to you, Deacon Greg!

    Susan from Akron

  104. Oh brother, indeed! At the risk of being labelled a middle-aged liberal, I have to say that not only do I not see anything wrong with blessing children or others (such as non-Catholics), I recommend it. How many times do we have to hear that people don’t feel welcome. We can’t just take the attitude of “that’s their problem.” The blessing which I PROMOTE, particularly with our RCIA candidates, and announce at weddings and funerals (which almost always have non-Catholics in attendance) is to invite the people, IF THEY WISH, to come forward and receive a simple blessing. It does no harm. As for not adding anything to the liturgy, I have witnessed places that insert a Hail Mary during the intercessions (not mentioned in the GIRM), and even was at a mass with John Paul II when he prayed the Angelus after communion (it was noontime), which is certainly not part of the ritual as written. I’m not advocating for anything far fetched, like reading poetry instead of scripture at Mass, or having everyone present recite the Eucharistic Prayer. This is just simple hospitality and providing a prayerful sense of welcome. In all Christian charity, Father needs to relax a bit and stop seeing the devil under every rock. Yeah, I feel strongly about this as a convert, now a priest, who at one time was invited to receive a blessing at communion time.

  105. As a Deacon you are able to give a blessing – as for lay people – I think Monsignor Pope’s advice is very good. I personally would prefer the Eucharistic Minister not to do the laying on of hands bit – but otherwise it doesn’t bother me that little kids go forward. At our Cathedral in St. Paul, where the liturgy is celebrated very well, those who are not able to receive communion are welcomed to come forward for a blessing if they so desire.

    I wonder if some people may be just a little bit too ‘slavishly accurate’ about some things.

  106. exactly what is the appropriate blessing for one who is in grave sin?

    There is an appropriate blessing for one who is in sin. But it is not appropriate at Communion when one comes up asking simply to be given a blessing without saying or doing more.

    Rather, it is appropriate when the one who is in grave sin goes further and says, “Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been _______ since my last confession, during which time I have ___________.”

    Without this last part, the request for a blessing is itself something of a sacrilege.

  107. If the priest does not want to do a blessing for children, he should politely let the people in his parish know that.

    What I do not like about the writing is the attitude. Perhaps I want, at least at some level, to “feel good”. An example of that is the priest who comments above about the look in the face of the child.

  108. I wonder if some people may be just a little bit too ‘slavishly accurate’ about some things.

    Where, then, does one draw the line for acceptable behavior? It’s probably better to stick with the adage “if you give them an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

  109. Susan, thanks for your faithful and receptive attitude. You should know that only one in holy orders can be a Eucharistic minister. No such thing as an extraordinary Eucharistic minister; you are an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion.

  110. Parental blessings, while perfectly legitimate, are not liturgical. The critical question is that of authority, spiritual or natural.

  111. Surely Will is not suggesting that the world should be ordered to satisfy the expectations of children.

  112. ron chandonia says:

    Re. the “private letter” from the functionary at the Congregation for Divine Worship: These are the same folks who foisted the new translation of the Roman Missal on us. They evidently have all the pastoral sensitivity of our Father Sticha.

  113. Why wouldn’t his black cowboy hat be appropriate priestly attire? He can’t wear a white cowboy hat because he’s not the Pope (he’s not even a Norbertine).

  114. From: Protocol No. 930/08/L:
    “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).”

    So does that mean deacons are unable to bless within the context of Holy Mass?

  115. A lay person has no special charism, no special faculty, with respect to blessings. And an EMHC is a lay person. You can get as good a blessing from one of the ushers as you can get from an EMHC, but you don’t see anyone going up to them seeking one.

  116. REALLY, PEOPLE!? Don’t we have other more pressing things to worry about? What would Jesus do? I thought he said, “Let the children come to me…to such as these belong the Kingdom of heaven.” Then what’s our problem here? Isn’t the priest the alter-Christus? If so, would Christ be so proud of his “images” being so sterile about liturgical purity? Let’s get over this and realize that worship is not an exercise to follow rules, but an experience of the living Christ for all. Get over it and see what really matters. Is liturgical purity more of a priority over the charity of God?

  117. Lawrence Cunningham says:

    Apropos children at Mass: Some years ago I was at the conventual Sunday Mass at Gethsemani Abbey where a baby of one of the locals cried until mom finally got the child quiet. After mass, I ran into one of the monk-hermits who had come in from the woods for the Mass and to get his mail and some spplies. “Did you hear that baby bawling? he asked me. “That was one lusty child,” I replied. To which he said, full of monastic wisdom,: “It will be a sad day in the church when we don’t hear babies crying at Mass.” Amen!
    P.S. Would all those rubric zealots please get a grip!
    P.S. #2 The earliest Christian treatise on prayer (Origen of Alexandria) tells us that the normal bodily gesture for prayer is to pray with outstreched arms (i.e. the orans position). He wrote the treatise not for clerics but for lay people.

  118. Saying that no one but a deacon or priest can bless anyone is magical thinking. It certainly isn’t Christian.

  119. Children aren’t even welcome in many Protestant churches.

    Really? Which ones?

  120. Blessings are given by some person who has some form of spiritual authority over another person.

    What a sad and wrong idea.

  121. <i.Is liturgical purity more of a priority over the charity of God?

    For many here it is. It’s sad.

  122. But perhaps we should….there is a sea of holiness pooled in the back of many of our churches.

  123. And that’s the problem in a nutshell. Why bother with ordination? We are all so holy we don’t need priests.

  124. Fr. Robert B. Repenning says:

    Two words, “pastoral neccesity.” Catholics, and I would hope this includes priests, should be consumed with the salvation of souls. It is sad when priests lose sight of their role as and prefer to emulate the hard hearted Pharisees. It is usually those who hide behind rubrics to justify their likes who have the most offensive manner of imposing exceptions where they see fit. The current vocation trends, which are down despite any of the mathematical manipulations,” are in my opinion, an indictment by Jesus Christ on His priests. Who could possibly be inspired by men of God who are so spiritually constipated that they would withhold a blessing from a child? If I recall, Jesus spoke “Let the children come to me.” I am sorry but the words of our Saviour take precendent over any man’s interpretation of Vatican 2 documents. Also, Father would be wise to remember that the rubrics allow for cultural adaptations – which can develop in a local church.

  125. Faithfulness to authenticity in liturgy is a way to make God’s charity manifest in the world. Many people seem unable to grasp that concept — perhaps because they love their own wills more.

  126. Jan:
    What we need even more are holy priests.

  127. So I’ll ask again Father: if it does no harm to come forward seeking a simple blessing, might I do so at an ordination, even though I lack proper disposition to receive the sacrament being conferred at that time?

  128. Deacon Steve says:

    Waz the blessing at the end of the mass could not be done by the deacon. That is a presidential function, and as such is reserved for the presider. A deacon can never be the presider at mass, therefore the deacon cannot do the blessing of the people at the dismissal.

  129. Christine says:

    The cathedral in my diocese offers the communion blessing, and I find it hard to believe that this particular chuch is doing something unorthodox. A couple of weeks ago, I heard a radio interview with someone who disapproves of communion blessings, and he said that we all receive a blessing at the end of the Mass, which makes it a bit silly to want to receive one in the communion line. It is a good point. However, as a Catholic who has been in a relationship with a Protestant for a little over two years, I appreciate the fact that my boyfriend is welcome to come up for a blessing during communion. Sometimes he goes up to receive it; sometimes he does not. People do not realize how awkward it can be for non-Catholics to be present at the Mass during communion. It is necessary to arrive early in order to find a particular seat where the Protestant will not be in the way of other people who are getting out of their seats to receive communion. It’s not such a huge deal at my local cathedral where members seem more concerned about whether they’re in a state of grace, so it is not common for every single member to just get up and receive communion at each Mass. However, at other churches, the sheer number of Catholics who come forward to receive communion (apparently they’re all in a state of grace) makes it awkward for the one Protestant who cannot receive communion. (And then some of those people just leave Mass right after communion). In addition, the physical structure of many churches (particularly the modern ones) makes it very difficult for a person to remain in their seat during communion because that person is literally in the way of other people who are going to and from communion. The physical and emotional discomfort of non-Catholics present at Mass needs to be addressed.

  130. Mike, it’s not my idea. Here’s how the Catholic Encyclopedia puts it:

    “The value of a blessing given by a private person in his own name will be commensurate with his acceptableness before God by reason of his individual merits and sanctity. A blessing, on the other hand, imparted with the sanction of the Church has all the weight of authority that reaches to the voice of her who is the well-beloved spouse of Christ, pleading on behalf of her children.”

    So I can give a blessing in my own name. But if acting as an extraordinary minister, I’m not acting in my own name. As for blessings given outside of liturgy, it would be presumptuous of me to an extreme degree to consider myself as acceptable before God by virtue of my private merits and sanctity. Pretending to a holy standing before God that I do not enjoy in fact, my “blessings” would be vain displays of my own pride, more than anything else.

    As I’ve said, parental or close familial blessings are legitimate to the degree that they reflect authentic and natural authority. The essential thing is to recover a sense of humility and to grasp what a blessing really is.

  131. Whenever and wherever liturgy is discussed, even in the prison ministry (which I do) I find it not unusual that the topic has a peculiar fire that’s ignited and has a strong potential for conflagration. So aside from blessing of children within the Mass, does anyone belong to a parish where a pastor flaunts his blessing of the basket of money that comes ahead of the bread and wine? The saga continues. Thank you for your help.

  132. Midwest Girl says:

    If we’re a prolife church, and babies are being blessed at Communion time, then why isn’t my unborn child (in my very pregnant belly) receiving a blessing at Communion time?

    The more I think about being a parent, the more I realize how much my husband, our child and I are going to need the graces of God as we strive for heaven.

    I’ll take any blessing from any ordained Catholic minister whenever we can get it.

    Of all the things to quibble about in our parishes, I think receiving a blessing during Communion time is the least of our worries. After we no longer sing heretical music, have an appropriate number of EMHCs at each Mass, have great faith formation programs, and have amazing web presences to help evangelize, I’d be happy to discuss at length who should and shouldn’t receive a blessing at Communion time.

  133. Fiergenholt says:

    Breaking out of the parameters of this stream already ?

    Oh well.

    Yes, Yvarra, I see this moderately often and it is every bit as much a “non-issue” as Holding Hands at the Our Father; Crossed Arms when not receiving Holy Communion; and adding non-traditional inserts when the Rosary is prayed publically!

  134. Deacon Steve says:

    We don’t bless the child in the womb at communion time to avoid the very awkward and embarrassing for the priest or deacon and woman blessing of the overweight person that just looks pregnant. There is a beautiful blessing in the Book of Blessings for those about to give birth and a new pray for blessing the child in the womb is being released for use.

  135. Aaron Streeting says:

    I understand that it would be better for the person to just sit there. I am not talking about what the other parishioners think. I am sure in most cases they would not be judgmental. What I am talking about specifically is in the case of a teenager or husband or wife, who (in the confessional) has admitted to receiving communion in the state of grave sin, because they are afraid if they don’t receive, their parents or spouse will immediately wonder why they aren’t. And they admit they are ashamed and afraid of what might be said or thought if they don’t go up.

    He isn’t advising this because it’s ideal. He’s advising it because he understands that in that specific situation, the person will try to rationalize it (“Well, I’m already in a state of sin, what’s one more mortal sin?”) or might have another moment of weakness out of shame. He understand how important it is to avoid sacrilege and is advising them of a way to avoid that occasion of sin. He has a point.

  136. Susan from Akron says:

    I beg your pardon, Romulus. Of course, you are correct about the nomenclature. It is a little cumbersome and wordy, but it is better to state it correctly.

    That said, I must say, I am relieved my Diocese clearly stated we are not to extend blessings while in possession of the Blessed Sacrament, and that they gave us logical, thoughtful reasons for doing so. As I mentioned, I do not believe there is anything mean-spirited or unkind in not offering a blessing during reception of Holy Communion.

    To state it plainly, it is more important to protect the Blessed Sacrament while it is in my unworthy hands. I am constantly aware of how easy it would be to spill the Precious Blood or mishandle the Body of Christ, and I try to be very careful and respectful at these times. We do not bless children because of practicality and out of maintaining the proper dignity for the Sacrament. I am pleased and honored to follow my good bishop’s directive when I am called on to assist.

    Blessings to you and all here – Susan

  137. “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).

    At our parish, as I suspect is the case at most, the eucharistic minister to priest ratio on any Sunday is 8 to 1. Trying to get a blessing for kids from the priest at communion would be a logistical nightmare, so of course, the EM’s give a blessing too. The problem with all these sorts of things springing up without due consideration or authority–holding hands at the Our Father, communion in the hand, dropping “men” in “for us men and for our salvation” in the Creed etc.–is that they quickly become normative and those holding fast to the “old ways” can readily be ostracized as a “stick-in-the-mud cranks”. I’ve heard priests disparage from the pulpit those wanting to receive on the tongue and make their annoyance obvious to those who persist in doing so in the communion line. People in the pews can be insistent about holding hands with the person next to them whether or not the gesture is welcome. I personally told several priests that I would be the first to drop “men” from the Creed if that, in fact, is how the new translation would read, and to a man, they assured me that they knew it would be dropped and continued to lead the congregation to do so. How many persist even with the new translation retaining it? We’ve become accustomed to new ways being inserted into the liturgy without explanation or due consideration, and it creates division. I don’t have an objection to blessing kids in communion, but it’s practice should be explained and applied uniformly in the Church. As it stands now, the rule quoted above is largely ignored. I had no idea only priests can give blessings at Mass.

  138. This is another false dilemma. It is not “liturgical purity” OR the charity of God. It’s liturgical purity AND the charity of God. The two are linked together.

  139. Desi Lanni says:

    I was pretty offended by this. I have wonderful memories of my daughter being blessed, not only during Communion, but when the priest came down the aisle. It shows love for children.
    Besides do you really want me to leave small child in the pew alone?
    This Easter Sunday, my 4 year old granddaughter wanted to come with her brother to see what was happening. the priest put his hand on her head. She was delighted.t was like a love tap.

  140. Desi Lanni says:

    You are right Eric. That is how I decide a lot of things. What would Jesus do?

  141. Desi Lanni says:

    Thank You Father. I wish all priests were like you. There would be less lapsed Catholics. Children know where they are wanted.

  142. naturgesetz says:

    No, ron, you are seriously distorting the point. The point is that there are all kids of blessings, and who can give them differs. There are the Papal Blessings you can get through the Apostolic Nunciature. There are blessings of sacred objects. There is the blessing of the faithful at the end of Mass. There is the nuptial blessing. There are blessings of children by their parents.

    Most Catholics would have the good sense not to run up to the extraordinary minister of Communion and ask him/her to bless their new rosaries. There is no need to bless children at Communion time, and, in a liturgical context, extraordinary ministers have no authority to confer blessings, so there is no more value to it than if the layperson in the pew behind the child did it.

    What the child did was not a “liturgical blessing,” so it’s not a problem for those of us who want to attend Catholic liturgies.

  143. naturgesetz says:

    Two points:

    Cry rooms are not the solution. I just happened to attend a performance of traditional Japanese music in Symphony Hall last night. Many very young children were in attendance with their parents, and only two were removed by their parents for being too noisy. The rest were quiet. I don’t know how the Japanese train their children to be quiet at public events. It is in their culture, but not in ours. So we just have to live with our culture, which tolerates crying and shouting children in public, and not make pariahs of parents who are part of our culture.

    Back in the days before liturgy in English, the way parents prevented children from making oise at Mass was by leaving them home, either with the other parent or with a baby-sitter. Nowadays, we don’t do that. We see the value in couples worshipping together, and we must be willing to accept that they will bring their children with them. In fact we should also see the value in having Mass part of the children’s experience, especially if it is well explained to them by their parents.

    So, shame on anybody to tries to make you feel out of place with your children at Mass, even when they act like normal American children.

  144. naturgesetz says:

    People keep repeating the “Let the children come to me” line as if it had something to do with a priest or deacon foisting himself on a child when s/he is present while her/his parent receives Our Lord.

  145. He would conform his will to that of his father.

  146. Jo Flemings says:

    You know I am all about do the liturgy right- but I have the same take here as Fr. Jim- but maybe that is because I am also a convert and I think when you have received a priestly blessing before you are free to receive communion, you really know the power of the priest (and that grace), who is so not shooting with blanks! Until this article by Fr. Cory I had NO idea the blessing of the kids was a liturgical NO GO. I am totally mortified because I usually feel like I might make it through the next week with my unruly brood if they get within two feet of Jesus Christ and on top of that get a gesture of recognition from the man with the collar and the consecrated hands, voice, etc… I would never in a million years present my children with a demand for some extraneous action for my benefit, but you know no one ever told us this was not ok. I have never heard this before and that is after 15 years of being in pretty solid orthodox parishes.

  147. Jo Flemings says:

    Jose touches on another powder keg we need to deal with on another post- the sort of hostile to ‘aggravating’ little ones aura we seem to be fostering in our churches today. This is my soapbox, but I will wait until another day for my diatribe. I just want Jose to know that as the mother of 13, I feel your pain.

  148. Jo Flemings says:

    Thank you Paul, and bravo for ‘getting’ it. The corollary to that is that we parents do need to train our kids, while the rest of our church family hopefully doesn’t have to suffer too much in growing in patience by degrees as we do!

  149. Do you really think the situations are comparable?

  150. Jo Flemings says:

    Ultimately our people perish for lack of knowledge, and sadly because of our godless pop culture and so much instant gratification at our fingertips, Catholics are not learning to love God like they might have before the advent of TV and the internet, McDonalds, 401ks, contraceptives etc. It seems to me that our people, overall, don’t really care what God wants or thinks, until they have to because they are in a crisis. So how do we deal with this crux of the problem? Well, meaningful well -executed, tasteful, and high, beautiful, artistic liturgical practice is certainly a good start- but it will not capture hearts by itself. Then dynamic homilies that are culturally relevant and teach the faith without flinching would be a wonderful new thing, too! Beyond that, a more hospitable atmosphere in the church building where it becomes a hub of holy activity all week long welcoming all ages for fun family-oriented, faith-building events, a wide variety of prayer groups and Bible studies ( with free qualified child care provided!), catechesis for all ages, community pot-luck meals, opportunities to serve the poor; and most of these things offered without a pricetag attached, or with a way more affordable one– all of those things would bring people into interaction with one another in a wholesome way and help them to grow in their faith. And last but not least alot more hours for confessions. The church has become marginalized because it is not user friendly, especially not to young families.

  151. Jo Flemings says:

    Catholic Dad, I am of the same mind as you. I think Fr. Cory is young and just zealous for a form that will build the whole community on the strongest foundation possible. And he sounds like a purist- a very good thing! And yes, we can tell by reading about this that it is a sticky wicket, with alot of potential problems when you really think it through. The best thing would be to just frankly and lovingly express to people that while this practice has become common it is actually somewhat out of place, and to teach us about it- go figure, right there in the Mass during a homily. I mean, if you want to lead people to worship in the most right way then instruct them in it, patiently over time with love and they will respond. Take the time to lead the sheep, not getting worked up over a whole set of somewhat removed social ills that may or may not be contributing factors etc. If you are a Catholic dad like I am a Catholic mom, then you know it just takes a little time-in-grade to temper all manner of steel, if you will. permit me to mix metaphors.

  152. Jo Flemings says:

    Yeah that comment was not at all my observation- I think the Protestants have it all over us on hospitality to kids and families.

  153. Jo Flemings says:

    ‘…something the priests invented so the children would like them.’
    You are kidding right? Seriously? LOL!

  154. justamouse says:

    Check my box with the Orthodox Answer.

  155. Jo Flemings says:

    Ok, look I respect Fr, Cory’s position and I prefer strict adherence to flippancy in the liturgy. But, I take issue with the idea that his presentation in this blog post was loving and conscientious. Rather, I think the tone was hard and inflammatory. And I am not just some oversensitive, middle-aged, perimenopausal, mother of more than I can handle anyway, here. I paid a very high price to swim the Tiber, and I fully understand the significance of the fullness of Truth for Truth’s sake. A more gentle and gentlemanlike manner would have won my heart, my friendship, and my unswerving loyalty- painlessly offered, not just my practice forced under the rod of correction, although out of obedience to Jesus, because I care what He would do, I now offer all of the above as a matter of discipline.

  156. Jo Flemings says:

    Severe fasts and harsh beatings ( St. Benedict said that), but don’t let anyone catch you on film….I think the Japanese are like the Chinese or maybe they are like old tyme Catholic nuns and their kids are kneeling on rice to instill obedience in them…
    All joking aside- what this dad says here, this is an issue. If they are not your kids then you need to be patient and not comment, turn around and make faces, or give dirty looks etc. Deal with it. No one is entitled to a flawless experience of prayer on Sunday morning.
    If those disruptive kids are yours, take them out, and work it out however you are best able. If you need to give a spank, go to the bathroom and give it. If you need to take a walk, take one and pray and offer it up as you cruise around the Church premises with the child. Go in and out of the back as you are able to.
    Ask some more experienced mothers- I recommend those with more than 8 kids for giving advice because we tend to more kind and humble, having had at least one wild one in the bunch by the time you get to nine…ask for advice on how to weather the training storms.
    If you need to go to Mass and not have to deal with your child’s misbehavior, divide and conquer with your spouse. Be creative and mix it up if you have to- but don’t quit coming altogether and don’t wholesale give up on your child deriving some benefit from attending Mass, even if it is more like calf-roping than praying for you. In time perseverance will win this war, and it is good training! You will need to be perseverant and creative to raise them all the way anyway, come work on it in the presence of the One who made you and loves you- He wants you there, and the rest of us can get on board with that reality too, even if it is uncomfortable for us at times!

  157. Jo Flemings says:

    I agree with Everett- it is not an either or, and neither is charity bound by liturgy alone, but the faithful practice of the liturgy is like putting the carseat together correctly and getting all the belts on the kid in the manner in which it was designed, so doing it correctly I mean absolutely correctly, with the proper intention which is to love, honor and obey God, and to provide His people whom He died to save with exactly the remedy for all that ails their souls and lives- that is what the point is to the argument. The effect of the errant practice is a point of debate, the manner in which Father communicated about it is a point of debate, but the value in the practice of the liturgy as it ought to be offered in every dimension- strictly according to the rubric with a heart filled with sacrificial love for God and His people- this is what we really are aiming for and what we really need. Neither aspect can outweigh the other because they are both inherent in the action itself. This dichotomy that seems to present in these contexts seems a false one to me- with different personalities emphasizing their preference as the dominant aspect, when that should not be the case.

  158. Jo Flemings says:

    Y’all are totally one up on us there!

  159. Catholic Dad says:

    A priest I knew well before he died used to share how he envisioned Jesus during those moments that aren’t recorded in the gospels. He saw Jesus as having a sense of humor, enjoying the companionship of his apostles, smiling, laughing, and perhaps even joking. But certainly not taking everything as seriously as we do.

    It was in that vein that I took a jab at the ultra-orthodox point of view in this monumental debate that apparently to some will determine whether Catholicism survives (see, I did it again). The intent was to make a point as ridiculous as the anti-blessing crowd’s attempt to speak for me as to why I take my daughter to the altar and welcome any blessing bestowed on her.

    But, since the question has been posed, let’s start with Southern Baptist congregations. All Southern Baptists I have met – and there are many where I live – are fantastic people, including my wife’s family, and, despite our significant doctrinal differences, it is abundantly clear we’re playing for the same team. At the height of media focus on the abuse scandal, and during the recent debate over religious freedom and the HHS mandate, some of the strongest voices and prayers in support of the Catholic Church have come from these Christian brothers and sisters.

    But have you ever been to one of their services? I have. Many times, at several different churches. Each time I have attended I have taken away two things. One, the absence of personal spiritual fulfillment, having simply heard a few songs and a passionate sermon. Two, equally as palpable, the conspicuous absence of children in the congregation. They are sent to Sunday School classes and are not welcome in the sanctuary until they can keep quiet during the entire service.

    I agree with you that, despite the presence of children during these services, they are significantly more organized, friendly, welcoming, and hospitable with respect to children and families than at any of the five parishes I have belonged to during my lifetime. No argument there. In fact, we could learn a lot from them in this regard. But, during regular services, there are no children present.

    Personally, I think it is time to move on to another blog. If prohibiting the blessing of children during communion is the hill on which someone wants to die, that would be sad and unfortunate. There are far greater threats and challenges presently before us, and more that are likely to come.

  160. Jplacette says:

    Dcn. Greg,
    I’m concerned that your blog (which is wonderful) is edging toward a debate forum. I have seen forums become nothing more than places of argument and sadly places of devision rather than unity – or catholic evangelization.

    Just an observation.

    God bless

  161. Jplacette says:

    division, sorry

  162. We are ALL called to be holy. Some to be holy and ordained, most to be holy and lay.

  163. Idea for avoiding the trend toward a “Debate Forum”…

    Don’t post the pharisaical, constipated thoughts of a well-intentioned but overly-zealous presybter who wants to see the world as black and white.
    ————

Trackbacks

  1. [...] the comboxes roiling.Yesterday he did it again, by sharing a story about a priest who has decided that blessing children at communion is inappropriateThis is a story I saw and thought, “hmph, okay, that’s another way to think; mildly [...]

  2. [...] it’s true!” To our collective shame.Then go check out Max, who having noticed the depth of interest and astonishing furor arisen over the what I’ve taken to calling Battle of the Blessings and [...]

  3. [...] (and more EMHCs likely being pressed into duty), it’s worth revisiting this thorny issue.As a priest mentioned last year:A priest does not have the authority to add a blessing to the liturgy for [...]


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