GUEST COLUMN
Please Don't Bless My Children

February 2006By Larry A. Carstens

Larry A. Carstens teaches English in a public high school and community college in the Los Angeles area.

Sometimes a practice creeps into the Mass that nobody seems to notice, and upon which nobody comments. But for those to whom their Catholic faith really matters, the barely noticed and gradually ubiquitous practice is a source of discomfort and concern. Take, for example, the distracting and uncomfortable custom of peer-pressured hand-holding during the Our Father. A number of orthodox voices were raised against it and, in some parishes, the inappropriate hand-holding diminished.

Nowadays, another practice has crept into the Mass in various dioceses throughout the country. It seems a very sensitive area, and objections to it are likely to offend a large number of people. But my concern is the proper worship of God, not approval among men. But how do you tell a sweet little old lady who loves the Lord and cheerfully does her best to assist at Mass that what she's doing might not be the best way to honor God?

Quite some time ago, there developed among priests distributing Communion at Mass the custom of placing their hands on the heads of children too young to receive the Sacrament to bless them. I have no objection to this practice at Mass, as long as the person blessing the children is an ordained priest (or deacon). However, as time has passed and more and more Eucharistic ministers have been distributing Communion at Mass, these helpful, but non-ordained, persons have taken it upon themselves -- or have been instructed -- to bless children in the manner of an ordained priest. And herein lies the rub: It does not seem appropriate for the non-ordained to bless children at Mass.


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If they are not ordained, they are not "Eucharistic Ministers", they are "Extraordinary Ministers". to be used only in necessity. In most cases, they should not be distributing the Blessed Sacrament in the first place. Posted by: woodmuet
February 27, 2008 08:18 AM EST
I agree with you in the respect that Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion should not bless anyone during the Mass, especially those who cannot receive. The only person who has that authority during a Mass is the Priest. The sole purpose of an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion is to distribute communion and nothing more. Redemptionis Sacramentum makes it clear that this is their function and nothing more, as they do not possess Holy Orders. Posted by: Benedict1078
April 08, 2010 07:44 AM EDT
Woodmuet has it correct, the author erred in the title of the Extraordinary Minister of the Eurcharist. I agree with the spirit of the author and the fact only an ordained preast or deacon can impart a blessing at Holy Mass. Another practice giving orthodox Catholics gas is the spreading of the arms by the laity during the recitation of the Our Father. All these practices lessen the importance of the ordained minister of Holy Mother Church. Posted by: ndbooster
April 08, 2010 09:02 AM EDT
Woodmuet has it correct, the author erred in the title of the Extraordinary Minister of the Eurcharist. I agree with the spirit of the author and the fact only an ordained priest or deacon can impart a blessing at Holy Mass. Another practice giving orthodox Catholics gas is the spreading of the arms by the laity during the recitation of the Our Father. All these practices lessen the importance of the ordained minister of Holy Mother Church. Posted by: ndbooster
April 08, 2010 09:04 AM EDT
I was originally instructed, as a Extraordinary Minister, to bless all those not receiving the Eucharist with a Sign of the Cross. Since then, I have been asked to give a simple blessing, "God bless you" etc.

The problem with doing nothing at our parish is that there are a handful who come up to receive a blessing, but not to receive the Eucharist. It is very awkward to simply ignore them.

Frank Pearson
Posted by: fpearson
August 17, 2010 01:27 PM EDT
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