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Old Dec 8, '08, 3:52 pm
japhy japhy is offline
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Default UPDATE: Receiving "blessing" instead of communion...

For the back-story, see this thread: EMHC Blessings.

Here is the letter which I wrote to the CDWDS in August (on behalf of myself and user lmashburn):
Your Eminence:

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am writing to you on behalf of a layman of the diocese of Savannah, Georgia, as well as myself, a layman of the diocese of Metuchen, New Jersey. We have a question in two parts for the Congregation concerning a custom found in various Latin Rite parishes and dioceses throughout Canada and the United States of America: the blessing of non-communicants, by a minister of Holy Communion, during the Communion procession.

Briefly stated, this custom consists of a non-communicant presenting himself (often with his arms crossed over his chest, his hands placed on his shoulders, signifying his intent) before a minister of Holy Communion and receiving a blessing from the same, in the form of a short prayer (e.g. “May God bless you”) or a gesture (e.g. the Sign of the Cross traced on his forehead). In some places, the blessing varies depending on whether the minister of Holy Communion is an ordinary minister or an extraordinary minister.

1. Is this a custom that is within the faculty of a pastor, the local Ordinary, or a Bishops’ Conference to establish? That is, is this custom something that can be regulated without recourse to this Congregation?

2. Are there particular guidelines or restrictions from this Congregation concerning a) which ministers of Holy Communion may give these blessings and b) what forms these blessings may take?

We assure you of our prayers for you, thank you for whatever consideration you can give to this question, and remain

Faithfully yours in Christ,
Here is the response I received in the mail today (Prot. N. 930/08/L):
Dear [names omitted],

This Congregation for Divine Worship and the Disciple of the Sacraments acknowledges receipt of your kind letter of 13 August, 2008 and would like to thank you for your interest and suggestions. This matter is presently under the attentive study of the Congregation.

For the present, therefore, 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; can. 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 to 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).
Please continue to pray for the Church's ministers that they ever become more worthy of the mystery they celebrate.

With every good wish and kind regard, I am,

Sincerely Yours in Christ,

[name omitted]
Is that sufficient to settle the matter until the Church makes a further statement on the matter?
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Old Feb 22, '12, 7:23 am
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Jean Anthony Jean Anthony is offline
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Default Re: Receiving "blessing" instead of communion...

There is fresh information on this topic on the EWTN website: http://www.ewtn.com/library/Liturgy/zlitur263.htm which our interested members may wish to read.
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