I’ve sometimes asked a priest to bless something for me, such as a rosary, etc. Never once have they made recourse to any of the approved books of blessings (e.g., De Benedictionius, Roman Rituum, etc.). In every case the blessing has been ad-libbed.
Is this allowed? Are such ad-libbed blessings efficacious in whatever ways they normally would be? And if so, are the official books of blessings merely suggestions or templates or something of the sort?
Thus, I would conclude that there is nothing intrinsically wrong in having an item blessed using a generic formula. However, since the Church provides special blessings for many objects, I think it can be said that it is more appropriate to use these and, if circumstances permit–and they usually, eventually do–pastorally necessary to use them. Otherwise, why would the Church provide them? It only makes sense that they are to be used, and not at the personal discretion of the priest.
Now, it is probably a good idea to make an appointment in advance with a priest to have this kind of special blessing for an object. This is common courtesy. Not having time at a particular moment is, I think, a valid and reasonable excuse for a priest to use a generic blessing formula instead of the more specific. I would be very suspicious of a statement like, “I don’t like using the specific blessing and so I won’t,” if it came to that.
If, after requesting an appointment the priest outright refuses to perform the more specific blessing, or if an appointment will simply not be provided within reason, I think the priest could be said to be at least quite pastorally imprudent and perhaps a letter should be written to the bishop. The Church gives us these things to use these things, not to print them in books, never to be used.
At least externally, a more specific blessing is more efficacious than a less specific blessing, if a more specific blessing exists. It is only natural that our sensory experience is greater when a longer, more solemn blessing is used; thus, even if the intrinsic efficacy of a less specific and more specific blessing is the same, it can perhaps be said that our receptivity of the graces of a more specific blessing is (at least hypothetically, assuming we’re not psychologically impaired or possessed or ridiculously uncatechized, etc.) greater than our receptivity of the graces of a less specific prayer. Do I make sense here, or am a blathering? These kinds of threads are wonderful because they allow me to think.
Anyway, no, the official liturgical/blessing books are not templates or suggestions. Various books contain directions like, “In these or similar words the priest says,” but as I understand it, even in the new Roman Missal these have been greatly restrained. (Given the current liturgical climate, in the future I think we can expect the same in the new editions of the Rituale/De B. and so on.) But other than that, rituals must be followed word for word.
Hmm. I guess the question that you’re asking is, whether a blessing is a blessing because a priest/deacon pronounces it, or whether it’s given according to a certain formula?
Or, perhaps, whether a priest/deacon is unable to bless something, unless it is according to a certain prescribed formula?
I think that I would side with the notion that it’s a blessing because a member of the clergy has pronounced the blessing, not because it’s a member of the clergy who has recited certain words. What do you think?
I would also think that the most common blessings - such as those for rosaries and religious objects - would have been memorized by the priest or deacon, and could be done without needing to refer to the Book of Blessings, especially, as pointed out, if a “short form” blessing is used.
Even given preparation time and resources, it is not always possible for a priest to use an approved blessing. For instance, when the US government sent its first scientific team to Antarctica, the priest present had to compose his own blessing, rather than use a previously approved "blessing of a continent."
Forget, for a moment, the extreme cases (blessing Antarctica or a foxhole in battle). I think we’re talking about a parish priest in a parish setting.
The book of blessings isn’t that tough, and there are many beautiful blessings in the back of the Roman Missal. This morning in our sacristy, our rector did two blessings. He blessed the holy water for parish use. According to the book, he dons a stole (over his habit) then blesses the water according to the rite, then blesses and performs a minor exorcism on the salt, then adds this to the water. It took about three minutes and was solemn and beautiful–prayers from the Old Testament and new. Why would you NOT want to do this?
After that, he blessed some new glass cruets that I had bought for wine/water (to be taken to the altar before consecration). Again, there is a beautiful blessing in the book that he used.
About a year ago, one of our morning Mass readers got a new car and wanted it blessed. Right after Mass, we took the book, the aspersorium/aspergillium, and an altar server out to the parking lot and Father blessed it right! He also made sure that he got lots of holy water on the windshield.
This is one of the really wonderful and very cool things about being a Catholic. There is so much depth and beauty and solemnity in something as simple as a blessing. Why would you, or your priest, not want to do this? Especially since it takes about a minute extra.
On the other hand, we had a priest who blessed the holy water by kind of waving his hand over it, rolling his eyes, and looking at me like “do you really take this seriously?” Guess which priest I ask to bless things, especially important things like vessels to be used at Mass?