Can a lay person bless water?


#1

Well, me and my friends were having a really interesting discussion last night (and early into the morning) and some interesting questions came up. One that I thought of was this: can a Catholic lay person bless water to make it Holy Water. I ask because in a pinch, a lay person can baptize someone. I’m just curious to see if this extends to blessing water.

Eamon


#2

[quote=turboEDvo]Well, me and my friends were having a really interesting discussion last night (and early into the morning) and some interesting questions came up. One that I thought of was this: can a Catholic lay person bless water to make it Holy Water. I ask because in a pinch, a lay person can baptize someone. I’m just curious to see if this extends to blessing water.

Eamon
[/quote]

I think it is in the words: “I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

Only the priest has the power to make it holy by virtue of his Holy Orders, (i,e, a Sacramental).


#3

No, a lay person cannot bestow a blessing. Only the ordained have that authority.

As for the baptism, a lay person is automatically conferred the authority to baptize in a dire situation (i.e. there is no priest present and the life of someone is in jepordy).

You may want to ask a priest for a better explanation.


#4

This comes down to authority.

Baptizing a person in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit extends to laypeople only in the event of an emergency and on the basis of the gravity of the situation.

For example (for those who are unaware), ambulances carry holy water and the “formula” for baptism in case they assist in the delivery of a critically ill child or a stillborn child. The parents may ask for baptism of their child and since there is no time to waste, it is part of emergency care. It is not even necessary that the EMT’s or Medics be baptized themselves because God acts with the authority of the holy water and the words of baptism.

The holy water then, is a sacramental, and therefore, the making of this sacramental is not an emergency. And it requires that an ordained priest be the only to bless the water in order for the graces to be conferred.

There are also certain words that must be said in the blessing of the water, but I don’t know much about this. I do know that a priest at my parish uses the sacramentary to find the right wording for a particular object (had salt blessed the other day), but another priest has a different forumla although I’ve noticed even his wording changes on the basis of what it is being blessed.

A baptism is different from a blessing, and even in the event of an emergency baptism, if the child recovers (or the adult, if that’s the case), then the Church advises an actual sacramental baptism be done. So you see, the point of the emergency baptism is only effective in the case of imminent death.

Does this help at all?


#5

This comes down to authority.

Baptizing a person in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit extends to laypeople only in the event of an emergency and on the basis of the gravity of the situation.

For example (for those who are unaware), ambulances carry holy water and the “formula” for baptism in case they assist in the delivery of a critically ill child or a stillborn child. The parents may ask for baptism of their child and since there is no time to waste, it is part of emergency care. It is not even necessary that the EMT’s or Medics be baptized themselves because God acts with the authority of the holy water and the words of baptism.

The holy water then, is a sacramental, and therefore, the making of this sacramental is not an emergency. And it requires that an ordained priest be the only to bless the water in order for the graces to be conferred.

There are also certain words that must be said in the blessing of the water, but I don’t know much about this. I do know that a priest at my parish uses the sacramentary to find the right wording for a particular object (had salt blessed the other day), but another priest has a different forumla although I’ve noticed even his wording changes on the basis of what it is being blessed.

A baptism is different from a blessing, and even in the event of an emergency baptism, if the child recovers (or the adult, if that’s the case), then the Church advises an actual sacramental baptism be done. So you see, the point of the emergency baptism is only effective in the case of imminent death.

Does that help?


#6

All,

You don’t need “holy” water to baptize.

Verbum


#7

I realize you don’t need holy water to perform an emergency baptism. The question of whether a lay person could bless water was simply a question I came up with while discussing other things that lay people could do.

Eamon


#8

[quote=turboEDvo]I realize you don’t need holy water to perform an emergency baptism. The question of whether a lay person could bless water was simply a question I came up with while discussing other things that lay people could do.

Eamon
[/quote]

The answer is no. “Only the priest has the power to make it holy by virtue of his Holy Orders, (i,e, a Sacramental).” I’m sorry that I didn’t make that clearer.:slight_smile:


#9

[quote=Cesaria]The answer is no. “Only the priest has the power to make it holy by virtue of his Holy Orders, (i,e, a Sacramental).” I’m sorry that I didn’t make that clearer.:slight_smile:
[/quote]

Not at all, I got what you meant. :yup: Thanks

Eamon


#10

this happened to my brother, as he was born extremly premature, and was emergency baptized (water only) by a hospital chaplain-priest. Baptism cannot be re-done, its not really an “actual sacramental baptism” that is done later on, it is the other blessings and such that surround a baptismal ceremony. My brother had the baptismal vows promised, the minor exorcism, the annointing with chrism, and the bestowal of his baptismal candle and “beautiful white garment.*” pretty much everything but the actual water and sacramental prayer. Father Mitchell had to dig in his piles of books to find the book that had the rite for completion of the ceremonial baptismal rite of one infant for those who were baptised by a priest in an emergency situation.

*Father provided the garment cuz he is a nice guy and/but he couldnt find anything in premee size (plus Tony was obviously delecate and attatched to an O2 tank making dressing a hassle), so gave us a white bib.


#11

I hope this is not too off topic:

How about blessing a rosary, or a medal. Can a lay person bless an object like this? Or does it have to be blessed by a priest. What would I cite as proof?


#12

A lay person can bless in certain circumstances. For instance a person can “bless themselves”, parents can bless their children, a lay person can say a blessing over a meal, a catechist can bless catechumens. However only clergy (deacons, priests, Bishops) can bless a sacramental. Some blessings are reserved to priests and some blessings are reserved only to specific priests or only Bishops.


#13

[quote=Olympia]I hope this is not too off topic:

How about blessing a rosary, or a medal. Can a lay person bless an object like this? Or does it have to be blessed by a priest. What would I cite as proof?
[/quote]

The Book of Blessings.


#14

This is the explanation given from the Catholic Encyclopedia
" Since, then, blessings, in the sense in which they are being considered, are entirely of ecclesiastical institution, the Church has the power to determine who shall have the right and duty to confer them. This she has done by entrusting their administration to those who are in sacerdotal orders. The solitary case in which one inferior to a priest is empowered to bless, is where the deacon blesses the paschal candle in the ceremonies of Holy Saturday. This exception is more apparent than real. For in the instance referred to the deacon acts by way of a deputy and, moreover, employs the grains of incense already blessed by the celebrant. Priests, then, are the ordinary ministers of blessings, and this is only in the fitness of things since they are ordained, as the words of the Pontifical run: “ut quæcumque benedixerint benedicantur, et quacumque consecraverint consecrentur” (That what-ever they bless may be blessed, and whatever they consecrate shall be consecrated). When, therefore, laymen and women are represented as blessing others it is to be understood that this is an act of will on their part, a wish or desire for another’s spiritual or temporal prosperity, an appeal to God which has nothing to recommend if but the merits of personal sanctity. The ordinary greetings and salutations that take places between Christians and Catholics, leavened by mutual wishes for a share of heavenly grace, must not be confounded with liturgical blessings. St. Gregory first definitely taught that the angels are divided into hierarchies or orders, each having its own role to play in the economy of creation. Similarly the Church recognizes different orders or grades among her ministers, assigning to some higher functions than to others. The working out of this idea is seen in the case of conferring blessings. For while it is true that a priest can ordinarily give them, some blessings are reserved to the Supreme Pontiff, some to bishops, and some to parish priests and religious. The first class is not large. The pope reserves to himself the right to bless the pallium for archbishops, Agnus-Deis, the Golden Rose, the Royal Sword, and also to give that benediction of persons to which an indulgence of some days is attached. He may, and in the case of the last mentioned often does, depute others to give these. To bishops belongs the privilege of blessing abbots at their installation, priests at their ordination, and virgins at their consecration; of blessing churches, cemeteries, oratories, and all articles for use in connection with the altar, such as chalices, vestments, and clothe, military standards, soldiers, arms, and swords; and of imparting all blessings far which Holy Oils are required. Some of these may, on delegation, be performed by inferiors. Of the blessings which priests are generally empowered to grant, some are restricted to those who have external jurisdiction, like rectors or parish priests, and others are the exclusive prerogative of persons belonging to a religious order. There is a rule, too, by which an inferior cannot bless a superior or even exercise the ordinary powers in his presence. The priest, for instance, who says Mass at which a bishop presides is not to give the final blessing without permission from the prelate. For this curious custom authors cite a text from the Epistle to the Hebrews: “And without all contradiction that which is less is blessed by that which is greater” (vii, 7). It would seem an overstraining of the passage to say that it affords an argument for maintaining that an inferior minister cannot bless one who is his superior in rank or dignity, for the text either merely ennunciates an incident of common usage, or means that the inferior by the fact that he blesses is the greater, since he acts as the representative of God
Taken from…www.newadvent.org


#15

Only the priest has the power to make it holy by virtue of his Holy Orders, (i,e, a Sacramental).

No this is not correct. The Rites of Baptism require the blessing of a cleric, i.e., either a priest or deacon, in the case of holy water. the same is true in the Book of Blessings.

This is the explanation given from the Catholic Encyclopedia.“Since, then, blessings, in the sense in which they are being considered, are entirely of ecclesiastical institution, the Church has the power to determine who shall have the right and duty to confer them. This she has done by entrusting their administration to those who are in sacerdotal orders.” . . .

The Catholic Encyclopedia posted at the New Advent site represents a work that was correct when it was published in the early 1900s. Since then, the liturgical laws have been significantly altered, and while the historical aspects are useful, this is not the place to go for up-to-date information.

Canon 1169 gives this: “§1. Persons who possess the episcopal character as well as presbyters to whom it is permitted by law or by legitimate concession can validly perform consecrations and dedications. §2. Any presbyter can impart blessings, except those which are reserved to the Roman Pontiff or to bishops. §3. A deacon can impart only those blessings which are expressly permitted to him by law.” Also see canon 1169: “The minister of the sacramentals is a cleric who has been given the necessary power; in accord with the norm of the liturgical books and according to the judgment of the local ordinary, some sacramentals can also be administered by lay persons who are endowed with the appropriate qualities.”

According the the Book of Blessings, priests and deacons bless various sacramentals, including holy water and rosaries. The order for each of the blessings indicates who is competent to confer them. Some blessings are reserved to bishops and some to priests. Some may only be done by clerics in any of the three grades.


#16

What about an instituted acolyte? I was told by a priest that an instituted acolyte can bless objects but not persons.


#17

[quote="aoresteen, post:16, topic:33794"]
What about an instituted acolyte? I was told by a priest that an instituted acolyte can bless objects but not persons.

[/quote]

Nope. An instituted acolyte is still a lay person. Laity can perform some of the rites in the book of blessings, but cannot bless in the way that a cleric can.


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