Can EMHCs bless throats?

I’m a revert and today was the first time in years I’ve been to a blessing of the throats on St. Blaise’s day. I became fidgety when I saw there were two EMHCs that were going to bless throats in addition to the monsignor. I got in the monsignor’s line. Then one of the EMHCs started working his way up from the back of that line :banghead: and I kept ducking in and out of line until I could finally receive the blessing from the monsignor. Was I overreacting? :o

Absolutely not. EMHCs do not have the authority to bless anyone or anything. Just as they cannot impart blessings in lieu of distributing Holy Communion, they cannot impart blessings.

Please see this statement from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments:

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).
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.

Even though this treats the issue of Holy Communion, it would, in my opinion, be applicable to this situation as well.

Furthermore, in 1997, the Congregation for Clergy, along with several other Congregations, including the one for the Doctrine of the Faith (headed at the time by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger) and that for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, issued a document called On Certain Questions Regarding the Collaboration of the Non-Ordiained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of the Priest, which notes that:

§ 2. To promote the proper identity (of various roles) in this area, those abuses which are contrary to the provisions of canon 907 are to be eradicated. In eucharistic celebrations deacons and non-ordained members of the faithful may not pronounce prayers — e.g. especially the eucharistic prayer, with its concluding doxology — or any other parts of the liturgy reserved to the celebrant priest.

…Every effort must be made to avoid even the appearance of confusion which can spring from anomalous liturgical practices

…To avoid any confusion between sacramental liturgical acts presided over by a priest or deacon, and other acts which the non-ordained faithful may lead, it is always necessary to use clearly distinct ceremonials, especially for the latter.

Here is the ritual, per Ceremonies for the Church Year by now Bishop Peter Elliot:

Excerpt from Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year by Monsignor Peter Elliott (Ignatius Press 2002)

  1. On the day after the Presentation of Our Lord, the memorial of Saint Blase, it is customary in many places to bless the throats of the faithful with two candles tied together with a red ribbon to form a cross. The candles are privately blessed with the paryer provided in the Book of Blessings or the preconciliar Roman Ritual, title IX, chapter III. The rite of blessing of throats may take place before or after Mass.
  1. The priest or deacon places the candles around the throat of whoevers seeks the blessing, using the formula: “Through the intercession of Saint Blaise, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you free from every disease of the throat, and from every other disease. In the name of the Father and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit. R. Amen.”

Because the celebrant makes the sign of the cross with his right hand, it is best to apply the candles with both hands. Then the celebrant withdraws his right hand to make the sign of the cross, while continuing to hold the condles in place with his left hand. For the convenience of the celebrant the formula should be printed on a small card, attached to the candles.

Nowhere in this section is indicated that an EMHC is allowed to do this.

Was this done after Mass or before the Post-Communion prayer? I am just curious.

I’m glad that I saw this post because I submitted the same question to the “Ask an Apologist” forum (haven’t heard anything yet). I went to Mass this morning and one of the EMHCs was helping the priest bless throats. I made sure I received my blessing from the priest! I kept thinking that going to the EMHC for the blessing would have just been null.

EMHC’s cannot bless anything. They are not members of the Clergy even if many of them think that they are.

Saying “God bless you” to someone doesn’t make a blessing null if one is not a priest or deacon. Anyone can say it. I say it all the time and I mean it. I want God to bless that person. If a priest and the diocese have allowed the Lay Ministers to bless the throats of the lay members, then I feel it’s allowed. I think others get caught up in defending what they believe should be the faith and it’s practices. What some fail to realize is that not all that it is allowed is going to meet their expectations. It’s kin to doubt of what the Church teaches.

I forgot to mention that the blessing took place after the homily.

But, it is not an EMHC’s to give. Please note of what the Holy See has said regarding EMHCs imparting blessings in lieu of Holy Communion:

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:
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.
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).

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.

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.

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).

This document is an official one from the Holy See. It has a Protocol Number, Prot. N. 930/08/, which means that it is legitimate. In fact, it was published in the latest edition of Notitiae, the official publication for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

In other words, as well-intenioned as your gesture is, it is not allowed.

Then this provision certainly applies:

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).

as well as the other citation from the 1997 document that I quoted.

Hi Benedictgal,

Thanks for those sources! :slight_smile:

~Therese

Quotes from this text:

catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/prayers/view.cfm?id=733

1626 The blessing of throats may be given by a priest, deacon, or a lay minister who follows the rites and prayers designated for a lay minister. If the blessing is conferred during Mass, the blessing follows the homily and general intercessions, or, for pastoral reasons, the prayer of blessing may take the place of the final blessing of the Mass. When the blessing is given outside Mass, it is preceded by a brief celebration of the word of God. If the blessing is to be celebrated at Morning Prayer or Evening Prayer, it is given after the reading and responsory (and homily) and before the gospel canticle.

However, if you check the dates at the end, the material is from 1989. Furthermore, the documents that I cited are from 1997 and 2008.

Especially if this is done within the context of the Mass, laity should not be conferring any kind of blessing whatsoever. The Congregation for Divine Worship, which is the prevailing authority clearly stated that in the letter that I posted. Furthermore, the letter confirms what the Congregation for Clergy noted in 1997. In fact one of the signers of that document was none other than Pope Benedict XVI, himself, when he served as prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Inasmuch as there may be some allowances, for example, in Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest, if ordained clergy are present, only they should be conferring blessings, not EMHCs.

…oh yikes. :eek:
Yes, it was done after the homily at my church also. Well, it looks like I’ll just have to do some fancy stepping in the future – changing lines and ducking into pews.:wink: As someone used to say, “you can’t fight city hall”.:shrug:

I would do the same thing. What folks tend to forget is that the only thing that EMHCs are commissioned to do is to distribute Holy Communion, not impart blessings, especially if such are within the context of the Mass.

If this is true, then what do I do to those children who come up to me at Mass expecting a blessing? I get them all the time, crossing their arms in front of them, and waiting for my blessing? My priest told us that it was up to us (of course I got my Commission in Feb. 2008, and the Congregation for Divine Worship was just released). Please help! I want to follow what is appropriate.

No. It is not up to you, nor is it up to your priest. With all due respect, you cannot give what you do not have. Follow this thread:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=292341

Within the thread, the OP posted a PDF of the letter. It is true and official. As I said earlier, it has a protocol number. Appearance in Notitiae, the official publication for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, is like having a new law or a new order published in the Congressional Record of the United States Congress. It is legitimate.

Now, the Congregation is currently reviewing the matter and the current practice is to not have this practice. Given the fact that the new Prefect is stricter, even moreso than his predecessor, the ruling will probably stand.

I have had children come up to me and I will not bless them because it is not mine to give. My parochial vicar will also not impart a blessing in lieu of distributing Holy Communion. In fact, we both had children come up to us at the same time and neither of us did anything.

Just like, as EMHCs, we cannot impart blessings in lieu of receiving Holy Communion, we don’t have the authority do this during the Mass when it comes to the blessing of throats. As I read the Book of Blessings, it assumes that there are legitimate occasions when a priest or a deacon will not be available. However, as both the OP and others have indicated, this occured during Mass.

I need to know what to do though. I have asked an Apologist on this forum, so I am waiting for a response. While I appreciate the help, you just reiterated what you said before.

If you ask Jimmy Akin , he will tell you that the Book of Blessings allows lay ministers to do it.

jimmyakin.typepad.com/defensor_fidei/2006/02/st_blase_questi.html

I guess this conversation will come up as well on Ash Wednesday.

Hi,

Yes it will…

I have distributed ashes, as well as asked for the intercession of St Blaise on 2/3. If there are not enough priests available the lay minister is allowed to use the blessed candles, but must be certain not to make the Sign of the Cross over the person, as the Priest does. The recepient does receive the intercession of St Blaise, but not the priestly blessing.

Ashes are a sacremental, and the service does not include a specific blessing at the time of distribution.

Lux

Yes, a lay person may give the blessing of throats on the feast of St. Blase. He or she should not, however, extend hands in the sign of the cross over the person, as this is a priestly sign. See cuf.org/Faithfacts/details_view.asp?ffID=266 .

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