Puzzleannie-- this must be a norm in our Diocese of Brownsville in Texas. Our pastor at St. Joseph’s in Edinburg (who is also the Vicar General of the Diocese) ran this in our Sunday bulletin…
COMMUNION AND BLESSINGS DURING MASS
In recent times the practice has arisen in some localities of persons coming forward in the Communion procession not to receive Communion but instead to receive a personal blessing. To indicate this, some persons cross their arms over their hearts, others simply ask for a blessing.
Is this a good practice? At the time of the distribution of Communion, only those who will receive Communion should come forward. The only exception to this is parents bringing their children or persons who, while not receiving Communion themselves, are assisting someone who will.
The proper time for the blessing is at the end of Mass, when everyone receives the Lord’s blessing together.
Anyone who wishes to receive a personal blessing for him/herself or a family member is encouraged to approach the priest after Mass.
Why not come forward at Communion for a personal blessing? Beyond what has just been explained, it should be noted that:
Coming forward at Communion for a blessing instead of Communion distorts the meaning of the Communion rite and the Communion procession.
Canon Law prohibits the simulation of a sacrament. Scandal can arise (and has arisen) when someone who is prohibited from receiving Communion comes forward at Communion time. Even if the person intends only to seek a blessing, others may not know this or see what happens when the person arrives at the altar. (Examples of persons prohibited from receiving Communion would include: a visiting non-Catholic, a Catholic who has not fasted for an hour, a Catholic in an irregular marriage, a Catholic in a state of grave sin, a Catholic who has already received Communion at an earlier Mass.)
Everyone coming forward at Communion, including those not intending to receive Communion, would result in lengthening the time required to distribute Communion, to no benefit.
In sum, there is no need or value in entering the Communion procession unless one will receive Communion, and there are several important reasons why one should not come forward merely for a blessing.