Did the Vatican or USCCB recently put out an order to cease the "LAY BLESSING"?

Today our parish priest put out the immediate order at the end of mass for all EMHCs to immediately cease crossing people heads during mass as ordered by our Liturgical Director from the Diocese and supported by our Bishop. I never saw this until I returned home and it startled me. My priest gave me a long crock of rhetoric about that all baptized Catholics are able to bless by their baptism, which I knew was melarchy for the context of the mass. It was clearly an abuse to me that I swallowed up because everyone seems to be doing it no matter where we attend. The only place, ironically I didn’t see a wide spread of it is during the Spanish masses. Don’t know why. Anyway, did something recently come down the pipe that stopped this abuse. unfortunately we were told to place our hand are those that come forward on the shoulder because the touch is still important (:rolleyes: haugwash). We touch people all during mass, so why not just stop the abuse? Do the American Catholic Bishops not believe they have to follow the teachings and orders of the Catholic Church?

This comes directly from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. The USCCB cannot act independently of the Holy See when it comes to establishing a new liturgical practice.

Some have argued that the bishop can grant permission for these blessings to occur. However, proponents of this stance might have forgotten one huge detail. According to the GIRM:

  1. The Diocesan Bishop, who is to be regarded as the high priest of his flock, and from whom the life in Christ of the faithful under his care in a certain sense derives and upon whom it depends,148 must promote, regulate, and be vigilant over the liturgical life in his diocese. It is to him that in this Instruction is entrusted the regulating of the discipline of concelebration (cf. above, nos. 202, 374) and the establishing of norms regarding the function of serving the priest at the altar (cf. above, no. 107), the distribution of Holy Communion under both kinds (cf. above, no. 283), and the construction and ordering of churches (cf. above, no. 291). With him lies responsibility above all for fostering the spirit of the Sacred Liturgy in the priests, deacons, and faithful.

These are the responsibitlities of the bishop. Now, in the event that a bishop may want to address a particular issue such as adding something to the GIRM in the form of an adaptation, then, the competency shifts from the bishop to the national episcopal conference to which he belongs (in our case, it would fall to the USCCB). According to the GIRM:

  1. It is up to the Conferences of Bishops to decide on the adaptations indicated in this General Instruction and in the Order of Mass and, once their decisions have been accorded the recognitio of the Apostolic See, to introduce them into the Missal itself. These adaptations include

The gestures and posture of the faithful (cf. no. 43 above);
The gestures of veneration toward the altar and the Book of the Gospels (cf. no. 273 above);
The texts of the chants at the entrance, at the presentation of the gifts, and at Communion (cf. nos. 48, 74, 87 above);
The readings from Sacred Scripture to be used in special circumstances (cf. no. 362 above);
The form of the gesture of peace (cf. no. 82 above);
The manner of receiving Holy Communion (cf. nos. 160, 283 above);
The materials for the altar and sacred furnishings, especially the sacred vessels, and also the materials, form, and color of the liturgical vestments (cf. nos. 301, 326, 329, 339, 342-346 above).

Directories or pastoral instructions that the Conferences of Bishops judge useful may, with the prior recognitio of the Apostolic See, be included in the Roman Missal at an appropriate place.

A bishop, or bishops, may propose something in the form of an adapation of the GIRM to the USCCB, but, 2/3 of the Latin-Rite bishops must approve it in order for the change to be submitted to Rome for the necessary recognitio from the CDWDS. At this point, the CDWDS could grant or deny the recognitio.

What has **recently **come directly from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments ?

Being that the CDWDS in November of 2008 addressed the issue of laying on of a hand or hands to be “inappropriate” in the Communion line and to be “explicitly discouraged” It doesn’t make sense for a recent directive to fail to make that point understood.

To the OP:

I spoke to an official with the CDWDS a couple of weeks ago regarding intinction. The subject of blessings in lieu of distributing Holy Communion came up. The official reiterated what had been stated in the letter that was quoted in the previous thread. He said that EMHCs cannot engage in this practice.

The CDWDS actually states nothing new. In fact, it quotes existing documentation:

  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.
  1. 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; Canon 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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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).

When the celebrant holds the Sacred Host over either the paten or the chalice, he recites this inviation: “Behold, the Lamb of God, behold Him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those called to the supper of the Lamb” (taken from the coming revised Roman Missal). The invitation is to come forward to receive Our Lord in Holy Communion, not a blessing. This is not to say that the Church is being exclusive in this matter nor unwelcoming to those who cannot receive Holy Communion for whatever circumstance. We form a line to receive Someone, Jesus Christ, in his full Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, not something, a blessing.

The blessing, actually, is the most inclusive part of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because everyone can receive it. One does not have to be Catholic, let alone Christian, to receive this blessing. But, it should be imparted at its proper place, the end of the Holy Sacrifice, as the response from the CDWDS indicates.

The CDWDS states that such blessings are explicitly discouraged. It is not that the CDWDS is trying to be uncharitable towards those who cannot receive Holy Commuion. However, as stated before, such a ritual appears nowhere in the approved liturgical books of the Church. In fact, a person, on his own authority, cannot invent a ritual and insert into the Mass. According to Sacrosanctum Concilium:

Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the Liturgy on his own authority.

Redemptionis Sacramentum reaffirms this statement when it notes that:

[11.] The Mystery of the Eucharist “is too great for anyone to permit himself to treat it according to his own whim, so that its sacredness and its universal ordering would be obscured”.27 On the contrary, anyone who acts thus by giving free rein to his own inclinations, even if he is a Priest, injures the substantial unity of the Roman Rite, which ought to be vigorously preserved,28 and becomes responsible for actions that are in no way consistent with the hunger and thirst for the living God that is experienced by the people today.

Thus, we just can’t do things on our own, inventing and imbedding rituals into the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We need to respect the rubrics.

Yes, I already know this and have asked questions to our pastor twice on the matter. To make a difficult situation more complicated for me I’ve tried not to pry, having fallen away from Catholicism many years ago after gay priests and seminarians repeatedly making passes on me and not being alotted better or good spiritual directions as a result of my faith being challenged to the point I stopped trusting all clergy because I had no way of knowing who was not only straight but faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church, which was complicated by the “liberal”, better described as dessenting majority, leading the diocese back then and even today. The diocese saw to it I would keep my mouth shut and thus my story was burried for many years, ultimately leading me to defecting to find the real truth about God and which Church was the actual church that Christ established. Long story. Ultimately I finally stumbled accidentally across documents that lead me back to the Catholic Church, but this time determined not to be fooled by the dissenters, including the many bishops, priests and deacons I’ve run into since my return. Even a small dissent is a serious problem. Like chaning the words of the mass from time to time…no go. A priest imparting a blessing may not be right but it is still a real blessing. Apparently that grew into a more serious infraction when I returned in 2006. I nearly died, but knew it was incorrect. But I was already eating so much crow for having once believed all Catholics would go to hell as a result of what I came to believe was an apostate faith for all of the homosexual and women priest pushing, not to mention the trivializing of mortal sin.

People will come up for a blessing, if they have done so previously. So, they will come up expecting a blessing, and, this involves children. Last time this happened, I touched a shoulder, and said “May God bless you this day.”

PLease show your priest the appropriate materials as listed here and ask him to announce to the faithful that the so-called blessings must be discontinued as the action is not approved. Let him know that you will be forced to step down from being a Extraordinary Minister of the Holy Eucharist if this is not corrected as you have no wish to commit a sacralige (sp?) I have been asked to fill a post as anEM at my parish, but have refused due to the abuses I see occuring on a regular basis. Additionally, I believe the Extraordianry ministers are overused when it is not neccessary. When Mass is sparsely attended, there really is no need for their use.

That’s what we’re being told to do now. So I’ll conform to the order of the bishop, but I’ll know that it shouldn’t be done either way. I will not allow my anxiety over it to disturb anyone around me nor to scandalize a good priest that deserves to be known for all of his other liturgical elevations from what used to be a lame mass and is now one of the most beautiful masses I’ve seen in my life next to the Vatican on television. I’ve even been to one of Pope John Paul II’s masses in 1987, in Germany and it was outside with thousands of people attending, I’d have to say well over 100,000 people, so it was a bit crazy. I’ve been to mass at Notre Dame in Parish as well, French mass. No one back then blessed everyone that went forward. It was not even encouraged. When did all of this even start? If it helps, I left in June 1989 and came back home October 2006.

I’m not sure that he should be the one to address it becuase the bishop is responsible and is the one that “ordered” the new way to do things. A priest could lose his faculties for disobeying the bishop, or did you not know this? And if he loses his faculties and was a good priest, a less respectful one would most likely take his place. It’s a cunnundrum.:shrug:

I also agree that there is an over use of EMHCs and remember when I first saw one in my parish in the 70’s. That’s also the first time I saw a permanent deacon. That’s why so many people incorrectly treated the permanent deacon like a glorified altar server instead of what they really are to the clergy. The best thing to do in cases like this is to do what you’re told and to avoid actually following through with touching people during the mass unless it’s obvious. If you are a lay person not seeking the diaconate, then go for it, don’t do it. But PLEASE write letters to the pastor and the bishop and ultimately to the Vatican so that this may one day be eliminated. I believe some priests would like you to actually do this so that they don’t have to take the flack for it from those who want it.

Actually, a priest could not lose his faculties if the bishop is requesting that he engage in something that is contrary to liturgical norms. In this case, the bishop would be wrong.

Redemptionis Sacramentum gives the faithful the right to lodge a formal complaint with the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Now, even though the CDWDS does recommend that one approaches the pastor and then the bishop, the Congregation also recognizes that sometimes, the faithful face extraordinary circumstances (as in your case) that would make such contact with the local officials difficult. The CDWDS will ensure your anonimity, this was reiterated to me by the official when I spoke to him and subsequently submitted my letter.

Perhaps, in your case, such a letter might well be warranted.

I will consider your proposal. I have to admit that after having been eaten alive once by a diocese I’m hesitant. It cost me a vocation to the priesthood and I never even got a letter written and turned in. I wrote one many times but ended up tearing it up out of disgust. I was struggling over all sorts of traumatic moments that lead me away from the Church. I’m trying to be braver than I was back then, a mere kid, 18 years old.

This particular parish priest is really a religious priest assigned to us from several states away. He’s a priest that turned in a monster priest that molested over 900 boys :eek:. The bishop he was serving under told him to shut up and he refused. He turned in all cases he encountered to the local authorities because nothing was being done to protect the boys. He did the right thing but received much heartache over his choices. I just want to help replace some of the dissenters and help to restore the dignity of the priesthood by being a good cleric and helping young men discern the priesthood one day away from the abuse I endured as a child. I’m sorry, Though I was nearly 19 I was still a teenager and still just a kid.

It sounds to me like you are still carrying around a lot of hurt and bitterness from your very bad experiences with the Church.

If I were you, I would step back from this. Do you know a layperson, a faithful Catholic, that you love and trust, to whom you could entrust this?

In one of your posts, you said that “even a small dissent is a serious problem.” I think that this statement is not entirely correct. Yes, according to the letter of the law, it’s a true statement, but honestly, a layperson imparting a blessing hardly seems as serious a problem as a priest who is teaching a Gospel that is heretical; e.g., opening up the Communion to non-Catholics, or teaching that Jesus is not the Son of God but merely a very good man. THESE would be much more serious than the blessing issue, wouldn’t they? There is heirarchy of abuses of the Mass, and I think that “blessings by laypeople” is less serious than other abuses…

I think that before you embark upon a crusade to “heal” someone else, you need to make sure that you are healed and whole first, or you will come across as a disturbed priest-hater and you will probably lose more credibility and make the diocese wary of you.

By confiding in a trusted layperson, or even a deacon, and then leaving the issue of the blessing with them to take action, you will take a wiser course of action that will still accomplish the goal of eliminating the abuse from the Masses.

I agree with everyone who is posting that the blessings are not part of the Mass. However, I beg you to try hard to see this from the perspective of those who are receiving those “touches.” Many of those people are children, and parents will get furious when someone or something is taken away from their little ones. Do you understand this, and do you see the reason why the priests are reluctant to abrubtly halt something that keeps people coming to the Mass? So many families are leaving the Church at the drop of a hat-it doesn’t take much to send people out the doors, and the priests understandably want to keep as many families, especially children, as they can for the sake of the souls of these families.

Another large group of those receiving blessings are Protestants who visit the Mass, especially spouses and other relatives. Many of us are praying constantly for these loved ones to convert, and the “blessing” helps them to learn to accept the Catholic Church as a true Christian church and not a pagan cult. If the “blessing” is taken away, it has to be taken away in such a way that our loved ones (and the children) do not experience hurt over it–you yourself can identify with what it is to be hurt by your Church, although your hurts are indeed much greater and more painful.

What I’m saying is that there is a right way and a wrong way for corrections to be implemented in the Mass.

There are people who have been given (by the Holy Spirit) the “gift” of diplomacy and charity when it comes to church issues and controversies. They are mediators, given this ability by the Holy Spirit.

Please consider allowing someone with this “gift” to speak for you and make the way peaceful and persuade with sweet reasonbleness your diocese to make changes in a kind and loving way that will strengthen all the parishioners and make the Mass better.

I know it’s hard, very hard, to trust anyone. My family was kicked out of our Protestant church by a trumped-up tribunal, so I know what you’re feeling. But surely there is someone, maybe even in another parish in the diocese.

Meanwhile you keep working on your own healing and restoration. Good luck to you.

kumbaya, kumbaya, EVerybody now swing and sway back and forth.

I think you are missing the point of what I’ve posted in other threads. The big point I’m trying to make to Catholics, especially one’s like you, is that all of these little things have quickly grown into huge things like homosexuality making its way to the seminaries. I defended myself and my logic about the erroneous and illicit acts I’ve seen with far worse abuses, as you’ve said and I agree, are what lead to the more serious infractions I’ve witnessed with my own eyes and ears. When someone that grows up in a dysfunctional home its important to teach correctly from the pulpit and give example that is orthodox, not heterodox. It must also stick to the rules and not lend itself to stomping all over the Eucharist.

Imagine a load of people showing up at one of your loved ones funeral with musical instruments blaring as you try to mourn the death of a loved one. May a wedding and a load of people, uninvited, show up to celebrate their divorce, homosexual status of coming out of the closet, etc. The point here is that it has no place anywhere in the mass. Why would you stop them, they only mean well and they don’t know anything about your cause for marriage.

PbloPicasso, I’m having a difficult time reading some of your posts. They seem to be contradictory at times from one thread to another. You speak so favorably about your pastor and I can’t help but wonder why you are on the “S___” list of the pastor"

You make a valid point about errors. In fact, you will find solace with this quote from Redemptionis Sacramentum:

[6.] For abuses “contribute to the obscuring of the Catholic faith and doctrine concerning this wonderful sacrament”.14 Thus, they also hinder the faithful from “re-living in a certain way the experience of the two disciples of Emmaus: ‘and their eyes were opened, and they recognized Him’”…

[7.] Not infrequently, abuses are rooted in a false understanding of liberty. Yet God has not granted us in Christ an illusory liberty by which we may do what we wish, but a liberty by which we may do that which is fitting and right.18 This is true not only of precepts coming directly from God, but also of laws promulgated by the Church, with appropriate regard for the nature of each norm. For this reason, all should conform to the ordinances set forth by legitimate ecclesiastical authority.
[8.] It is therefore to be noted with great sadness that “ecumenical initiatives which are well-intentioned, nevertheless indulge at times in Eucharistic practices contrary to the discipline by which the Church expresses her faith”. Yet the Eucharist “is too great a gift to tolerate ambiguity or depreciation”. It is therefore necessary that some things be corrected or more clearly delineated so that in this respect as well “the Eucharist will continue to shine forth in all its radiant mystery”.19

…[11.] The Mystery of the Eucharist “is too great for anyone to permit himself to treat it according to his own whim, so that its sacredness and its universal ordering would be obscured”.27 On the contrary, anyone who acts thus by giving free rein to his own inclinations, even if he is a Priest, injures the substantial unity of the Roman Rite, which ought to be vigorously preserved,28 and becomes responsible for actions that are in no way consistent with the hunger and thirst for the living God that is experienced by the people today. Nor do such actions serve authentic pastoral care or proper liturgical renewal; instead, they deprive Christ’s faithful of their patrimony and their heritage. For arbitrary actions are not conducive to true renewal,29 but are detrimental to the right of Christ’s faithful to a liturgical celebration that is an expression of the Church’s life in accordance with her tradition and discipline. In the end, they introduce elements of distortion and disharmony into the very celebration of the Eucharist, which is oriented in its own lofty way and by its very nature to signifying and wondrously bringing about the communion of divine life and the unity of the People of God.30 The result is uncertainty in matters of doctrine, perplexity and scandal on the part of the People of God, and, almost as a necessary consequence, vigorous opposition, all of which greatly confuse and sadden many of Christ’s faithful in this age of ours when Christian life is often particularly difficult on account of the inroads of “secularization” as well.31

There are others who have made the argument that this practice is one of pastoral necessity. However, the term “pastoral” has been used on not a few occasions to justify questionable liturgical practices. “Pastoral”, as I see it, does not necessarily mean that one has “carte blanche” to do with the liturgy as he or she pleases. While certainly sensitivities can and should be taken into account, these should be used to help people understand the Church’s reasonsings why things can or cannot be done, rather than make adjustments on one’s own authority.

The proper solution to this situation revolves around giving the faithful the appropriate catechesis on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and why the Church restricts Holy Communion only to those who are properly disposed to receive this most august Sacrament. It is not about discriminating against certain segments. It is about the integrity of the rites. Furthermore, a truly pastoral approach, in this case, would include encouraging those who cannot receive Holy Communion to make a spiritual communion. They remain in their pews during Communion time and, either kneeling or sitting down, as Jesus to come into their hearts spiritually and to strengthen them until such time as they will one day receive Him in Holy Communion. This is a practice that many of the saints have advocated down through the centuries and something that the Church has taught for generations. Sadly, it is something that is rarely heard of today.

I haven’t read all the post since I’ve seen them all before. To answer your question, there is NO order from the vatican or USCCB to keep layity from giving blessings. You need to listen to your priest. He is telling you the truth and it is not a crock or melarchy.
The document that is so freely posted is a letter in response to the question of blesings at communion by EMHC, it does not carry the wieght of law, it is an interpetation. The local ordinary is the one we should follow. It appears your local ordinary is OK with the practice.
I propose that you look at the practice of taking communion to the sick. The EMHC leads and blesses the person. At baptism, the parents godparents are instructed to bless the child by making an sign of the cross on the forhead. This is done in the context of the mass.
Last, the American Bishops, like all bishops are part of the Magisterium, who make and interpet the rites and canons of the church. Theay are allowinf a practice that they see as acceptable, despite opinions to the contrary.

Actually, FAB, if you re-read the document from the Holy See, it does specifically state that these should not be done within the context of the Mass. In fact, the letter quotes existing documentation, specifically Canon law and Ecclesia de Mysterio.

I will be attending a conference in Houston this weekend. One of the presenters is from the CDWDS, the same one I have been speaking to regularly. He has reiterated that these should not be done. The CDWDS is the highest authority here. Once again, I will pose the question to him and then go so far as to show him this thread.

I’m afraid you don’t understand how these things work. The letter is an official interpretation from a Vatican Congregation, and it does indeed have the force of law.

I suggest you read canon law before you attempt to offer an interpretation of it, and especially before you offer your own opinion which is contrary to the law.

Can. 16 §1. The legislator authentically interprets laws as does the one to whom the same legislator has entrusted the power of authentically interpreting.

§2. An authentic interpretation put forth in the form of law has the same force as the law itself and must be promulgated. If it only declares the words of the law which are certain in themselves, it is retroactive; if it restricts or extends the law, or if it explains a doubtful law, it is not retroactive.

As anyone can plainly see, your comments are a direct contradiction of what we read in canon law.

Individual bishops (and even conferences of bishops) do not have the authority to change the liturgical laws of the Church, unless the Vatican has already specifically defined that the bishop can do so.

The letter from the CDWDS has the force of law, and cannot be over-turned by an individual bishop.

If the average board member cannot correctly interpret the “letter” from the CDWDS, what makes you think that they can interpret cannon law? It has been over two years since the letter from the CDWDS has been published and yet no directive has ever been issued to put an end to any misconceptions about Protocol No. 930/08/L. Some individuals who have served as EMHC are under the impression that they would commit a sacriledge if they were to do as they have been instructed to do if a non-communicant were to come before them. Others claim that good pastors who may bless someone in the Communion line are engaging in liturgical abuse. It is not unreasonable for the average person to wonder why this matter, declared by the Congregation to “still under the attentive study of the congregation” has not finished it’s study and settled any questions about it once and for all.

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