Priest allowing woman to bless at mass.

We recently moved to a new home and sent our kids to a new school. The first school mass I did not attend, although my wife was there. She said that at one point in the mass the priest blessed half the congregation with holy water while a woman blessed the other half with holy water. Is this liturgically appropriate? I always thought that if there is a priest present that he should be the one doing the blessing?

Interesting but if women are allowed to distribute communion?

I am just noting it was a woman, but any person, any layperson, man or woman should not be doing the blessing.

Although sad, it’s not surprising considering so many other abuses that are accepted.

In the case you described, there was no actual abuse.

The blessing comes from (or really through) the Holy Water (which is blessed by a priest or deacon), The priest or deacon who confers the blessing upon the water, that that blessing comes through the just use of the Sacramental. The woman in question was not conferring the blessing, that happened when the blessing was conferred upon the water itself.

.The same is true when we, the faithful, use Holy Water to bless ourselves when we enter or leave the church.

The blessing is not our own, but rather from the priest who conferred it.

You seem awful quick in determining abuse…often haste without all the information is erroneous.

I have no idea what you are trying to describe.

You say “priest allowing woman to bless at Mass”. The act of imparting a blessing (or for one not in Holy Order invoking a blessing) is a specific act, involving spoken words – so the image you evoke in my mind as a priest is frankly nonsensical as well as imponderable.

Are you saying that the congregation came forward, individually, with half the congregation receiving a blessing from the priest and half receiving a blessing from another person? A lay person could do this in the same way that a lay person may be associated with the Presider in the Blessing of Throats on the Feast of Saint Blase. The lay minister would recite the formula of the blessing without, however, making the sign of the cross over the person, in the manner a cleric would.

Or are you saying that the priest imparted a blessing to half the congregation and then the other person invoked a blessing upon those on the other side of the church?

The Rite of Sprinkling with Holy Water has nothing to do with blessing people…it is sprinkling them with Holy Water, which is its own distinct thing…but that does not occur “at one point in the Mass”…it occurs at the very start of the Mass, right after the greeting, and in place of the penitential rite.

Since you say it was the first Mass of a new school year, I can only wonder from your description if the Rite for the Blessing of Student and Teachers was incorporated into the Mass in accord with 522ff of the Book of Blessings. The Book of Blessings does not suppose a sprinkling rite in this circumstance however (since there is a sprinkling rite proper to the Mass itself.)

The Book of Blessings, however, allows a breadth of latitude and pastoral adaptation, including the use of assisting minister(s). If what happened was, in fact, the rite from the Book of Blessings, with an adaptation, I could see the Presider having the principal or a teacher take the role of the assisting minister and then have her join in sprinkling holy water since the guidelines of the Book of Blessings would be dispositive for those events, not the GIRM.

Or was this something that occurred as an addendum…a sort of para-liturgy after the Mass had concluded? Norms in that instance are even much more flexible.


You are aware, I presume, that The Book of Blessings makes provisions for rites where lay persons invoke blessings. A lay man or lay woman as well as a Religious Brother or Sister may preside in the absence of a priest or deacon. Since a cleric was present, such would not preside but, beyond that, I am not sure what you are describing, based on what you have written.

Thanks for helping me understand this better. I will have to talk to my wife to see when this exactly happened. It seems like you are right, it could be the Rite of Student and Teachers. The priest probably gave the blessing and the sprinkling was done half by the priest and half by the layperson.

? It doesn’t seem so sad or abusive.
Others are not describing it thus.


How so? A Priest present at a Mass, a “blessing”. What else do I need to know?

It’s another instance of “lay encroachment”, in my opinion. Yeah, the rubrics allow a layperson to assist. Why wouldn’t it be a fully vested acolyte, parish or religious priest or deacon, or even sub-deacon or instituted server (Eastern or Latin) from the nearest convent/parish - knowing so many folks would be in attendance?

The clear lines between clergy and layperson are today blurred. The rules don’t disallow it, but how it is done and with whom, and how often could make the difference between is this ordinary or extraordinary, normal or as-needed

Perhaps the actual source of the blessing.

See Post # 7 by Father.

The principle seems easy enough to understand.

I suppose you mean she helped with the sprinkling of the holy water. It’s okay for a woman to do that.

Instituted acolytes (“fully vested” or not) have no primacy over other laypersons in this context. Trying to blur the lines by suggesting there is a hierarchy within the laity when it comes to sprinkling people is problematic.

And this point you have made has been stressed in various clarifications – as it needs to be.

Because the decision is the Presider’s. When I am the one presiding and when I was the parish priest, the decision was mine…within what the norms allowed.

Why on earth would I invite a Sub-deacon of an Eastern Church to fulfill a ministry that I can give to one of my own parishioners? I absolutely wouldn’t.

If I am taken ill, I would ask someone from the friary, the monastery or a neighboring parish if they could help – but not to sprinkle holy water, as in this example. That would be beyond ridiculous. To the contrary, I would be seeking ways to involve the laity of my parish in lay ministry

Fortunately, the renewed liturgy in the Roman Rite has made provision for an expansive involvement of the laity – and I have extended that to the fullest I judged possible.

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