[quote=Knight4God]I was wondering if there was a change in philosophy during Vatican II in relation to how the RCC does blessings. I ask because as one outside of Catholicism, yet interested in it’s theology, I have both the pre-Vat II Roman ritual and the new Book of blessings. I noticed quite a shift in substance, to the point where I found I could use most everything in the new book in a Baptist church, as they would never know where it came from, and yet would never be able to get away with using the older rites. For example, in the older blessing of Holy Water (which would never go over well in a Baptist church, but this was the first most dramatic example I could think of), there is an exorcism and then various blessings directed at the salt/water. The new one omits the exorcism and the blessings are focused at those who will use it. Most of the other liturgies for blessings felt almost “at home” for me as a Protestant. So my question is, did Catholic theology change? Or am I misinterpreting what was going on under the Roman Ritual and what is going on under the new Book of Blessings?
I’ll go ahead and apologize if I opened up a can of worms
The decree of promulgation from the Congregation for Divine Worship, 31 May 1984, reads in part that, “The celebration of blessings holds a privileged place among all the sacramentals created by the Church for the pastoral benefit of the people of God. . . . In ordering the reform of the sacramentals, Vatican II decreed that in their celebration special attention should be given to the full, conscious, and active participation of the faithful and that any elements should be eliminated in the course of time had obscured the true nature and purpose of sacramentals.”
The English translation (an ICEL work*) of the USCCB version also contains certain new blessings prepared and approved for the USA.
However, the Book takes cognizance of the offices in the Church however in a way that I do not suspect a Baptist ecclesial community would. The ability to properly exercise the ministry of blessings is regulated hierarchically. The texts of the blessings indicate when they may be given by a bishop, priest, or deacon, and when they may be given by lay members of the Christian faithful (acolytes, readers, and then other laity, such as parents for their children, etc). Some proper pastoral formation and prudence in the apostolate is required when the laity bless. Their exercise of this ministry is attached to the universal priesthood in the document. But even then some function in special liturgical ministry or particular charge in the Church is presumed.
The formularies for the conferral of a blessing by a lay person are different from those used by a cleric. Most obviously, a lay person blesses him or herself, whereas a cleric makes the sign of the cross upon the recipient or the object.
As to the case of holy water, the emphasis was returned to the purifying and regenerative aspects of Baptism by which one is incorporated into Christ and his Church. If you are inclined to go there, I recently posted remarks at forum.catholic.org/viewtopic.php?t=33155 about this.
Sacramentals cannot be detached from those who use them. Consequently, most blessings associated with things, such as articles for religious devotion, are also called upon the user.
*I am not aware that the Book of Blessings was a particular point in controversary, but certainly there were issues with translations and the Mass. The dialogue between the Vatican and English translators is something that others are better prepared to address.