Should you say "God bless you" to a priest? What is a kind word you could give to a priest?

Begin with:

Dóminus vobíscum.

To which a priest will respond:

Et cum spíritu tuo.

If you receive any other response, just smile and say:

Misereátur vestri omnípotens Deus,
et dimíssis peccátis vestris,
perdúcat vos ad vitam ætérnam.


“Dominus vobiscum” is not a greeting for laymen to make. Where texts that include it can be read/sung by either a cleric or a layman (e.g., the Exsultet), they specifically direct that “Dominus vobiscum” is to be omitted unless read or sung by a priest or deacon.

It has seemed strange to me as well to say ‘God bless’ to a priest. I believe some Eastern Christians don’t like such a response by a layman to a priest.

This guideline applies to its use within a liturgical context, right?

My 12 year old nephew and I have greeted each other in this fashion since he became an Extraordinary Form altar server 18 months ago. Usually he continues by leading me into Psalm 42 and then into a fast paced Confiteor - with us alternating lines - until he trips me up. The priest who trained my nephew in the EF heard one of these exchanges once.

He advised my nephew to go easy on me.

Inside thing, I guess.

I have said “God bless you” when my Pastor has sneezed. If I can say it for everyone else, and there is nothing wrong with that, I can say it for a priest also.

I’ve never particularly heard it being used outside a liturgical context, but as far as the liturgy is concerned it’s very clear that it’s a priestly greeting. I’ve also read interpretations of the response “Et cum spiritu tuo / And with your spirit” that differentiate it from “And also with you / You too, pal” by reference to the priestly character of the one who receives it.

Also, it’s not an appropriate exchange between two people, because “vobiscum” is plural – it means “with you (all).” “Dominus tecum” would be the singular. Still, although you won’t be struck by lightning for using it, I’d leave it alone, just as you presumably wouldn’t use the episcopal greeting “Pax vobis.”

If you receive any other response, just smile and say:

Misereátur vestri omnípotens Deus,
et dimíssis peccátis vestris,
perdúcat vos ad vitam ætérnam.

That’s if you have more than one priest.

If it’s just one priest:

*Misereátur TUI omnípotens Deus,
et dimíssis peccátis TUIS,
perdúcat TE ad vitam ætérnam. * :wink:


As a former TLM server, I began engaging my young nephew in the prayer/response dialog to help prepare for his first solo EF assist about a year ago. With the help of his priests, he has become fairly proficient and now helps train younger servers. In that capacity, he is required to know both the priest and server parts.

Thanks for the heads-up on the singular/plural thing. What a gem. I have not been taught Latin grammar in any formal sense and I doubt that my nephew has either. I will keep it in reserve - as a technical ace-in-the whole - to be used next time the kid starts “running the table” on me.

Dominus tecum.


I’ve GOT to step up my game.


Right back atcha! :wink:

If he tells you in confession “God bless you” you can respond with “Benedicat te Deus.”

But I’ve never done it in Latin. :slight_smile:

It is often followed with …“and please say a prayer for me”

to which I respond “as always”:thumbsup:

Funny. This happened to me just today. I go to a traditional parish where the Latin Mass is celebrated and today the priest said “God bless you” to me and I didn’t know how to answer.

I just didn’t feel “holy” enough at the time to return the greeting. Stupid really.

I just said “Have a great day Father” in order not to say anything “inappropriate”.

Afterwards I realized I was probably being way, way too fussy. Priests are human too. If I were one I would sure like to be blessed back rather than having to give them out all the time. Who doesn’t want to be wished God’s blessing on them? It’s not like there’s a Vatican promulgation about to whom you can and can’t say “God bless you”.

Thinking about it more, if a priest were actually to pull me up for returning a blessing which I actually doubt any would and which has never actually happened, then I would ask him flat out why.

That’s 100% correct. Even subdeacons who traditionally were bound to say the office had to omit such a phrase in their private recitation. Dominus vobiscum would be exponentially worse than God bless you.

Ultimately this is a question of grammatical miscomprehension. Verbs have three “moods” in English: indicative, imperative and subjunctive, respectively “He goes - Go!. - If he go…”

Because the subjunctive has mostly fallen out of use in everyday English we hear a phrase like “God bless you” as imperative that is, as an “order” (an imperative). But it’s actually in the subjunctive mood: it’s expression of a wish, not a statement of actuality, or an order.

Adding the modal verb “may” would only soften the tone semantically. Functionally you are saying the same thing.

The phrase "God bless you " is, grammatically, in the subjunctive mood (note no -es on the end of the verb, it’s not indicative mood: “God blesses you” and nor is it like the expression we use after a sneeze “Bless you!” which has more the mood of an imperative), and the subjunctive mood of the verb already conveys the essence of the verb “may”.

So while in ordinary usage you might feel that you are softening the tone by adding the modal verb “may” to the expression, God knows better: that, in functional terms you would still be saying the same thing as “God bless you”, and He knows you are wishing His blessing on the priest, not declaring it :wink:

The best thing to do probably is to ask to be remembered in his prayers, especially at the altar and excuse yourself. If he first says goodbye (hopefully a God bless you or the like), simply say thank you. You can then also ask for his prayers. There is no need to say God bless you to him, and it doesn’t really make sense to do so.

That is correct. Otherwise the Latin would be “Domine (or Deus), te benedicat.” And we sort of get a clue in the EF when the priest says “Pax SIT semper vobiscum” or “BenedicAT (subjunctive ending) vos omnipotens Deus.” (Notice the word order too.) Thus we can infer “Dominus sit vobiscum.”

Thank you friends for your helpful and thoughtful replies!

I especially enjoyed learning some of the Latin. Thanks!

May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life. :signofcross:

Priests need God’s blessing just as much as us, probably more, they are much higher value targets for the devils after all.

Look at the Mass

Priest: Dominus vobiscum,

Laity: Et cum spiritu tuo

This is us returning the priests blessing.

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