The "Heil" blessing


#1

I'm sure you've seen it before: at some point during Mass (usually after Communion), the priest may invite the congregation to extend a hand and join him in offering a blessing on a particular person (wedding anniversary, for example) or a group of people (retreatants, people going on a mission trip, etc). So the entire congregation raises their right hands with the palm extended and facing downward, as if to join the priest in offering said blessing. I never join in on such blessings, first because I believe that it is only the Priest who can give a blessing, but also because the first thing that comes to mind when this happens--and I mean to offend NO ONE--is "Heil Hitler".

Is there any particular document or teaching relative to these blessings? I'm not trying to change the way my (or any other) parish does things, I'm just curious to know your thoughts.

Peace


#2

This practice was imported from Protestantism. I don’t know of an official document specifically forbidding it, but you could argue that it is categorically contained in the protocol about EMHC quoted and discussed here .


#3

In my new parish they do this over blankets at the end if mass. I feel very uncomfortable with this gesture, so I just listen to the blessing and say "amen".


#4

[quote="Ad_Orientem, post:2, topic:318377"]
This practice was imported from Protestantism. I don't know of an official document specifically forbidding it, but you could argue that it is categorically contained in the protocol about EMHC quoted and discussed here .

[/quote]

the question was about people raising their hands at the end of Mass at the request of the priest to pray a special blessing like the OP said for an anniversary etc. The link you gave is about those going forward in communion to receive a blessing instead of communion, two different things. the "import" from Protestantism is just your own opinion and there is no proof to back it up.


#5

[quote="hcmusicguy, post:1, topic:318377"]
I'm sure you've seen it before: at some point during Mass (usually after Communion), the priest may invite the congregation to extend a hand and join him in offering a blessing on a particular person (wedding anniversary, for example) or a group of people (retreatants, people going on a mission trip, etc). So the entire congregation raises their right hands with the palm extended and facing downward, as if to join the priest in offering said blessing. I never join in on such blessings, first because I believe that it is only the Priest who can give a blessing, but also because the first thing that comes to mind when this happens--and I mean to offend NO ONE--is "Heil Hitler".

Is there any particular document or teaching relative to these blessings? I'm not trying to change the way my (or any other) parish does things, I'm just curious to know your thoughts.

Peace

[/quote]

The priest is asking everyone to pray for the person or persons, what is wrong with that?
I guess if you don't want to raise your hand then don't. Comparing this to Hei Hitler is pretty offensive even though you are claiming you are not trying to be offensive. Why don't you ask your priest about it?


#6

I don't think it is proper for lay faithful to extend their hands.

Without the Sacrament of Holy Orders, we simply cannot bless, we can only invoke God's blessing. Yet, extending our hand gives an erroneous idea. This is why in general, especially in the Book of Blessings, the lay faithful that participate are told to sign themselves, while the deacon, priest, or bishop are told to trace a sign of the cross over the faithful.


#7

[quote="JHow, post:3, topic:318377"]
In my new parish they do this over blankets at the end if mass. I feel very uncomfortable with this gesture, so I just listen to the blessing and say "amen".

[/quote]

many parishes have knitting groups that make blankets for the very sick. Many of those that have advance cancer etc have difficulty keeping warm. Praying a blessing over something that is going to someone that is very ill sound very beautiful and compassionate. You may not want "to raise your hand" but realize that to bigger picture is to have compassion on those that are suffering and need a blanket.


#8

I thought this was originally a Caesarian salute? Not that I understand what it has to do with the blessing question, but as far as the origins of the gesture.


#9

[quote="R_C, post:6, topic:318377"]
I don't think it is proper for lay faithful to extend their hands.

Without the Sacrament of Holy Orders, we simply cannot bless, we can only invoke God's blessing. Yet, extending our hand gives an erroneous idea. This is why in general, especially in the Book of Blessings, the lay faithful that participate are told to sign themselves, while the deacon, priest, or bishop are told to trace a sign of the cross over the faithful.

[/quote]

Anyone can bless their own children.

You can lay your hands on your children, make the sign of the cross over them, trace the sign of the cross on their forehead, and bless them exactly as any member of the clergy would.

Father's always bestowed a blessing on their children in the Old Testament. That has not changed. A nice blessing is one form or another of the Aaronic Blessing from Numbers 6.

**The LORD said to Moses, "Say to Aaron and his sons, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,
The LORD bless you and keep you:
The LORD make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you:
The LORD lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
*
So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them."
(Numbers 6:22-27)
*

I bless my daughters like this all the time. I laid my hands on my daughter's head and blessed her before she was confirmed the other night. I trace the sign of the cross on my daughter's forehead before she walks into school every day.

-Tim-


#10

[quote="hcmusicguy, post:1, topic:318377"]
I'm sure you've seen it before: at some point during Mass (usually after Communion), the priest may invite the congregation to extend a hand and join him in offering a blessing on a particular person (wedding anniversary, for example) or a group of people (retreatants, people going on a mission trip, etc). So the entire congregation raises their right hands with the palm extended and facing downward, as if to join the priest in offering said blessing. I never join in on such blessings, first because I believe that it is only the Priest who can give a blessing, but also because the first thing that comes to mind when this happens--and I mean to offend NO ONE--is "Heil Hitler".

Is there any particular document or teaching relative to these blessings? I'm not trying to change the way my (or any other) parish does things, I'm just curious to know your thoughts.

Peace

[/quote]

I not so sure if the term your referring to is the correct term though I stand to be corrected.
However; I've never really seen any requested formal blessings requested by the priest for the congregations participation to lay hands ("after Hoy Communion"). During this time in Lent however; during the weekly catechumen scrutiny of candidates called up to the Sanctuary just before the Eucharistic Mass, some priests may request the congregation to lay hands in a supportive praying gesture as prayers and the scrutiny is read.

Peace
Chris


#11

I used to feel the same way cause it reminded me of the salute but then I realized how ridiculous it was to feel uncomfortable extending my arm to bless the children at mass with my prayers because of what in a semi- similar way was a salute in Hitlers regime.

despite what you believe you can giving blessings just not the same ones as priests give with the sign of the cross and their liturgical blessings.

so extended your arm at the request of the priest/deacon or signing on the forehead is A-OK

hope this helps


#12

[quote="mab23, post:11, topic:318377"]
I used to feel the same way cause it reminded me of the salute but then I realized how ridiculous it was to feel uncomfortable extending my arm to bless the children at mass with my prayers because of what in a semi- similar way was a salute in Hitlers regime.

despite what you believe you can giving blessings just not the same ones as priests give with the sign of the cross and their liturgical blessings.

so extended your arm at the request of the priest/deacon or signing on the forehead is A-OK

hope this helps

[/quote]

yes, the priest or deacon is just asking the congregation to join in the prayer while they say the blessing or prayer. Nothing wrong with that at all. If someone didn't want to raise their hand then they don't have to. I f someone had a question about it, ask the priest or deacon doing it and get a clarification from them.


#13

[quote="mab23, post:11, topic:318377"]
I used to feel the same way cause it reminded me of the salute but then I realized how ridiculous it was to feel uncomfortable extending my arm to bless the children at mass with my prayers because of what in a semi- similar way was a salute in Hitlers regime.

despite what you believe you can giving blessings just not the same ones as priests give with the sign of the cross and their liturgical blessings.

so extended your arm at the request of the priest/deacon or signing on the forehead is A-OK

hope this helps

[/quote]

[quote="mab23, post:11, topic:318377"]
I used to feel the same way cause it reminded me of the salute but then I realized how ridiculous it was to feel uncomfortable extending my arm to bless the children at mass with my prayers because of what in a semi- similar way was a salute in Hitlers regime.

[/quote]

During Mass I never thought of lifting my arm and hand in gesture of praying over someone as a symbolic reference to Hitler and his regime.

As for personally blessing someone outside of Mass as you suggest you may want to read this thread. forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=407134&page=2


#14

[quote="robwar, post:7, topic:318377"]
many parishes have knitting groups that make blankets for the very sick. Many of those that have advance cancer etc have difficulty keeping warm. Praying a blessing over something that is going to someone that is very ill sound very beautiful and compassionate. You may not want "to raise your hand" but realize that to bigger picture is to have compassion on those that are suffering and need a blanket.

[/quote]

It is not the blessing or blankets I have trouble with, it is the gesture, which in my mind is more appropriate for a priest than for me (layman).


#15

When I first was introduced to the "Heil" blessing, I must admit that Hitler crossed my mind, but I immediately put aside the thought as ridiculous.

However, I still do not ever do this hand thing, because I consider it absolutely inappropriate. It is as if the people doing it seem to think that they are imparting some kind of blessing or power from their own hand, when actually only priests are able to impart blessings.

Praying for a person with your hands folded in prayer is just as effective (if not more, because the pride of showing off that you are imparting a prayer isn't there with the hand thing) and is more humble.

I don't think it is wrong or sinful for a person to pray in this way, but I do consider it strange and out of place, to say the least.

-prepares to get flamed-


#16

Have you ever asked your priest? You are just joining the priest in his prayer and/or blessing.
Sometimes we have set ideas in our head about what should or shouldn’t be which may not be accurate they are just hang overs from another time and place. If the priest or deacon request people to extend their right hand to join in their prayer or blessing of someone do you think that they would be requesting you to do something wrong?


#17

[quote="robwar, post:16, topic:318377"]
If the priest or deacon request people to extend their right hand to join in their prayer or blessing of someone do you think that they would be requesting you to do something wrong?

[/quote]

Possibly, yes. Priests and deacons are perfectly capable of being wrong.


#18

[quote="R_C, post:6, topic:318377"]
I don't think it is proper for lay faithful to extend their hands.

Without the Sacrament of Holy Orders, we simply cannot bless,...

[/quote]

1669 Sacramentals derive from the baptismal priesthood:** every baptized person is called to be a "blessing," and to bless. Hence lay people may preside at certain blessings; **the more a blessing concerns ecclesial and sacramental life, the more is its administration reserved to the ordained ministry (bishops, priests, or deacons).


#19

[quote="robwar, post:16, topic:318377"]
Have you ever asked your priest? You are just joining the priest in his prayer and/or blessing.
Sometimes we have set ideas in our head about what should or shouldn't be which may not be accurate they are just hang overs from another time and place. If the priest or deacon request people to extend their right hand to join in their prayer or blessing of someone do you think that they would be requesting you to do something wrong?

[/quote]

I don't know the priest. I just moved here. I'm not going to introduce myself with a question like that. I don't think he invited us to extend our hands. Everyone just did so.


#20

[quote="JHow, post:19, topic:318377"]
I don't think he invited us to extend our hands. Everyone just did so.

[/quote]

In my own experience, that's usually how it goes. I, myself, would much prefer to use those few seconds to pray for the person/people in my own way rather than partake in a gesture which I find repulsive.


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