The proper form of a blessing by an EMHC during communion


#1

Regarding blessings of congregants at Communion time at Mass, I was just wondering if anyone knew the proper form (if there is one) for an EMHC who is approached by a member of the congregation requesting a blessing instead of Communion (arms crossed across their chest is usually the indication in the UK). Obviously a priest can do this, but what's the form for a lay person who assists the priest during Communion? Is there a specific blessing they can/should use? Can they make one up on the spot? Are there particular gestures proper to the act (i.e holding one's hand over a person's head, etc). The one thing I do know for sure is that an EMHC may not use the Blessed Sacrament in the process of this blessing - that's proper to the priest alone (and possibly deacon?).

I've never been in a position where I was required to administer such a blessing (because in my parish EMHCs only administer using the Chalice), but it could happen one day I suppose...


#2

:popcorn:

I am aware of none.


#3

Congregation for Divine Worship
Protocol No. 930/08/L
November 22, 2008

  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).

  2. 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.


#4

[quote="DexUK, post:1, topic:318009"]
Regarding blessings of congregants at Communion time at Mass, I was just wondering if anyone knew the proper form (if there is one) for an EMHC who is approached by a member of the congregation requesting a blessing instead of Communion (arms crossed across their chest is usually the indication in the UK). Obviously a priest can do this, but what's the form for a lay person who assists the priest during Communion? Is there a specific blessing they can/should use? Can they make one up on the spot? Are there particular gestures proper to the act (i.e holding one's hand over a person's head, etc). The one thing I do know for sure is that an EMHC may not use the Blessed Sacrament in the process of this blessing - that's proper to the priest alone (and possibly deacon?).

I've never been in a position where I was required to administer such a blessing (because in my parish EMHCs only administer using the Chalice), but it could happen one day I suppose...

[/quote]

Extraordinary ministers of holy communion are just that and nothing more. If a person wants to receive holy communion, they may approach an EMHC. But they are not permitted to give blessings. Further, it is not liturgically appropriate even for a priest to give a blessing during the distribution of communion, because the blessing is to be given at the end of Mass, and the purpose of approaching the ministers is solely to receive the Sacrament.


#5

I was under the impression it was up to the local Bishop.


#6

:popcorn:


#7

EMHC's cannot bless people. I am an EMHC and have been instructed - when someone comes up with their arms crossed - to say "receive the Lord Jesus Christ into your heart".

That is not a blessing, but rather I think simply a little good advice for the person. ;)


#8

[quote="Nigel7, post:7, topic:318009"]
EMHC's cannot bless people. I am an EMHC and have been instructed - when someone comes up with their arms crossed - to say "receive the Lord Jesus Christ into your heart".

That is not a blessing, but rather I think simply a little good advice for the person. ;)

[/quote]

Hmm.. I like that.


#9

We were instructed to not touch the person and say "May the Lord bless you."


#10

[quote="Nigel7, post:7, topic:318009"]
EMHC's cannot bless people. I am an EMHC and have been instructed - when someone comes up with their arms crossed - to say "receive the Lord Jesus Christ into your heart".

That is not a blessing, but rather I think simply a little good advice for the person. ;)

[/quote]

Good advice...and in no way act like you are giving a blessing...that is reserved for the priest....ie....NO touching their forehead or making the sign of the cross on their forehead...those are for the priest alone.

So...if someone presents themself to you and you have no choice...just say the above with absolutely no hand gestures. It's not a place for a tussle....but we are not authorized to give blessings...but chances are if you say that...they will not know any better.:shrug:


#11

Like most (I suspect) I've never been given any particular guidance as an EMHC on how to deal with the question of blessings. Granted an EMHC can't make the sign of cross and bless the communicant "In the name of the Father..." etc which is reserved to priests and deacons and this is what the Church usually means by the term "blessing". Of course,people ask God to bless others all the time - without making the sign of the cross, etc. If someone approaches me in the communion line seeking a blessing, it's more than a bit uncharitable to turn them away, and awkward to refer them to a priest (who may be up the other end of the nave) - a bit of a case of the law killing, spiritually speaking.

So my solution is to use a bit of scripture, an abbreviated form of Numbers 6:24-26 to be precise: "May the Lord bless you and keep you and give you peace." So this way, I'm not the one blessing them, I'm simply asking God to do it which is the key difference.


#12

[quote="maltmom, post:9, topic:318009"]
We were instructed to not touch the person and say "May the Lord bless you."

[/quote]

There is no blessing that a lay person can give to another in the Holy Communion line. Our rector changed the procedure at our parish when he arrived. EMsHC now are not to give blessings and not to touch people. They are not to do anything with the sacred host other than give Holy Communion to a communicant. EMsHC may cross themselves with the sign of the cross, saying "may God bless us, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

The Holy Communion line is just not the place to have a confrontation or argument with someone who is seeking a blessing. I get it that the Holy Communion line is not supposed to be for anything other than Holy Communion, and that we all get a blessing at the end of Mass, etc. But teaching people that is the job of the priest (and catechists in RCIA and CCD).

I've read that John Paul II started this practice by blessing infants-in-arms. People see the Pope doing that, and guess what happens.


#13

[quote="GwenL, post:12, topic:318009"]
There is no blessing that a lay person can give to another in the Holy Communion line. Our rector changed the procedure at our parish when he arrived. EMsHC now are not to give blessings and not to touch people. They are not to do anything with the sacred host other than give Holy Communion to a communicant. EMsHC may cross themselves with the sign of the cross, saying "may God bless us, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

The Holy Communion line is just not the place to have a confrontation or argument with someone who is seeking a blessing. I get it that the Holy Communion line is not supposed to be for anything other than Holy Communion, and that we all get a blessing at the end of Mass, etc. But teaching people that is the job of the priest (and catechists in RCIA and CCD).

I've read that John Paul II started this practice by blessing infants-in-arms. People see the Pope doing that, and guess what happens.

[/quote]

I've seen the Pope do a lot of things that I don't therefore think I can do - ordain bishops, promulgate a new Code of Canon Law and a new Catechism, celebrate Mass in Giants Stadium, create Cardinals....


#14

[quote="GwenL, post:12, topic:318009"]
There is no blessing that a lay person can give to another in the Holy Communion line. Our rector changed the procedure at our parish when he arrived. EMsHC now are not to give blessings and not to touch people. They are not to do anything with the sacred host other than give Holy Communion to a communicant. EMsHC may cross themselves with the sign of the cross, saying "may God bless us, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

The Holy Communion line is just not the place to have a confrontation or argument with someone who is seeking a blessing. I get it that the Holy Communion line is not supposed to be for anything other than Holy Communion, and that we all get a blessing at the end of Mass, etc. But teaching people that is the job of the priest (and catechists in RCIA and CCD).

I've read that John Paul II started this practice by blessing infants-in-arms. People see the Pope doing that, and guess what happens.

[/quote]

I don't touch anyone, nor do I bless them. I ask God to bless them. I agree it's not the place for confrontation which is why we were told to not touch the person or give them a blessing in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.


#15

[quote="DexUK, post:1, topic:318009"]
Regarding blessings of congregants at Communion time at Mass, I was just wondering if anyone knew the proper form (if there is one) for an EMHC who is approached by a member of the congregation requesting a blessing instead of Communion (arms crossed across their chest is usually the indication in the UK). Obviously a priest can do this, but what's the form for a lay person who assists the priest during Communion? Is there a specific blessing they can/should use? Can they make one up on the spot? Are there particular gestures proper to the act (i.e holding one's hand over a person's head, etc). The one thing I do know for sure is that an EMHC may not use the Blessed Sacrament in the process of this blessing - that's proper to the priest alone (and possibly deacon?).

I've never been in a position where I was required to administer such a blessing (because in my parish EMHCs only administer using the Chalice), but it could happen one day I suppose...

[/quote]

I would suggest that if it ever happens, then you should ask your pastor what you should do. Until then, it wouldn't hurt to just say, "God bless you". It will keep the line moving without embarrassing them by giving them a lesson on what they should not do at an inappropriate time.


#16

[quote="aemcpa, post:13, topic:318009"]
I've seen the Pope do a lot of things that I don't therefore think I can do - ordain bishops, promulgate a new Code of Canon Law and a new Catechism, celebrate Mass in Giants Stadium, create Cardinals....

[/quote]

That made me smile.

To be honest this is one of the reasons I stopped serving as an EMHC. It was too uncomfortable for me to have people come up for a blessing and having to provide a pseudo-blessing to keep the line moving. No it wasn't a blessing in the truest sense of the word, but still it was too close that the person coming forward would know the difference. I just couldn't stand the mental gymnastics I had to do to justify it.


#17

[quote="GwenL, post:12, topic:318009"]

The Holy Communion line is just not the place to have a confrontation or argument with someone who is seeking a blessing. I get it that the Holy Communion line is not supposed to be for anything other than Holy Communion, and that we all get a blessing at the end of Mass, etc. But teaching people that is the job of the priest (and catechists in RCIA and CCD).

[/quote]

I agree.


#18

I also do not touch anyone, nor do I bless them. Our priest instructed us to say, "May God bless you," which I normally say to small children. To older children and adults I say, "Receive the Lord Jesus in your heart."


#19

When someone comes to me, in the communion line, looking for a blessing, I just say "Sorry, but I'm not a priest."


#20

At The Last Supper, 12 disciples received the Body and Blood of Christ. None of them opted for a blessing instead. I think it was even unheard of among the early Christians. When did the practice of receiving a blessing during communion originate?


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