What are the proper responses?

I attend mass at our cathedral and last weekend the coadjutor archbishop celebrated mass. At the end of mass, for the blessing, he said to bow our heads and then said something I don’t remember, and maybe 10 people knew the reply (there were hundreds present, I’m sure!) then he said another one, again, 10 people replied and then said “May almighty God bless you…”

I seem to recall this happening at least one other time when the archbishop celebrated mass and I have no idea what this blessing is and what the proper responses are.

I’m thinking I should ask Father (and if they would post it on the web site!) but thought I would ask here to see if any of you more versed in the blessings of the bishop would know.


Well sometimes there is a special three part blessing and the proper response to each part is, “Amen.” This would be followed by the ususal blessing for which the reponse is, as usual, “Amen.”

I’m not sure if that’s what you heard.

The difficulty I observe with these blessings, at least from my perspective as one of the people, is that it’s not always clear when a given part is ending. Since we’re supposed to be bowing our heads we can’t get visual cues. By the time everyone figures it out it’s time to respond, the priest or bishop has gone on to the next part of the blessing. I’ve heard some priests or bishops who manage to communicate the end of each part with vocal inflection but most don’t.

Our priests have been doing the solemn blessing a bit more often so now the people are kind of used to it, even though it does not occur every Sunday. The deacon helped out by saying the Amen loudly so everyone picked up on it.

The Roman Missal has a section entitled “Solemn Blessings”. It begins: “The following blessings may be used, at the discretion of the priest, at the end of Mass, or after the liturgy of the word, the office, and the celebration of the sacraments.
The deacon gives the invitation, or in his absence the priest himself may also give it: Bow your heads and pray for God’s blessing. Another form of invitation may be used. Then the priest extends his hands over the people while he says the blesssings. All respond: Amen.”
(Roman Missal, Catholic Book Publishing Co., New York, 1985, page 569.)

(I suspect “liturgy of the word” above is a poor translation and it means the seperate celebration normally called a “Celebration of the Word of God” and not the first major part of the Mass.)

Here is an example:
May almighty God keep you from all harm
and bless you with every good gift. R. Amen.

May set his Word in your heart
and fill you with lasting joy. R. Amen.

May you walk in his ways,
always knowing what is right and good,
until you enter your heavenly inheritance. R. Amen.

May almight God bless you,
the Father, and the Son, + and the Holy Spirit. R. Amen."

The Ceremonial of Bishops, n. 1121 has a blessing that only a bishop gives and which has different responses by the people:
Bishop: The Lord be with you.
All reply: And also with you.
Bishop: Blessed be the name of the Lord.
All reply: Now and for ever.
Bishop: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All reply: Who made heaven and earth.
Bishop: May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
All reply: Amen.
(Ceremonial of Bishops, Liturgical Press, 1989, ISBN 0-8146-1818-9, page 302).

Aha! Thank you - this must be it! I know the answers were more than just “amen” as you can hear more than one word being said.

I’m thinking about asking our pastor to post this on the web site as I haven’t seen this in exchange in Magnificat or other “usual places.” The low-level response reminds me of when the priest uses the penitential rite where the second line is
P: Lord, show us your mercy and love
R: And grant us your salvation.

Not many know that one either.

Thanks again! I didn’t find much on a google search.

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