Why did the deacon do this?


Hi everyone,

This morning in mass, I did not receive communion because I missed mass last week and have not been to confession yet. Instead, I went up to receive a blessing (which I am now reading online is not part of the liturgy and should not be done), but anyway as I walked up to the deacon, I crossed my arms across my chest and bowed my head for the blessing. As the deacon began the blessing, he placed his hand under my chin and forced my face up to look him in the eye as he said the blessing. When he finished the blessing, he said, “Okay?” As if he was asking me if I understood. I replied, “okay.” and went back to my seat. I was just wondering if anyone knows why he may have done this? I don’t know if maybe he was trying to show me that I should not be ashamed, or if he was trying to be very serious about the matter. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it all day!


I wish I knew, but sorry, no clue.

Our retired pastor gently “discouraged” parishioners from the private blessing you describe. However, if someone goes up looking for it, a priest or deacon will offer a blessing. But I think this is beyond the authority of a (non-ordained) Extraordinary Minister, right?

We had a deacon at our mass today also. He is a third year seminarian at Mundelein. Fr. Barron and his faculty seem to be doing a wonderful job with their students.


He probably thought you were not ok.
I think he may have been showing concern…maybe people perceive a humble posture as a depressed one.


Have you ever asked, rather than stated, to a person you were concerned about by simply asking ,“ok”, meaning “are you okay, now?” I think most parents have, so the good deacon may have been doing something very loving.


It was out of place considering the circumstances. Why not just stay in the pew?



Yes. The whole crossing of the arms thing is a novelty. I don’t know if it falls into the category of abuse or not, but the poster’s story is good example of why we should avoid novelties at Mass.


Until this happened to me today, I didn’t realize that this was something not typically done. At my home parish, the priest even encourages it. After this happened to me today, I went looking online to see if this was a custom thing for a priest/deacon to do during a blessing. Instead, I ended up finding that going up to receive a blessing isn’t traditional at all. In the future, i will stay in the pew.


As you discovered, blessing in the Communion line is quite common and somewhat controversial. No worries. If you remain in the pew, you are not missing out on the blessing, since at the end of the Mass, the priest blesses everyone present with the words “May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” or occasionally a more elaborate blessing.


Right. I wonder where this “folk tradition” came from. Honestly, I don’t know, though I have my suspicions that it started at Catholic weddings where the couple requested a Mass, with both members of the couple being Catholic - but many of the extended family members were not Catholic. The priest, not wanting non-Catholics to feel left out, probably told them, “If you’re not Catholic, I can’t offer you communion, but if you come up with your arms crossed, I’ll give you a blessing.” And priests have been blessing children who have not received their first communion for a long time.

Outside of weddings, the arm-crossing thing is pretty new - I’d say it’s only become common outside of weddings only within the last 15-20 years or so. And, honestly, the most troubling thing about it is that, in many parishes, EMHC’s are expected to give the same blessing - which is above their paygrade.


Doesn’t it bother you that while the priest is distributing communion, he is being forced to touch people’s germ-laden faces to give them a blessing. All the dirt is being rubbed off on the next host he touches. This is really abuse, since it is not part of the liturgy. There is a blessing time built into the mass, why don’t all the churches follow it instead of these piecemeal blessings which interrupt the communion line.


I have never heard of anyone coming up for a blessing after they have received their First Holy Communion, not even in parishes that encourage people to ask for a blessing before they have done so. I am guessing the deacon has never seen it, either.


I am certain that the deacon was showing concern for you. Perhaps he thought you were troubled in some way and wanted to make certain you were alright. He was being very caring to you and pastoral.
As far as receiving a blessing in the communion line. On this site there is always some controversy, however, if the pastor of your parish allows it and does so, don’t feel you need to stay in your seat as some have indicated.
This comes from a deacon who blesses people in line on a weekly basis.
Deacon Frank


Most only make the sign of the cross. I’ve never really seen a priest or a Deacon touch anyone. (adult, that is). Lay ministers are not permitted to “bless” or touch the person.
Once in a while I will see a priest make the sign of the cross on a child’s forehead though.
But no, it doesn’t bother me.


It is no more bothersome than drinking the precious blood from a common cup. Besides, every time I receive communion from my Pastor, his fingers are so big that he always manages to brush my tongue with them, and I always open my mouth very wide and stick out my tongue. That’s just as bad.


I am guessing there was a pastor somewhere who could not help himself but to bless the children whom their parents were not leaving behind in the pew during communion. Well, if the pastor is blessing non-communicants, then that invites the older children to come up for a blessing, too. In that case, how does he keep it straight, which of the children have made their First Holy Communion and which have not? Cross your arms in front of you, children. OK, now there is no problem for anyone to come up for a blessing, because he’ll know who is who, by that sign. Then he is transferred, the new priest comes, and this is the norm in this parish. Well, why not bless the children? Alright…and so the custom spreads, from priest to parish, from parish to priest, from priest to priest and parish to parish, and so on. That is how customs like this spread…


Another reason I receive in the hand.


I thought only priests can give blessings AND not deacons? Am I wrong in that too? I have been wrong about many things at many times.

Crossing arms for Holy Communion has always been done in the churches of the east. It seems like it has picked up the opposite meaning in the west.

In the Orthodox church anyone can give a blessing with a hand cross. St Herman of Alaska gave many blessings that way, even though he was only an unordained monk.


Yes, Deacons can give blessings. I have seen our Parish Deacon bless items too. Our Deacon seems very orthodox so I am guessing if he is doing it, it is permissible. Deacons, though they cannot consecrate The bread and wine, still have some kind of apostolic authority. Not on the same level as a Bishop or priest obviously but when they are ordained, it is a Sacrament. So, it makes sense to me that they can give blessings.


I’m a Eucharistic minister, and I asked the Pastor about why people crossed their arms and not take communion. He told me what has been discussed and said just to say “May God Bless You”. He said something along the lines that anyone can bless another person. personally, I don’t know if it is the same as a priest or deacon, and I feel strange when this happens, but that is what our pastor has mentioned to me.



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