Wednesday, October 26, 2011

On Blessings During Communion

I just read this post by Bonnie and thought it a great opportunity to share something I've been thinking about over the past few years, and that is the whole idea of crossing our arms in the communion line to receive a blessing if unable to receive the Blessed Sacrament. First of all, I'd like to say this is in no way an attack on this blogger who is an amazing mom and Catholic (and whose blog I love to read) nor on anyone who does this practice. Her blog post was merely the catalyst for the follwing post by yours truly. And just because we do something and consider it a standard practice, doesn't mean we shouldn't question it. Afterall nowhere in the liturgical guides does it say this should be done and it is NOT part of the rite.

Let me start with this grave abuse: extraordinary ministers cannot and should not be giving blessings. Ever. They are not priests. It happens all the time and is terribly wrong. If it happens in your Parish, it needs to be addressed and corrected. Now that I got that off my chest, I can continue.

I know I learned to cross my arms to get a blessing before I could receive the Eucharist in Catholic school. Priests even teach it, and now my generation is teaching our children that it is proper practice. But I've been praying a lot about this now that I have my own little one and am having serious doubts it is a good thing. I could be wrong, but let me entertain the thought for a second. A blessing from a priest is never a bad thing of course, but the priest gives the final blessing at the end of Mass, therefore it is unneccessary and maybe even liturgically inappropriate to receive one in the Communion line. Furthermore, receiving a blessing is not equal to receiving the Eucharist, we all know this, but to a child or adult who is just learning, I think it might be confusing. I think this practice is something that started because we didn't want our children and non catholics (at weddings and funerals) to feel left out; but does that really foster a belief in the true presence? By just getting the blessing are we ignoring that Jesus is in fact TRULY and FULLY present in the Eucharist? Certainly that is no one's intention but the question we need to ask ourselves is not what is most inclusive, but what is most reverent to the God of the universe, our Lord and Savior. Please don't think I am questioning the reverence of numerous children and adults who receive a blessing each week or day in the Communion line. Like I said, so many priests and teachers have taught us that it is okay. But is it best? Remember Mass is not about us, but about proper and due worship of God.

So what do I propose? Well I think with our little Dominic, we are going to teach him to kneel next to Geoffrey or me and while we receive, and to make a gesture of love and adoration (prostrate, bow his head, blow a kiss, etc.) This way it keeps the focus on the true presence of Jesus and not what we get out of it. Certainly we do get something out of receiving the Eucharist in good faith, but that should not be why we receive Him.

As parents we know how important it is to foster a deep desire for the Eucharist in the hearts of our children. May St Gemma, St Dominic Savio, and St Therese pray for us!

Well I suppose that is all I have to say about this for now. Thank you for reading my thoughts. Before you might get upset, please pray about this for a moment. If you think I am still dumb, forget all about it; but if you feel I might be onto something, ask your priest what he honestly thinks about this practice, and as always through prayerful discernment decide what is best for you and your family. 


  1. Intersting! Thanks for posting! I never thought about this! Definitely something to pray/think about! It's the hand holding during the Our Father that gets weeks post?;)

  2. This is very thought-provoking! Jon obviously doesn't receive the Eucharist (all prayers on that front are appreciated!), so I am never sure whether I should bring Gus up with me or leave him in the pew with Jon. I think if the goal is to promote proper reverence for and adoration of the Eucharist in our children, taking him up would be better, as little children do much better when they can experience things close up. But I'll have to think about the details.

  3. Yes Kelly it is like the holiding hands during the Our Father! I almost mentioned that but it would have started a rant within a rant. :)

    Amy I am always praying for Jon don't worry. :) I often think that children recognize Jesus better than we do.

  4. Great post! This is something I've never really thought about. But there is something I am somewhat confused about, and I'm not meaning to start an argument or anything, but how come extraordinary ministers can't give blessings? I've never really seen this done at my church, but it just made me think that I give my son Joe a blessing when he goes to bed. Am I not supposed to do that since I am not a priest? Again, I'm not trying to provoke an argument! I know how words can seem rude when they are typed! I just was wondering why they can't give blessings! Great post!

  5. Maggie, I answered your questions here!

    It is a great one. Thanks for the comment. :)