Sunday, August 19, 2012
PEOPLE RECEIVING BLESSING DURING HOLY COMMUNION WHEN THEY CANNOT RECEIVE HOLY COMMUNION; PRAYTELL I HAD A BRAINSTORM
For a few decades now, the custom has arisen (which is neither prescribed nor forbidden by the rubrics) in many Catholic churches for people who are not able to receive Holy Communion to come forward during Holy Communion to receive a blessing. This would apply to baptized Christians from Protestant Churches, Inquirers, catechumens, candidates, those who broke the Communion fast, children of pre-Communion age and those who are in a state of mortal sin and thus should not receive Holy Communion. In fact in the latter, this allows them more dignity in at least approaching the Lord for a blessing rather than remaining at the pew as others go forward wondering why "Johnny" isn't going and what sins he committed that keep him from going.
At Praytell, the discussion was more on what the lay Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion would say to such people. Here are some examples that someone suggested in light of the fact that laity who distribute Holy Communion cannot give a priestly blessing with the "Sign of the Cross":
May Christ, present in the Eucharist,
bless you and remain with you always.
May the Lord who feeds us
Fill your heart and your mind with a knowledge of his love.
May the gift of faith in the Risen Christ
abound and overflow in your life.
May the Holy Spirit grant you spiritual communion
with all who partake of this holy meal.
Those blessings above inspired me to write my own comment on Praytell and this is it:
A little less than half of our elementary school kids are Protestant (we have a Messianic Jew and an Reformed Jew as well). For at least thirty years we’ve encouraged them to come forward for a blessing. But we keep it brief. If I’m doing it, I simply say “May God bless You” with a “small” Sign of the Cross hand blessing. Our retired bishop simply says “God Bless You” and touches the back of his hand to their head. I’ve instructed our EM’s to say what seems natural, “bless you” or “God Bless You” or simply hold their hand over the persons head without the Sign of the Cross or to touch the head as our retired bishops does with the back of their hand. At our normal Masses the same procedure is in place.
I find the longer blessings above a bit much but only in light of the Ordinary Form’s truncation (for the laity only) of the formula for distributing Holy Communion which was “May the Body of Christ keep you safe for eternal life,” but in Latin of course. The other versions for the blessings shown above are reminiscence of the old Latin formula and thus would be more appropriate in the Extraordinary Form not the Ordinary Form. But if we restored to the laity their version of what the priest says prior to his Holy Communion in the Ordinary Form, I would suggest, “May the Lord keep you safe for eternal life.” Otherwise the Ordinary Form’s formula “The Body of Christ” for those not receiving should be ” The blessing of Christ.” This September I’m meeting with our EM’s for a workshop and I think that’s exactly what I will recommend to them, not to touch, but simply look at the person requesting the blessing and say, “The blessing of Christ” which ties in nicely with “The Body of Christ” in the Ordinary Form. And if the EM, deacon or priest happen to be holding the host for the next person, all the better “symbol” of making a “spiritual communion” by tasting through seeing.
So, what do you think?