Are extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion able to give blessings?




Full Question

In our parish, those who are not able to receive the Eucharist are invited to come up in the communion procession and receive a blessing. Since we have several extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, it is usually they who give the blessing. Is this correct?

Answer

There are certain cases in which a lay person may give a blessing. The general introduction to the Book of Blessings states: “Other laymen and laywomen, in virtue of the universal priesthood, a dignity they possess because of their baptism and confirmation, may celebrate certain blessings, as indicated in the respective orders of blessings, by use of the rites and formularies designated for a lay minister” (18).

In the rubrics for the distribution of Holy Communion to the sick by extraordinary ministers, the minister may not bless the sick person but only may make the sign of the cross over himself and ask for a blessing upon both of them.

Based on these statements, the practice of extraordinary ministers giving blessings during Holy Communion does not appear to be in keeping with Church law.





11 comments

  1. JBurgherr Reply

    Usually there are good reasons why the Church rubrics are in place. I’m not sure that, in this case, the WHY was explained very well. In the case of a blessing, both the Priest and the lay person say a prayer which requests God to bless the person or intention. It is God who grants the blessing (not the priest). Why would the Church take the stance that laity cannot ask God to bless someone? Why would this action be reserved only for religious (clergy)?

    1. tazman42 Reply

      It’s all about power and control; in many cultures, Parents bless children nightly with a laying oon of hands and the sign of the cross.

  2. Charles B. Reply

    I agree with JBurgherr, why would it be wrong for an extraordinary minister to be allowed to bless an individual. In reality he is interceding and asking God to bless the said individual.

  3. Lupe Soto Reply

    I was told by the priest to say ” May God Bless you”.

  4. Bob Reply

    This happens at our Church all the time. I too would like to know the why.

  5. Janeen Reply

    I don’t think they should do the Blessings of the Throats or the distribution of Ashes either? What is the Church rules regarding that?

  6. Marilou Reply

    As far as I know, lay ministers are allowed to give communion in Church also to the home bound who are sick. But I am not sure whether all of them can give a blessing!

  7. Reggie Reply

    An answer given on another site quotes a letter from the Congregation of Divine Worship giving the following 5 reasons why blessings should not be given at communion time.

    “1. The liturgical blessing of the Holy Mass is properly given to each and to all at the conclusion of the Mass, just a few moments subsequent to the distribution of Holy Communion.

    “2. 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).

    “3. 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. The Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio n. 84, ‘forbids any pastor, for whatever reason or pretext even of a pastoral nature, to perform ceremonies of any kind for divorced people who remarry’. To be feared is that any form of blessing in substitution for communion would give the impression that the divorced and remarried have been returned, in some sense, to the status of Catholics in good standing.

    “5. In a similar way, for others who are not to be admitted to Holy Communion in accord with the norm of law, the Church’s discipline has already made clear that they should not approach Holy Communion nor receive a blessing. This would include non-Catholics and those envisaged in can. 915 (i.e., those under the penalty of excommunication or interdict, and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin).”

  8. Loretta Sanchez Reply

    On Sunday when I went up to receive the Holy Eucharist and Blood of Christ, the eucharistic minister was singing. It totally took me by surprise. I was so in my faith and solemn moment, I could not understand why she was singing. Is this appropriate in the Catholic Church?

  9. Tony R Reply

    look at what happens. you take more and more away from the priest and (I have seen this) eventually during Communion the priest sits down and lets the extraordinary ministers distribute communion.
    it is thru the Priest’s hands and words that the bread and wine turn into the Body and Blood of our Lord. Where ever the Priest is distributing Communion in the Church that is where I take my family to go to receive our Lord. My youngest cannot receive yet so she gets a Blessing from the father. We are “fed” by the father. the extraordinary minister is supposed to be used in extraordinary times. there are times where there are more extraordinary ministers that there are people in the congregation. this is wrong. when the lines blur between what the priest does and what the laity do, the importance of the Sacrament of the Priesthood becomes insignificant.
    I won’t let an extraordinary minister bless my kids during Mass. if they want to after Mass then great!

  10. Ruth Ferreri Reply

    In training EMHC’s I always instructed them that only a priest can give a triune blessing upon a person. As indicated above I suggested they put their hand on the person’s shoulder and ask for a blessing upon them.

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