As a communion minister there are times when someone in the communion line approaches with arms crossed or in some other manner indicates they wish to receive a blessing. It is my training to extend a blessing such as "May the Blessings of Almighty God come upon us". We have a new priest that insists this practice is poor liturgy at best, and refused to offer a blessing to anyone including children. Is this practice proper or is the priest correct and should the practice be stopped?
--Buzz in Brooklyn
Yes, the practice should not be practiced. The communion rite and procession are for those receiving holy communion. This line is for a reception of holy communion. Those who have not received their first communion or are not in "communion" with Rome and the Catholic church are asked to pray and sing in the pew for the day when they will be able to receive. Unfortunately, we have a "get something" mentality. If someone is "getting" communion, then "I should at least get a blessing." In the past people have equated "hospitality" and allowing people to come in the line to not make them not "feel left out." A blessing and receiving communion are not the same thing; a blessing is a poor substitute for sacramental reception. After communion people will receive a blessing.
For those with small children, not able to leave them in the pew, the practice has been for coming forward to receive a blessing. Communion ministers need to be caution, since in our climate today, many parents are not comfortable with strangers or priests touching their child. We give children a mixed message, too, when we allow strangers to touch them in public. In some circles, parents have requested, "do not touch my children." These are not issues that need to be "dealt with" in the communion line! There is nothing in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal 2002 that states to "bless" anyone during the Communion Rite. ALSO See this question/answer page- CLICK HERE