What blessings can lay people give?

The book of blessings contains blessings that lay people can give (such as various household blessings) and blessings that lay people cannot give (such as sacred items used in a church) Where exactly do you draw the line on what lay people can and cannot bless? What are the rules on lay people using holy water or making the sign of the cross over someone or something?

Many of the blessings in the Book of Blessings (and the Liturgy of the Hours) contain one prayer of blessing or another to be used as the dismissal in the absence of a priest/deacon (who would bless as at the end of Mass) where the lay minister signs himself/herself and everyone present each signs themselves such as “May almighty God bless us, deliver us from evil, and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.” (from the LOTH) so that implies that lay people cannot make the sign of the cross over other people but i’ve always heard that parents bless children with the sign of the cross.

The different ceremonies are not so clear on the use of holy water or the sign of the cross, even though they make clear that the orans position (hands extended) is for clergy only, not laypeople and the “Dominus Vobiscum (The Lord be with you)” is also reserved for clergy (they have alternate greetings for use by laypeople).

From what I have heard in a sermon partly on the subject…

A lay person can bless people he has authority over, this would be those under him in authority in his family.

A father can bless his child, but not vice versa. A husband can bless the wife, but not vice versa.

A grandfather can bless a grandchild, but not vice versa.

Outside of the family, you cannot directly bless, because you lack authority.

I don’t know how it works beyond this, this is only what little I have heard on the matter.

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Every time I hear lay people and blessings together, what always comes to mind is the extraordinary minister of the Holy Communion blessing a child when they come up with their parent. It just makes me cringe. My gut tells me that this is awfully inappropriate. Any blessing within the Liturgy must come from the ordained clergy.

oh my gosh :eek:
I will never end these posts with “blessings” again!
I assume it is different to say, “have a blessed Christmas,” right?

In Mass - none.

OK, so its been established that lay people cannot bless during Mass, in fact deacons cannot either. (EDIT: also, blessing people at Communion is redundant as there is a blessing for everyone at the end of Mass.) I’m talking about blessings outside of Mass and other Liturgies (i.e. the other Sacraments and the Liturgy of the Hours) since it is clear in all of those that lay people cannot bless, not even in the LOTH.

Also, I’m talking about lay people using the Sign of the Cross and/or Holy Water during any sort of blessing that they can give. I know that anyone can give a personal blessing using only words. We do it when someone sneezes and when greeting people at certain times (Blessed Christmas, Easter, Birthday, etc.).

There’s no need to get scrupulous about it, though. “Blessings” is a fine way to conclude a post, just as it is fine to say “God bless you” when someone sneezes.

There is definitely a distinction between a priest who blesses us (such as at the end of Mass) or a group of lay people saying “God bless us” as they pray Liturgy of the Hours in the absence of a priest. But it doesn’t mean we can’t wish blessings on other people. We can’t bless them of our own power and authority, but we can (and should) ask God to bless them. There’s nothing wrong with that.

That’s actually a good definition of a personal blessing.

Hey thanks! :slight_smile:

I tend not to be scrupulous but I get dinged so much on these forums for my lack of … orthodoxy? … that I am just trying not to offend anyone. But, be this the case now… a great big BLESSINGS TO ALL!! :slight_smile:

Yes, I pretty much agree I think. Most people don’t think of a layman saying, ‘Gesundheit’ as meaning ‘I’ by my ’ God given authority’ bless you, but rather a wish that God do it outside of any of that.

I forget which sermon it was, but it was one of the audio sermons below, and I remember few of the details, I may not have them entirely straight. I don’t recall that it went into particular depth.

This is a subject I would like to look into further, I just don’t know where to look at the moment. :slight_smile:

Of course the older Ritual itself would at least give people an idea of some of the principles even if it did not fully explain them. In scripture we see heads of family’s giving especial blessings… the famous stolen one for example…

You could probably ask an F.S.S.P. priest and get a decent explanation.

It’s obvious we’re missing a good deal these days in understanding how the spiritual works, since of course the total devastation post Council.

I hear that. It makes sense to me that there is confusion over blessings. There are certain contingencies who want to erase the distinction between the ministerial priesthood and the priesthood of the faithful. In wanting to fight this sort of heretical view, the natural tendency is to be highly suspicious of anything a layperson does that resembles the actions of a priest.

It would be nice to come across a good theological explication of the nature of blessings, though. I’ll have to keep an eye out for something like that! :slight_smile:

If a lay person can mark a soul for Eternity by pouring water over the head of another and saying “I Baptize you in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit” then certainly one should be able to give a blessing.

   Can one give his blessings to God as a poor man  greets a rich man?  I don't know; but should not you give your blessing to God  so that  He may give you His Blessing back?   

   I guess this is a matter for a  Catholic theologian.   These days though if you greet a person at work and say  "May God Bless you"  you might be  suspended or fired!

Actually, a pagan can baptize, so… comparison not quite apt. :slight_smile:


Does provide food for thought though. I wonder how much along the lines of sacramentals all blessings are considered.

Maybe this should be taken to Ask An Apologist.

I only take my children up for blessing if I am on the side that they priest is on…kwim? Otherwise, I ask the children to stay in the pew. One time I took one of the kids with me to receive, he didn’t have his arms crossed and the EMHC gave him a blessing anyway…I didn’t want to stop him and make a scene…I guess that they are just use to doing it…

That makes a lot of sense.

Also, can’t we bless our own homes? Or do protection prayers for our home? I think so…However, would feel that a priest blessing the home would be far more effective.


I found a relevant excerpt from the Catechism:

CCC 1669 Sacramentals derive from the baptismal priesthood: every baptized person is called to be a “blessing,” and to bless. [174] Hence lay people may preside at certain blessings; the more a blessing concerns ecclesial and sacramental life, the more is its administration reserved to the ordained ministry (bishops, priests, or deacons). [175]

[174] Cf. Gen 12:2; Lk 6:28; Rom 12:14; 1 Pet 3:9.
[175] Cf. SC 79; CIC, can. 1168; De Ben 16,18.

So we are specifically called to bless by virtue of our Baptism. Just don’t go around trying to consecrate altars or anything. :wink:

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I know that this particular practice was quashed by the Vatican, though it still persists like many other liturgically erroneous practices. :slight_smile:

Perhaps… The apologists here don’t always show a knowledge of certain traditional areas that I’d love them to have at times, instead they sometimes offer deductive logic that may be at odds with what actually is how things work. But you never know.

Ever since that disastrous ‘Book of Blessings’ I’ve had a feeling the at large hierarchy itself has largely gone off on understanding what it was doing that way. And that’s an official text too.

Yes. I agree.

The German translation of “gesundheit” means, “to your health”. There is no reference to God, or in German, “Gott”. Even if it were implied, the German word would always be capitalized, regardless of where it is written in a sentence.