Monday, January 12, 2009

Now I preface this post with the notification that I have reviewed what is about to follow with a very trustworthy traditional priest and have obtained his imprimatur. Please let it be known that I am not advocating the fictitious non-blessings that occur at so many Novus Ordo Masses when the extraordinary monster places his or her hand on the head of a non-communicant. Or, as one person I know so affectionately refers to this novel modern phenomenon, I am not advocating the wanton "shooting of blanks" by a bunch of non-ordained laymen. I believe what is to follow is a beautiful old custom which may have significant merits and blessings solely in the realm of the intimate biological parent-child family bond. I pass this along to any other parent who might want to bring this tradion into their family home.

Now, with the above said, I came accross the idea of the Parental Blessing when one of Dostoevsky's characters in Brothers Karamazov gave one of his sons such a blessing. And then there was a disscussion of such a blessing on Fr. Z's blog the other day and one person quoted something Pope Benedict had written on the subject in one of his recent books about it being a custom which needed to be restored. So I looked it up on Fish eaters to find out more about it and this is what I found:

"Parents should also bless their children, at the least on the Lord's Day. The traditional way of doing this is for the children to kneel and for the parent to either place his hands on the child's head and/or trace a Cross on the child's forehead while saying: May Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, bless you, my child(ren), for time and eternity, and may this blessing remain forever with you. Amen.

St. Ambrose wrote of this practice: You may not be rich; you may be unable to bequeath any great possessions to your children; but one thing you can give them; the heritage of your blessing. And it is better to be blessed than to be rich."

It seems like such a beautiful tradition to me and it seems that with all the temptations facing our children if mothers and most especially fathers would take the time to reinstate this tradition in their homes, it just might be a formidable weapon helpful in protecting the Catholic family from the world and the enemy.



Blogger Kevin - "pax tecum" said...

I should probably perform these actions in a more formal manner, but I often trace the Sign of The Cross on my children's head when I tuck them into bed... with a short prayer of "Jesus"

2:53 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Thank you for this post. I bless my son every night, but in my care not to try to be a priest, which I'm not, I have resorted to use a formula which I know lay people may use as it's said at the end of Morning and Evening Prayer with the Divine Office: "May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life." But I have always felt that praying that the Lord may bless "us" instead of my saying "you" was a bit less direct than what I mean in assuming the role of blessing my son. This formula you post is much more directly addressed to the child being blessed, and I will now use this one confidently.

3:19 PM  
Blogger RayT said...

This is still done today in many Latino families. The children ask for parents & grandparents blessing (bendicion) before going to bed or leaving the house. Unfortunately, like many other things, this practice is not as common as it once was.

3:30 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

Dear Confiteor and fellow Cave-dwellers,

I'm an avid reader but first-time commenter who has been using your blog to learn more about the "old school" ways of the Catholic Faith. So I have a question about something you mentioned in today's post; I hope it's not too off-topic.

Regarding a non-communicant coming forward for a blessing at the Eucharist, is that practice *intrinsically* wrong? I.e. if a non-communicant earnestly desires to receive the Lord but is not able to take Communion for whatever reason, is it intrinsically wrong for him/her to come forward for a blessing? Does this put too much emphasis on the desires of the n.c. and not enough on the majesty of the Eucharist? Or is it because the one doing the blessing is often a lay person rather than a duly-ordained priest? Or is there some other reason?

I confess to complete ignorance in this matter; please enlighten me!


4:09 PM  
Blogger Vir Speluncae Catholicus said...

Hiya Erin,
First off, thanks for posting!

Now as far as what you were asking, I wouldn't say that the Nervous Disorder... whoops, I mean Novus Ordo... practice that you described is *intrinsically* wrong (keeping in mind that intrinsically means that no good can ever become of it, such as abortion or active homosexuality).

But I will say that I think it's redundant, in light that not too long after Communion is done being distributed to the Faithful, the priest gives a blessing to the entire congregation. So if anything, I look upon this "Communion, but not really Communion, blessing" as not only redundant, but just another way the N.O. fosters the entire selfish "look at me!" mentality, as well as the "we're ALL priests" neo-Prot stupidity.

Just my 2 cents worth.

5:51 PM  
Blogger Confiteor said...

Hey thanks for the comments. Its great to read the examples of such good Catholic fathers.

Erin -

For the best answer and explanation of what is wrong with communion blessings in general and with lay communion blessings in particular, I would suggest you ask a good orthodox and tradition minded priest.

However, in my own opinion (which is not worth very much at all), the main problem is not necessarily with receiving a blessing during communion, but it is with some lay extraordinary minister of communion attempting to do something which by his or her very nature they have absolutely no ability to do. In short lay blessings during communion is just one more subtle attack on the priesthood. And quite frankly it is just absurd. Hence the phrase "shooting blanks."

8:28 PM  
Blogger Confiteor said...

Erin -

I also just wanted to say that I am so pleased to hear you are actively searching for Truth. Please know that God has indeed blessed you with the desire to know Him. The older I get the more I am continuously amazed at how the vast majority of people are just content to meander through life in complete ignorance. Anyway, may God bless you and keep you and may your journey bring you home to the fullness of the one true faith.

And if you want a suggestion, one good source for referencing all things Catholic is this website:

Just let me know if you would like any other good reading or reference suggestions. Online or otherwise.

Dominus Vobiscum,


8:36 PM  
Blogger Smiley said...


I am not sure if you have heard of 'Communion of Desire' or 'Spiritual Communion' It is as follows

My Jesus,
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment
receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You.


Is this not much much better than

8:42 PM  
Blogger Former Altar Boy said...

As #1 Caveman said, the blessing you asked about is another of those "ad libs" that someone inserted into the Novus Ordo (now called the Ordinary Form). You will not see it done at most traditonal Latin Masses (now known as the Extraordinary Form).

Some of the other traditiosns jettisoned by the Modernists after Vatican II (though you won't find it in ANY Vat2 document) that you may want to investigate include (among others):
-the St. Blase blessing for protection for of the throat (coming up in early Feb.)
-the Advent wreath
-meatless Fridays
-offering up pains or discomforts for the Poor Souls in Purgatory.

8:55 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

Dear Cave Dwellers,

Wow, I didn't mean to hijack the thread! But thank you very much for the explanation and the additional sources. I'm a bit of a research wonk and not comfortable with easy answers, so it's sometimes hard to find an advisor who will go there with me. I will definitely check out Fisheaters. And if I need other sources, I'll just have to post another comment, since you all don't post email addresses. :)

And Confiteor- thanks for the encouraging words-- no one comes easily to the Truth but sometimes a little encouragement can make it easier to keep going (even if it seems uphill both ways).

Best regards,

1:35 AM  
Blogger Enbrethiliel said...


Hi, Confiteor.

I have a question about the parental blessing. Is it reserved for the father or is it something the mother can do, too?

6:29 AM  
Blogger Vir Speluncae Catholicus said...

Oh no! No hijacking! In fact, you've asked a great question.

Keep 'em coming!

9:47 AM  
Blogger Confiteor said...

Enbrethiliel -

From everything I have read so far on the matter, the parental blessing is something that can be given by both the mother and the father. I emphasized the father in my post just because the father is the spiritual head of the family and it is with him who God has especially entrusted the souls of the mother and children. However, I would think that such a blessing coming from a mother would be equally efficacious and praiseworthy.

In fact, this is what someone has quoted Pope Benedict as saying in his recent book, The Spirit of the Liturgy:

"I shall never forget the devotion and heartfelt care with which my father and mother made the sign of the Cross on the forehead, mouth, and breast of us children when we went away from home, especially when the parting was a long one. This blessing was like an escort that we knew would guide us on our way. It made visible the prayer of our parents, which went with us, and it gave us the assurance that this prayer was supported by the blessing of the Savior. The blessing was also a challenge to us not to go outside the sphere of this blessing. Blessing is a priestly gesture, and so in this sign of the Cross we felt the priesthood of parents, its special dignity and power. I believe that this blessing, which is a perfect expression of the common priesthood of the baptized, should come back in a much stronger way into our daily life and permeate it with the power of the love that comes from the Lord."

12:32 PM  
Blogger Kit said...

I bless mine each day when they leave for school, and the baby at naptime. Just one of my "mommy things" as the Cheerleader calls it...

11:37 PM  
Blogger Enbrethiliel said...


Thank you, Confiteor. That's a lovely quote, too. =)

1:18 AM  

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