A child walks with his or her parents as they go up to receive the Holy Eucharist at communion time during the Mass. This child has not reached the age to receive yet, so they cross their arms over their chest in order to receive a blessing instead. Does the Church allow “extra ordinary minister of Holy Communion” to give a blessing to this child as a priest or deacon?
In many local Parish churches, you will find this practice to some degree, but is it allowed? Does the Church have an official teaching on this type of blessing for those individuals who cannot receive the Holy Eucharist? Actually, the rubics for the Mass does not call for a blessing to be given in this situation and is silent with regards to this. The official blessing is given by the priest at the end of Mass to everyone in the church. So, if it is not formally written in the rubics, then we are to error on the side of not adding to the Mass what is not spoken of. That said, what should be done about this practice? We’ll, it basically falls on the discretion of the pastor at the local level.
You see, a lay person does not have the power, ability or the authority to confer a blessing in the way that a bishop, priest or a deacon does. For example: A father can give his own children blessings because of his state of marriage, that sacrament of Holy Matrimony that includes the blessing of parents for there children. But that is at a level that is very different than the clergy.
So, what does the lay minister do when confronted with someone coming up to receive a blessing at communion? Well, touching the person on the shoulder and saying “God bless you,” just as you would say to someone who had just “sneezed.” But again, your pastor is one that needs to clarify this practice at the local level.
Until next time, God bless.