“Ask a Priest: How Should I Ask for a Blessing at Communion Time?”

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Q: At Communion time, what is the proper way to ask for a blessing if you are unable to receive Communion? – Jeanne

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: This might come as a surprise, but the Roman Missal mentions nothing about the reception of blessings at communion time. It simply doesn’t foresee this act.

Everyone in the congregation is covered by the final blessing at the end of Mass, so going up for one at communion time is superfluous.

Since laypeople are prohibited from giving blessings at Mass, for someone to present herself for a blessing would put an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion in an awkward position.

A more pressing reason not to seek a blessing is that the distributor of Communion might be tempted to give a blessing with the Host itself. That would amount to Benediction, which is reserved to priests and deacons at Eucharistic adoration and then only under precise guidelines.

In short, if someone won’t be receiving Communion, it’s better that the person remain in the pew and make a spiritual communion.

There are some places and countries, however, in which the local bishops have permitted and even encourage this practice of seeking a blessing.

This is usually in places where there is a high percentage of interdenominational marriages, and the non-Catholic partner accompanies his or her family to Mass in such a way that all approaching the altar is a sign of family unity.

In such cases one should usually approach a priest or deacon with whatever gesture is recommended so as to receive a blessing. This often means having the arms crossed over the breast.


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