Blessings throughout the Year

Christ blesses the children.

I mentioned on Sunday, in my post about the Blessing of Throats, that there used to be a wide variety of blessings offered throughout the year as a matter of practice. Most of these can still be used; the problem is that many people simply do not know about them.

In the Latin Rite Church today there are two main books governing blessings that are in force: the so-called Book of Blessings (that corresponds with the newer form of the liturgy), and the older Roman Ritual volume on the blessings.

The Book of Blessings contains a wide variety, but many priests are not very fond of it because of the form that it uses for the prayers, which is based on a theological approach to blessings that perhaps is not very widely held and has never really caught on. Without getting into all of the details and so forth, an example will suffice: instead of the priest’s saying, “May Almighty God bless [this thing]” – which is basically how most folks expect a blessing to be – it will say something like, “May we be blessed as we use [this thing]”. That’s nice, but people receive blessings all the time (for example, at every Mass), and sometimes we want something else to receive a blessing as well! Even still, this book is officially-approved, foresees a wide variety of situations in which a blessing may be desired, and can be used with profit at special times and occasions throughout the year.

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The older Roman Ritual, on the other hand, contains blessings in a traditional form that most people intuitively expect and desire. And ever since Pope Benedict XVI decreed that the older liturgical books (i.e., those in force in 1962) were never abrogated and could be used freely, it is possible for priests to use these older blessings as well. The prayers are usually extremely beautiful, and moreover, scriptural. And almost all of them, although officially in Latin, can be used in English, with the translation provided in the book.

Here are some examples of the blessings contained in this volume:

– Blessing of Wheelchairs
– Blessing of Mountain-Climbing Equipment
– Blessing of Any Kind of Medicine
– Blessing of Beer
– Blessing of An Expectant Mother
– Blessing of Children
– Blessing of a Sick Adult (perhaps when their illness does not merit the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick)
– Deprecatory Blessing against Pests (I believe the priest needs permission from the Bishop to use this one)
– Blessing of an Apartment or Home
– Blessing to Ward Off Floods
– Blessing and Exorcism of the Medal of St. Benedict

This is just a selection, in no particular order. (A full list, as well as all the prayers, etc. can be found by browsing sections XI and XV of this page.) Without doing a thorough comparison, I would say that at least half of those that I listed above are not found in the newer Book of Blessings. So the older Ritual can also be used in a complementary form – i.e., “both/and”!

It is to be hoped that there will be a resurgence in interest in the special blessings that Holy Mother Church grants to us throughout the year and on the particular occasions that life brings (sickness, pregnancy, travel, etc.). To that end, you might gently encourage your priest to offer these blessings as a matter of course in the parish’s calendar of events.

Related to the idea of making greater use of the Church’s liturgical treasures, I would like to refer priests again to my previous post, “Ordinary Time Variety“, about the ways that votive Masses and Masses for Special Needs can be used during the season of Ordinary Time, and in particular, the Masses that were traditionally celebrated on certain days of the week.

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