Ask a Priest – Can Lay People Give Blessings?

21 Jun

Jun 21, 2012

Can lay people give blessings, and if so, what are they? Can a lay person make the sign of the cross over someone? Can children bless their parents?

There are different types of blessings:

  1. Constitutive. These permanently bring about the dedication of a person or object in the service of the Church. For example the blessing of an altar.
  2. Invocative. These ask God for help to those who are in need or those who will use certain objects.

Who is the proper person to bless depends on the type of blessing. Objects for general use in a parish or diocese are normally blessed by the bishop. For example, the dedication of an altar, the blessing of the oils on Holy Thursday.

Blessings that are more limited, such as religious objects, homes, etc. are normally carried out by a priest or deacon. Blessing for the life of a family are done by parents. For example, the blessing before a meal, the blessing of children.

Making the sing of the cross over a person would normally only be done by a deacon, priest or bishop. But a lay person can use the formula of Father, Son and Holy Spirit if you wish. Normally it would be a parent, in view of their authority over their children, who would bless a child, not a child their parents.

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