Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Another Reading From the Book of Joe

February 15th, 2011, Promulgated by Dr. K

Yesterday I shared with our dear readers a column by Fr. Joseph Marcoux through which he responds to a parishioner’s complaint about liturgical irregularities at St. Catherine of Siena in Ithaca. Shortly after the article was posted, an e-mail was sent to me directing my attention to another Fr. Marcoux defense of an innovated liturgical practice. The practice, as I’m sure many of you have seen at one point or another in this diocese, is the invitation for lay people to extend their hands in blessing during the Mass.

Here is Father’s explanation of why he encourages his parishioners to engage in this practice, with a little emphasis and commentary:

A few weeks ago a parishioner asked me to explain why I invite the community to extend their hands in blessing. I usually do this when we send our children and their teachers off to the Children’s Liturgy of the Word [a terrible practice in my opinion as these children LotWs divide the Body of Christ by segregating our worship, disrupt the flow of our liturgy when we have the kids scurry off and then come running back to their pews during the Creed, and assigns lay people duties suited to priests/deacons, such as proclaiming the Gospel and delivering a homily on the readings] and when we send our ministers of communion to our nursing homes. I thought the answer would be beneficial to the entire community.

The source of every good gift is God, who is all good and made all things good so that all creation might be filled with God’s blessing.

Offering a blessing upon one another has its foundation in our sacred texts. Right from the beginning God blesses creation: be fruitful and multiply; God blesses Abraham and Sara. Blessings are not only a gift from God, but also a teachable moment: God shows Sarah and Abraham how to bless and to be a blessing. I am sure everyone is familiar with the famous blessing of Jacob by his father Isaac. After the Exodus story, Moses commissions Aaron and his sons to bless the Israelites (cf. Num. 6, 22-ff). God empowers us to bless one another. The entire First [Old] Testament is riddled with blessings. Blessings are an integral part of our tradition [Also a part of our tradition is the right of the Church to regulate its worship; not individual priests or laypersons].

In the fullness of time, God sent the Christ, who took our flesh, who gave us the gift of the Spirit to empower us to become a blessing for others. In the Second [New] Testament, everything that Jesus does is an invitation to his disciples to do as well. So when Jesus blesses those whom he encounters, especially children (cf, Lk. 19, 13-ff), so also should we!

In our tradition we even have a Book of Blessings! In the general introduction of the Book of Blessings it clearly states that God’s blessing upon Abraham finds its fulfillment in Christ. God’s blessing flows through Christ to those called to new life by means of the gift of the Spirit who showers every spiritual blessing upon them. These disciples become God’s children and heirs of the kingdom. So as heirs and members of Christ’s Body, we continue his blessing through our hands. Our response to this membership is to spread the same Spirit to everyone so as to bring God’s healing blessing to the world.”

In this long and winding response, Father not once cites a piece of Church documentation which permits such blessings by lay people during the liturgy. There is a reason: there does not exist any rubric in the Order of Mass, or in any instruction on the Mass, which calls for lay persons to confer blessings during the liturgy. What Fr. Marcoux is doing, and what many progressives like to do, is to extract something that happened in the Bible, and insert it into the Mass on their own authority. Think about liturgical dance. We read in the Bible about the Israelites celebrating their victories in battle by praising God with dance while striking drums. Far too many progressive Catholics have taken this spontaneous act of jubilation, outside of Synagogue worship mind you, and forcefully inserted it into the Catholic Mass citing these biblical passages as their reason.

The Church is the one to regulate our Catholic worship, and the Church alone. Priests, lay persons, and deacons can not add or subtract anything to/from the Mass on their own. See this post from earlier today for proof. The Church has also specifically addressed the issue of lay people conferring blessings during the Mass. What did the Church say? It is not permitted.

Here is a response from the Congregation for Divine Worship about this very subject:

“2. Lay people, within the context of Holy Mass, are unable to confer blessings. These blessings, rather, are the competence of the priest (cf. Ecclesia de Mysterio, Notitiae 34 (15 Aug. 1997), art. 6, § 2; Canon 1169, § 2; and Roman Ritual De Benedictionibus (1985), n. 18). “

It’s as simple as that. The Congregation for Divine Worship has ruled that lay people may not bless others within the context of the Mass. No Fr. Joe or Sr. Joan can change this on their own.

The priests of this diocese need to stop treating the Mass like it’s their own personal plaything. Follow the rubrics and offer the Mass with all your heart. That is sufficient for good worship!

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7 Responses to “Another Reading From the Book of Joe”

  1. Bernie says:

    I’m sure these fellows are all very nice men but really …such nonsense.

  2. Mike says:

    From John Martignone

    I heard it said once that there is a shortage of vocations to the priesthood in the United States, but no shortage of vocations to the Papacy!

  3. Monk says:

    “From the Book of Joe”….that pretty much says it all!

  4. John F. Kennedy says:

    We can offer blessings only on those who we have Authority over. Parents can bless their children, but not someone else’s children. All of the evidence the Priest cited involved God, his Priests and or Prophets, people who had Authority.

    Our Priest doesn’t like it when it happens. He calls them “Seig Heil” blessings

  5. Gretchen says:

    If we gather a large group of (prayer) warriors to march around the outside of the cathedral for a week, can we make the walls fall on the seventh day? (See Joshua 6:1-5)

  6. Nerina says:



  7. Eliza10 says:

    When someone from the DOR leadership uses some snippet of scripture or of church history to explain their imposed new practices at Mass, such as Father Marcoux does here, its just lame. Can’t people justify ANYTHING with a Bible verse? Also with two thousand years of Church history, anyone can pull out an “ancient practice” to prove that tradition backs ANYTHING you want to throw into the Mass. The manipulation makes me mad. And I think others who read this bulletin – like young people who might otherwise consider vocations, or Protestants who otherwise might consider converting – must think priests live dull and uninspired lives indeed if they have nothing but this boorishness to write in the bulletin.

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