My dear new family of St. Dominic Parish:
“Why doesn’t that new priest bless children as they come up to communion?” someone recently asked. I was surprised when I heard this because it has always been a cherished moment for me when kids (and others) ome up in the communion line with their arms crossed. The blessing I have been giving is with the Blessed Sacrament itself. As I hold up the host, I look at the person intently and pray, “May you receive Jesus Christ in your heart, mind and soul!” As a newcomer to the Archdiocese, I was surprised to see that this is the only way the Archdiocese permits a “blessing” for those coming up in the communion procession but not receiving.
Communion time is not the moment for blessings other than that of the Blessed Sacrament, according to church teaching (though I still make an exception for babies). This comes as a shock to those of us who are accustomed to the minister making a sign of the cross over the child or touching their head or shoulder. After Mass is the best time for this sort of special blessing, and I’m quite used to praying individually over children or whomever, (and even blessing things) at that time. For that reason, I now keep the holy water bucket up near the foot of the altar so that we can share in the joy of God’s blessing us with life through the sign of God’s gift to us in baptism!
So, even though we may not touch your children at Communion time, please keep bringing them up to approach and be blessed by the Sacrament they will one day be receiving, and bring them up for special, more personal blessings after Mass!