The setting: a large urban parish, where several hundred people attend the main Sunday Masses. Communion is offered in both kinds. Lay extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion help the celebrant administer it.
A good number of communicants approach the extraordinary or ordinary minister of Communion with arms crossed, asking for a blessing in lieu of Communion; or they themselves receive but ask for a blessing for the child who is with them. What do the extraordinary ministers say?
For purposes of this discussion only, let us avoid some of the answers and related tropes that frequently show up in online liturgy discussions:
- “Laypeople do not need to receive in both kinds.”
- “Extraordinary ministers should be banned.”
- “Communion is not the time to ask for a blessing, because the entire assembly receives a blessing at the end of Mass.”
- “Lay extraordinary ministers cannot bless anyone or anything. They are firing blanks.”
All of those answers, and many more like them, can be found in the usual places.
In this case let us set them aside and assume that Holy Communion will be given in both kinds, that there will be lay extraordinary ministers of Communion, and that people will ask for blessings. In fact, the parish priest actively encourages those who do not wish to receive to “ask the priest or the minister for a blessing by crossing your arms.”
To start the conversation: picking up on the insightful ‘quantum theology’ post, why could the extraordinary minister not say, “May God bless you”?
What other brief prayer of blessing would be appropriate for lay ministers to use in this situation?