Monday, 14 June 2021

Ask Father: Can Deacons Use the Rituale Romanum To Bless Things?

A question that would never have occurred to me, but then I'm not a deacon, we have no permanent deacons in the Diocese, and I don't know any transitional deacons.

From Fr Z's Blog

From a  deacon….

QUAERITUR:

Is it your opinion that a deacon can use most of the blessings contained in the older form of the Ritual?  I took this for granted during formation for diaconal ordination, and totally dismissed the Book of Blessings as a fundamentally impotent book.  Just prior to Ordination I stumbled onto a blog that suggested that while deacons & priests can use the Book of Blessings, only priests can use the blessings in the older Ritual.  This person stipulated that a Bishop would need to impart faculties for deacons to use the older Ritual for blessings.
During our formation the liturgical formator (who is general pretty solid and orthodox) suggested we bypass the Book of Blessings and use the older Ritual for blessings “if we indeed actually want something blessed”.  Today a person asked me to bless their car after Mass, and I used the generic blessing in the Book of Blessings, chagrined!  I know there is a blessing for that in the older book and it actually blesses the vehicle!

The new-fangled Book of Blessings (De Benedictionibus) is problematic.  If you read the introduction, you find an attempt to change the theology and praxis of blessings, to eliminate the distinction between constitutive and invocative blessings.  Effectively, it reduces all the blessings to invocative blessings.  If memory serves there is only one blessing (one the options for a Rosary… the traditional prayer…) which actually blesses something.   The prayers in the Book of Blessings call God’s blessing down on someone who might look at a sacred image, rather than bless the image itself.

That said, for what it’s worth, there 21 (I think I got that right) things in the Book of Blessings which deacons can bless.  They include, medals, small crucifixes statues or pictures that will be displayed elsewhere than in a church or chapel, scapulars, rosaries, or other articles used in religious devotions. Deacons may bless rosaries.  With this Novus Ordo book deacons may also bless holy water… well… “happy water”, but only outside the context of Holy Mass (obviously at Mass a priest is present). Deacons may bless private homes.

Deacons may NOT use most of the blessings in the older, traditional Rituale Romanum.   The Rituale says that deacons may only bless things they are expressly allowed to bless.  However, try to find one in the Rituale.   There is no provision for a bishop to give a deacon the ability to bless things with the older Rituale.

So, I regret to say that deacons really cannot bless much, since there is but one constitutive blessing in the Book of Blessings and, I think, none in the Rituale Romanum.

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