Goal:

The purpose of this seminar/topic is to develop the knowledge and appreciation of the participants regarding sacraments, sacramentals and blessings, and to enable the participants to apply what they have learned in their own life and share them with others.

Ato usab nga mahisayran nga:

1.      Kini nga bahin sa lecture naghisgut mahitungod sa mga Sakramento ug mga Sacramental. Ang mga Sakramento ug Sacramental migamit sa daghang mga timailhan (signs) ug mga simbolo sa ilang mga rito. Busa, aron atong masabtan ang mga Sakramento ug Sacramentals, kinahanglan atong masabtan ang kahulogan sa mga timailhan ug ang paggamit niini.

2.      Ang mga timailhan ug mga simbolo mga representations nga may laing kahulogan gawas sa ilang kaugalingon. Ang pula mahimo tan-awon nga usa ka color apan mahimo pod kini nga timailhan sa katalagman. Ang signboard nga nag-ingon STOP mahimo basahon nga pulong nga may upat ka letra apan mahimo pod kini sabton nga hunong, ayaw padayon.

3.      Sa liturhiya naggamit kita og daghang mga timailhan sama sa tubig, lana, kandila, insenso, ug uban pa, apan kini sila dili mga ordinaryong timailhan. Sila mga epektibong timailhan. Sila mga Sakramento.

References:

1.      Fr. Romeo Buenaobra

LLLM Seminar on Basic Liturgy

May 16-17, 2008 Holy Cross Spiritual Center

Calumpang, General Santos City

2.      Fr. Romeo Buenaobra

LLM Updating on Sacramentals and Blessings

May 19-20, 2009, Christ the King Spiritual Center

Koronadal City

3.      Parish Based Formation Program for Volunteer Catechists, Courses in Christian Worship (Volume 3) by Center for Catechetics and Evangelization (2004)

I.                   Opening Activity: Small Group Sharing/Sharing on Drawing Interpretation

 

II. Content Outline

I.                   The History and Development of the Sacraments and Sacramentals

A.    What is Sacrament?

B.     The Seven Sacraments

C.     The Sacraments in Particular

D.    Purpose of the Sacraments

E.     Practical Applications

II.                Nature and Kinds of Sacramentals

A.    What are Sacramentals?

B.     Kinds of Sacramentals

C.     Types of Sacramentals

D.    Power of the Sacramentals

III.             Blessings

A.    History and Development of Blessings

B.     What is a Blessing?

C.     Kinds of Blessings

D.    The Ministers of Sacramentals and Blessings

E.     Structure of Blessings

F.      The Sacramentals and Blessings in our Life

G.    Practical Suggestions

H.    Some points to be Explained

IV.             Wake Service and Devotions

A.    What is Wake Service?

B.     What are Devotions

III. Content Exposition:

 

A. Situating

Opening Activity:

1.      Give each participant a copy of the drawing. Ask them to write down the first thing that comes to their minds when they see the drawing. Tell them to write their answer on the First Column on the blank sheet of paper. Break the participants into small groups of five to seven members. Let them share their answers to the group.

2.      After everybody have shared, ask the participants to individually reflect on the deeper meaning of each drawing. Write briefly their answers on the Second Column and share again their answers to the group. This time they may only choose what they want to share. If there are those who want to share all their reflections, they may do so.

Drawing Nos. Column I Column II
1. Sunrise New day
2. Water Thirsty
3. Ring Bond
4. Fire Heat
5. “Ako ay Pilipino” Patriotic
6. Balot Filipino
7. Candle Light
8. Handshake Friendship

 

 

B. Deepening and Purifying of Responses:

These are some of your answers to our first activity. All these came into your mind when you see the drawings for the first time.

How about the second activity? When you were asked to reflect on the deeper meaning of the drawings for you, what comes into your mind or how do you feel about each or all of them?

Solicit answers:

The spiritual realities are communicated through symbols. There are realities in our lives which can only be communicated through by signs. Take for example human affection. How would you know that a man/woman is attracted to you?

  • He always looks at me
  • He gives me extra attention
  • He makes way to be noticed
  • He is generous, thoughtful and caring
  • He invites me for a dinner or a visit to their house
  • He introduces me to his family and friends

Signs and symbols are very important components of human life. Our tendency for rituals, gestures and symbols. We express our inner realities through them and we communicate by them.

The Sacraments are signs which are close to our human lives because they mark the different stages of life from birth to death.

IV. Doctrinal Input:

A. Proclamation of the Christian Message:

I. The History and Development of the Sacraments and Sacramentals:

 

Sacraments and Sacramentals have always been with the Church since the early times. But what is not known is that it took more than a thousand years (12 centuries) for the Church to clarify the nature of the Sacraments and Sacramentals and to establish the distinction between them. Up to the 12th century, the general term used to described both Sacraments and Sacramentals was the word, “sacramentum” which is a Latin translation of the Greek word, “mysterion” or ‘mystery.

The word, ‘sacramentum’ has a very broad meaning. It can refer to almost anything, from any ritual rite to any sacred sign or thing. Sacramentum can refer to words, actions, rites and practices used in religious ceremonies.

During the Middle Ages, attempts were made to clarify the nature and distinction between the Sacraments and Sacramentals. While it was recognized that some of the Church’s ceremonies were more important than others. Yet there was no agreement as to what should be considered sacraments and what should be considered sacramentals. Even theologians were divided as to the number of Sacraments. Some claim there were five, other seven or 12, even all the way up to 30.

The question was finally settled in the 13th century by the Second general Council of Lyons in 1274 and by the Council of Florence in 1430 which declared that seven of these ceremonies were more important than the rest, namely, baptism, confirmation Eucharist, penance, extreme unction, holy orders and matrimony. These were the main sacraments because they were instituted by Christ. All the rests which were not included in the list were to be called sacramentals to differentiate them from the sacraments.

Later Developments:

The Council of Trent the 16th century (1545-63) in fixed the number of sacraments to seven, no more, no less. This limited view of the sacraments was revised by Vatican II which put the sacraments in proper perspective.

Vatican II says that the secraments are not limited to the seven sacraments but that there are levels in the sacraments. At the highest level is Christ, the first or primordial sacrament. Next to Christ is the Church, the sacrament of salvation, the fundamental sacrament. Christ is Sacrament because He is the sign of the encounter between God and man. The Church is sacrament because she is the sign of unity with God and unity of all peoples. Next to the Church are the seven sacraments that are the sacraments of Christ and of His Body, the Church.

A. What is Sacrament?

1.      Ang pulong “sakramento” naggikan sa Latin nga, “sacramentum” nga ang buot ipasabot “balaan” (sacred) o “pakabalaanon” (to make sacred). Ang uban pang mga pulong nga mahimong gamiton mao ang “mystery,” “sacred mysteries” o “holy sacraments.”

2.      Ang mga Sakramento, sumala sa pagsabot sa Simbahan, mga epektibong timailhan sa grasya, nga gitukod ni Kristo ug gitugyan sa Simbahan, kansang paagi ang kinabuhing diosnon gihatag kanato (CCC 1131). Ang Sakramento usa ka “gawasnon nga timailhan nga gitukod ni Kristo aron paghatag sa grasya.”

3.      Ang mga Sakramento mga timailhan, apan dili kini sila mga ordinaryong timailhan; sila mga epektibong timailhan tungod kay aduna silay epekto. Ang epekto sa mga Sakramento naggikan sa pagdugtong sa material nga mga butang nga gigamit (matter) sa mga pulong (form), sa usa ka aksyon nga gihimo sa usa ka tinugyanan mga ministro sa nga sa Simbahan.

4.      Ang Vatican II mipadayag nga ang mga Sakramento dili lamang limitado sa pito ka Sakramento kondili adunay mga levels sa mga Sakramento. Sa itaas nga level mao si Kristo, ang una ug pinakataas nga Sakramento (the primordial Sacrament). Mosunod kay Kristo mao ang Simbahan, ang Sakramento sa kaluwasan (the fundamental Sacrament). Si Kristo Sakramento tungod kay siya mao ang timailhan sa panagtagbo (encounter) sa tawo ug sa Dios. Ang Simbahan Sakramento tungod kay siya mao ang timailhan sa paghiusa sa Dios ug sa panaghiusa sa tanang katawhan. Mosunod sa Simbahan mao ang pito ka mga Sakramento nga mao ang mga Sakramento ni Kristo ug sa Simbahan.

5.      Ang mga Sakramento mao ang nagapadayon nga mga buhat sa kaluwasan ni Kristo sa kalibutan karon. Ang mga Sakramento mga higayon sa panagtagbo sa tawo ug sa Dios. Apan kini nga mga buhat sa kaluwasan ni Kristo ug ang panagtagbo sa tawo ug sa Dios, nagakahinabo diha sa mga Sakramento pinaagi sa Simbahan.

B. The Seven Sacraments:

 

1.      Usually, however, the word ‘Sacrament’ refers to the Seven Liturgical Rites which are Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Holy Order, Matrimony, Penance and the Anointing of the Sick. We shall explain these Sacraments in detail:

2.      There are Seven Sacraments of the New Law and divided into Three Main Groups:

a.     Sacraments of Christian Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Eucharist)

b.     Sacraments of Healing (Penance, Anointing of the Sick)

c.      Sacraments at the Service of Communion (Holy Orders, Matrimony)

3.      For valid administration of each Sacrament there are four required elements: Form, Matter, Subject and Minister. The Form refers to the words spoken (formula). The Matter refers to the materials used along with the accompanying gestures (water, oil). The Subject refers to the person receiving the Sacrament (child or adult) and the Minister refers to the person administering the Sacrament (priest, bishop. Lay)

C. The Sacraments in Particular

1.      Baptism – Foundation of Christian existence, incorporates us into Christ’s Body, the Church, deputizes us to worship and service and calls us to mission and communion.

2.      Confirmation – Sacrament of “fullness,” of growth and maturity in Christ, reinforces our call to mission and communion, to be witnesses to our faith.

3.      Eucharist – the central Sacrament of the Church, the heart and summit of Church’s life, the highest form of worship that can be rendered to God. The Eucharist is Mystery, real Presence, Communion, Sacrifice, Thanksgiving, Worship and Meal. The Eucharist is a continuation of the Incarnation. (Note: a more detailed explanation of the Eucharist is given below).

4.      Penance – Sacrament of conversion, of forgiveness, of reconciliation

5.      Anointing of the Sick – Sacrament for those in danger of death, from sickness or old age.

6.      Holy Orders – Sacrament of Ordination (bishop, priest, deacon), Sacrament of the ministerial priesthood.

7.      Matrimony – Sacrament of Marriage, Sacrament of Communion of life and love.

D. Purpose of the Sacraments

 

The Constitution on Sacred Liturgy states that the purpose of the Sacraments is to sanctify people, to build up the Body of Christ and finally, to give worship to God; but being signs they also have a teaching function.

In other words, Sacraments sanctify; they build the ecclesial community; they are acts of worship; and they teach the faithful. To fully obtain their effects, the faithful should receive the Sacraments with faith and understanding. With faith, because as Sacraments of faith they presuppose and at the same time nourish the faith of those who receive them with understanding because they consist of signs by which their future and purpose are manifested.

E.    Practical Applications (taken from the DPA-I of the Diocese of Marbel)

 

 

BAPTISM:

1.      PARENTS

  • To have their child baptized within the first few weeks (c. 867)
  • To register child for Baptism one month before
  • To be married in the Church. If they cannot be validly married, parish priest decides
  • To attend pre-baptismal seminar
  • To be present during baptism
  • To choose names not foreign to Christian sentiment (c. 855).

2.      GODPARENTS

  • Catholics at least be 18 years of age
  • Only names of godparents to appear in baptismal registry. But obliged to pay required pays. Be properly instructed.
  • 1 godparent, male or female, is sufficient; but there maybe two, one for each sex (c. 873)
  • The rest are witnesses. Names may appear in baptismal certificate but should pay the required fees. Not obliged to attend pre-baptismal instruction.

3.      PLACE OF BAPTISM

  • Proper place is parish of the parents. For adult, his own parish.
  • Solemn baptism in private homes or private chapels not allowed
  • If child is to be baptized in another parish, parents to ask permission from their parish priest.

4.      BAPTISM OUTSIDE THE REGULAR SCHEDULE

  • Considered only in emergency cases or valid reasons (late).
  • No fines or extra fees to be required in such cases.

5.      SPECIAL CASES

  • Child of non-Catholic parents may be baptized if somebody takes responsibility to bring up the child in the faith
  • Adult candidates or those who completed 14th year should undergo Catechumenate and be baptized using rites for adult baptism.

6.      REGISTRATION FOR BAPTISM

  • Parents fill in Information Sheet provided by parish free of charge. Cope of child’s live birth certificate and parents’ marriage contract to be attached to I.S.
  • Format of I.S. is the same for all parishes
  • After filling in, data to be certified by proper authorities.
  • Those authorized to certify are GKK officials and others as determined by the parish.
  • One signature is needed only to certify that information given in I.S. is correct.

7.      PRE-BAPTISMAL INSTRUCTION

  • Basic course of instruction the same for all parishes. But to be evaluated every two years.
  • Attendance card to be issued free of charge and valid for three years.

8.      STOLE FEES

  • Fees for baptism to follow strictly the approved Diocesan List of Stole Fees
  • Additional fees are strictly prohibited.

CONFIRMATION:

1.      Proper age is 12 years old and above

2.      Candidates should register 1 month before confirmation, attend pre-Confirmation instructions, must be encouraged to go to confession before confirmation

3.      Sponsors should be at least 18 years old and Catholics.

4.      Registration:

a.       Information Sheet must be filled in by candidate

b.      Same format for all parishes

c.       To be certified by proper authorities

d.      Those authorized are the GKK officials

e.       One signature may suffice

f.       Such signature is needed to certify the information is correct.

g.      Confirmation Certificate maybe given with no extra charge

h.      Stole fees to follow Diocesan List

i.        No additional fees allowed.

ORDINATION:

1.      To be kept simple and within means of host parish

2.      Fundraising to be kept within the bounds of host parish

3.      Funds collected to be used strictly for ordination.

4.      Remaining balance to be forwarded to Chancery plus Financial report of Receipts and Disbursements

PENANCE:

1.      Priests to make themselves available for confession

2.      Each parish to have regular schedule for confession

3.      Communal celebration of Penance to be provided during Lent, Advent or fiesta preparation

4.      Confessional box maybe remodeled for face to face confession

5.      Inviting other priests to help in confession must have permission of parish priest

MARRIAGE:

1.      COUPLE TO BE MARRIED

  • Proper age is twenty (20) for the groom and the bride
  • Under such ages, dispensation has to be obtained (CBCP).

2.      REQUIREMENTS FOR MARRIAGE

  • Registration with the parish one month before marriage
  • Attend pre-Cana instructions
  • Submit the necessary documents for marriage

3.      MARRIAGE BANNS

  • To be announced orally or in print to the faithful for three consecutive Sundays or Holy days of obligations
  • May also be announced on other days where there is a great convergence of the faithful

4.      WITNESSES

  • Should be at least twenty one (21) years old
  • At least two witnesses are required during the ceremony.

5.      PLACE OF MARRIAGE

  • Proper place is either the parish of the bride or the parish of the groom
  • If marriage is celebrated in another parish, permission of the parish priests of both bride and groom are needed
  • No solemn marriage is allowed in private homes, private oratories or semi-private chapels

6.      REGISTRATION PROCEDURES

  • Couple fills in the “Information Sheet” provided by the parish free of charge
  • Date are to be certified by proper authorities
  • Such proper authorities are any of the following GKK Officers: GKK President, GKK Vice President, GKK Secretary, GKK Treasurer and GKK Auditor (or any other as determined by the parish).
  • One (1) signature may suffice for certification
  • Purpose of signature is only to certify that the information given in the I.S. is correct.

7.      MARRIAGE INVESTIGATION

  • Initial interview maybe done by the parish secretary
  • Final investigation should be done by the priest.

8.      MARRIAGE VALIDATIONS

  • Should be kept simple
  • It may be celebrated within the Mass

9.      WEDDING OUTSIDE THE REGULAR SCHEDULE

  • Acceptance of such weddings is left to the discretion of the parish priests
  • If allowed, rites and songs to be used are to be approved by the officiating priest

ANOINTING OF THE SICK:

1.      Priests should always make themselves available for sick calls

2.      A communal celebration of the Anointing of the Sick is to be encouraged in every parish

HOLY EUCHARIST:

First Communion:

1.      Proper age is ten (10) years old

2.      First Communicants: be given proper instructions and be encouraged to go to first confession

3.      Parents: should be properly instructed, and should be present during the ceremonies

Mass:

Mass Stipends:

1.      Only one stipend can be accepted by a priest daily. The parish priest, however, is obliged to offer a Mass “Pro populo” once a week.

2.      Stipends for binations and trinations are to be submitted or remitted to the Chancery “pro seminario.

3.      Pooling of several stipends is strictly prohibited

4.      Mass stipends for fiestas, weddings and funerals should follow the approved “Diocesan List.”

Priest Visitor (Priest not working in the Parish):

1.      Priest-visitor maybe allowed to say Mass with permission of the Parish Priest.

2.      If invited to say Mass and preach to a group, he should have permission of the Bishop

Ecumenical Celebration:

1.      Priests are not allowed to attend or preside at ecumenical celebration of the Eucharist or of other sacraments without explicit permission of the Bishop

2.      For other forms of ecumenical celebrations, a priest may attend but with caution.

 

II. NATURE AND KINDS OF SACRAMENTALS:

 

A. What are Sacramentals?

1.      According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (nos. 1667-1668) Sacramentals are sacred signs. Instituted by the Church, bearing a kind of resemblance to the Sacraments; they signify effects, particularly of a spiritual kind that are obtained through the Church’s intercession. They dispose people to receive the chief effects of the Sacraments and to make holy various occasions in life. The Sacramentals resemble the sacraments, lead them and dispose the faithful to receive them fruitfully.

2.      From the above definition we can learn that sacraments and sacramentals are similar but that they also are different from one another.

3.      Sacraments and Sacramentals are similar because they are similar in name, in the use of signs, in requirements for efficacy and in purpose.

a.       Name. Sacraments and Sacramentals both came from the same Latin word, “sacrare” which means, “to make holy or sacred,” “to consecrate or to dedicate.”

b.      Signs. Both Sacraments and Sacramentals use signs, external and visible signs which signify internal and invisible reality.

c.       Efficacy. Both Sacraments and Sacramentals have the same requirements for validity and efficacy: correct matter and form, proper intention of the person concerned, and proper authority of the minister who administers them according to the intention of the Church.

d.      Purpose. Both Sacraments and Sacramentals have the same purpose: to glorify God, to sanctify people and to build up the Church.

4.      The difference between Sacraments and Sacramentals are in the institution, they effects they produce and in number.

a.       Institution. The Sacraments were instituted by Christ (or could be traced back to Christ), while the Sacramentals are instituted by the Church (or accepted by the Church).

b.      Effects. The effects the Sacraments are immediate (“ex opera operato” meaning, automatic from the direct power of Christ); while the effects of the Sacramentals are not immediate but through the prayers of the Church and the proper disposition of the person using the sacramentals (“ex opera operantis”).

c.       Number. Another difference is in number. While the sacraments are fixed to just seven sacraments, the number of sacramentals is unlimited. The Church may institute more as she sees it.

 

B. Kinds of Sacramentals:

The Sacramentals can be classified according to their purpose or use as “Ceremonial Sacramentals” and “Devotional Sacramentals.”

1.      Ceremonial Sacramentals are sacramentals that are incorporated into the rites and celebration of the sacraments such as, lighted candles, white cloth, holy oil, etc. used in Baptism.

2.      Devotional Sacramentals are sacramentals used in private devotions such as, rosaries, novenas, religious images and pictures, etc.

 

C. Types of Sacramentals:

Sacramentals can also be divided into Prayers, Actions and Things.

1.      Sacramentals that are Prayers: liturgical year, liturgical hours, novenas, angelus, station of the cross, dedication of churches and altars, consecration of virgins, religious profession, funeral of adults and infants, institution of lectors and acolytes, blessing of oils, crowning of the images of Blessed Virgin Mary and other Blessings in the Book of Blessings, etc.

2.      Sacramentals that are Actions:  sign of the cross, genuflection, kneeling, bowing of the head, folding hands, blessing of people, washing of the feet, etc.

3.      Sacramentals that are Things: water, oil, ashes, palm, fire, candles, rosaries, relics, scapulars, medals, crucifixes, statues, altars, church buildings, vestments, wedding rings, religious habits, liturgical vessels, bells, incense and pictures of Jesus, Mary and the saints.

Some sacramentals are a combination – they fall into two or more categories. The rosary, for example, is a pious object and a prayer. The sign of the cross is a prayer and a sign. The crucifix, pictures and statues are pious objects. The actions performed in the various sacraments are also sacramentals like extending the hands, blessing of the people, etc.

D. Power of the Sacramentals:

The power of the sacramentals is not the same as that of the Sacraments. Sacraments are very powerful, nevertheless, sacramentals are still powerful as action of Christ through the prayers of the Church.

The Sacramentals can do the following:

1.      They can consecrate or dedicate persons to the service of God such as the consecration of virgins, blessings of abbots and abbesses, religious profession of nuns, sisters and brothers, commissioning of ministry leaders, etc.

2.      They can make things holy or reserve objects and places for use in the liturgy such as, holy water, holy oils, blessed palms, ashes, dedication of churches and altars, blessing of vestments, chalices, bells, etc.

3.      They can protect persons or objects from demonic possessions and drive away evil spirits. This sacramental is called exorcism such as being done during Baptism, blessing of holy water, blessing of altar which are simple exorcism to differentiate it from the solemn exorcism which requires permission of the bishop.

4.      They can sanctify or render holy various occasions in life such as, family life, personal life, animals, tools and other items useful to man.

5.      They can prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it. They are means for securing heavenly help. They excite good thoughts and pious dispositions. They increase devotion, love of God, prayer and sorrow for sin. They take away venial sins or the temporal r the temporal punishment due to sin.

 

 

III. BLESSINGS

 

A. History and Development of Blessings:

Blessings have a very long history starting from Old Testament times up to the present.

In the Old Testament we find some instances of blessings. In Genesis God blessed the work of His creation and find them good. He blessed Adam and Eve to be faithful and multiply and subdue the earth. He blessed Abraham and told him his descendants would be many as the stars in heaven and the sands in the shore. He blessed His people Israel through Moses and Aaron. We are also familiar with the story of Isaac blessing his son Jacob and Esau. We find also many blessings in  the Psalms the Psalms like, “All you creatures bless the Lord.”

In the New Testament we find instances where Jesus blessed little children by touching their heads (Mk 10:16). We heard Jesus telling His disciples to bless the house of those who welcome them and to bless even those who cursed them (Lk 6:28). Before departing, Jesus blessed His apostles (Lk 24:50).

In the early Church many Jewish customs of praying at set times of the day were also adopted by the Christian community. In the 4th century we find various blessings such as, blessing for the light, blessing of first fruits, milk and honey, water for baptism. There were also blessings for catechumens, for lay persons and for the sick, blessing for the ordination of bishops, priests and deacons, blessing of giving the veil to a virgin or wife, blessing for minor orders of porters, lectors, exorcists, acolytes, and subdeacons, blessings for betrothals, pregnant women, women who have just give birth, blessing for a newly adopted child, blessing for the crowning of a king, queen or emperor, blessing of knights and pilgrims going to the crusade. It was also during this time that many rituals of thanksgiving blessings were added into the celebration of the Eucharist.

During the Middle Ages, many other kinds of blessing arose. But many of these blessings were petitionary in nature and the stress was on consecration. Prayers of petitions and consecration were added to the celebration of the Eucharist with the belief that the power of the consecrated bread and wine at Mass would somehow be transmitted to persons and earthly things. It was also this time that many Eucharistic devotions outside Mass proliferated.

Another feature of these times was the negative view of the world as inhabited by evil spirits and demons. Many rites of exorcism arose during this time which found their way into the liturgy.

With so many rites and devotions going around the Council of Trent attempted to put order and reforms. Its effect, however, was only minimal. It only reduced some practices but it was not able to correct the too much emphasis on the priests’ power to bless and the object to be blessed.

Further attempts for reform were made in 1956 and 1962 but only for the celebration of Holy Week.

The major reform came with Vatican II (1965). Many old blessings of previous centuries were rejected and heavily reduced. The complicated rite of the Tredentine Mass which accumulated so many sacramentals and blessings was simplified. The vernacular was allowed in the liturgy. Qualified lay persons were admitted as lay ministers for some blessings. Revised formularies for blessings were drafted which emphasized the participation of the community and the sanctification of persons rather than things. One of the results of Vatican II reform is the publication of Revised Book of Blessings in 1984. The blessings are divided into five groups: blessings directly pertaining to persons,  blessings for buildings and various activities, blessings of objects for liturgical use or for public veneration by the faithful, blessings of objects serving private devotions and blessings for various needs and occasions.

 

B. What is a Blessing?

Name. Blessing is a translation of the Latin word, “benedictio” from “benedicere” which means “to say something good” or“to speak well of.” To bless, therefore, is to say something good about a person or a thing. A blessing is a liturgical action which has two components: praise of God (Upward movement) and God’s blessing to man (downward movement).

An upward movement is word or action directed to God who is the source of power and goodness, giver of all grace. This blessing is called praise and thanksgiving. Example of this blessing is the Benedictus of Zechariah: “Blessed is the Lord, the God of Israel for he has come to His people and set them free.” Or Mary’s Magnificat: “My soul magnifies the greatness of the Lord for He has looked upon His servant in her lowliness.”

A downward movement is word or action asking God for grace or favor. The blessing is called petition. Many of our prayers are of this kind: Pray before meals, Birthday prayer, etc.

C. Kinds of Blessings:

Blessings are of two kinds: constitutive (benedictio) and invocative (benedicere).

a.       Constitutive Blessings are blessings which continue to retain their sacramental character even when the blessing is over. They may be applied to persons or to things. This kind of blessing can be done only by a person who has received the power of ordination.

  • Constitutive Blessings of persons: consecration of virgins, blessing of an abbot or abbess, monastic and religious profession and similar forms of consecrated life. This kind of blessing consecrates or dedicates a person for a special service to God. In this sense the person is specially dedicated to God, set aside for service to God.
  • Constitutive Blessings of Things: blessing or dedication of a church/chapel, blessing of an altar, blessing of holy water, oils, palms, ashes, blessing of things used in the liturgy (vestments, chalice, patens), religious articles (rosaries, medals, crucifix, pictures, images, etc.). in this sense a thing that is blessed is especially dedicated for service to God, reserved for special use in the liturgy and is somehow made holy.

b.      Invocative Blessings are blessings which do not retain their sacramental character when the blessing is over. Invocative blessings can also be applied to persons, places or things.

  • Invocative blessings of Persons: Blessings of familiesin their own homes, blessing of married couple, blessing of engaged couple, blessing of children, blessing of sons and daughters, blessing of a mother before and after childbirth, blessing of the sick, blessing of elderly people confined to their home, blessing of people attending a prayer meeting, blessing of travelers, blessing of a birthday celebrant, etc.
  • Invocative blessings of places: blessing of a home or a new house, a seminary, a new religious house, a new school, a new library, a new hospital or home for the aged or senior citizens, a workplace, a gym or exercise center, a pace or office of media communications (printing office, cinema, radio and television studios, etc).
  • Invocative blessings of thing: blessing of a vehicle and various means of transportation, blessing of tools and other equipment of work, blessing of animals, blessing of fields and flocks, blessing of thanksgiving for any special occasion, blessing before and after meals, blessing of the dead, etc.

Effective blessings depend on four factors: the object or person to be blessed, the person doing the blessing, the prayers used, and the instrument employed.

o   The object or person to be blessed – Some object or person are reserved only to those who are authorized to do the blessing

o   The person who will do the blessing – Some blessings are reserved only to bishops, most blessings can be done by a priest

o   The prayers to be used – Usually prayers are prescribed by the Church or local authority to be used for the blessing

o   The instrument of blessing – It may be by laying on of hands, by stretching of hands, by hand sign of the cross, by making the sign of the cross, by using holy water, etc.

o   The gesture, “Mano po” or ‘Amen” – is not properly a blessing but a sign of respect. To make it a blessing the words, “May God bless you” should be said.

o   The use of Holy water by an authorized person and without the prescribed prayer has doubtful effect.

In the Diocese of Marbel the things allowed to Laycos to bless are the following: funeral blessing, blessing of the tombs, house blessing, blessing of vehicles, and seed for planting.

Other kinds of blessings can be done by anybody: blessing of food, blessing for occasions (birthday, anniversary, graduation), invocations including wake service.

D. The Ministers of Sacramentals and Blessings:

Principle: The more a sacramental or blessing concerns ecclesial and sacramental life, the more is its administration reserved to the ordained ministry (CCC, 173).

The ministers of sacramentals and blessings can be divided into ordinary ministers and extraordinary ministers.

1.      Ordinary ministers are the ordained ministers, namely, bishops, priests and deacons

2.      Extraordinary ministers are the lay or non-ordained namely, religious brothers and sisters, instituted lectors and acolytes, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion (Laycos and lay Eucharistic ministers) and others who may also preside at blessings like catechists, family and life workers, KRISKA Alagads, lay liturgists and youth leaders.

 

The CCC prescribes that certain blessings pertaining to ecclesial and liturgical life are reserved to the clergy. Some ecclesial and liturgical blessings, however, are specified to bishops, many to priests and a few to deacons.

1.      Blessings reserved to a bishop are the consecration of a virgin, religious profession, dedication of a church, dedication of an altar and blessing of church bells. It is the bishop also who can grant permission to a priest to perform a solemn exorcism.

2.      It belongs to the prerogative of the bishop to install a parish priest, to preside at the institution of a lector and acolyte and to commission Laycos and Eucharistic ministers. He may also wish to preside at the commissioning of other diocesan ministry leaders such as, catechists, family and life workers, KRISKA Alagads, lay liturgists, youth leaders and social action workers, (Note: But the bishop may delegate some priests to do this).

3.      Blessings which can be done by Priests. Most blessings not reserved to bishops can be done by a priest. Many of these blessings concern persons, places and things. But it is to be noted that for blessings which are constitutive in nature, like blessings of religious articles and blessings of things for use in the liturgy, are reserved to the priests.

4.      Blessings which can be done by a deacon. These blessings are not as many as priests as for priests. These blessings are few in number and are indicated in the Book of Blessings.

5.      Blessings which can be done by lay persons. According to CCC, the basis of blessings is our own baptism by which we receive the baptismal priesthood. God has called us to be a blessing and to bless (CCC, 1669). From this it is clear that lay persons can also bless.

The blessings of lay persons, however, are not the same as those performed by priests. The blessings of lay persons are invocative blessings, that is, they are blessings whose sacramental character do not remain after the act of blessing is done.

  • The Book of Blessings lists down blessings which can be done by the Lay:

o   Blessing of homes and other buildings

o   Blessing of vehicles and other means of transportation

o   Blessing of animals, tools and farm equipments

o   Blessing of persons like members of the family, married couples, children, the sick and the elderly

o   Blessings for various occasions like birthday, anniversary and funeral and wake service for the dead

  • It should be noted that for most of these blessings, the prescribed prayers of the Church should be followed. The format of the blessings is also different from those of the priest. For example, there is no greeting like “The Lord be with you.” The lay preside does not raise his hands for the prayer, and he does not bless the people as the priest does. This is because the lay preside must maintain his role as lay and must not imitate the priest.
  • The usually instrument for liturgical blessings allowed for lay persons are the sign of the cross (before and after the blessing) and holy water which may be sprinkled.

E. Structure of Blessings:

Blessing may be solemn or simple. The rite of a solemn blessing is more formal and long. A simple blessing is a much shorter version.

The Structure of a Solemn Blessing follows this format:

1.      Introductory Rite

2.      Reading of the Word of God

3.      General Intercessions

4.      Prayer of Blessing

5.      Concluding Rite

F. The Sacramentals and Blessings in our Life:

Among Sacramentals, blessings come first. What can be said of blessings can also be said about sacramental:

1.      Blessings glorify God. Through them we give thankful praise to God, the origin and giver of every blessing. Through them we ultimately give worship to God.

2.      Blessings are anamnesis or remembrances. When we bless we gratefully remember that we and the things around us are already blessed by creation and redemption.

3.      Through blessings we experience God’s blessing continuously by conserving us in existence. His blessings consistin His being with us, in remaining with us and in continuing His care of us.

4.      We obtain the fullness of this blessing through the paschal mystery of Christ, through the continuous application of the salvation by Jesus through His death and resurrection.

5.      When we bless we praise God and we petition for His salvation. When we bless we communicate the love of God that we have received and share it with others.

6.      When we bless we receive grace to worship God duly and to practice charity.

 

G. Practical Suggestions:

1.      Prayer of praise and petition. How do you pray? Always petition?

2.      Every person can be a blessing. How can you be a blessing?

3.      Each person is called to bless. Hoe can you do this?

4.      How can you sanctify your daily life?

5.      How do you plan a simple rite of blessing for a recollection?

6.      What is more important the blessing of a house or the blessing of those who live in it?

7.      What is more important the blessing of a car or the blessing of the passengers who ride in it?

H. Some points to be Explained:

1.      The intention of the person receiving the blessing

2.      The intention of the Church in the blessing

3.      The prayers of the church in the blessing

4.      The authority of the bishop over blessings and devotions

5.      Proper Disposal of Unused Sacramentals

6.      Sacramentals in the sacraments

7.      Sacramentals in the Mass

8.      Spontaneous Prayer

 

IV. Wake Service

 

A. What is Wake Service?

1.      Wake Service is a prayer for the dead which is held in the home, funeral parlor or church. It is also called Vigil Service or Watch Service because it is usually done a day or so before the burial or before the deceased is brought to the church for funeral rites.

2.      Since it is a prayer service 9not a funeral service), the wake service can be led by a lay minister or by any lay person. Thus, it can be led by a catechist, a KRISKA Alagad, a family and life worker, a lay liturgist or a youth leader.

3.      A wake service is optional and not obligatory. The purpose is to visit the body and offer condolences to the bereaved. If done, the wake service is held only once and not everyday. Neither does it substitute for the traditional prayers for the dead which should go on as usual

B. What are Devotions

1.      Devotions are prayers and practices that are private in nature. They are not official prayers of the Church, but some are authorized by the Church and others are recognized by the local Ordinary.

2.      Examples: Rosary, Station of the Cross, Novenas, First Friday Devotions, May Devotions, 3 O’clock Prayer, etc.

C. Application:

 

 

Prepared by: Fr. Joseph S. Benitez

May 30, 2009

Back to: New Modules for Training Laycos