October 6, 2009

What Can a Deacon Bless?

Our brand new transitional deacon, ordained this past Saturday, wrote me an email asking clarification about those things to which he could now impart blessings. Most ordinary blessings are open to deacons, but some blessings--especially those that deal with the public cult and veneration of the Church--are not.

So I went through my trusty De Benedictionibus, an impulse buy for 41 euro when we were in Rome two summers ago, and made a list of those things a deacon can bless:

Water (i.e. "make" holy water), rosaries, holy pictures and statues destined for private veneration, medals, and personal religious articles in general. Families, couples, children, women before or after giving birth, old folks, sick folks, catechists, catechetical meetings, parish meetings, pilgrims, travelers, new homes, new schools and universities, new libraries, new hospitals, offices and shops, vehicles, technical equipment and tools, animals, fields and flocks, first fruits, and tables and meals.

Certain blessings, however, require a member of the priestly order. They include:

The blessing of a cathedra, ambo, tabernacle, of fonts and baptisteries, images of the Lord and the saints for public veneration, new church doors, bells, and organs, cemeteries, seminaries, and missionaries.


ben in denver said...

I'm so glad you posted this. A friend of mine was ordained a transitional deacon on 9/26, and will be ordained a priest in May of next year, God willing. I had been planning on getting him the 3 volume Roman Ritual by Fr. Weller for his priestly ordination, but he has reminded me that as a Deacon he has the authority to bless. Therefore I was thinking about getting him volume III for Christmas.


Then following with volumes I & II at the priestly ordination. From your experience, would you say that he would be able to make good use of volume III as a deacon?

Qualis Rex said...

Father Charles, Interesting list! Out of theological curiosity; why would a religious object for private worship (i.e. an icon or statue) need a blessing from a priest/deacon or otherwise? Just curious as to what the intention of the blessing is. Thanks!

Maria said...

Thanks Father for this post. Believe it or not, this is a question I've always wondered the answer to this question myself.

Brother Charles said...


Volume 3 is very useful, and would be a great gift. However, certain very commonly requested blessings, e.g. rosaries, are not included in Volume 3, because they used to be reserved to certain communities, e.g. rosaries to Dominicans, Stations of the Cross to Franciscans, Brown Scapulars to Carmelites, etc. All of these are in volume 2.

Mark in Spokane said...

Thanks for posting this. Nice to know what kind of blessings St. Francis would have been authorized to do...

I always have found it fascinating that St. Francis -- one of the top three or four saints in the Christian tradition (right after Mary, St. Augustine and maybe Thomas Aquinas) was never a priest. And he wasn't all that crazy about being ordained a deacon!


Lee Strong said...

On a more humorous note, our parish deacon claims that he blesses the candy that's used for parish fundraisers so that they no longer have calories.

But why did he wink when he told me that as I bought a couple of candy bars?

Brother Charles said...

The reverend deacon might reflect on how calories are a measure of energy, and are thus related to the positive force of creation.

Elizabeth D said...

Bear in mind that if a blessed object is sold, it loses its blessing. Therefore if you buy candy, make sure you get it blessed AFTER purchased.