Issuing a Solemn Blessing

by Deacon Tim Kelly

…. “I was recently discussing with a parishioner why we begin Mass in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, but we conclude Mass with, May Almighty God bless you . . . . . the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  She asked what happened to “in the name of”?”

Issuing a Solemn Blessing

by Deacon Tim Kelly

I was recently discussing with a parishioner why we begin Mass in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, but we conclude Mass with, May Almighty God bless you . . . . . the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  She asked what happened to “in the name of”?

Since I looked it up, I thought I’d pass on what my research disclosed.  Please pass this on to any other clergy you hear using the wrong formula.

When we, as mere mortal human beings, act liturgically, we act “in the name of” the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  See, for example, the Roman Missal, “The Introductory Rites,” page 365, where the priest begins Mass with the words, “In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

However, when ordained clergy issues a dismissal-style or solemn blessing, or is requested to give someone a blessing, the clergyman acts to request that God, Himself, bless someone. The clergyman does not do the blessing himself. Thus, the clergyman issues this blessing on behalf of God by the formula, “May Almighty God bless you . . . . the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”  while making the Sign of the Cross with his right hand. See, for example, page 523 of the Roman Missal, “The Concluding Rites.”

This is so because we, as mere mortals, are not doing the actual blessing, per se. We are requesting Almighty God to bless them Himself; and God does not bless in His own name, He blesses directly, i.e., the by the infinite, awesome power of the individual and collective authority of the Most Blessed Holy Trinity: the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Note also that the beginning prayer, (Missal p. 365) is in the name OF the Father and OF the Son and OF the Holy Spirit.  However, the conclusion, which we as Deacons must know for purposes of various prayer sessions, general blessings, and especially for concluding Communion Services and LOH sessions, follows the straightforward blessing formula:  “May Almighty God bless you . . . . the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”  Note that there is no in the name of for this type of blessing.

Think about it. It even sounds somehow wrong when you listen to it: “May Almighty God bless you in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Why is God blessing in His own name? He’s God. He doesn’t invoke His own name, He simply blesses directly from His own authority. He is blessing outright, and, thus, when we use/add the “in the name of” in this context, it seems to diminish the power of the blessing to the person(s) receiving it. It’s as diminishing and weakening as when someone prays using the word “just” as in: “Father, we just ask for your blessing today . . . . .” It sounds like something out of a Monty Python or Benny Hill sketch designed to poke fun at Holy Mother Church. What about, “Father, we ask for your blessing today . . . .”? It sounds so much stronger. We’re His children; He wants us to talk to Him and pray unceasingly. Speak up boldly! Be not afraid! His mercy is infinite. We’re in the Time of Mercy – the Time of Divine Mercy.

So, whenever possible, leave out “just” when praying, and remember to utilize the correct formula when issuing a solemn blessing. It will lend much more credibility to our actions in our efforts to give Him all the glory.

Abundant blessings, brothers!

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