Administering Holy Communion
My church often only has one priest on a Sunday (like many others).
However we have always had two Communion "stations". At the second station we
(lay administrators) have been advised that we can give a blessing to those who
do not wish to receive by placing The Host over the recipients head.
One or two of us feel extremely uncomfortable about this. Please may I have your
David Rumsby - 29/10/08
certainly do not think a lay person should give a Blessing, this should be
left only to the priest. Some years ago on about two occasions at my church
the previous incumbent allowed a lay person put their hand on the shoulder
saying 'May God Bless you', but this would not be a priestly Blessing.
Chapter of the Epiphany
Fr. David Moore - 29/10/08
not sure that lay persons ought to administer the host......I know it
happens in some parishes....quite a different matter administering the
Precious Blood (the chalice).
Christine Hewitt -
church when this situation arises the congregation still form two lines
going up to the priest who administers the host and gives a blessing to
those not confirmed. but wishing to receive this. They then go to a person
on either side of the priest to receive the wine, which is administered by
those licensed to do this. We have never been instructed to give blessings
as I thought that only an ordained person was authorised to do this.
Hope this helps
Derek Albert -
Several servers in our Church have been licensed by the Bishop to administer
the Chalice at Mass, and, when needed, to take Holy Communion, taken from
the reserved Sacrament held in the Tabernacle, to a sick member of our
congregation who is unable to attend Mass. Giving a Blessing?...never. I
wouldn't dare to presume that I would be worthy enough to do such a thing.
Chapter of St Osyth - Buckinghamshire
David Jones -
I had faced a similar dilemma at our church in the USA, when, as a Lay
Chalice Bearer, I was asked - at the Communion Rail - by a mother, to bless
her child, who did not receive Communion. The Precious Body had already been
administered by a licensed Lay Eucharistic Minister, one who had special
authority for this.
I, too, felt uncomfortable with this, so I asked my Rector about it
afterwords. I told him that I had placed my hand on the head of the child
and said "May the Lord Bless you, in the Name of the Father and of the Son
and of the Holy Ghost". Like David Rumsby, I did not consider it to be a
"proper" "priestly" blessing because I am not a priest. However, my Rector
said that it was the correct thing to do, in the circumstances of the
moment. I was relieved at this, because, as I had told him, I took my duties
in the sanctuary very seriously and do not wish to disobey or dishonour
either our Church Rubrics or my obligation of obedience to our Rector and
On reflection, it seems that the Lord would have been calling me to "Suffer
the little children to come unto me." This, especially so, as my
supplication for God's blessing was, at that place and time, being offered
and asked for, as a direct substitute for (one part of) the Blessed
Sacrament. Therefore, as I am licensed to administer the one, I am, by
implication, licensed to offer, or to ask for, the other. Which is the
"greater" or "lesser" of the two is for God, only, to determine. Not I.
The Peace of the Lord be Always With You.
With Universal Love, Support and Respect,
David C. Jones (Age 73)
Lay Eucharistic Minister, Lector and Intercessor
Church of the Good Shepherd
Burke, Virginia. USA.
Peter Graham -
the number of priests decline the laity will have to take more
responsibility for administering the sacraments.
I would not be surprised if in 50 years time lay celebration of the Mass was
normal – I am not sure I will feel comfortable about that but I expect I
will be long dead by then!
Terry Delaney -
Maybe I am rather old fashioned but one does not believe that lay
persons should administer any part of the Blessed Sacrament in either
Blessings in church or chapel with a Bishop/priest is present he is the
only one to administer a Blessing. However at home within the family it
is common practice to give a blessing to children or a sick person even
to administering Holy Oils in extreme unction to give that sick member
of the family strength from Our Lord and not to send them on their way
as many people think!
It is quite common for one to say God Bless in general conversation or
as a farewell and should not be confused, which is another way of saying
"Goodbye" which is an abbreviation of "God be with you!".
Thank you -
Many thanks for your helpful replies.
Particularly to Fr Moore who restates in simple truth what I have been
taught. Thank you.
Peter Hooper -
Sorry but I see no difference in administering the host or the blood,
both are the body of Christ. I am a Reader as well as a GSS member, and
I regularly bless children during administering communion.
Andrew Mays -
I like many others am licensed to assist the Priest
by administering the Chalice at the Holy Mass.
When there was a Priest present I would NEVER consider it correct for me
to administer the Host at a separate station, nor would I consider it
correct for me to administer the
Chalice if another Priest was present in the Sanctuary.
However if, as occasionally can happen, a Priest cannot be present at an
advertised Mass/ Holy Communion I would willingly administer the Most
Holy and Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, from the Tabernacle, to those
who are present if they wish.
I believe that as I have been considered worthy to administer the
Chalice I am also worthy in such circumstances to administer the Body of
Christ to those in need.
Andrew R Mays
Past Group Councillor PG 21
The reception of the Host in the hand has been
responsible for the attitude that prevails that anyone licensed to
administer the chalice can also touch the Sacred Body of our Lord. Once
upon a time only the priest handled the Host, the Sacrament being placed
onto the tongue of the communicant.
Peter, no Deacon, Reader or chalice assistant has the authority to give
a blessing. This is reserved for the Sacerdotal Priesthood, in spite of
abuses that have crept in. The office of Reader is a lay function,
although many who exercise this office tend to forget the fact and their
yearning for a chasuble is barely disguised.
The Church may need to adapt as there becomes a
greater shortage of priests. Our Reader at the end of a service she
takes says the Grace or asks God's blessing but both of these on 'us'
not 'you'. Regarding blessing at the altar rail when administering the
chalice, surely the blessing is coming from the Divine Presence, whoever
pronounces the words.
On a similar subject I remember at a Deanery synod some years ago an
Evangelical colleague calling for Lay Presidency of the Communion. A
Priest there countered by making, in my view, a good observation .. that
that is what the Church does already ...it takes a lay person and
ordains them a priest.
Eddie Bestwick, Leicestershire.
Without getting in the general debate on the giving
of a blessing, I was very sorry to read the anonymous answer posted on
Firstly as a Reader of 10 years standing I am sorry to see the old
comment on Readers of "The office of Reader is a lay function although
many who exercise this office tend to forget the fact and their yearning
for a chasuble is barely disguised."
As A member of the GSS and also involved with Readers at Diocesan level
I wish this old chestnut was laid to rest. Yes there are some Readers
who yearn to a priest but these are few in number and the few who truly
and earnestly want to serve God as a priest are very sincere about their
vocation, I am more concerned about lay people who have no formal
training and are invited by ordained ministers to act like a Reader and
even a 'quasi' priest. Readers have spent several years training and are
not lightly licensed by the Bishop. So please do not churn out the old
and quite often incorrect adage that Readers are priests in training or
As Eddie quite rightly points out a Reader is allowed to 'ask' for God's
blessing not only on the congregation but also on themselves.
Yours in Christ,
Member -Chapter of the Holy Resurrection (Brighton)
I too was sorry to read the reply from Mr No-One. As
a Reader I can give a form of Absolution at either Matins or Evensong
both of which I am allowed by Licence to conduct. Giving the Blessing I
do not use the words 'you' but 'us'. At communion I say' Bless this thy
son/daughter, keep him/her safe in eternal life. Amen'
I am sorry to disagree with the warden, but my
Reader's license specifically states that I can administer the sacrament
in either 'kind'. The same is true for eucharistic ministers licensed by
I frequently administer the host when one of our clergy celebrates
because he has a seriously bad back and suffers far more if he has
communicated people kneeling. Since there is an aversion by many to
receiving standing, this is the best solution. I also frequently
administer the host when I take the reserved sacrament to the housebound
- indeed, this is commonplace for Roman Catholic 'extraordinary
When children are presented for blessing, I say something like, 'MAY
Almighty God bless you' and have a host already in my hand in readiness
for the next communicate and regard the host as giving the blessing
rather than me (though that could open up a new can of worms on the
lines of 'Can lay people conduct Benediction of ther blessed
Sacrament?'! - the answer is no but I have conducted 'Devotions')