Last night we went to a Mass at other than my normal parish and experience something new. This parish had never been on my list of places to go for good liturgy, though normally during Christmastide you at least get Carols instead of the usual dreck.
At the end of the Mass the priest was going to bless some blankets that had been made for the sick of the parish. The blankets though had been left somewhere else and they had forgotten to bring them into the main Church. The priest then did the blessing anyway and had everybody else hold their right arms out at the same time as he read the blessing.
I could hardly believe what I was seeing. My wife looked at me strangely wondering about this behavior as we both did not follow along. She later told me she was close to laughing seeing this and I was more amazed than amused. We were in pews towards the back of the Church and what we could see was all these people holding their right arms out in what looked pretty close to a Nazi salute.
Now I don’t know enough about sacramental theology as to whether a priest can actually bless an object in another building. I know you can receive an indulgence by listening to the Pope’s Urbi et orbi message live or that you can receive blessings live over the radio, so maybe the blessing of blanket that weren’t there is possible.
What really annoyed me is that once again the difference between the ministerial priesthood and the priesthood of the faithful was minimized or apparently eliminated. That an act of community once again trumped sound theology and practice. We keep blurring these lines to the point that we know neither the power of the priesthood or the power of the priesthood of the faithful. That a priestly blessing becomes no different than one from the laity. It seems we will do anything for a sign of community except teach sound theology in this regards.