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Catholic Prayer: Book of Blessings: Blessing of Elderly People Confined to their Homes

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344 The faithful who are elderly and infirm, confined at home or in a nursing home, need their brothers and sisters in Christ to help them feel that they are still part of the family and the ecclesial community. The purpose of the present blessing is that the elderly may receive from the community a mark of respect and affection and together with the community thank God for his favors and for the good he has enabled them to do in their lives.

345 The present orders may be used by a priest, a deacon, or a lay minister. While maintaining the structure and chief elements of the rite, the minister should adapt the celebration to the circumstances of the place and the people involved.

346 In nos. 363-368 the selection of certain elements from the present order (nos. 348-362) provides for a blessing of the elderly within Mass (after the homily or at the end of Mass) or on an occasion when communion is brought to them at home. In the second case, the blessing may also be celebrated by an acolyte or by a duly appointed special minister of the eucharist, who follows the rites and texts designated for use by lay ministers.

347 When just one elderly person is to be blessed, a priest or a deacon may use the short formulary given in no. 375.

Prayer:

A. ORDER OF BLESSING

INTRODUCTORY RITES

348 When the family or community has gathered, the minister says: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

All make the sign of the cross and reply: Amen.

349 A minister who is a priest or deacon greets the elderly people and all present in the following or other suitable words, taken mainly from sacred Scripture. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

All make the following or some other suitable reply. And also with you.

350 A lay minister greets the elderly people and all present in the following words. Brothers and sisters, let us bless the Lord Jesus, whom the aged Simeon held in his arms. The child he held was his Lord and Master. Blessed be God now and for ever.

R. Blessed be God now and for ever.

Or: R. Amen.

351 In the following or similar words, the minister may prepare the elderly people and all present for the blessing. The period of old age is a gift that should be received from God with gratitude. Elderly people have the opportunity to share with us the riches of their experience and of their Christian lives. Let us therefore now join them in thanking God and in asking that he will keep high their hopes and strengthen their trust in him.

READING OF THE WORD OF GOD

352 A reader, another person present, or the minister reads a text of sacred Scripture. As circumstances suggest, the following reading may be shortened. Brothers and sisters, listen to the words of the holy gospel according to Luke:

2:25-32, 36-38 Awaiting the consolation of Israel. Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God, saying:

"Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel."

There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.

353 Or: Sirach 3:2-18--Take care of your father when he is old. Sirach 25:6-8, 13-16 (Greek, 25:4-6, 10-12)--The glory of the old is their fear of the Lord. Wisdom 4:8-9--An unsullied life, the attainment of old age. Philippians 3:20-4:1--We eagerly await the coming of our Savior.

354 As circumstances suggest, one of the following responsorial psalms may be sung or said, or some other suitable song.

R. My God, come quickly to help me.

Psalm 71 In you, 0 LORD, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your justice rescue me, and deliver me; incline your ear to me, and save me. R.

Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety, for you are my rock and my fortress. O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the criminal and the violent. R.

For you are my hope, 0 LORD; my trust, 0 God, from my youth. On you I depend from birth; from my mother's womb you are my strength; constant has been my hope in you. R.

But I will always hope and praise you ever more and more. My mouth shall declare your justice, day by day your salvation, though I know not their extent. R.

Psalm 126:1-2b, 2d-3, 4-5, 6 R. (v. 3) The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.

355 As circumstances suggest, the minister may give those present a brief explanation of the biblical text, so that they may understand through faith the meaning of the celebration.

INTERCESSIONS

356 The intercessions are then said. The minister introduces them and an assisting minister or one of those present announces the intentions. From the following intentions those best suited to the occasion may be used or adapted, or other intentions that apply to the particular circumstances may be composed.

The minister says: God, our almighty Father, gives us new strength and power by his life-giving grace all through our lives. Let us then pray to him saying:

R. Lord, do not forsake us.

Or: R. Lord, hear our prayer.

Assisting minister: O God, you rewarded the expectations of Simeon and Anna by revealing your Son to them; grant that these servants of yours may in faith see your salvation and rejoice in the consolation of the Holy Spirit. (For this we pray:) R.

Assisting minister: You sent your Son into the world to tell all who are weary that in him they would find rest; help these your servants to take up their cross with patience each day. (For this we pray:) R.

Assisting minister: Your generous kindness can never be surpassed by anyone; grant that these your servants may receive from their families and friends the tender care owed to them. (For this we pray:) R.

Assisting minister: In your love you never turn away from anyone, least of all those who are weak and afflicted; grant that society will acknowledge and unfailingly respect the dignity of the elderly. (For this we pray:) R.

PRAYER OF BLESSING

357 A minister who is a priest or deacon may, as circumstances suggest, extend his hands over the elderly people, individually or as a group, or trace the sign of the cross on the forehead of each, as he says the prayer of blessing; a lay minister says the prayer with hands joined.

Lord, our God, you have given these your faithful the grace to maintain their hope in you through all life's changes and to taste and see your goodness. We bless you for the gifts you have showered on them for so many years. We ask that they may find joy in a renewed strength of spirit, that they may have good health, and that they may inspire us by the example of their serene way of life.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

358 Or:

All-powerful and ever-living God, in whom we live and move and have our being, we thank you and praise you for giving N. and N. (the members of this community) long years, lived in faith and in doing good.

Grant that they may have the loving support of their friends and relatives, that in good health they may be cheerful, and in poor health not lose hope. Sustained by the help of your blessing, let them spend their old age giving praise to your name.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

359 Or:

Lord God almighty, bless these your servants, to whom you have given a long life. Let them be aware of your nearness, so that, when they worry about past failings, they will rejoice in your mercy and, when they think of the future, they will faithfully rely on you as their hope.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

CONCLUDING RITE

360 After the invitation, "Bow your heads and pray for God's blessing," or something similar is said, a minister who is a priest or deacon concludes the rite by facing the elderly people and, with hands outstretched, saying: May the Lord Jesus Christ be with you to protect you.

R. Amen.

May he go before you to lead you and follow after you to give you strength. R. Amen.

May he watch over you, keep you in his care, and bless you with his peace. R. Amen.

Then he blesses all present. And may almighty God bless you all, the Father, and the Son, + and the Holy Spirit. R. Amen.

361 A lay minister invokes God's blessing on the elderly people and all present by signing himself or herself with the sign of the cross and saying: May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life. R. Amen.

362 It is preferable to end the celebration with a suitable song.

B. ORDER OF BLESSING WITHIN MASS

GENERAL INTERCESSIONS

363 After the homily the general intercessions follow either in the form usual at Mass or in the form given here. From the following intentions those best suited to the occasion may be used or adapted, or other intentions that apply to the elderly people and the particular circumstances may be composed. But the celebrant is always to use the prayer of blessing provided here.

The minister says: God, our almighty Father, gives us new strength and power by his life-giving grace. all through our lives. Let us then pray to him saying: R. Lord, do not forsake us.

Or: R. Lord, hear our prayer.

Assisting minister: O God, you rewarded the expectations of Simeon and Anna by revealing your Son to them; grant that these servants of yours may in faith see your salvation and rejoice in the consolation of the Holy Spirit. (For this we pray:) R.

Assisting minister: You sent your Son into the world to tell all who are weary that in him they would find rest; help these your servants to take up their cross with patience each day. (For this we pray:) R.

Assisting minister: Your generous kindness can never be surpassed by anyone; grant that these your servants may receive from their families and friends the tender care owed to them. (For this we pray:) R.

Assisting minister: In your love you never turn away from anyone, least of all those who are weak and afflicted; grant that society will acknowledge and unfailingly respect the dignity of the elderly. (For this we pray:) R.

PRAYER OF BLESSING

364 With hands outstretched over the elderly people as a group, the celebrant immediately says:

Lord, our God, you have given these your faithful the grace to maintain their hope in you through all life's changes and to taste and see your goodness. We bless you for the gifts you have showered on them for so many years. We ask that they may find joy in a renewed strength of spirit, that they may have good health, and that they may inspire us by the example of their serene way of life.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

365 But as an alternative, if circumstances suggest, at the end of Mass after the invitation, "Bow your heads and pray for God's blessing," or something similar is said, the celebrant invites the elderly people to receive a special blessing. Then the celebrant, with hands outstretched, says the following blessing, no. 366, or else the prayer of blessing, nos. 367 and 368, and all make the responses.

BLESSING

366 Facing the elderly people, the celebrant says: May the Lord Jesus Christ be with you to protect you. R. Amen.

May he go before you to lead you and follow after you to give you strength. R. Amen.

May he watch over you, keep you in his care, and bless you with his peace. R. Amen.

Then he blesses all present. And may almighty God bless you all, the Father, and the Son, + and the Holy Spirit. R. Amen.

PRAYER OF BLESSING

367 With hands outstretched over the elderly people, the celebrant says:

All-powerful and ever-living God, in whom we live and move and have our being, we thank you and praise you for giving N. and N. (the members of this community) long years, lived in faith and in doing good.

Grant that they may have the loving support of their friends and relatives, that in good health they may be cheerful, and in poor health not lose hope. Sustained by the help of your blessing, let them spend their old age giving praise to your name.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

368 After the prayer, the celebrant adds: And may the blessing of almighty God, the Father, and the Son, + and the Holy Spirit, come upon you and remain with you for ever. R. Amen.

C. ORDER OF BLESSING WITH COMMUNION OUTSIDE MASS

369 When the rite is combined with an extended celebration of the word of God, the texts of sacred Scripture may be taken from those indicated already in nos. 352-354.

370 The intercessions may take the form given in no. 356, but a minister who is a priest or deacon always concludes the intercessions with the following prayer of blessing, said with hands outstretched over the elderly people.

Lord, our God, you have given these your faithful the grace to maintain their hope in you through all life's changes and to taste and see your goodness. We bless you for the gifts you have showered on them for so many years. We ask that they may find joy in a renewed strength of spirit, that they may have good health, and that they may inspire us by the example of their serene way of life.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

371 A lay minister says the following prayer of blessing with hands joined.

Lord God almighty, bless these your servants, to whom you have given a long life. Let them be aware of your nearness, so that, when they worry about past failings, they will rejoice in your mercy and, when they think of the future, they will faithfully rely on you as their hope.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

D. SHORTER RITE

372 The minister says: Our help is in the name of the Lord.

All reply: Who made heaven and earth.

373 One of those present or the minister reads a text of sacred Scripture, for example:

Wisdom 4:8 For the age that is honorable comes not with the passing of time, nor can it be measured in terms of years.

James 5:7-8 Be patient, therefore, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You too must be patient.

Luke 9:23 Then Jesus said to all, "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me."

374 A minister who is a priest or deacon may, as circumstances suggest, extend his hands over the elderly person or trace the sign of the cross on the elderly person's forehead, as he says the prayer of blessing; a lay minister says the prayer with hands joined.

Lord God almighty, bless your servant, N., to whom you have given a long life. Let him/her be aware of your nearness, so that, when he/she worries about past failings, he/she will rejoice in your mercy and, when he/she thinks of the future, he/she will faithfully rely on you as his/her hope.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

SHORT FORMULARY

375 As circumstances suggest, a priest or deacon may use the following short blessing formulary. May almighty God bless + you, for he forsakes no one, but with fatherly care sustains you, his child, even in old age and failing strength. R. Amen.

Prayer Source: Book of Blessings by Prepared by International Commission on English in the Liturgy A Joint Commission of Catholic Bishops' Conferences, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1989
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