Two classes of
blessings are invocative and constitutive...
be divided into two classes, viz: invocative and constitutive. The former are
those in which the Divine benignity is invoked on persons or things, to bring
down upon them some temporal or spiritual good without changing their former
condition. Of this kind are the blessings given to children, and to articles of
food. The latter class are so called because they permanently depute persons or
things to Divine service by imparting to them some sacred character, by which
they assume a new and distinct spiritual relationship. Such are the blessings
given churches and chalices by their consecration. In this case a certain
abiding quality of sacredness is conferred in virtue of which the persons or
things blessed become inviolably sacred so that they cannot be divested of their
religious character or be turned to profane uses. Again, theologians distinguish
blessings of an intermediate sort, by which things are rendered special
instruments of salvation without at the same time becoming irrevocably sacred,
such as blessed salt, candles, etc. Blessings are not sacraments; they are not
of Divine institution; they do not confer sanctifying grace; and they do not
produce their effects in virtue of the rite itself, or ex opere operato. They
are sacramentals and, as such, they produce the following specific effects:
1. Excitation of
pious emotions and affections of the heart and, by means of these, remission of
venial sin and of the temporal punishment due to it;
2. freedom from
power of evil spirits;
and restoration of bodily health.
4. various other
benefits, temporal or spiritual.
All these effects are not necessarily inherent in any one blessing; some are
caused by one formula, and others by another, according to the intentions of the
Church. Neither are these effects to be regarded as infallibly produced, except
in so far as impetration of the Church has this attribute. The religious
veneration, therefore, in which the faithful regard blessings has no faint of
superstition, since it depends altogether on the Church's suffrages offered to
God that the persons using the things she blesses may derive from them certain
supernatural advantages. Instances are alleged in the lives of the saints where
miracles have been wrought by the blessings of holy men and women. There is no
reason to limit the miraculous interference of God to the early ages of the
Church's history, and the Church never accepts these wonderful occurrences
unless the evidence in support of their authenticity is absolutely
unimpeachable." (Catholic Encyclopedia)
Note that not all
ministers are qualified to give all blessings...
minister proceeds to impart any blessing he should first satisfy himself that it
is one which he is duly qualified to give, either by his ordinary or delegated
powers." (Catholic Encyclopedia)
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