Friday, May 24, 2013

I Favor Some Simple Adaptations to the Blessing of the Sacrament

I have been asked more than once how I view situations where someone is blessing the sacrament and struggling to say the prayer correctly, so I decided to put my thoughts in writing.  I'm sure that won't surprise anyone who knows me even only a little.  I would appreciate any thoughts about this from those who read this post (especially other suggestions of things you would favor), and especially actual cases of things you've seen

In cases where there is concern about multiple attempts, or after the first instance of an incorrect attempt, I favor having the priest / administrator who is not saying the prayer place his hand on the shoulder of the person saying the prayer, and squeezing the instant the person makes a mistake. That way, the person can repeat only what was said incorrectly, without having to start all over again - and, sometimes, without the congregation even noticing what has happened. Technically, this approach could eliminate every instance of having to repeat the prayer from the beginning. 

I favor going as slowly as is needed to not make mistakes - no matter how slowly that is. There is a young man in my current ward who has to pronounce every word clearly and separately in order to ensure he says it correctly, and it is wonderful to hear him take it that seriously. 

I favor coaching people who are saying it for the first time - prior to the actual ordinance occurring.

I favor letting small mistakes go, if they don't change the meaning of the prayer in any way.

I favor having someone whisper the prayer to someone who can't read and/or can't memorize the words - one word at a time, if necessary, so that being able to read or memorize is not a prerequisite for blessing the sacrament.

I favor teaching the congregation sign language and allowing them to keep their eyes open if there is someone who cannot speak who could bless the sacrament using sign language.  I visited a ward recently where one of the priests signed the prayers for a deaf member while other priests read the prayers.  It was wonderful - but I wouldn't mind occasionally if signing was the only language used and the congregation was taught to understand it. 

I favor allowing a member whose native language is not English (or the dominant language of the congregation) to bless the sacrament in the native language - but first teaching the congregation the prayer in that language and/or preparing a card for the Bishop or presiding authority, with the foreign words spelled out in the alphabet of the Bishop or presiding authority, in order to allow him to ensure it is said correctly.  

Just like with baptism, one mistake happens. Even two mistakes happen. Three is a failure of planning and/or leadership, in one way or another - as is failure to allow someone to bless the sacrament simply because of any issues that can be addressed in simple ways. 


larryco_ said...

All good points, Papa.

Paul said...

I favor all of your points, except letting little mistakes slide by, only because that's not in my authority to recommend.

But all the others I've recommended. When I was bishop, I taught my priests that THEY should be reading along with their quorum-mate and helping him to correct himself, not relying on me to do it.

When we lived in Venezuela we attended a Spanish-language ward. When my sons blessed the sacrament, they did it in their native English; when the local youth blessed, they did it in Spanish.

My sister interprets for ASL members in her ward and the ASL treatment of the sacrament has changed over the years. (I don't know the present policy but at one time they were finger spelling the whole prayer which required the priests to read VERY slowly. It was really impressive.)

In a related incident, I attended an ASL session in the temple. The prayer was all ASL, no spoken words.

ji said...

The most important point is for both priests to be engaged -- one can help the other quietly and immediately.

In my ward, I think that when one makes a mistake, the other almost conspiratorily (or just childlishly?) waits to see if the bishop will catch it. That's the wrong attitude.