BENEDICTINES. See BENEDICT OF NURSIA.
BENEDICTION: In the Roman Catholic Church a part of every liturgical act, belonging to the class of sacramentalsi.e., things which were
As to the Evangelical conception of the benedictions, the words of Johann Gerhard give the proper point of view: "The priests [in the Old Testament] blessed by praying for good things; God blessed by bestowing the good things. Their blessing was votive, his effective. God promises to confirm this sacerdotal blessing on condition that it is given according to his word and will." Thus it is only God who effectively blesses; that is, communicates divine powers of his grace and his spirit; all human blessing is only intercession with God for his blessing. [According to the Roman Catholic view, the objective difference between liturgical and extraliturgical, ecclesiastical and private benediction is that in the former the efficacy emanates from the Church as a body by whose authority the rite was instituted and in whom name it is conferred and, in consequence, is supposed to be greater than in the latter where the effect depends on the intercession of an individual.] According to the Evangelical idea, there exists no objective difference between liturgical and extraliturgical, ecclesiastical and private benediction; it is only in a psychological way that the former may be more efficacious for the fulfilment of the subjective conditions of the hearing of prayer. Again, only persons, not things, can be blessed with God's spirit and grace. If things are nevertheless blessed, it means that they are set apart for ritual use; and so long as they are thus employed, they will be sacred, while they are desecrated when used lightly apart from ritual purposes. The benediction of things takes place only by metonymy; the things are mentioned, but the persona are meant who use them. Thus, e.g., a cemetery is dedicated to its special use and handed over to the reverential protection of the living; a church edifice is dedicated by its being used and offered to the living congregation as a valuable religious possession because of its use. But the Roman Catholic traditions still in many ways influence the ideas held even among Protestants on the subject of benediction.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: J. Gretser, De benedictionibus, Ingolstadt, 1615; J. Gerhard, De benedictione ecclesiactica, pp. 1252-1290, Jena, 1655; E. Martène. De antiquis ecclesi ritibus, vol. iii, Rouen, 1700; J. C. W. Augusti, Denkwürdigkeiten aus der christlichen Archäologie, iii, 392-393, x, 165 sqq., 12 vols., Leipsic, 1817-31; A. J. Binterim, Segen und Fluch, in Denkwürdigkeiten, vol. vii, part 2, Mainz, 1841; L. Coleman, Apostolical and Primitive Church, chap xiv, London, 1844; V. Thalhofer, Handbuch der katholischen Liturgik, ii, 523-524, Freiburg, 1890; Bingham, Origines, XIV, iv, 16, XV, iii, 29; DCA, i, 193-200 (elaborate).
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