bless you!…can I?

God bless you! The words are a natural response to a sneeze. Sometimes they are said in gratitude for the kindness of another. When I ask God to send blessings on you, I am asking for God`s divine protection and love to rain freely on you. Blessing is a gift asked for in faith, and given in hope.

Scripture is full of rich blessings.  There are some wonderful books available for Catholic families and households with blessings for every occasion. We are encouraged to bless each other, and to do so frequently. Yet, sometimes we are still hung up on who can bless.

In our parish, children and adults unable to receive the sacrament are invited to come into the communion line, cross their arms over their chest and receive a blessing. The blessing can be a simple `God bless you and keep you`, or other words to that effect. As a Eucharistic minister, I enjoyed giving these blessings – especially to the wee ones who looked up at you with big, expectant eyes and a ready smile. But one pastor announced before communion that anyone not receiving the Eucharist was welcome to come into his line for `my priestly blessing`. Huh? Was his blessing worth more than that given by mere lay persons? Does God bless more generously when a priest says the words?

Sadly, many of us were raised to believe in the special effectiveness of `official` blessings by priests and bishops. In our hierarchical thinking, papal blessings are tops. During the Sunday Angelus in St. Peter`s Square, you will find Catholics clutching handfuls of rosaries and medals and raising them up when the Pope gives his blessing. There`s nothing wrong with this. Most of us don`t see the Pope every day and want a memento to take home to family and friends.

I attended a Sunday Angelus shortly after Benedict XVI was elected. As he raised his hands in blessing on the crowd, I had a sudden feeling of compassion for him. He looked small and frail in real life and had a tough job ahead of him – one I surely wouldn`t want. He needed our blessings too. I involuntarily made a small sign of the cross in his direction, sending my blessing on him. Well, after the glare I received from the Italian Mama next to me I was relieved there were no Swiss Guards around!

Whether I had the right to do so or not, I happily tell the story of the day I blessed the Pope. So, go forth and bless those around you. Bless your loved ones. Bless your enemies. Bless your leaders. Bless all creation. God knows we need it. 🙂

4 thoughts on “bless you!…can I?

  1. Bless you Isabella…. I agree we all need it. I feel sure that the Pope would feel very blessed and delighted, if he knew someone had blessed him in return, in the crowd.
    This rang a bell with me too, as a Minister of the Eucharist, a friends daughter wanted me to bless her, she came to me with her arms folded in front of her. The Parish Priest looked over and said that he would bless her. We were all told that he was the only one to bless those who came forward to be blessed. Her Mother said to me after Mass, Julie she wanted your blessing.

    Our present Parish Priest is very happy for us to bless those that come forward asking for a blessing, and what a privilege it is. Sometimes if I bless someone on a visit with Holy Lourdes Water, then I will ask that person for their blessing on me . That is so special, because it works both ways.

    I love your blog Isabella, I am learning so much, I enjoy reading all the comments from others as well. Well done.

  2. Thank you so much, Julie. YOUR blessing means so much to me! 🙂

    I had a bit of a cyber-glitch yesterday when I was scheduling this post. An extra copy flew out into cyber-space then disappeared. It included the following comment from a good friend of this blog, Ray McCracken….

    The Blessing of a New Priest

    Our pastor was ordained a priest in Ireland over fifty years ago. Walking back to his family’s farm, his best friend’s father, who owned the fields next to theirs, saw the newly ordained walking down the muddy road. The neighbor ran and jumped over a hedge landing on his knees in front of the young priest. Removing his hat he asked for the priest’s blessing. Our pastor states, “I had admired this man all my life, I was not worthy to tie this man’s shoes let alone deliver a blessing.” What he did kneeling in the mud in front of me, blessed me, and I will never forget that he blessed me.”
    There is at least one priest who gets it.

  3. This same priest told another story that happened just last week. He was called to the bed of a friend and a parishioner who was dying. This man had been a priest before he left the ordained ministry and married over 25 years ago. The priest gave him the Sacrament of the Sick which includes a blessing. As he was leaving the room he glanced back at the man who raised his hand and blessed the priest. The priest said he felt was humbled and honored. This priest not only gets it, he shares it with the rest of us.

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