In religious discourse, the word ‘blessing’ can refer to different things: a prayer asking God for favours and protection, a prayer to express gratitude, a few kind words… In any of these cases, a blessing acknowledges God’s presence in our lives. Often recited by priests, blessings are also types of prayer expressing thanksgiving to the Lord, performed over people, objects and special events in the name of God’s protection. The Bible contains many examples of blessings in both the Old and New Testament.
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’ (Book of Numbers, 6:24-26)
Some gestures symbolise the act of blessing (laying on of hands, signing of the cross, sprinkling holy water, etc.). Words, such as prayers said at special occasions, can also express a blessing. Read on and discover prayers examples, asking for God’s blessing.
In Catholic tradition, a blessing is related to the word ‘benediction’. Benedictions, from the Latin Benedire (Et. ‘to speak well of’), are performed over men and women to entrust them to God. This signifies that blessings are made with words, but more importantly, with the heart. When blessing someone, you are looking out for others, by asking God to provide them with all possible good for their welfare. You are free to bless others as much as you can, using brief sentences such as “May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Corinthians 13:14).
More solemn and official forms of blessings are:
Blessings performed by priests during celebrations (blessing of the assembly at the end of Mass, Nuptial blessings, blessing the union of couples, etc.)
Papal blessings: the most famous Apostolic Blessing is the Urbi et Orbi, an address performed by the Pope from his balcony at St. Peter’s Square, recited on special liturgical events (Easter, Christmas, etc.)
Blessings can be performed over objects and places during particular occasions. Blessings of objects and places are meant to symbolise God’s presence in special events of our lives, more so than God’s protection or the consecration of our material possessions. This is the case with the blessings of school supplies and bags in parishes at the beginning of the school year. The objects are tools to ask God to bless our work.
It is also a tradition for families to ask priests to bless their new houses. Through the blessing, priests are asking God to protect the residents, that they may always be present at the heart of their homes.
Christians can daily perform blessings before meals. The purpose of saying grace before eating is to bless the food and express gratitude to the Lord for providing it. It is a simple and intimate moment you can share with your family and friends.
“We bless your name, O Lord, for sending your own incarnate Son to become part of a family, so that, as He lived his life, He would experience its worries and its joys.
We ask you, Lord, to protect and watch over this family, so that, in the strength of your grace, its members may enjoy prosperity, possess the priceless gift of your peace, and, as the Church alive in the home, bear witness in this world to your glory.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make his face to shine upon you
And be gracious to you;
The Lord lift up his countenance upon you
And give you peace.”
“May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.”
To be blessed is to feel God’s presence in your life: feel God’s blessing with a spiritual program to meditate and pray with the Beatitudes.
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