Monday, May 18, 2015

Father, please bless me. And in doing so, help me to flower.

Priests get this as a request very often, and it comes from different people, at different places and for different reasons.  The first time we got approached by people for blessings would most likely be right after our Diaconate Ordination.  Most of them would either come up to us with sacramental images like holy cards and crucifixes or even themselves to obtain blessings.  It was a very concrete reminder to us that the sacrament of the ordination allowed us to become conduits of God’s love to people who were very hungry for a taste and a touch of that presence of God in their lives.  It was a tremendous privilege as well as a challenge.  Why a challenge?  Perhaps an elaboration is needed.

When one is not confident and adequately aware of one’s self worth and esteem, one can easily think, erroneously of course, that the ability to bestow a blessing somehow makes a person more important or more effective than his fellow human being.  Given the great gift to be able to bless or to set apart for godliness (that is technically what a blessing is) someone or something should never inflate one’s sense of self.  Rather, it should keep one grounded in humility and re-instill the need to remain earthy.  After all, the etymology of the word ‘humble’ finds its roots in the Latin ‘humus’, meaning earth or ground.  It cannot be forgotten that one is merely a channel or a conduit of God’s love and presence to the people one serves.

When a person presents himself or herself for a blessing, what in essence is asked for is a visible sign that one is requesting of not just a validation, but a divine validation and an acknowledgement that God does love this person.  Being told by one’s parent that mum or dad loves him is one thing.  It certainly will, as psychologists will readily tell you, give the child a confidence and an assurance that grounds him or her to live and grow and mature in steadiness.  What more then when one receives not just a human affirmation, but a divine one?  Who would not want this kind of assurance in life, especially when the world seems to say that one’s worth is often gauged by one’s talent, one’s popularity, one’s skills, one’s degrees, and one’s job title. 

But receiving a blessing is only half the story.  Most people stop there.  Herein lies the ‘challenging’ part of bestowing a blessing.  Blessings are meant to be carried on, much like the idea of ‘paying it forward’, and most people are blithely unaware of this.  The very reason Israel was chosen by God was so that they could in turn be the prototype of chosenness, allowing other nations to also experience God’s salvation through them.  But they failed.  Blessings are meant to do the same thing.

What essentially happens when people become and live out their blessing is that they bring out the best in them and the best in others.  They become great co-operators of the Holy Spirit working in and through them, and blessings paid forward become like blossoms that appear on a hitherto denuded tree.

Those of us who have been blessed with the opportunity of living in a temperate climate would have seen the breathtaking beauty of a cherry tree in full and resplendent blossom.  But if one were to walk under such trees in the cold of February, one would see just bare branches, something that would hardly be called beautiful.  It would even seem to be dead, to a certain extent.  But come March, or early April, and the transformation that it undergoes is nothing short of stunning and awesome (and I use this term deliberately here).  It causes one to stop in one’s tracks and ask “where did this beauty come from?”  Actually, it came from within. 

Doesn’t the beauty of holiness and godliness also emerge from within?  For many, it often lies somewhat dormant for long periods.  But the hope of the Church is that in time, with the proper nurturing and receiving of grace, one begins to blossom from within and respond to the Spirit’s prompting and live out the blessings one has received with a courage and an awareness that reflects one’s beauty. 

When a person after receiving a blessing simply basks in this bestowal of divine love and lives in a way that doesn’t impart this to the people one is surrounded by, one misses the point of what had happened.  Potential beauty lies dormant and perhaps even inactivated.  Just like baptism, which is a call to be further channels of God’s saving grace towards others, where there is an inherent call to ministry and witnessing, so too must blessings empower and commission us. 

It is common to see devotional Christians wanting to receive blessings in their lives – sometimes, the more the merrier.  But receiving blessings necessary also entails a corollary action, which is to BE blessings to others – by living lives that are more generous, forgiving and charitable.  In that way, one truly will begin to blossom in faith and in the ways of God.


  1. I am with you 100% on this, Father.

    If I were to ask God for anything (for myself), I would ask that I be a blessing to others; starting with the members of my own family and extending to all those I come into contact with. And I can only do this with His grace, so please help me, Jesus, to be a blessing to others.

  2. When we were children, getting blessings from priests were not a common thing for we were told that the reverend fathers had more important things to attend to. So blessings were for special occasions only – such as on the feast day of one’s patron Saints – (St Agnes, St Clare, St Joseph, St Peter... the more notable Saints -that even children then call the ‘big-shots’) These children were rounded up after Catechism and had the privilege to gather for this special blessing from the Parish Priest in his little office.

    Though we were never taught about being a blessing to others, somehow a priestly blessing instilled in our little hearts a sense of being hallowed and set apart and having to strive to be “good if not better.” In fact, we often noticed that even the “class-bully’s” boisterousness and swagger seemed muted and deflated after the blessing. Of course, the little butterscotch toffee that each child received as she/he left the office probably contributed to the amicability and goodwill.

    God bless you, Fr