01 January 2018: New Year Blessing, Solemnity of Mary Mother of God
A blessing is the infusion of something with holiness, spiritual redemption, or divine will. The opposite of Blessing is Curse. In its strictly liturgical sense, blessing may be described as a rite, consisting of a ceremony and prayers performed in the name and with the authority of the Church by a duly qualified minister, by which persons or things are sanctified as dedicated to Divine service, or by which certain marks of Divine favour are invoked upon them
Throughout sacred Scripture, we find how God issued various blessings. In the account of creation, God blessed all the living creatures and especially Adam and Eve, telling them to be fertile, to multiply and to full the earth and subdue it (Gn 1:22, 28). After the flood, God blessed Noah and his sons (Gn 9:1ff).
The first reading in this first day of the year begins with the blessing that the Lord Gave Moses for the Israelites. This is indeed the blessing that God gives to all humankind: “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord let his face shine on you be gracious to you. May the Lord uncover his face to you and bring you peace.”
Christ entrusted His saving ministry to the Church. Because of this the Church has instituted various blessings for people as well as objects to prompt the faithful to implore God’s protection, divine assistance, mercy, faithfulness, and favour. On this note, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1669) states, “Every baptized person is called to be a ‘blessing,’ and to bless. Hence lay people may preside at certain blessings; the more a blessing concerns ecclesial and sacramental life, the more is its administration reserved to the ordained ministry (bishops, priests, or deacons)”
Priests are the ordinary ministers of blessings, asking God’s help for those people being blessed or dedicating something to a sacred service; the priest’s blessing is imparted with the weight of the Church and therefore has great value in the eyes of God. The blessing of a layperson upon another, such as a parent blessing a child, is an act of goodwill whereby the person implores God’s aid for the person; the value of this blessing in the eyes of God depends upon the person’s individual sincerity and sanctity.
At the beginning of this year, we recommend that parents should pronounce blessings to children in their home. Of all the tools God gave you to raise a child, the most powerful is your tongue. Here’s how to use it for good. From the opening words of the Bible, the power of the spoken word is in evidence. In essence, words are not only the means by which creation is made, but they are also the substance—the stuff—of which the tangible realm is shaped. “And God said” appears in the Genesis text; and the next thing, what God said appears in our world. Proverbs 18:21 teaches us, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.”
Early in the Bible, the power of God’s people to speak blessing upon one another is clearly shown. Noah blesses Shem and Japheth for their respect, rather than mockery, of his dignity as their father (see Gen. 9:26-27). You Have the Power to bless! Always use numbers 6: 22-27 to bless your children: “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord let his face shine on you be gracious to you. May the Lord uncover his face to you and bring you peace.”
Happy New Year!!!
Jude Thaddeus Langeh, cmf
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