Every moment, joyful or painful, ordinary or amazing, is an opportunity for a blessing. To bless is to praise God always. To bless is to know that with God, “no thought of ours is left unguarded, no tear unheeded, no joy unnoticed” (collect for 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time). To bless is to commit ourselves to co-operate with God’s blessings. To bless is to pray unceasingly.
Every Christian can bless, and it is in the home where Christian families “exercise the priesthood of the baptized in a privileged way” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1657). Through its own liturgical year, the domestic church gathers at special moments and at ordinary times as the familiar rhythm of prayer orders its days. At times, the domestic church will invite the parish pastor to lead its prayer. But most of the time, the domestic church’s blessings are led by the household prayer leaders who themselves are steeped with the rhythm of prayer and the spirit of praise.
Begin by building the household’s liturgical calendar. This includes birthdays, baptism anniversaries, memorials of deceased loved ones, wedding anniversaries, patron saint days, as well as the major feasts and seasons of the church year. Include significant events, such as the first day of school, leaving for a trip, death of a pet, sickness and the return to health, election day, a pregnancy, a miscarriage, a new job, a new home, or a new car.
The household can plan ahead for some of these moments; others require spontaneity. But most blessings will include some form of the following:
- a statement of praise: “Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation”;
- what God has done: “You reveal yourself in new and unexpected places”;
- a petition for the person, place or object to be blessed, asking that we might benefit others through it: “Bless our car and help us see the wonder of your creation, so that wherever we go we are a blessing to all we meet”;
- a statement of faith: “We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
For a fuller experience, prepare a prayerful environment, proclaim a scripture passage, sing psalms and use postures of standing, sitting, and kneeling and gestures like the sign of the cross and laying hands.
Daily bless your meals, make the sign of the cross on your loved ones’ foreheads before they leave the house and at nighttime or pray a simple blessing for the senders of your daily mail (postal and email) and for those on the phone. For moments, great and small, the domestic church can fill every second with the praise and blessing of God.
This article by Diana Macalintal originally appeared in Eucharistic Ministries, August 2004.
FILED UNDER: PRAYERS AND BLESSINGS