Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap
In the past decades there has been the holy habit of asking a priest to bless us. Unfortunately, nowadays, it seems that this wonderful habit has been dwindling. We are somehow loosing this beautiful grace God wants to impart upon us and our families.
The Bible, precisely in the Book of Numbers, gives us the priestly blessing with which “Aaron and his sons” (Num 6:23), were to start blessing the people of Israel. The Lord handed on to Moses a prescribed formula for imparting this blessing: “TheLord 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” (Num 6:24-26). The Lord sealed this powerful blessing by saying: “So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them” (Num 6:27).
Fr Ernest Graf O.S.B, way back in 1949, wrote an interesting article entitled ThePriestly Power to Bless. In that article Fr Graf surveys the power of the ministerial priesthood to bless both persons as well as things. When tackling the effects of thepriestly blessing Fr Graf points out that “when the Church exercises her divinely given power of blessing persons and things, she bestows upon these persons or things a special consecration or holiness. The priestly blessing is akin, in its efficaciousness, to the virtue of the Sacraments in the sense that, just as in the Sacraments the carrying out of an external rite signifies and actually produces an inward grace, so the external rite or ceremony of blessing bestows upon the soul certain special, though passing, helps of grace. The priestly blessing does not directly cause an increase of sanctifying grace, for this is the effect of the Sacraments; it bestows what is called actual grace — that divine energy which the soul needs in the countless emergencies and difficulties of our daily struggle with the devil, sin, and our own fallen nature”.
All of us need that divine energy which comes from the priestly blessing to better deal with the many challenging situations we all face in our daily living. Our constant combat with the devil, sin and our weakness has to be sustained by that divine energy called blessing.
The famous German mystic, stigmatic, and Third Order member of St Francis, whose beatification cause has been officially kicked off by the Vatican in 2005, Therese Neumann (1898-1962), presents a deep insight into the priestly blessing. In fact, Jesus offers Therese a thorough reflection of what actually happens when a priest blesses.
“My dear Child, I wish to teach you to receive My Blessing with fervor. Realize that something vast takes place when you receive the Blessing of my Priest. The Blessing is an outpouring of My Divine holiness. Open your soul and let it become holy through the Blessing. The Blessing is a heavenly dew for the soul, through which all that is done can be made fruitful….Through the power to bless, I have given the priest the power to open the treasury of My Heart and to pour out from It the ‘rain’ of graces on souls. When the priest blesses, I bless. Then a vast stream of graces from My Sacred Heart flows into a soul to its fullest capacity. By recollection, keep your heart open, in order not to lose the benefit of the Blessing. Through My Blessing, you receive the grace to love, strength to endure suffering, and assistance for body and soul.
My holy Blessing contains all help for the necessities of mankind. Through theBlessing you are given the strength and desire to seek good, to shun evil, and to enjoy the protection of My children against the powers of darkness. It is a great privilege when you are permitted to receive the Blessing. You cannot comprehend how much mercy I extend through it to you. Therefore, never receive the Blessing in a matter-of-fact or thoughtless way. As poor as you are before receiving the Blessing, you are rich after receiving it”.
If you really want to be fortified by that divine energy to combat sin, the world and the devil’s temptations never tire of asking us, priests, to bless you. All you have todo is … ask him for it!