The Catholic Defender: Living The Blessing
Many times being deployed in the field, in the United States or placed over seas, it is popular to say we are "living the legend". Sometimes we might say, "living the dream" when we are in the middle of taking on high stress situations. Well, sometimes it is even better to know that we are "living the blessing"! How many times have you heard someone bless you or friends in a casual manner? Importantly, we leave Mass receiving a blessing to go into the world taking that blessing we have recieved into the world. The blessing at the end of Mass is called "Invocative Blessing". This is the same blessing you recieve when a Priest blesses your home or visits the sick in the hospital. That is an invocative blessing. The Priest invokes (Latin voco) which simply means to call upon the Lord. It is a calling upon the Lord to bless those whom the Priest is blessing. An example of a blessing from a Priest would be, "May the blessing of God come down upon you and remain with you forever. Amen". There is nothing magical or superstitious about blessings . God is the One who does the blessing. One blessing is for people and the other is for things, such as rosaries, bibles, medals, and similar items. The blessing for people is called an Invocative Blessing and the blessing for things is called a Constitutive Blessing.
Examples of the Constitutive Blessing are religious medals. Constitutive blessings are blessings for things, the word constitutive is taken from the Latin verb "constituo". This means to determine or to make known. Blessings recieved through praying the rosary, using holy medals such as the Miraculas Medal, reading the bible are seen as sacred. Objects of blessings represent the prayers of the Saints. Acts 19:11-12 states, "God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them." An example of a blessing offered by the Priest for a bible: "Almighty God, we ask your blessing upon this bible. May it be a source of learning and blessing for all those who read it. We ask this through our Christ our Lord. Amen". Blessing of homes, here is an example of a blessing: "Almighty God, we ask your blessing upon this home. Bless it and protect it from all trouble such as fire, storms and floods, and may the peace of your Son, Christ, be in this home and in the hearts of those living here." Blessings are either spiritual or physical, they can be offered by clergy and laity, though they are different. When you are blessed by a Priest, this carries weight as we have seen with St. Paul. When a lay person is blessing someone, it falls in as a "Sacramental". The blessing of someone is creating a change.
Still, to receive a blessing it is important to know where the source is coming from. A blessing can actually be a curse becase the evil one has no power to offer a blessing. It is very common to ask for prayer from people, even if they are not Catholic. A Grandmother who might be a Protestant, can you ask them to pray for you? This is an important question. Can we respect cultures that are not Christian giving a blessing from their heart? I think that the Catholic Church would say that you can receive a blessing from someone with good intentions. This is at a different level that the Priest offering the blessings at Mass or any of the Sacraments. What makes a blessing from a Catholic Priest or any Catholic different from other Christians, from other religions? I believe there is a sharp distinction between Catholics and anyone else. As Catholics, this is kind of built into us so as to respect our Priests as holy men serving God. Even Priests who have done wrong, the Virgin Mary said at Fatima that we should never judge a Priest because they will have a severe judgment from Jesus if they are scandalous. We should pray for our Priests. Sometimes it might be a blessing to suffer, what ever helps us grow in our faith, we can see the hand of God throughout our lives. Sometimes, we might not know it until you look back and see how the Lord has had his hand in your life.
I do believe that if we are living in God's grace, we are blessed. By bringing Christ to the world by our witness, like Mary, we become a blessed person. Living the life of the Sacraments, we are living the blessing. So, next time someone asks you how you are doing, just tell them, "I'm living the blessing"!
St. Francis once noted that if he had an angel to his right and a Catholic priest to his left, he would first recognize the Priest because it is his right hand of blessing that offers Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
A non-Catholic cannot ordinarily recieve the Eucharist, but they can recieve a blessing from the person offering the Eucharist.