Good for the Family: The practice of blessing

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What do we think of when we think of a giving a blessing? Something a priest might do in church… or a wish for someone’s good health … a response to a sneeze. Blessings can and ought to be included in our everyday family life. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “Sacramentals derive from the baptismal priesthood: every baptized person is called to be a ‘blessing’ and to bless” (CCC, 1669).

Parents: You signed your child with the sign of the cross on the day of their Baptism. You can continue to do this on many occasions. In our home, we have a small Holy Water font next to our front and back doors. As we use it, we are asking for a blessing as we go and come.

I can easily say: “I love you. Have a good day,” as my child rushes out the door. However, a blessing doesn’t take much longer. Simply say “Dear God, bless ________________ (name), with ___________ (safety, knowledge, love, whatever is needed), as they ____________ (add the event). Then make the sign of the cross on their forehead.

Begin with a blessing

Beginnings are a wonderful time for blessings. One at the start of a new school year or the beginning of a new after-school activity fits easily into family life. When someone is sick at home, or dealing with an injury, a simple blessing for healing is a connection to the healing power of Jesus.

Ask God to bless you with calmness, patience, and fun as you begin a family car trip or vacation. A prayer of blessing during stressful times such as before a big exam, game or performance connects us to the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Ask your children to bless you as you begin a new job or venture. Include a blessing when celebrating birthdays or anniversaries. End the day with a bedtime blessing for sweet dreams and angels to keep watch.

Bless what’s meaningful to us, great and small

We can bless objects also. Saying grace before a meal asks God to bless the food. Perhaps your child brought home a blessing for the Christmas tree or Advent wreath. Many people pray the Epiphany blessing, using chalk to write the year in Roman numerals above the door of their home. Some holiday traditions bless special bread to be shared with everyone at the Christmas or Easter meal. You can bless a new backpack, new skateboard, new phone or anything new. I know a father who blessed both his son and the car when his child got a driver’s license. Simply say, “God bless this ___________. May it be a source of ____________ for _____________.” If you want, sprinkle the item with a little Holy Water or water you bless for this purpose.

A blessing need not be any more awkward than a hug. It is a sign of love and God’s presence. Others present may be touched and blessed also. Holding our newborn grandson for the first time, my husband made a small cross on his forehead and said, “God bless you little one.” There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.


Eileen Morgan has worked in the field of catechetics since 1980 as Director or Coordinator of Faith Formation in diverse types of parishes. As a Master Catechist for the Diocese of San Diego and the Diocese of San Bernardino, she developed youth and adult retreats, catechist education and certification courses, and models for Family Catechesis for Sacrament preparation and primary grade catechesis. She continues to offer workshops today.

Image credit: Anastasia Gevko / Shutter Stock 640441333

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