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Browsing Fr. Joel Hastings

How can WE bless God?

How are we to bless God? Who am I to bless God. He blesses us.

     A good question – pointing to how we use the word “bless” in multiple, but related ways.

     Normally, when we think of the word “bless,” our thoughts may direct us to the “act” of one who can bless or the giving of a blessing to another. For example, I would guess most every one of us at some point has asked to have something or someone blessed (a rosary, a cross, a bible, some other religious article, or even ourselves or others whom we love). This request might be made to God Himself in our prayers for blessings, or it may be asked to a priest or deacon whom we approach seeking the particular prayer of blessing. Accordingly, the word bless in this case is a verb (as in the act “to bless,” and in the gerundive form of the word: “blessing”) wherein the minister carries out an act of prayer by which the person or object becomes “blessed.” What is then received – the blessing – is consequent to the act of giving the blessing. In this way, it is quite clear that we do not necessarily bless God; it is He who blesses us.

     On the other hand, in the Scriptures there are passages that speak of how we “bless the Lord.” In particular, in Daniel 3:57-88 is the Prayer of Hananiah,
Azariah, and Mishael in the fiery furnace, which calls upon various creatures to “bless the Lord.” Certainly the creatures that are identified in their prayer do not pray over God as though they can offer anything to Him that is not already present within His being. Rather, that all creatures bless the Lord (both living beings and such creatures as the weather, the land, the waters, etc.) is a call for each and all to give glory to God by their being true to who they are made to be.  In this way, you and I can bless the Lord through our living in right relationship with Him, glorifying the Lord by our life (just like we say at the end of Mass! ...but I digress….). In this way, it is possible for us to “bless” God – not as an intentional prayer, but as a way of living in Him so as to glorify Him.

     Finally, I want to point to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, wherein the section on the topic of sacramentals describes blessings by first saying that we
ourselves are meant “to bless” and “to be blessings.” Included in this section (paragraphs 1667-1679) are distinctions within blessings over people versus those given to material things. Paragraph 1678 is perhaps most instructive: “Among the sacramental blessings occupy an important place. They include both praise of God for his works and gifts, and the Church’s intercession for men that they may be able to use God’s gifts according to the spirit of the Gospel.”

     In other words, it is important to understand blessings both as an act of praise to God (and therefore to “bless God”) and as a receiving of help from God through the prayers of the Church (the act of giving and receiving blessings). It is in these ways that we “become blessings” for one another and offer blessing to God – by living true to whom He has made us to be as His people.


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