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Sacred Signs
by Romano Guardini

BLESSING



HE alone can bless that has the power. He alone is able to bless

who is able to create. God alone can bless.



God, when he blesses his creature, looks upon him and calls him

by his name and brings his all powerful love to bear upon the

pith and centre of his being and pours out from his hand the

power of fruitfulness, the power of growth and increase, of

health and goodness. "I will keep mine eye upon you and make you

to increase."



Only God can bless. Blessing is the disposition to be made of

what a thing is or effects. It is the word of power of the Master

of Creation. It is the promise and assurance of the Lord of

Providence. Blessing bestows a happy destiny. Nietzsche's remark,

that instead of asking favours we should confer blessings, is the

saying of a rebel. He well understood his own meaning. God only

can bless since God only is the master of life. By our nature we

are petitioners. The contrary of blessing is cursing. A curse is

a sentence and a seal of mischief. It is, like blessing, a

judgment imprinted upon the forehead and the heart. It shuts off

the sources of life.



God has imparted a portion of his power to bless and to curse to

those whose vocation it is to create life. Parents possess this

power: "The blessing of the father establisheth the houses of the

children." Priests possess it. As parents engender natural life,

so the priest begets the supernatural life of grace. To give life

is the nature and office of both.



And he also may attain to the power of blessing who no longer

seeks himself but in perfect simplicity of heart wills to be the

servant of him Who has life in himself.



But the power to bless is always and only from God. It fails

wholly if we assume it of ourselves. By nature we are

petitioners, blessers only by God's grace,--just as we have the

virtue of authority, of effectual command, only by God's grace.



What applies to blessing applies also to cursing. "The mother's

curse rooteth up the foundations of the children's houses," that

is to say of their life and their well-being.



All the forms of nature are prefigurements of grace. The power of

effectual blessing, the power which the blessing actually

conveys, the real, the essential power, of which our natural life

is but a figure, is God's own life. It is with himself that God

blesses. The divine life is begotten by God's blessing. By it we

are made sharers in the divine nature by a pure gift, a grace,

bestowed on us by Christ. So also the sign of the cross is a

blessing in which God bestows upon us himself.



This power of divine blessings is merely lent to those who stand

in God's stead. Fathers and mothers have it by the sacrament of

Christian marriage. The priest has it by the sacrament of

ordination. By virtue of the sacrament of baptism and the

sacrament of confirmation,--which makes us kings and priests to

God,--there is given to those "who love God with all their heart

and all their mind and all their strength and their neighbors as

themselves', the power to bless with God's own life. To each of

these the power of blessing is given with such difference as the

nature of his apostleship determines.



The visible representation of blessing is the hand. By its

position and action it indicates the purpose of the blessing. In

Confirmation it is laid on the head so that the Spirit which has

its source in God may flow through it. When the hand signs the

cross on forehead or breast it is in order that the divine

plenitude may be poured out unstintedly. The hand, as it is the

instrument of making and shaping, is also the instrument of

spending and giving.



Finally there is the blessing given not by the hand but by the

All Holy himself with the sacramental body of Christ. Let it be

bestowed in profound reverence and subjection to the mystery.














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