"Father give the blessing"

by Basil Skiadas

The phrase "give the blessing" has become the norm to orthodox monasticism and to the clergy instead of the usual social greetings.

Is this because of a custom with deeper meaning or just another empty saying? Firstly, what is the meaning of the verb "I bless"? There are three meanings to this verb.

Firstly, God Blesses man granting to him his spiritual and natural gifts. By granting his blessing to man, God shows his praise for man's devotion to him. He supports man with this method so that man reciprocates in his spiritual struggle to live "in peace and repentance". God grants, as long as man asks for it, the Grace of the Holy Spirit, so that man can be guided to salvation and redemption.

Also with his blessing, God gives man the ability to "move from the darkness of evil to the light of Christ" according to St. Makarios of Egypt. Finally, God supports man so as to acquire the essential and not the unnecessary things for life.

God grants his blessing through his clergy, who have the authority from the treasury of Divine Grace, the Church, to bless on God's behalf persons and objects.

In his turn, man blesses God. This happens when he "blesses" God with worship, by offering the praise and glory, which are due to Him. When we bless God, we glorify and worship him voluntarily. God does not have need for our praises, but we have the need to express our will and love towards God. It is not by chance that we start our holy Services with "Blessed is our God always...".

With the continuous blessing of God man is freed from the "control of the sensory" and acquires the peace of the heart and the calmness of the thoughts. He is established in the remembrance of God and walks the way of salvation, which is to bring God to mind and remember him always. A human being far from remembrance of God is like a fish out of water.

Finally man blesses his fellow man. With our blessing i.e., our good towards our fellow man we practice the commandment of the Lord: "Bless those who curse you" (Matt. 5:14). In other words, with this commandment the Lord asks us to pray to God that he may send his mercy and goodness to those who curse us and hate us especially for our religious convictions. Here we find the greatest difficulty in the practice of "WE BLESS" to our fellow man, because we have to fight our evil self, which tends to put down and slander others. It is a fact that if this "blessing" characterised us and our relation to our fellow man, think what conflicts and misunderstandings would and could be averted in our everyday life.

OUR BLESSING, therefore, is called upon to rise vertically towards God and horizontally towards our fellow man. Instead of the empty and sterile of meaning phrases by which we will give answer to the Lord - it is more appropriate and preferable to bless. To bless first the trihypostatic God and after that our fellow man. This way we also have the "BLESSING" of God and will be accounted with the Angels and the righteous who continually bless God.

Translated and adapted by Fr. J.Scherstobit from
the periodical PIRAEKE ECCLESIA

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