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Godzdogz

The blog of the Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars, Oxford.

Built on the four pillars of our Dominican life – preaching, prayer, study, and community – Godzdogz offers many resources for exploring the Catholic Faith today.
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Popular Piety: Blessings

Thursday, October 24, 2013
'Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places’ (Ephesians 1: 3).

A blessing is a divine and life-giving action which has the Father as its source. This means that in the fullest sense of the word the whole of creation is a blessing. This creation, as we know, was damaged by sin but later restored through the divine blessing entering into human history in the events of salvation history which culminated in the triumph of Christ’s death and resurrection. In this new creation the blessings of God are communicated through Christ: he pours into our hearts ‘the Gift that contains all gifts’, the Holy Spirit, and it is in this Trinitarian dynamic that Christian liturgy and all Christian prayer becomes possible: our liturgy and our prayer is a response of faith and love to the blessings that the Father has bestowed on us in Christ; and the Church in the Spirit and through Christ blesses the Father in return. 

The Trinitarian prayer of the Church is centred on the celebration of the seven sacraments and has the Eucharist as its source and summit. The sacraments are efficacious signs, they make really present what they symbolize: that is, through these signs God shows us what he is doing to bring humanity to himself and actually does what he is showing us. In other words, in the sacraments Christ graciously reaches down through the centuries to bless us, to apply to Christians the merits of His sacrifice so that we might share His resurrection. The superabundant merits of Christ overflow onto us so that we can share in his Divine life, in this way the blessing of Christ also spills out beyond the sacramental liturgy into the rest of our lives. 
 
This ‘spilling over’ of the sacraments into our everyday lives can be moral or spiritual. For example, holy men and women are often said to lead ‘Eucharistic lives’: lives of sacrifice, love and thanksgiving that extend the sacrifice of mass into their everyday life. Complementing this moral and spiritual dimension, we can also think of our sacramental life spilling over into our devotional life through what the Church calls ‘sacramentals’. These are also sacred signs and as such they bear a resemblance to the sacraments, but their chief effect is to better dispose us to receive, embrace and co-operate with the transforming power of the sacraments themselves.

Sacramentals derive from our baptismal priesthood. Every Christian is called to be a blessing and to bless, that is, to be an instrument of divine gift and to offer thanksgiving. This makes blessings the most significant of all the sacramentals. Every blessing praises God and offers back to Him His gifts. When we invoke the name of Jesus and put people and things under the sign of Christ’s Cross, we offer these people and things to God as a gift so that he might turn them towards the sanctification of men and women. The practice, then, of blessing devotional items such as rosaries, objects that play a key role in structuring our lives such as our homes, even an object we work with such as a computer, and people, is a way of extending our sacramental life into our everyday life so that we might more fully embrace both in holiness and truth.

Nicholas Crowe OP

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