Author Topic: Bless you, or God bless you  (Read 1445 times)

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Offline Peacemaker

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Bless you, or God bless you
« on: July 11, 2013, 09:31:53 PM »
You can look on wikipedia for this sayings origin. Let's talk about those who aren't priest or bishops using this saying and using it when talking to priest and bishops. As we all know (at least I hope) a priest would never bless a bishop, it is the bishop who blesses the priest and both bless the people. This is a rule of the Church and proper etiquette. We as laity can never give a blessing to a priest or bishop and those words should never be said, we don't have the grace to do so. I've heard from many clergy who notice this and see it as a problem in our society. But yet we still use this saying in our day to day life. Asking blessings for family members, telling priest "bless you and your mission" and many other circumstances. Is it due to a social influence? Not to condemn anyone who uses this saying, however it should not become common practice in the Orthodox church. We have a hierarchy and rules for a reason, it keeps our faith pure and helps hold strong onto the ancient traditions of the Church.

I am guilty of this first, after becoming orthodox I didn't stop saying this phrase due to convert zeal or piety. I was told by clergy, "you should not say that." But yet here we are; I see it many times, people continue to use it in conversation. What are your thoughts on the subject?

Now I am aware that there are some circumstances where it is common practice. Such as, senior monks who are not priests will bless the food if a priest isn't around. Elders will give blessings, this is very common on Mt Athos. Greek grandmothers will bless their children.

Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: Bless you, or God bless you
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2013, 09:53:58 PM »
My personal opinion is that context is usually enough to make it clear that the people saying "God bless you" or "May God bless your ministry in your new parish" or whatever do not intend to confer a blessing upon the person they are talking to the way a priest would, but instead are offering a sort of prayer for God's blessing upon that person.  A layperson doesn't usually wish a priest "God bless you" and push his fist into the priest's face expecting a bow and a kiss, after all.  Similarly, when I pray "Lord, have mercy" for someone, I don't imagine I'm offering a sacramental absolution.       

Maybe "back home" such things aren't done, but those are generally Orthodox cultures, and this is not.  Here, in the larger culture, such "blessings" aren't really what we'd call blessings but rather prayers.  So I don't see this as a big deal.  If one is not in the habit of saying such things, one shouldn't start, but if it comes naturally, I wouldn't sweat it.  But again, that's just my opinion.

Incidentally, it's not entirely accurate to say that a bishop is never blessed by a priest.  Different traditions have different rubrics regarding such things, but sometimes it is not optional for a bishop to receive the blessing of a priest.  If a priest hears a bishop's confession, or if he anoints a bishop during the Sacrament of Unction, for example, a blessing is a part of the rite.   
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Offline LizaSymonenko

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Re: Bless you, or God bless you
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2013, 10:06:29 PM »

This is actually a very good question, that I have seen come up often.

I am aware that we, laypeople, are not to "bless" clergy....and I've been really careful not to do so.  However, what would be the harm in saying "May God bless you in your efforts, etc."?  You aren't blessing them, nor are you inferring that God is blessing them through you, you are simply asking that God bless them.

When writing a greeting card to a clergyman....what does one say?  My usual is hoping that God blesses the individual with good health, happiness, etc.  What does one say on a card to a priest, then?  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year?  Happy Birthday!  ...and that's it?

Plus, what is wrong with laypeople asking that God bless other laypersons?  For example, for the majority of my days, my mother has "blessed" me, in fact, asking for God's blessing to be upon me (that He keeps me safe, that everything goes well...)....every time I leave the house.  When I went to school, then to college, than to work....every single day that she's been with me. 

I find it a great comfort.

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Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: Bless you, or God bless you
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2013, 11:16:00 PM »
Laity bless clergy all the time
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Offline Maximum Bob

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Re: Bless you, or God bless you
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2013, 11:51:24 PM »
Laity bless clergy all the time

Could you elaborate on this in our context. I admit I've said similar things by accident and and never been corrected, but I've always felt guilty in so doing. While I don't intend to make a common use of the practice it would be nice to feel less guilty if I slip up.
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Offline LBK

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Re: Bless you, or God bless you
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2013, 12:14:01 AM »
My personal opinion is that context is usually enough to make it clear that the people saying "God bless you" or "May God bless your ministry in your new parish" or whatever do not intend to confer a blessing upon the person they are talking to the way a priest would, but instead are offering a sort of prayer for God's blessing upon that person.  A layperson doesn't usually wish a priest "God bless you" and push his fist into the priest's face expecting a bow and a kiss, after all.  Similarly, when I pray "Lord, have mercy" for someone, I don't imagine I'm offering a sacramental absolution.       

Maybe "back home" such things aren't done, but those are generally Orthodox cultures, and this is not.  Here, in the larger culture, such "blessings" aren't really what we'd call blessings but rather prayers.  So I don't see this as a big deal.  If one is not in the habit of saying such things, one shouldn't start, but if it comes naturally, I wouldn't sweat it.  But again, that's just my opinion.

Incidentally, it's not entirely accurate to say that a bishop is never blessed by a priest.  Different traditions have different rubrics regarding such things, but sometimes it is not optional for a bishop to receive the blessing of a priest.  If a priest hears a bishop's confession, or if he anoints a bishop during the Sacrament of Unction, for example, a blessing is a part of the rite.   

This.
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Re: Bless you, or God bless you
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2013, 02:24:49 AM »
We as laity can never give a blessing to a priest or bishop and those words should never be said, we don't have the grace to do so.
There is nothing wrong with saying bless you to non-clergy.
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Offline IoanC

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Re: Bless you, or God bless you
« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2013, 04:47:03 AM »
You can bless someone on a personal level, as in pray for them, same as saying "Lord, help you!", and this can be said by both priests and laity. However, priests can administer God's blessing and sacraments and they are invested with this Grace; this is not something they do on a personal level (they do it for God, even though personally they are undoubtedly involved and responsible), and this is not something that laity is invested to do.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2013, 04:56:44 AM by IoanC »

Offline Shiny

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Re: Bless you, or God bless you
« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2013, 08:46:18 AM »
What about a sneeze
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Offline LizaSymonenko

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Re: Bless you, or God bless you
« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2013, 09:06:10 AM »

God bless you!
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Offline Orthodox11

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Re: Bless you, or God bless you
« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2013, 09:11:13 AM »
What about a sneeze

And with your spirit

Offline LizaSymonenko

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Re: Bless you, or God bless you
« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2013, 09:32:58 AM »
 ^ Ha ha!  That's funny!  Especially as in old days people used to teach that one ought to keep their mouth closed when sneezing (and yawning) in order that nobody snatch their spirit.
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Offline Sinful Hypocrite

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Re: Bless you, or God bless you
« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2013, 07:53:01 PM »
I read some of these things and think what would Jesus say about it.

 God sees what is in your heart is what Christ taught, he knows what you need before you ask, and he knows if you are sincere .

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Re: Bless you, or God bless you
« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2013, 07:55:54 PM »
I was going to bring up all those times in the Psalms where the author says they will bless God (and by extension, when Christians pray with the Psalter they say they will bless God), but I'm sure someone could explain that "bless" there actually means praise or something, so...  um...  yeah, I don't say God bless to priests, but I am just audacious enough to try it with regular folk.  :)

Offline LBK

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Re: Bless you, or God bless you
« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2013, 08:01:53 PM »
I was going to bring up all those times in the Psalms where the author says they will bless God (and by extension, when Christians pray with the Psalter they say they will bless God), but I'm sure someone could explain that "bless" there actually means praise or something, so...  um...  yeah, I don't say God bless to priests, but I am just audacious enough to try it with regular folk.  :)

The word bless indeed means to praise, as clearly seen in the Greek and Slavonic forms of the word: evloghia, blagoslovit'. Literally, these words mean to say good words.
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Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: Bless you, or God bless you
« Reply #15 on: July 12, 2013, 08:02:33 PM »
Laity bless clergy all the time

Could you elaborate on this in our context. I admit I've said similar things by accident and and never been corrected, but I've always felt guilty in so doing. While I don't intend to make a common use of the practice it would be nice to feel less guilty if I slip up.

What is a blessing? It is, in fact, broadly defined. You ask a priest for a blessing and he says something like, "The Lord bless you," or in Greek "O Kyrios." So, in effect, it is not the person of the priest giving the blessing, from his viewpoint, but God, the source of all blessings.

Several holy priestmonks (among them Papa Tychon, Elder Paisios' elder, and Elder Augustine about whom Elder Paisios wrote) would ask laymen, even children, for their blessing before giving a blessing.

Of course, there is a hierarchical order of things, but, really, not saying "God bless you" after a clergyman sneezes is, for lack of a better term at the moment, out of place.
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Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: Bless you, or God bless you
« Reply #16 on: July 12, 2013, 08:05:11 PM »
I was going to bring up all those times in the Psalms where the author says they will bless God (and by extension, when Christians pray with the Psalter they say they will bless God), but I'm sure someone could explain that "bless" there actually means praise or something, so...  um...  yeah, I don't say God bless to priests, but I am just audacious enough to try it with regular folk.  :)

"Bless the Lord, O my soul..."

When we bless God, the source of all blessings, it is, in a way, like offering bread and wine, which are His, back to Him.
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Re: Bless you, or God bless you
« Reply #17 on: July 12, 2013, 09:44:50 PM »

"Bless the Lord, O my soul..."


Good reference.

Conquer evil men by your gentle kindness, and make zealous men wonder at your goodness. Put the lover of legality to shame by your compassion. With the afflicted be afflicted in mind. Love all men, but keep distant from all men.
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Offline Maximum Bob

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Re: Bless you, or God bless you
« Reply #18 on: July 12, 2013, 10:41:05 PM »
Thank you Shanghaiski.
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Offline Peacemaker

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Re: Bless you, or God bless you
« Reply #19 on: July 12, 2013, 11:05:46 PM »
I was going to bring up all those times in the Psalms where the author says they will bless God (and by extension, when Christians pray with the Psalter they say they will bless God), but I'm sure someone could explain that "bless" there actually means praise or something, so...  um...  yeah, I don't say God bless to priests, but I am just audacious enough to try it with regular folk.  :)

"Bless the Lord, O my soul..."

When we bless God, the source of all blessings, it is, in a way, like offering bread and wine, which are His, back to Him.

What is that in the greek, Ευλόγει η Ψυχή μου τον Κύριον. I don't think that "the" is meaning we are offering blessings to the Lord, we are asking the Lord to bless our soul.

Offline Shanghaiski

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Re: Bless you, or God bless you
« Reply #20 on: July 12, 2013, 11:52:12 PM »
I was going to bring up all those times in the Psalms where the author says they will bless God (and by extension, when Christians pray with the Psalter they say they will bless God), but I'm sure someone could explain that "bless" there actually means praise or something, so...  um...  yeah, I don't say God bless to priests, but I am just audacious enough to try it with regular folk.  :)

"Bless the Lord, O my soul..."

When we bless God, the source of all blessings, it is, in a way, like offering bread and wine, which are His, back to Him.

What is that in the greek, Ευλόγει η Ψυχή μου τον Κύριον. I don't think that "the" is meaning we are offering blessings to the Lord, we are asking the Lord to bless our soul.

Then it would be, "Bless my soul, O Lord." No, we bless God. "Blessed is our God" at the beginning of Liturgy is blessing God. All the many other times in the Old Testament God is blessed. And also, "Blessed is God who wills all men to be saved." God is blessed, and so we bless God. In the LXX Job, Job is told, "Bless God and die."
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Offline LBK

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Re: Bless you, or God bless you
« Reply #21 on: July 12, 2013, 11:57:15 PM »
I was going to bring up all those times in the Psalms where the author says they will bless God (and by extension, when Christians pray with the Psalter they say they will bless God), but I'm sure someone could explain that "bless" there actually means praise or something, so...  um...  yeah, I don't say God bless to priests, but I am just audacious enough to try it with regular folk.  :)

"Bless the Lord, O my soul..."

When we bless God, the source of all blessings, it is, in a way, like offering bread and wine, which are His, back to Him.

What is that in the greek, Ευλόγει η Ψυχή μου τον Κύριον. I don't think that "the" is meaning we are offering blessings to the Lord, we are asking the Lord to bless our soul.

Ευλόγει is definitely referring to the soul blessing or praising God.
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Re: Bless you, or God bless you
« Reply #22 on: July 13, 2013, 12:14:03 AM »
What is that in the greek, Ευλόγει η Ψυχή μου τον Κύριον. I don't think that "the" is meaning we are offering blessings to the Lord, we are asking the Lord to bless our soul.

Nope.  Definitely the soul exhorting itself to bless the Lord.  Same in Syriac as in Greek.
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Offline ialmisry

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Re: Bless you, or God bless you
« Reply #23 on: July 19, 2013, 08:48:04 AM »
What is that in the greek, Ευλόγει η Ψυχή μου τον Κύριον. I don't think that "the" is meaning we are offering blessings to the Lord, we are asking the Lord to bless our soul.

Nope.  Definitely the soul exhorting itself to bless the Lord.  Same in Syriac as in Greek.
and Hebrew (and Arabic) where that is even more strongly underlined (the Semitic feminine being used for the soul, in contrast to the masculine "Lord").
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Re: Bless you, or God bless you
« Reply #24 on: July 19, 2013, 10:35:42 AM »
I do not know Greek, but I was just thinking that during Divine Liturgy, when it is time for the Epiklisis, that we prostrate ourselves or kneel and sing, "We hymn you, we bless you . . .".  I cannot remember the exact words, and I do not have our Divine Liturgy book with me, but I do remember that we use the word "Bless" in that song.  Perhaps the Greek can be translated a different way? :-\
« Last Edit: July 19, 2013, 10:36:09 AM by Gamliel »

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Re: Bless you, or God bless you
« Reply #25 on: July 19, 2013, 08:17:37 PM »
I do not know Greek, but I was just thinking that during Divine Liturgy, when it is time for the Epiklisis, that we prostrate ourselves or kneel and sing, "We hymn you, we bless you . . .".  I cannot remember the exact words, and I do not have our Divine Liturgy book with me, but I do remember that we use the word "Bless" in that song.  Perhaps the Greek can be translated a different way? :-\

The Greek (transliterated) is: Se ymnoume, Se evloghoume ... Yep, it's bless. It's exactly the same in Slavonic: Tebe poyem, tebe blagoslovim.
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