Author Topic: Laity not allowed to bless?  (Read 1752 times)

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Offline Rosehip

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Laity not allowed to bless?
« on: October 17, 2008, 05:33:16 PM »
Recently this topic has surfaced on OC.net. I would like some clarification. GreekChef wrote a lovely post in which she quoted some NT verses regarding "blessing". In the context of these beautiful verses, I had always understood "blessing" to mean doing good to someone, loving them, etc. In short, a very Christian thing to do. Especially to our enemies. Much harder to accomplish, but always worth it in the long run. I believe we all have those in our lives who have wronged us, who have hurt us. I know I do. I need to pray for a spirit of forgiveness towards some of those people on a daily basis. It's like each new day I must begin anew.

However, I am learning also that for a layman to even bless a friend or loved one, or say "God bless you!" is wrong??? ??? This is rather shocking to me. Why so? I can well remember my godmother, a benevolent Siberian woman making the sign of the cross over me as I left her home one day as she said the words, "God bless you" to me. It was a beautiful moment. I have seen Greek daughters together with their mother receiving their father's blessing before receiving the Eucharist. Also a beautiful, touching scene.

We are surely all fortunate to be able to bless our children, our food, etc. So, where does this prohibition come from? It's new to me.

Thanks.
+ Our dear sister Martha (Rosehip) passed away on Dec 20, 2010.  May her memory be eternal! +

Offline Basil 320

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Re: Laity not allowed to bless?
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2008, 05:49:00 PM »
I've never heard this one.  I had read in a traditionalist publication that a layman blesses with his or her fingers held as he or she would while crossing themselves.
« Last Edit: October 17, 2008, 05:50:41 PM by Basil 320 »
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Offline Fr. David

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Re: Laity not allowed to bless?
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2008, 06:11:29 PM »
^^My priest has said that the above is perfectly fine for me to do with my daughters and wife, though he said it's better to have that happen at home, privately.  If there's a priest present, defer to him.

That's our practice.
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Offline LBK

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Re: Laity not allowed to bless?
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2008, 06:18:56 PM »
Priests and bishops bless with the fingers of the right hand held in the ICXC arrangement; laymen bless with the fingers arranged as if one is crossing oneself, as Basil320 said. Laymen can certainly bless their children, their loved ones, their food before eating, even the steering wheel of their car before embarking on a journey.

The Slavs have a beautiful custom when they marry. The couple obtains a matched pair of icons, one of Christ, one of the Mother of God, some time before their wedding day. These icons are blessed in church, then each icon is taken home: the Christ icon by the future groom, the Mother of God icon by the future bride. On the day of the wedding, before they each leave the house to go to the church, the bride and groom are blessed with the respective icon by their parent/s. The icon is passed crosswise over the bride or groom, following the same movement as one would cross oneself. The bride or groom then venerates the icon. The icons are brought to the church, and are placed on an icon stand in a prominent position for the duration of the wedding ceremony. At the end of the service, after the customary "words of wisdom" from the priest, he blesses the couple with the icons, which the couple then takes to their home.

To say that laymen cannot bless in this way, or to say "God bless you" is simply and utterly wrong.
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Offline orthodoxlurker

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Re: Laity not allowed to bless?
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2008, 07:23:27 PM »
Recently this topic has surfaced on OC.net. I would like some clarification. GreekChef wrote a lovely post in which she quoted some NT verses regarding "blessing".

I'm sorry, sister, I was wrong there, and Cleveland corrected me rightfully. But the custom of giving blessings in casual conversation is non-existent, except to kids. But nothing about theology there (I think), just a culture.

I also ask forgiveness from you, and all other present sisters, for all disturbances my eruptive tone caused to you during the last days. I'm honestly sorry about it.
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Offline Carpatho Russian

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Re: Laity not allowed to bless?
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2008, 07:32:37 PM »
I, also, have never heard of this prohibition.  Having been born into a Carpatho Rusyn Orthodox household, I always remember either my mom or dad blessing us kids as we left for school and especially at bedtime after "tucking" us in and giving us a good night kiss.  What better way of falling asleep then knowing your parents love and having the sign of the cross to protect you throughout the night.
They would hold their fingers as if making the sign of the cross and then bless us touching our forehead, chest, right shoulder, then left shoulder.
I have seen older Slavic women also do the same at funerals, when they approached the deceased for the last kiss.

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Offline alexp4uni

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Re: Laity not allowed to bless?
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2008, 12:31:43 AM »
Should one make the sign of the cross after receiving communion? or Do hand gestures on top of the chest as an x-shape need to be done first after the priest serves you for the blessing to be initiated.

Offline ozgeorge

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Re: Laity not allowed to bless?
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2008, 01:42:07 AM »
I think it's just a matter of what people are used to. I always bless my Godchildren, and my parents always used to bless us. We make the sign of the Cross over the person holding our hands in the Trinity position (the same way we cross ourselves). We also bless food, (especially bread).  Bread is blessed this way before we bake it and is crossed with the knife before cutting it.
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Offline SolEX01

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Re: Laity not allowed to bless?
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2008, 01:57:09 AM »
I have asked the Lord to bless my estranged wife and son; Plus, I prayed over both of them via laying of hands (during hospital visits for each of them respectively).  I also remember them in my prayers in addition to parents, relatives, friends and people on this board.   ;)

Offline SolEX01

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Re: Laity not allowed to bless?
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2008, 01:58:13 AM »
Should one make the sign of the cross after receiving communion? or Do hand gestures on top of the chest as an x-shape need to be done first after the priest serves you for the blessing to be initiated.

I do not cross after receiving communion.  I read the post-communion prayers in the Liturgy book.

Offline Heorhij

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Re: Laity not allowed to bless?
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2008, 09:50:41 AM »
My Internet penpals who are Orthodox and Slavs (Ukrainians and Russians) do not say "God bless you" but, rather, "Christ save you" (Cпаси Вас Христос). The word "bless" seems to be, by custom, reserved for the immediate family, spouse and children. I always say "blessings of the Lord be on you" ("благословeння Господнє на тeбe") to my wife when I cross her before leaving for work in the morning. But I, indeed, do not feel quite comfortable saying "God bless you" to people who are not my family, because that makes me feel like I am mimicking a priest. Of course, I know, there is no *prohibition* to do that, but, still, there really exists a custom to have a priest give blessings.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2008, 09:51:30 AM by Heorhij »
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Offline ialmisry

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Re: Laity not allowed to bless?
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2008, 10:19:38 AM »
The phrase "Spasibo(h/g) [tebe]," 'thank you' in Russian, literally means "God save [you]."

I know that in the Opening Prayers, the "Blessed is Our God, Now and always..." is omitted when a priest is not present to give the blessing, and if I remember correctly, Typica services do not have censing even when the deacon officiats for the same reason.

Basically, I would take it that situations where clergy should be speaking officially for the Church, e.g. during the Services in the Church, no lay man should be leading, but in other situations, e.g. teaching the children the faith at home, in absence of the priest the parents, especially the father, act in his absence as far as that is possible (i.e. blessing, but no consecrating the Eucharist with Supper!).
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Offline Rosehip

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Re: Laity not allowed to bless?
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2008, 10:54:17 AM »
My Internet penpals who are Orthodox and Slavs (Ukrainians and Russians) do not say "God bless you" but, rather, "Christ save you" (Cпаси Вас Христос). The word "bless" seems to be, by custom, reserved for the immediate family, spouse and children. I always say "blessings of the Lord be on you" ("благословeння Господнє на тeбe") to my wife when I cross her before leaving for work in the morning. But I, indeed, do not feel quite comfortable saying "God bless you" to people who are not my family, because that makes me feel like I am mimicking a priest. Of course, I know, there is no *prohibition* to do that, but, still, there really exists a custom to have a priest give blessings.

That's a beautiful custom you share with your wife, George. But, as I have no family members who are Orthodox, I view my brothers and sisters in Christ as my actual family to a large degree.
+ Our dear sister Martha (Rosehip) passed away on Dec 20, 2010.  May her memory be eternal! +