Monday, 16 January 2012
Blessing of an engaged couple
One of the most useful books I possess as a priest is the "Book of Blessings." When I was in parish ministry I used it for blessing families in their homes during Eastertide. At Leeds Trinity I've adapted it: now I bless students' rooms at the beginning of the academic year. I once blessed a couple of large accommodation blocks at Wetherby Young Offenders' Institution immediately after lunch: the officers called the lads to order and they were very respectful. They appreciated the religious drama of me striding around in an alb scattering water everywhere (and I must say that I enjoyed the moment just as much!). I remember on another occasion going round to the family home of a poor young man was a heroin addict. "Give your strength to N, your servant, bound by the chains of addiction. Enfold him in your love and restore him to the freedom of God's children," I said, as he sat there, pale and emaciated, on the sofa, longing for God's help. There have been lots of happier moments too: blessings, for example, of shops, cars, a gymnasium, a mother before childbirth and innumerable throats on St Blaise's Day (3rd February). I have found that everybody instinctively wants a blessing. We intuit that it is an important way in which God offers us his unfathomable help. We do not need to prepare for it over a period of time, as we do to receive a sacrament. We just need to be personally, physically, present.