Bless us, everyone!

Christ giving his blessing Hans Memling, 1481 Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Christ giving his blessing
Hans Memling, 1481
Photo: Wikimedia Commons


“I think it is a big mistake to perpetuate the illusion that only certain people can bless things.  Not everyone is vulnerable to this illusion, I know. Plenty of people say grace over meals in their own homes, asking God to bless the food they are about to receive from the divine bounty. A number more bless their children at bedtime, asking God to bring those children safely through the night. Where I live, you can sneeze in line at the post office and receive half a dozen blessings from people you do not even know.

… a blessing does not confer holiness. The holiness is already there, embedded in the very givenness of the thing….Because God made these beings, they share in God’s own holiness, whether or not they meet your minimum requirements for a blessing.

…That we are able to bless one another at all is evidence that we have been blessed, whether we can remember when or not. That we are willing to bless one another is miracle enough to stagger the very stars.”


Excerpts from “The Practice of Pronouncing Blessings” in An Altar in the World. A Geography of Faith, by Barbara Brown Taylor.


  1. Bob says:

    I think the blessing I pass to another is an abbreviation of
    “May God bless you for……” And by the way, does Christ in the painting bless with two or three fingers?

  2. Awc says:

    Funny you should mention that. While I was looking for an image of blessing I took a little excursion into the history of gestures and the way they’re used in paintings. Learned about their relation to Roman oratory and other religious traditions–even took a look at monastic sign languages. Fascinating.
    You might enjoy looking at the IconReader blog.

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