Witness Blessings — By Fr. Rich, O.P.
Words have power. Ritual actions have power. When combined, words that color ritual action potentially have a profound impact on those who witness the moment. The words of our heroes and scoundrels, saints and sinners, athletes and politicians, musicians and poets; they ring through the years and the ages, still full of their original power and passion. The rituals that capture our attention — funerals, weddings, baptisms, graduations, inaugural events, marches powered by the passion of those in the streets — their ability to engage us, motivate us, stop us, and bring us to our feet or our knees is frequently palpable.
This time of year, we are frequently treated to a plethora of blessings; for graduates, for first communicates, for mothers. During each of the liturgical seasons, celebrants have options for solemn blessings to close the Eucharistic celebration (ritual).
“When combined, words that color ritual action potentially have a profound impact on those who witness the moment.” (I’ve always wanted to be quoted) That sentence is accurate, if … If those who hear and witness to the event are present to that particular moment, not just present, but attentive and open to the language and the ritual. A profound impact presumes openness by those upon whom the blessing is conferred; openness to God’s grace and love entering into hearts and souls hungry for God’s presence.
The challenge, frequently, is to not grow complacent or jaded in the witnessing and accepting of the words and ritual. Too often, the “AMEN!” that is meant to follow the completion of the ritual is pro forma and automatic, simply one more response in a ritual that we hope is soon over.
Our participation in the rituals and blessings that punctuate, enhance, and energize our lives should be intentional and attentive. Driven by our happiness at being with our faith community; being happy that we are nurtured and enlivened by one another’s presence.
So I leave you with this blessing:
Go forth into the world in peace;
be of good courage;
hold fast that which is good;
render to no one evil for evil;
strengthen the fainthearted;
support the weak;
help the afflicted;
love and serve the Lord,
rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always. Amen!
Cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:13-22