Apr. 28, 2016

HOME BLESSING IS FOR EVERYONE!

I have had people ask me, “Is home blessing for Catholics only?” My immediate answer was no. I still repeat that answer here. Home blessing is not meant for Catholic homes alone.  I have been invited by non-Catholics to have their homes blessed in the past. I got them involved in the blessings of God.

When God told Moses, “Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them: This is how you shall bless the Israelites” (Num.6:23), the term “Israelites” represented a universal figure of those who believed in God in the Old Testament. And when Christ sent out his disciples, his words were, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…” (Matt.28:19). After his resurrection he commanded them, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts1:8). The mission to evangelize and to spread the good news of Christ is not limited to or for particular person, religion or sect. Christ wants his blessing to reach out and touch all irrespective of religious affiliation. Home blessing is not for Catholics alone.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Church has what is called sacraments. The sacraments are efficacious signs which represent the actions of Jesus in the world- baptizing, healing, feeding, anointing, forgiving, sanctifying marriages, etc. These constitute the seven sacraments of the church today. They can only be celebrated by ordained ministers of the church following rituals which guide such celebrations. These ordained persons could be bishops, priests or deacons each according to his office and rights to administer such sacraments within the church’s liturgical rules.

Home blessing is not a sacrament and not a liturgical celebration. However, home blessing may fall under or involve use of sacramentals in the Catholic Church. One may ask what sacramentals are, and can they prevent blessing home of non-Catholics. In the Catholic Church, sacramentals are sacred signs instituted by the Church to prepare us to receive the fruit of the sacraments and to sanctify different circumstances of our lives (Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1677). For example, crucifix, holy water, rosary, blessed salt, icons and other articles are what we call sacramentals.  The answer may be no, even though I always advise the use of sacramentals such as holy water to bless a home. I once had a call from a non-denominational Christian to have her home blessed. The question I asked was why invite me to bless her home since she was not catholic, and knew I was a priest. She said bluntly that all she wanted was to have her home blessed, period. After I explained to her what we usually did, she was comfortable and said any prayers or use of sacramental would be welcome by her in as much as they invoked divine presence. She also had the choice to request blessing from her pastor. But she was fine with me. The crucifix for instance, invokes the presence of Christ crucified on the Cross. It would be a symbol of faith in Christ who conquers death, sin and darkness if this sacramental is kept in the home after home blessing.

What could prevent a home blessing? The only thing that could prevent a home blessing is the individual who owns the home. It is the individual who invites a priest or pastor to have her/his home blessed. And who can bless the home? I recommend letting the pastor of your church come over to bless your home. As a child of God, everyone has the power to pray and to bless. The important element we all need and possess intrinsically is faith in Christ Jesus who died and rose for us. In that sense, everyone can bless, or pray. By the way, we all bless the food we eat. But technically, priests/pastors have special mission and anointing by power of ordination. They have been set apart for a purpose of blessing the people. They perform special sacrifices for the people. They fast, mortify their bodies for the sake of their ministries and the flock entrusted to them by God. That was the position of Moses, Aaron, Joshua and priests of the Old Testament. In the New Testament, Christ chose the apostles to continue the work of ministering to his flock. When the early Christians had conflict with performing the daily ministries, the apostles appointed deacons to join in the service because they didn’t want to compromise their ministries. Their words were, “Then we can appoint those men over this business, and we apostles will continue to devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word" (Acts 6:1-4). What differentiates the blessing of a priest from any other blessing is that the priest’s hands have been anointed at ordination for the sole purpose of blessing. It is the role of priests and pastors to bless and to commit themselves to prayers for the people.

Is home blessing a recommendation? Yes. I recommend that Christians have their homes blessed. It is an invitation to let God dwell and sanctify the living place of his people. Like Jacob, most of us do not experience true presence of God in our home until it receives special prayers and blessings. We battle with forces of darkness, hatred and confusion. We battle with unforgiveness and failure. Jacob woke up only after God’s blessing of his home and exclaimed, “Truly, the Lord is in this place, although I did not know it” (Gen.28:16). God is in our homes. We need to know it and acknowledge his presence always. We have to enthrone him over the devil. We have to keep making God’s presence ever new and constant in the homes where we dwell. We have to have our homes blessed by the priest.