Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Blessing the Children

“The little ones, the poor in spirit: they are the key figures of Christmas, in the past and in the present; they have always been the key figures of God’s history, the indefatigable builders of his Kingdom of justice, love and peace.” Benedict XVI

I started writing this on the  Feast of the Holy Innocents but got busy and missed the occasion.   But I still wanted to talk about one of the devotions mentioned at Catholic Culture for the Childermas --  the institution of the parental blessing.   From the article:  : 
As I go from bed to bed at night, I just make the sign of the Cross with my hand over each child while saying: "May God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost keep you safe this night."

The custom of blessing children is easiest to establish with a baby or toddler and it grows with them. For older children the realization that parental blessings are as old as the human race can be established from reading the Old Testament. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob blessed their children.

Before his journey Tobias blessed his son with the words: "May you have a good journey, and God be with you on your way, and His angels accompany you." I have seen a newly ordained priest kneel for his parents' blessing and then give them his first blessing. It is easy for a child who receives his father's or mother's blessing to see them as God's representatives.

Encouraging parental blessings, St. Ambrose says: "You may not be rich; you may be unable to bequeath great possessions to your children; but one thing you can give them — the heritage of your blessing. And it is better to be blessed than to be rich."

I too have been giving a blessing to my children at bedtime almost since we started homeschooling, starting when my older children were young and now doing the same with the younger children.  It felt awkward to me at first, but it was worth it, especially as it is very simple and fits in well with the ordinary bedtime ritual.    As they get older usually the bedtime blessings fade away as the older children become responsible for their own bedtime routine.   though one of my older ones kept asking for a nightly blessing up till he was over 18.  It was very sweet and I think helped him grow in grace and our relationship stay strong.

My youngest always blesses me back when I bless him.   We have a sort of nightly litany:

God bless you.  God bless you too!
Guardian angel protect you.  Guardian angel protect you too!
I pray that you have good dreams or none at all.  I pray the same for you!

And so on, sometimes at great length, with all kinds of variations!  It is a good way to end the day!

My special needs 12 year old is presently a bit embarrassed about receiving the blessing, but if I forget he sometimes calls out from the door in the form of a question:
"Guardian angel protect me?"  
 So I think he does not mind even if he is at that awkward pre-adolescent age.  

Here are some more formal blessings of children, including a sick child, at ETWN.

Yours in the Catholic faith,



  1. I can just see Paddy doing that!

    Charlotte begs me to bless her whenever she visits. I always did it that one week of boot camp, whenever she was naughty, so God could help her to be better. :)

  2. Kids are so funny about latching on to something that happened when their life was difficult : ).

    Blessing a naughty child is a great idea. Paddy could use that to refill his emotional/spiritual tank when it's been depleted.


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