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Catholic Prayer: Book of Blessings: Blessing of Sons and Daughters

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174 The gospels record that children were presented to Jesus, so that he might bless them and lay hands on them. Christian parents wish to bestow this blessing of the Lord on their own children and the practice of a blessing by parents is a tradition treasured by many peoples. The blessing may be celebrated on special occasions in the life of the children or whenever the family gathers for prayer or for reflection on sacred Scripture.

175 When a priest or deacon is present, the ministry of blessing more fittingly belongs to him. This is particularly the case on the occasion of the regular parish visitations that are scheduled for the blessing of families.

176 The present order may be used by the parents or by a priest or deacon. While maintaining the structure and chief elements of the rite, the minister should adapt the celebration to the circumstances of the place and the people involved.

177 When a child is to be blessed as part of the celebration of another blessing, the short formulary provided in no. 194 may be used.

178 When a child who is sick is to be blessed, the ritual provided in chapter 2, nos. 309-402 may be used.

Prayer:

ORDER OF BLESSING

INTRODUCTORY RITES

179 When the family has gathered, the minister says: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

All make the sign of the cross and reply: Amen.

180 A minister who is a priest or deacon greets those present in the following or other suitable words, taken mainly from sacred Scripture. The grace of God our Father, who has made us his children by adoption, be with you all.

All make the following or some other suitable reply. And also with you.

181 A lay minister greets those present in the following words. My brothers and sisters, let us praise God our Father, who has made us his children by adoption. To God be glory now and for ever.

R. To God be glory now and for ever.

Or: R. Amen.

182 In the following or similar words, the minister prepares the children and all present for the blessing. In Psalm 128 we read: "Your children will be like olive shoots around the table." For children are the sign and pledge of God's blessing. They are living proof of God's presence, because when God blesses the family with the gift of children, he fills its life with joy and happiness. Children should therefore be cherished and respected. But they should also be taught reverence for God, so that with a sense of responsibility they will grow in wisdom and grace, hold in their thoughts and actions to whatever is true, upright, and virtuous, and live in the world as Christ's witnesses and heralds.

READING OF THE WORD OF GOD

183 One of those present or the minister reads a text of sacred Scripture. Brothers and sisters, listen to the words of the holy gospel according to Matthew:

19:13-15 Let the children come to me. Children were brought to Jesus that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the parents, but Jesus said, "Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." After he placed his hands on the children, he went away.

184 Or: Brothers and sisters, listen to the words of the book of Tobit:

4:5-7, 19 My son, keep in mind my commandments. Tobit said: "Through all your days, my son, keep the Lord in mind, and suppress every desire to sin or to break his commandments. Perform good works all the days of your life, and do not tread the paths of wrongdoing. For if you are steadfast in your service, your good works will bring success, not only to you but also to all those who live uprightly. Give alms from your possessions. Do not turn your face away from any of the poor, and God's face will not be turned away from you.

"At all times bless the Lord God, and ask him to make all your paths straight and to grant success to all your endeavors and plans. For no pagan nation possesses good counsel, but the Lord himself gives all good things. If the Lord chooses, he raises a man up; but if he should decide otherwise, he casts him down to the deepest recesses of the nether world. So now, my son, keep in mind my commandments, and never let them be erased from your heart."

185 Or: Brothers and sisters, listen to the words of the book of Proverbs:

4:1-7 Hear, children, a father's instruction. Hear, 0 children, a father's instruction, be attentive, that you may gain understanding! Yes, excellent advice I give you; my teaching do not forsake. When I was my father's child, frail, yet the darling of my mother, He taught me, and said to me: "Let your heart hold fast my words: keep my commands, that you may live! Get wisdom, get understanding! Do not forget or turn aside from the words I utter. Forsake her not, and she will preserve you; love her, and she will safeguard you; The beginning of wisdom is: get wisdom; at the cost of all you have, get understanding.

186 Or: Matthew 18:1-5, 10--Anyone who welcomes a little child such as this in my name welcomes me.

187 As circumstances suggest, the following responsorial psalm may be sung or said, or some other suitable song may be sung.

R. See how the Lord blesses those who fear him.

Or: R. Happy are those who fear the Lord.

Psalm 128 Happy are you who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways! For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork; happy shall you be, and favored. R.

Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the recesses of your home; Your children like olive plants around your table. R.

Behold thus is the man blessed who fears the LORD. The LORD bless you from Zion; may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life; May you see your children's children. R.

188 As circumstances suggest, the minister may give those present a brief explanation of the biblical text, so that they may understand through faith the meaning of the celebration.

INTERCESSIONS

189 The intercessions are then said. The minister introduces them and an assisting minister or one of those present announces the intentions. From the following intentions those best suited to the occasion may be used or adapted, or other intentions that apply to the particular circumstances may be composed.

The minister says: The Lord Jesus taught us to call the almighty God our Father. Let us then pray to him saying:

R. Father all-holy, watch over your children.

Or: R. Lord, hear our prayer.

Assisting minister: Loving Father, you so loved the world that you gave your only Son; keep us, your children reborn in baptism, in your love. (For this we pray:) R.

Assisting minister: Your favor rested fully on the Son you loved; grant that each one of us may successfully carry out the responsibilities entrusted to us in the world and in the Church. (For this we pray:) R.

Assisting minister: As your Son was growing up, you placed him in the tender care of Mary and Joseph; grant that your children may grow to the full maturity of Christ. (For this we pray:) R.

Assisting minister: You show a special love for those who are alone and abandoned; through the help of the Christian community let all children who are deprived of a family's love know that you are their Father. (For this we pray:) R.

PRAYER OF BLESSING

190 As circumstances suggest, the parents may trace the sign of the cross on their children's forehead; they then say the prayer of blessing.

Father, inexhaustible source of life and author of all good, we bless you and we thank you for brightening our communion of love by your gift of children. Grant that our children (child) will find in the life of this family such inspiration that they (he/she) will strive always for what is right and good and one day, by your grace, reach their (his/her) home in heaven.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

191 A minister who is not a parent of the children says the following prayer of blessing.

Lord Jesus Christ, you loved children so much that you said: "Whoever welcomes a child welcomes me." Hear our prayers and, with your unfailing protection, watch over these children (this child) whom you have blessed with the grace of baptism. When they (he/she) have (has) grown to maturity, grant that they (he/she) will confess your name in willing faith, be fervent in charity, and persevere courageously in the hope of reaching your kingdom, where you live and reign for ever and ever.

R. Amen.

CONCLUDING RITE

192 The parents (or other lay minister) conclude the rite by signing themselves with the sign of the cross and saying: May the Lord Jesus, who loved children, bless us and keep us in his love, now and for ever. R. Amen

193 A minister who is a priest or deacon concludes the rite by saying: May the Lord Jesus, who loved children, bless you and keep you in his love, now and forever. R. Amen.

SHORT FORMULARY

194 As circumstances suggest, the following short blessing formulary may be used. May the Lord keep you and make you grow in his love, so that you may live worthy of the calling he has given you, now and for ever.

R. Amen.

Prayer Source: Book of Blessings by Prepared by International Commission on English in the Liturgy A Joint Commission of Catholic Bishops' Conferences, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1989
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