instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

I bless, you bless, he she it blesses

The other day, I wrote:
... there are two meanings of "to bless": a "downward" act, in which God blesses His creatures; and an "upward" act, in which creatures bless their God.
"God blesses His creatures" and "creatures bless their God" aren't the two meanings themselves, but the two usages that reflect the meanings.

So what does it actually mean to bless someone, or something, or God?

Well, what happens when a priest blesses water? It becomes holy water.

To bless something -- more precisely, to ask God to bless something, as the priest does when reciting the blessing of holy water -- is to make it holy, to consecrate it to God that it may be used according to His will.

When we bless God, we obviously aren't making Him holy or consecrating Him to Himself. Rather, we are acknowledging His holiness. In the words of the Catechism, "When applied to man, the word 'blessing' means adoration and surrender to his Creator in thanksgiving."