Monsignor Stephen J. Rossetti joins us to discuss his new book, “The Priestly Blessing: Rediscovering the Gift,” which looks at our faith’s rich history of blessings and encourages priests to embrace the gifts of this practice.
Father Dave asks Monsignor Rossetti what inspired him to write about the priestly blessing. Rossetti responds, “As I ask newly ordained priests, ‘what’s the first thing you do when you’re ordained a priest?’ You bless people. And think about your own seminary formation, we weren’t given any training or theology on this. And then the question comes, what’s written on it? Nothing! So I was starting to teach this and decided to write a book.”
“The laity are interested in the book as well. It turns out, post Vatican II that the laity can give some blessings as well under certain circumstances. So there’s something for the laity as well as deacons and priests in the book.”
Monsignor Rossetti explains the history of blessings. “It’s very old. The whole history of blessings is not something that came down from the hierarchy. It came from the people. One of the earliest blessings we have in the Christian faith is the blessing of ships. Why did people want their boats blessed? Because sailing was dangerous, they wanted God to protect them, and so they asked the priest to come and bless their ship … or people wanted their fields blessed because of crop failure and weather, women also asked for blessings in pregnancy. Blessings came from the piety of people.”
“God wants to bless us, and sometimes we’re not aware of that and think God is stingy. God is generous. He wants to bless us. When we recognize this as God’s act and ask for his blessing in faith, he blesses us!” (Original Air 2-04-19)
Photo Credit: Deacon Ambrose Man blesses a family following a Mass celebrated in Mandarin (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)