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In religion, a blessing (also used to refer to bestowing of such) is the infusion of something with holiness, spiritual redemption, or divine will.

Religion is a cultural system of designated behaviors and practices, morals, worldviews, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, or spiritual elements. However, there is no scholarly consensus over what precisely constitutes a religion.

Something that is sacred is dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of a deity or considered worthy of spiritual respect or devotion; or inspiring awe or reverence among believers. The property is often ascribed to objects, or places.

Redemption is an essential concept in many religions, including Judaism and Christianity. The English word "redemption" means 'repurchase' or 'buy back'.


Etymology and Germanic paganism

The modern English language term bless likely derives from the 1225 term blessen, which developed from the Old English blǣdsian (preserved in the Northumbrian dialect around 950 AD). [1] The term also appears in other forms, such as blēdsian (before 830), blētsian from around 725 and blesian from around 1000, all meaning to make sacred or holy by a sacrificial custom in the Anglo-Saxon pagan period, originating in Germanic paganism; to mark with blood. [1] Due to this, the term is related to the term blōd, meaning blood . [1] References to this indigenous practice, Blót, exist in related Icelandic sources.

Old English, or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest historical form of the English language, spoken in England and southern and eastern Scotland in the early Middle Ages. It was brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers probably in the mid-5th century, and the first Old English literary works date from the mid-7th century. After the Norman conquest of 1066, English was replaced, for a time, as the language of the upper classes by Anglo-Norman, a relative of French. This is regarded as marking the end of the Old English era, as during this period the English language was heavily influenced by Anglo-Norman, developing into a phase known now as Middle English.

Anglo-Saxon paganism

Anglo-Saxon paganism, sometimes termed Anglo-Saxon heathenism, Anglo-Saxon pre-Christian religion, or Anglo-Saxon traditional religion, refers to the religious beliefs and practices followed by the Anglo-Saxons between the 5th and 8th centuries AD, during the initial period of Early Medieval England. A variant of the Germanic paganism found across much of north-western Europe, it encompassed a heterogeneous variety of disparate beliefs and cultic practices, with much regional variation.

Germanic paganism

Germanic paganism refers to the ethnic religion practiced by the Germanic peoples from the Iron Age until Christianisation during the Middle Ages. From both archaeological remains and literary sources, it is possible to trace a number of common or closely related beliefs throughout the Germanic area into the Middle Ages, when the last pagan areas in Scandinavia were Christianized. Rooted in Proto-Indo-European religion, Proto-Germanic religion expanded during the Migration Period, yielding extensions such as Old Norse religion among the North Germanic peoples, the paganism practiced amid the continental Germanic peoples, and Anglo-Saxon paganism among the Old English-speaking peoples. Germanic religion is best documented in several texts from the 10th and 11th centuries, where they have been best preserved in Scandinavia and Iceland.

The modern meaning of the term may have been influenced in translations of the Bible into Old English during the process of Christianization to translate the Latin term benedīcere meaning to "speak well of", resulting in meanings such as to "praise" or "extol" or to speak of or to wish well. [1]

Christianization is the conversion of individuals to Christianity or the conversion of entire groups at once. Various strategies and techniques were employed in Christianization campaigns from Late Antiquity and throughout the Middle Ages. Often the conversion of the ruler was followed by the compulsory baptism of his subjects. Some were evangelization by monks or priests, organic growth within an already partly Christianized society, or by campaigns against paganism such as the conversion of pagan temples into Christian churches or the condemnation of pagan gods and practices. A strategy for Christianization was Interpretatio Christiana – the practice of converting native pagan practices and culture, pagan religious imagery, pagan sites and the pagan calendar to Christian uses, due to the Christian efforts at proselytism (evangelism) based on the Great Commission.

Latin Indo-European language of the Italic family

Latin is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. The Latin alphabet is derived from the Etruscan and Greek alphabets and ultimately from the Phoenician alphabet.

Abrahamic religions

Isaac Blessing Jacob, painting by Govert Flinck (Rijksmuseum Amsterdam) Isaak zegent Jakob Rijksmuseum SK-A-110.jpeg
Isaac Blessing Jacob , painting by Govert Flinck (Rijksmuseum Amsterdam)

'To be blessed' means to be favored by God, the source of all blessing. [2] Blessings, therefore, are directly associated with, and are believed to come from, God. Thus, to express a blessing is like bestowing a wish on someone that they experience the favor of God, and to acknowledge God as the source of all blessing.

A biblical damnation, in its most formal sense, is a negative blessing.

In the Bible, positive and negative blessings are related; the book of Deuteronomy prescribes that obedience to the Law of Moses brings God's blessing. One of the first incidences of blessing in the Bible is in Genesis, 12:1-2 where Abram is ordered by the God to leave his country and is told:

Bible Collection of religious texts in Judaism and Christianity

The Bible is a collection of sacred texts or scriptures. Varying parts of the Bible are considered to be a product of divine inspiration and a record of the relationship between God and humans by Christians, Jews, Samaritans, and Rastafarians.

Ten Commandments Part of the Law of Moses appearing in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 in Hebrew Bible, especially significant in Abrahamic religious tradition

The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue, are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship, which play a fundamental role in the Abrahamic religions. The Ten Commandments appear twice in the Hebrew Bible, in the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy. The commandments include instructions to worship only God, to honour one's parents, and to keep the sabbath day holy, as well as prohibitions against idolatry, blasphemy, murder, adultery, theft, dishonesty, and coveting. Different religious groups follow different traditions for interpreting and numbering them.

Book of Genesis The first book of the Christian, and Hebrew Bibles

The Book of Genesis, the first book of the Hebrew Bible and the Old Testament, is Judaism's account of the creation of the world and the origins of the Jewish people. It is divisible into two parts, the Primeval history and the Ancestral history. The primeval history sets out the author's concepts of the nature of the deity and of humankind's relationship with its maker: God creates a world which is good and fit for mankind, but when man corrupts it with sin God decides to destroy his creation, saving only the righteous Noah to reestablish the relationship between man and God. The Ancestral History tells of the prehistory of Israel, God's chosen people. At God's command Noah's descendant Abraham journeys from his home into the God-given land of Canaan, where he dwells as a sojourner, as does his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob. Jacob's name is changed to Israel, and through the agency of his son Joseph, the children of Israel descend into Egypt, 70 people in all with their households, and God promises them a future of greatness. Genesis ends with Israel in Egypt, ready for the coming of Moses and the Exodus. The narrative is punctuated by a series of covenants with God, successively narrowing in scope from all mankind to a special relationship with one people alone.

I will bless you, I will make your name great.

The Priestly Blessing is set forth at Numbers 6:24-26:

Priestly Blessing Priestly blessing.

The Priestly Blessing or priestly benediction,, also known in rabbinic literature as raising of the hands, or Dukhanen, is a Hebrew prayer recited by Kohanim.

Book of Numbers Fourth book of the Bible

The Book of Numbers is the fourth book of the Hebrew Bible, and the fourth of five books of the Jewish Torah. The book has a long and complex history, but its final form is probably due to a Priestly redaction of a Yahwistic source made some time in the early Persian period. The name of the book comes from the two censuses taken of the Israelites.

May Adonai bless you, and guard you;
May Adonai make His countenance shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
May Adonai turn His countenance to you and grant you peace.


Position in which a Jewish kohen places his hands and fingers during the Priestly Blessing, detail of a mozaic in the Synagoge of Enschede, Netherlands Synagoge, Enschede, Mozaiek.jpg
Position in which a Jewish kohen places his hands and fingers during the Priestly Blessing, detail of a mozaic in the Synagoge of Enschede, Netherlands

In Rabbinic Judaism, a blessing (or berakhah ) is recited at a specified moment during a prayer, ceremony or other activity, especially before and after partaking of food. The function of blessings is to acknowledge God as the source of all blessing. [2] A berakhah of rabbinic origin typically starts with the words, "Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe..." Rabbinic Judaism teaches that food ultimately is a gift of the one great Provider, God, and that to partake of food legitimately one should express gratitude to God by reciting the appropriate blessing of rabbinic origin prior, while torah mandates an informal blessing afterwards. [2] Jewish law does not reserve recitation of blessings to only a specific class of Jews; but it does mandate specific blessings to specific occasions, so that, for example since medieval times, Jewish women chiefly recite a rabbinic blessing after lighting two Shabbat candles.


First Communion First communion blessing.jpg
First Communion

Blessings and curses of Christ appear in the New Testament, as recounted in the Beatitudes of Luke 6:20-22. Within Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, Lutheranism, and similar traditions, formal blessings of the church are performed by bishops, priests, and deacons. Particular formulas may be associated with episcopal blessings and papal blessings. In Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran churches blessings are bestowed by bishops and priests in a liturgical context, raising their right hand and making the sign of the cross with it over persons or objects to be blessed. They also give blessings to begin divine services and at the dismissal at the end.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church liturgical blessings are performed over people, objects, or are given at specific points during divine services. A priest or bishop usually blesses with his hand, but may use a blessing cross, candles, an icon, the Chalice or Gospel Book to bestow blessings, always making the Sign of the Cross therewith. When blessing with the hand, a priest uses his right hand, holding his fingers so that they form the Greek letters IC XC, the monogram of Jesus Christ. A bishop does the same, except he uses both hands, or may hold the crozier in his left hand, using both to make the Sign of the Cross. A bishop may also bless with special candlesticks known as the dikirion and trikirion. When blessing an object, the rubrics often instruct Orthodox bishops and priests to make use of such substances as incense and holy water. Also, formal ecclesiastical permission to undertake an action is referred to as a "blessing". The blessing may be bestowed by a bishop or priest, or by one's own spiritual father. When an Orthodox layperson bestows a blessing, he or she will hold the thumb and first two fingers of the right hand together (the same configuration used when making the Sign of the Cross on themselves), and make the sign of the cross over the person or object they are blessing.

In the Methodist tradition, the minister blesses the congregation during the concluding part of the service of worship, known as the benediction. With regard to house blessings, the Methodist The Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965) contains "An Office for the Blessing of a Dwelling". [4]

In the Roman Catholic Church a priest or bishop blesses the faithful with the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance during Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. According to the guidelines given by the Vatican's Congregation for the Discipline of the Sacraments that govern the procedures for liturgical ceremonies, if a Roman Catholic layperson (a lay acolyte or parish administrator, for example) or any non-ordained religious (who is not the superior of the congregation) leads a Sunday service (other than a Mass, which requires a priest to celebrate), such as Eucharistic adoration, the Rosary, or celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours, he or she does not perform rites or sacraments reserved to the clergy and does not solemnly bless the people as a bishop, priest, or deacon would at the end of the service; an alternative format is used instead.

In the Lutheran Churches, priests are often asked to bless objects frequently used by or sacred to individuals, such as a cross necklace; in addition, Lutheran clergy also bless the homes of members of the congregations. [5]

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, blessings are given by worthy, male members who hold the Melchizedek priesthood. [6]


Blessings in Islam has twofold aspect, according to major scholars of Islam Blessings are given by Allah as a trial for mankind. Scholars of Islam believe that having fear of being gradually misled by blessings is an attribute of the pious and not having fear from such even though one is constantly misbehaving is an attribute of the impious. In Islam, blessings can be a source of success in afterlife if one is grateful to Allah for them and the same blessings can be a source for damnation in afterlife if one doesn't constantly be grateful to God for them. [7] Islam has no clerical caste, and therefore no blessings reserved to specific individuals. Muslims will frequently pronounce "peace and blessings be upon him" when mentioning the name of Muhammad or indeed, any of the prophets. Muslims will also greet one another with a blessing every time they meet and depart (السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته as-salāmu alaikum wa rahmatul-lāhi wa barakātuh (meaning "may peace, mercy and blessings of God be upon you")). [7]

Dharma religions

Indian religions, which includes Hinduism and its offshoots Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, etc. are also called Dharma religions, all of which are based on the concept of dharma and karma and typical blessings are based on Adhiṣṭhāna, Añjali Mudrā, Darśana and Mudra, etc.


Aarti. Aarti-night.jpg

In Hinduism Puja is a religious ritual performed by Hindus as an offering to various deities, distinguished persons, or special guests. It is modeled on the idea of giving a gift or offering to a deity or important person and receiving their approval ("Ashirvād"). During the Puja involves an 'Aarti plate' or 'Aarti lamp' is circulating around a deity or person and is generally accompanied by the singing of songs in praise of that deity or person (many versions exist). In doing so, the plate or lamp is supposed to acquire the power of the deity. The priest circulates the plate or lamp to all those present. They cup their down-turned hands over the flame and then raise their palms to their forehead - the purificatory blessing, passed from the deity's image to the flame, has now been passed to the devotee.

During the naivedya ritual, a devotee makes an offering of a material substance such as flowers, fruits, or sweets. The deity then 'enjoys' or tastes a bit of the offering, which is then temporarily known as bhogya. This now-divinely invested substance is called prasāda, and is received by the devotee to be ingested, worn, etc. It may be the same material that was originally offered, or material offered by others and then re-distributed to other devotees. In many temples, several kinds of prasada (e.g. nuts, sweets) are distributed to the devotees.

Hindu priest giving blessing. Hindu-priest-blessing.jpg
Hindu priest giving blessing.

Darshan is a term meaning "sight" (in the sense of an instance of seeing or beholding; from a root dṛś "to see"), vision, apparition, or glimpse. It is most commonly used for "visions of the divine," e.g., of a god or a very holy person or artifact. One could "receive darshana" of the deity in the temple, or from a great saintly person, such as a great guru. The touching of the feet (pranāma) is a show of respect and it is often an integral part of darshan. Children touch the feet of their family elders while people of all ages will bend to touch the feet of a great guru, murti (icon) of a Deva (God) (such as Rama or Krishna). [8]

There is a special link between worshipper and guru during pujas, in which people may touch the guru's feet in respect (Pranāma), or remove the dust from a guru's feet before touching their own head.

Another tradition is "Vāhan pujā" (Hindi) or "Vāgana poojai" (Tamil வாகன பூஜை) 'vehicle blessing'. This is a ritual that is performed when one purchases a new vehicle.[ citation needed ]


Replica of an image at the Sanchi gate at Chaitya Bhoomi, which shows a devotion scene involving a Buddhist stupa. Replica of Sanchi gate at Chaitya Bhoomi.png
Replica of an image at the Sanchi gate at Chaitya Bhoomi, which shows a devotion scene involving a Buddhist stupa.

Blessings in Buddhism, ceremonies are meant to provide a blessing. [9]

Other uses

A traditional Hawaiian blessing during a groundbreaking ceremony US Navy 070403-N-6674H-069 Kuhu Kaleo Patterson performs a traditional Hawaiian blessing as Commander, Navy Region Hawaii (CNRH) Rear Adm. T. G. Alexander use Hawaiian o-o sticks during a military housing groundbreaking ceremon.jpg
A traditional Hawaiian blessing during a groundbreaking ceremony

A blessing can also be a request for permission, as in "gaining your parents' blessing" would consist of having been granted consent. Clergy will normally receive a blessing from their ecclesiastical superiors to begin their ministry. In the Russian Orthodox Church pious laymen would go to a starets (elder) to receive his or her blessing before embarking upon any important work or making a major decision in their life. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a member may receive a special blessing, known as a patriarchal blessing, as guidance. In the U.S., there are sometimes ritual ceremonies to bless companion animals. [10]

In Spanish, there is a blessing which can be used as a tender farewell, especially from a parent: Vaya con Dios ("Go with God"), also Adiós (A Dios, "to God"), similar to the French Adieu.

Blessing is also a term used for marriage in the Unification Church, see: Blessing Ceremony of the Unification Church.

In Hawaii anything new (a new building, a new stretch of road to be opened, a new garden) receives a blessing by a Hawaiian practitioner (or Kahuna) in a public ceremony (involving also the unwinding of e.g. a maile lei).[ citation needed ]

In the Kyrgyz people's tradition, the blessing (bata or ak bata, "the right blessing" or "white blessing") might be a good wish to somebody by the elderly person or the person with a best reputation before the travel or launch of some activity of the person who seeks such a blessing and moral support. The prosedure might be a trace of the pre-Islamic local nomadic traditions with deep family values. Some times, elderly person(s) might give a negative blessing (so called "teskeri bata" - "the opposite blessing" or "the black blessing"). [11]

See also

Related Research Articles

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Puja (Hinduism) Prayer ritual performed by Hindus of devotional worship

Puja or pooja is a prayer ritual performed by Hindus of devotional worship to one or more deities, or to host and honor a guest, or one to spiritually celebrate an event. It may honour or celebrate the presence of special guest(s), or their memories after they die. The word "pūjā" is Sanskrit, and means reverence, honour, homage, adoration, and worship. Puja, the loving offering of light, flowers, and water or food to the divine, is the essential ritual of Hinduism. For the worshipper, the divine is visible in the image, and the divinity sees the worshipper. The interaction between human and deity, between human and guru, is called darshan, seeing..

Shema Yisrael prayer

Shema Yisrael is a prayer. It is also the first two words of a section of the Torah, and is the title of a prayer that serves as a centerpiece of the morning and evening Jewish prayer services. The first verse encapsulates the monotheistic essence of Judaism: "Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one", found in Deuteronomy 6:4. Observant Jews consider the Shema to be the most important part of the prayer service in Judaism, and its twice-daily recitation as a mitzvah. Also, it is traditional for Jews to say the Shema as their last words, and for parents to teach their children to say it before they go to sleep at night.


A benediction is a short invocation for divine help, blessing and guidance, usually at the end of worship service. It can also refer to a specific Christian religious service including the exposition of the eucharistic host in the monstrance and the blessing of the people with it.

Aarti Hindu religious ritual of worship, a part of puja, in which light or camphor is offered

Aarti also spelled arti, arati, arathi, aarthi is a Hindu religious ritual of worship, a part of puja, in which light is offered to one or more deities. Aarti(s) also refers to the songs sung in praise of the deity, when the light is being offered.

Sign of the cross ritual blessing

The sign of the cross, or blessing oneself or crossing oneself, is a ritual blessing made by members of some branches of Christianity. This blessing is made by the tracing of an upright cross or + across the body with the right hand, often accompanied by spoken or mental recitation of the trinitarian formula: "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."

Chrism anointing oil

Chrism, also called myrrh, myron, holy anointing oil, and consecrated oil, is a consecrated oil used in the Anglican, Armenian, Assyrian, Catholic and Old Catholic, Eastern and Oriental Orthodox, Mormon churches and Nordic Lutheran Churches in the administration of certain sacraments and ecclesiastical functions.

Consecration is the solemn dedication to a special purpose or service, usually religious. The word consecration literally means "association with the sacred". Persons, places, or things can be consecrated, and the term is used in various ways by different groups. The origin of the word comes from the Latin stem consecrat, which means dedicated, devoted, and sacred. A synonym for to consecrate is to sanctify; a distinct antonym is to desecrate.

God bless you is a common English expression, used to wish a person blessings in various situations, especially as a response to a sneeze, and also, when parting or writing a valediction. The phrase has been used in the Hebrew Bible by Jews, and by Christians, since the time of the early Church as a benediction, as well as a means of bidding a person Godspeed. Many clergy, when blessing their congregants individually or as a group, use the phrase "God bless you".

Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament

Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, also called Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament or the Rite of Eucharistic Exposition and Benediction, is a devotional ceremony, celebrated especially in the Roman Catholic Church, but also in some other Christian traditions such as Anglo-Catholicism, whereby a bishop, priest, or a deacon blesses the congregation with the Eucharist at the end of a period of adoration.

Catholic liturgy

In the Catholic Church, liturgy is divine worship, the proclamation of the Gospel, and active charity.

In persona Christi is a Latin phrase meaning “in the person of Christ”, an important concept in Roman Catholicism and, in varying degrees, to other Christian traditions. A priest is In persona Christi, because he acts as Christ and as God. An extended term, In persona Christi capitis, “in the person of Christ the head,” was introduced in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

The sacraments are viewed as vital ministries in the Community of Christ for both individual and community spiritual development. They are viewed as essential to the mission, identity and message of the denomination, providing a common foundation for religious practice across the world. The sacraments practiced by the Community of Christ are baptism, confirmation, the Lord's supper, marriage, administration to the sick, ordination, blessing of children, and evangelist's blessing. These latter two are not widely practiced as sacraments in other Christian denominations. The Community of Christ does not observe confession as a sacrament.

A Hindu priest may refer to either of the following:

Blessing in the Catholic Church

In the Catholic Church, a blessing is a rite consisting of a ceremony and prayers performed in the name and with the authority of the Church by a duly qualified minister by which persons or things are sanctified as dedicated to divine service or by which certain marks of divine favour are invoked upon them. In a wider sense blessing has a variety of meanings in the sacred writings:

Consecrations in Eastern Christianity can refer to either the Sacred Mystery (Sacrament) of Cheirotonea of a bishop, or the sanctification and solemn dedication of a church building. It can also be used to describe the change of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ at the Divine Liturgy. The Chrism used at Chrismation and the Antimension placed on the Holy Table are also said to be consecrated.

Worship in Hinduism

Worship in Hinduism is an act of religious devotion usually directed to one or more Hindu deities. A sense of Bhakti or devotional love is generally invoked. This term is probably a central one in Hinduism. A direct translation from the Sanskrit to English is problematic. Worship takes a multitude of forms depending on community groups, geography and language. There is a flavour of loving and being in love with whatever object or focus of devotion. Worship is not confined to any place of worship, it also incorporates personal reflection, art forms and group. Hindus usually perform worship in temples or at home to achieve some specific end or to integrate the body, the mind, spirit and also to live a pure life in order to help the performer reincarnate into a higher being.

The episcopal or pontifical blessing is a blessing imparted by a bishop, especially if using a formula given in official liturgical books.


  1. 1 2 3 4 Barnhart (1995:73).
  2. 1 2 3 Sefer ha-Chinuch 430
  3. The mosaic text reads "בשמאלה עשר וכבוד" ("in her left hand riches and honor"), which is a part of Proverbs 3:16.
  4. The Book of Worship for Church and Home: With Orders of Worship, Services for the Administration of the Sacraments and Other Aids to Worship According to the Usages of the Methodist Church. Methodist Publishing House. 1964. p. 373. Retrieved 25 March 2017.
  5. Jackson, Katie (1 March 2017). "What is a house blessing and should you have one?". Fox News . Retrieved 16 September 2018.
  6. 00:00. "20. Priesthood Ordinances and Blessings". Retrieved 2016-09-16.
  7. 1 2 "Meaning of Blessings in Islam".
  8. Glossary Archived July 21, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  9. Assavavirulhakarn, Prapod (1987). "Blessing" (PDF). In Jones, Lindsay (ed.). Encyclopedia of religion. 2 (2nd ed.). Detroit: Thomson Gale. p. 981. ISBN   978-0-02-865997-8. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-03-02.
  10. Holak, Susan L. (2008-05-01). "Ritual blessings with companion animals". Journal of Business Research. Animal Companions, Consumption Experiences, and the Marketing of Pets: Transcending Boundaries in the Animal-Human Distinction. 61 (5): 534–541. doi:10.1016/j.jbusres.2007.07.026.