Did You Know? A Priest’s Blessing June 13

Did you know that when we greet a priest, we meet Christ?

When approaching a priest, we are not merely interacting with a man. We are engaging with Christ Himself. This is why we ask for the priest’s blessing and do not simply shake hands and say hi.

A priest is ordained to make Christ present in a unique way. Through the grace of God, a priest receives the power of the Holy Spirit to celebrate the services and the Holy Sacraments of the Church, which only he can do. When the priest celebrates a liturgy, it is Christ celebrating. When the priest administers a sacrament, Christ acts through him.

When a priest blesses us, he forms with his fingers the Greek letters IC XC, which are the first and last letters of the Greek words Ἰησοῦς Χριστός (“Iesous Christos”) — Jesus Christ. This symbolic gesture signifies that it is Christ Himself who blesses us. Therefore, we approach the priest and receive his blessing with reverence.

To ask for a blessing, we either place our open right hand into our open left hand or only offer our open right hand and say, “Father bless” to a priest and “Master bless” to a bishop. The priest or bishop will make the Sign of the Cross and place his hand in ours. We then kiss his hand. We put our right hand in our left because it symbolizes Christ’s victory over evil. We offer our open hand as a sign of respect and to communicate our willingness to receive the grace of God.

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Photos courtesy of Department of Religious Education.

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