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Godzdogz

The blog of the Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars, Oxford.

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BLESSING OUR LIVES II

Wednesday, January 04, 2012
In our last blog post on blessings, we reflected on how blessings may play a bigger role in our daily lives, and how it may strengthen our faith and change our perspective. A blessing draws God into our lives, and puts our activities in front of Him who is the giver of all gifts. As two recently ordained deacons, we wanted to achieve a deeper understanding of the celebration of blessings, and at the same time use the opportunity to bless something that is of interest to us.

blessing objects
Brother Haavar got a new bike for his ordination, and this seemed to be an excellent possibility of bringing sport and training activities and holiness together in a concrete way. Brother Robert is responsible for making the computer servers of the house run smoothly and swiftly. Hence, the plan was set, and while others were preparing the church for the coming Christmas celebration, the deacons gathered in the sacristy to study how to perform blessings for bikes and servers.

blessing preparations
There are two servers at Blackfriars, Lassie and Fido. Lassie is a firewall, so in effect she is a guard dog. She gives Fido the peace of mind so that he can get on with providing various services such as hosting the english.op.org email server and the Torch and Province websites. The servers are placed in the most secure room in the priory, the wine cellar. After some reorganisation, we managed to create enough space to perform the celebration. In the Book of Blessings, we found a suitable chapter named ‘Order of the Blessing of Technical Installations or Equipment’. The introductory rite beautifully expresses how we are co-creators with God as we unfold our creative forces to the good of the society, and the reading concludes:
‘Let us, then, bless God as we use these products of technology for our advantage and never forget to offer praise to him, who is the true light and the fount of that water which springs up to eternal life’ (§ 906)
The reading was taken from Genesis 1, describing the creation by the word of God, and ended with the affirmation of the goodness with which God created the universe. Then followed the blessing itself. The prayer concluded:
Grant that all those who will use this equipment to improve their lives may recognise that you are wonderful in your works and may learn to carry out your will more readily. We ask this through Christ our Lord.

blessings the servers
(Sprinkling with holy water was omitted)
blessing the cellarer
We finally gave back the room to the cellarer, and went on to the next task.

For the blessing of the bicycle, we slightly adapted the blessing of a motor vehicle. After the introduction and readings, one of the intercessions wonderfully related the object being blessed with the user of it:
Lord Jesus, you became a companion to your disciples on the road to Emmaus; bless us on our journeys and warm our hearts by your word.
blessing the bike
The final blessing reminded the user to be careful and attentive on the road (which may not always have been the case) as it acclaimed:
Grant, we pray, that those who use this vehicle may travel safely, with care for the safety of others. Whether they travel for business or pleasure, let them always find Christ to be the companion of their journey...
After these liturgical celebrations, the celebrant could lower his shoulders and relax, and our photographer, brother Gustave, could finally take the bike for a test drive!
after the blessings
Blessing servers and bikes may appear as a funny little playful project, somehow eccentric and maybe even unnecessary. Yet, these objects have been marked with a seal that remains and that we remember. Blessings are called sacramentals, and this has to do with sacramentality. When we bless, it is as if through the material blessing, we hand over some of our selves, asking for God’s mercy and protection. Let us therefore meditate on the deeper value and interest of the celebration of blessings, as we proceed in this blessed time of Christmas.

May God bless you all!

Robert Verrill OP

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