Can Clergymen Bestow Blessings?
YEAR in, year out, the public press shows the clergy of Christendom blessing persons, animals and inanimate objects. Thus it was front-page news that “Colorful Rites Mark Blessing of Shrimp Fleet,” at Biloxi, Mississippi. And at Benton Harbor, Michigan, Protestant, Catholic and Jewish “Pastors Bless Blossoms of an Apple Orchard.” Other dispatches tell of certain Lutheran ministers blessing farm fields in Pennsylvania and Catholic priests blessing the tobacco crops of Kentucky. Over in England “Abbot Blesses Silkworm Eggs” in an annual ceremony at Farnborough, which, since 1951, includes “all stages of silk production.”
During World War II the press published many pictures showing the clergy blessing troops and guns. Peace has come but the blessing of guns and troops continues on, such as when a Catholic priest blessed the guns of Chicago policemen and when the pope, on March 19, 1954, blessed some 50,000 members of Italy’s crack Alpine troops.
The blessing of motorized vehicles comes in for special attention, it seems, the pope himself blessing both motor scooters and trailer trucks. Each year thousands of autos line up along the coliseum in Rome on the day devoted to St. Francesca Romana, patron saint of automobiles and their drivers, for blessings by Catholic priests. In Bavarian Germany farm tractors now line up for the priestly blessings, while New England has its annual “Blessing of the Motorcycles.”
Then again we read of the pope’s blessing gems valued at $100,000 for a certain shrine in Brooklyn. A Brooklyn clergyman blesses the tools of home and occupation of his flock, such as basting spoon, dish towels, paint brush, broom, trowel and stenographers’ notebooks. In Ireland there is an annual ceremony for the blessing of the throats.
The blessing of pets is featured in the press because of the human-interest appeal. Thus we see pictures of dogs and even ponies right inside the Holy Trinity church, Hereford, England, for a blessing by the vicar. Another picture entitled “Bless My Turkey” shows a group of Mexican peasants, their animals and pets, with a little lad in the foreground, on his knees, begging the priests to invoke a blessing upon his turkey. Once a year, we are told, these Catholic priests travel throughout the countryside “to administer the Blessing of San Antonio de Abad, Patron Saint of animals. . . . Nor are the dead animals forgotten.”
And neither are fox hounds nor the circus animals overlooked. Clergymen are shown performing the ancient rituals of blessing the fox hounds as the opening ceremony of the fox hunting season. A British vicar blesses the circus animals while a United States priest bestows his blessing on the world’s largest circus train as it starts on tour.
Is there any evidence that such blessings actually bring results? Who would be so credulous as to substitute the pope’s blessing for insurance on his motor vehicle, or to seek a reduction in the life insurance rate for a prized pet because it had been blessed by a priest? In fact, time and again, an account of blessing is accompanied by news of a mishap, as when the Tampa, Florida, Morning Tribune, March 26, 1954, published a picture showing a priest blessing a circus train and right beneath it an article bearing the headline: “Death and Brawl Mar Departure of Circus.”
Nor is there any Scriptural basis for all this blessing of silkworm eggs, throats, circus animals, scooters and guns. Nowhere do we read that either Jesus or any of his apostles or disciples blessed sheep or goats, oxcarts or fishing boats. He blessed his Father’s name, he blessed the bread and wine at the Last Supper, and he blessed the little children brought to him by fond parents.
Actually all such requests for blessings are just so many selfish prayers which God does not answer. Nor is it in the power of the clergy of either Christendom or heathendom to bestow blessings. All such have refused to give honor to Jehovah’s name and because of this Jehovah will not bestow his favor on their blessings but will turn such blessings into a curse. The United Nations organization is a case in point.—Mal. 2:1, 2; Jas. 4:3.
The blessings the clergy bestow have neither Scriptural nor other evidence to prove them of value, but rest only on tradition and the superstitious reverence accorded to them by their credulous flocks. Enlightened Christians will not look to clergy who ignore Jehovah for any blessings.