WHAT ARE BLESSINGS?
A blessing is the infusion of something with holiness, divine will, or one's hope or approval. Blessings come under the category of sacramentals. A sacramental is a special prayer, action or object which, through the prayers of the Church, prepares a person to receive grace and to better cooperate with it.
"I love you" is one of the most powerful of blessings. The verb "to bless": to consecrate or sanctify, to request divine favor, to bestow good of any kind, to protect or guard from evil. And to be blessed is to be divinely or supremely favored, according to Webster's Dictionary.
Throughout sacred Scripture, we find how God issued various blessings. In the account of creation, God blessed all the living creatures and especially Adam and Eve, telling them to be fertile, to multiply and to full the earth and subdue it (Gn 1:22, 28). After the flood, God blessed Noah and his sons (Gn 9:1ff). "How blest are..." — Matthew 5:3
The Beatitudes are eight circumstances in which we receive exceptional blessings. The Beatitudes are keys to living a life of blessing and of being a blessing (Gn 12:2). Consequently, we may surmise that people would strongly desire to live the Beatitudes. Yet this is not the case.
Part of the problem is that few people know how great blessings are, because they do not understand well the meaning of blessings. Many people think that blessings are prayers for good things to happen. No, blessings are not prayers from us to God, but blessings are from God to and through us. Therefore, we are to bless only those whom we have been authorized by God to bless at the time and circumstances God has authorized. As we sing in the hymn, "Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow," all blessings come from God. Moreover, blessings are from God speaking. Therefore, blessings are creations by God, for when God speaks He creates (Gn 1:3ff).
So blessings (beatitudes) are very important. The blessings at the end of Mass and in the other sacraments have the potential to re-create the world. Parents deprive their children of new life if they would fail to bless them daily. For those who understand blessing, benediction of the Blessed Sacrament is recognized as God creating.
Blessings are creations of God. Live the Beatitudes.
Prayer: Father, teach me the basics of life in You.
Promise: "Ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the stream." — 1 Kgs 17:6
Praise: Rose blessed her children every evening and they, in turn, became blessings to their churches and families.
COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS
"Blest is the womb that bore You and the breasts that nursed You!" — Luke 11:27
A woman from the crowd thought Mary blest because of her physical motherhood. However, Jesus explained that a greater blessing was to hear the word of God and keep it (Lk 11:28). When we ask people to count their blessings, they usually thank God for their family, health, homes, etc. A much greater blessing is to be able to serve the Lord. "There is more happiness in giving than receiving" (Acts 20:35). How many thank God for the privilege of tithing (1 Chr 29:14), or spending hours in prayer, or even suffering? (Phil 1:29) Our food and drink is to do the will of God (Jn 4:34).
Maybe we don't appreciate the supreme privilege of serving God because we aren't serving God that much. Many people have concocted a self-serving rather than self-denying "Christianity" (Lk 9:23). Today we are often invited to be Christians in order to feel good and get out of trouble. This is a false Christianity that denies the cross and our call to die to ourselves. When we serve the Lord and forget about being happy, we will discover happiness in hearing God's word and keeping it.
Prayer: Jesus, crucify my flesh with its passions and desires (Gal 5:24). "The greatest thing in all my life is serving You."
Promise: "The heavens and the earth quake, but the Lord is a Refuge to His people, a Stronghold to the men of Israel." — Jl 4:16
Praise: With God's help, Barbara accepts and even cherishes her cross.