Fathers, Bless Your Children
Article appeared in July 2016 Vox Populi
By Tomas Tafolla
The blessings of your father are mighty beyond the blessings of the eternal mountains, the bounties of the everlasting hills (Gen 49:26).
By Tomas Tafolla
Children learn about God as Father from their dads. Fathers are called to be the head of the family, strong leaders, faithful to their wives, and have a loving hand in raising their children. As fathers, let’s help our children be God-fearing and faithful, by blessing them with our love and our constant presence. One way we can lead our children to God is through blessings.
Blessings are important part of our sacramental life and they should play an important part in your family life. The Patriarchs of the Old Testament understood the importance of blessings. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all blessed their children, particularly their first-borns. And, as the book of Genesis concludes, there’s the long blessing of Jacob to his twelve sons, who become the twelve tribes of Israel.
Why do we mark moments great and small, holy and sad with the gentle handmade echo of the crucifix? Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, I whispered as a boy, and Father, Son, Holy Spirit, I whispered as a man in moments of joy and fear, prayer and penitence, before a meal, during mass, after a death. I make the Sign of the Cross in wonder, gratitude, and in desperate prayer. I make it in awe, epiphany, and in tragedy. No other simple physical gesture is so widespread among Catholics. It is making the Sign of the Cross with our hands that marks us as Catholic, as men and women who believe in the Risen Christ.
Such a simple act, our hands cutting the air like the wings of birds. Father, we say touching our head, Son we say touching our chest, Holy we say touching our left shoulder, and Spirit we say touching our right shoulder. Scholars trace the practice as far back as 110AD, by which time it was already established as a common gesture among Christian communities, most common among the followers of St. Paul.
As fathers let us reclaim our calling to bless our children with the sign that unites us all as Catholics and as followers of the Risen Christ. Bless your children with the Sign of the Cross at bedtime, before school, before a game, before a trip. Mark them with the goodness and holiness that is Christ. Make it a daily part of your parenting life, so that in you your children may see the awesomeness that is God the Father.