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NY Cardinal urges parents to remember a “great ability”: blessing

Grandmother blesses granddaughter

Kharaim Pavlo | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 08/29/23

Cardinal Dolan explained the traditional Catholic blessing to protect children as they venture out into the world, a "great ability" of parents.

The dog days of August are behind us and the approaching autumn means students of all ages are preparing to reembark on their education after the summer break. For the parents of the oldest and youngest students this can mean a bittersweet goodbye, whether to a little one getting on the bus for the first time, or to a young adult child who is leaving the nest for dorm life.

For one cardinal, however, this youthful cycle is a font of inspiration for religious musings on the family.

Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, recently took to twitter to share his wisdom with the faithful and his many social media followers about the importance of blessing the people we love. He began by explaining why he calls autumn the “season of transition,” as a lot of young people say goodbye to their childhood friends to move around the world in their pursuit of education in a prospective field. 

“It’s a season of transition isn’t it? It’s kind of like a season of goodbyes. A lot of you out there are moving. You’re going off to college, you’re telling friends goodbye, you’re returning to school.”

Speaking with a New York inflection that belies his St. Louis origins, the prelate seamlessly rolls his talk into blessings. He explains that it is a Catholic tradition that parents bless their children, one with roots that stretches back to Catholicism’s origins in Judaism

“There’s a beautiful Jewish tradition – and by the way a beautiful Catholic tradition, one of the many that we seem to have forgotten – that parents will bless their children when they come and go, especially in transitional moments in life. I mean, I know people come to me like they do other bishops and priests and ask ‘can I have your blessing,’ and it’s always an honor to do it, but you parents have a great ability to pray over your kids and ask God’s protection.”

Cardinal Dolan recalled his own childhood experiences with parental blessings, noting that his grandmother would often send her grandchildren off with a blessing when she knew she wouldn’t see them for a while. While he thought nothing of it as a child, these blessings have always stood out in his head and now, many years later, he still appreciates them:

“I remember my dear grandmother, she would always say, like when we’d be leaving and wouldn’t see her for a while, she would say: ‘May your holy guardian angel watch over you.’ Not bad, as a kid I thought it was kinda like ‘what is this about?’ I cherish it now. So in the season of transitions and goodbyes, pray over and bless the ones who are leaving.”

Read this for a simple how-to and some examples.

Cardinal Dolan routinely shares his Catholic thoughts on his social media accounts. Follow Cardinal Dolan on X (formerly Twitter) to hear all of his introspective musings.

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