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Alex wrote:

Hi, guys —

  • What causes a blessing to go away?
  • For example, if your house and saint pictures are blessed, what causes those blessings to go away?
  • Will sinning cause that blessing to go away?

Thank you.

Alex

  { What causes those blessings to go away and will sinning cause a blessing to go away? }

Mike replied:

Dear Alex,

I can't think of anything that would cause a blessing to go away except not wanting a blessing.

That said, we can't think of blessings as some kind of superstitious slot machine. We should have the proper disposition to receive them.

As the Catholic Answers Encyclopedia entry for Blessing states:

The value of a blessing given by a private person in his own name will be commensurate with its acceptableness before God by reason of the individual merits and sanctity.

Note especially the paragraph on Efficacy:

The inquiry will be confined to the blessings approved of by the Church.

As has been said, the value of a blessing given by a private person in his own name will be commensurate with its acceptableness before God by reason of the individual merits and sanctity.

A blessing, on the other hand, imparted with the sanction of the Church has all the weight of authority that attaches to the voice of her who is the well-beloved spouse of Christ, pleading on behalf of her children. The whole efficacy, therefore, of these benedictions, in so far as they are liturgical and ecclesiastical, is derived from the prayers and invocations of the Church made in her name by her ministers. Blessings may be divided into two classes:

  1. invocative and
  2. constitutive.

The former (invocative) are those in which the Divine benignity is invoked on persons or things, to bring down upon them some temporal or spiritual good, without changing their former condition. Of this kind are the blessings given to children, and to articles of food.

The latter class (constitutive) is so called because they permanently depute persons or things to Divine service by imparting to them some sacred character, by which they assume a new and distinct spiritual relationship. Such are the blessings given to religious at their profession, and to churches and chalices by their consecration.

In this case, a certain abiding quality of sacredness is conferred in virtue of which the persons or things blessed become inviolably sacred so that they cannot be divested of their religious character or be turned to profane uses.

Again, theologians distinguish blessings of an intermediate sort, by which things are rendered special instruments of salvation without (at the same time) becoming irrevocably sacred, such as blessed salt, candles, etc. Blessings are not sacraments; they are not of Divine institution; they do not confer sanctifying grace; and they do not produce their effects in virtue of the rite itself, or ex opere operato. They are sacramentals and, as such, produce the following specific effects:

  1. Excitation of pious emotions and affections of the heart and, by means of these, remission of venial sin and of the temporal punishment due to it;
  2. freedom from the power of evil spirits;
  3. preservation and restoration of bodily health;
  4. various other benefits, temporal or spiritual.

All these effects are not necessarily inherent in any one blessing; some are caused by one formula, and others by another, according to the intentions of the Church. Neither are these effects to be regarded as infallibly produced, except in so far as the impetration of the Church has this attribute.

The religious veneration, therefore, in which the faithful regard blessings has no taint of superstition since it depends altogether on the Church’s suffrages offered to God that the persons using the things She blesses may derive from them certain supernatural advantages.

Instances are alleged in the lives of the saints where miracles have been wrought by the blessings of holy men and women. There is no reason to limit the miraculous interference of God to the early ages of the Church’s history, and the Church never accepts these wonderful occurrences unless the evidence in support of their authenticity is absolutely unimpeachable.

This is what the Catechism says on the topic:

I. Blessing and Adoration

2626 Blessing expresses the basic movement of Christian prayer: it is an encounter between God and man. In blessing, God's gift and man's acceptance of it are united in dialogue with each other. The prayer of blessing is man's response to God's gifts: because God blesses, the human heart can in return bless the One who is the source of every blessing.

2627 Two fundamental forms express this movement:

  1. our prayer ascends in the Holy Spirit through Christ to the Father — we bless him for having blessed us; (cf. Ephesians 1:3-14; 2 Corinthians 1:3-7; 1 Peter 1:3-9)
  2. it implores the grace of the Holy Spirit that descends through Christ from the Father — he blesses us. (2 Corinthians 13:14; Romans 15:5-6,13; Ephesians 6:23-24)

2628 Adoration is the first attitude of man acknowledging that he is a creature before his Creator. It exalts the greatness of the Lord who made us (cf. Psalm 95:1-6) and the almighty power of the Savior who sets us free from evil. Adoration is homage of the spirit to the King of Glory, (Psalm 24:9-10) respectful silence in the presence of the ever greater God. (cf. St. Augustine, En. in Psalm 62,16:PL 36,757-758) Adoration of the thrice-holy and sovereign God of love blends with humility and gives assurance to our supplications.

I hope this helps,

Mike

Paul replied:

Alex,

Etymologically, the word bless originally comes for the word for blood. The blood of Christ in the New Covenant enables us to receive His grace — particularly through the sacraments directly, and through sacramentals by virtue of our faith and how they dispose us to the sacraments.

Priests may also bless us or our objects, like our homes or holy medals we wear. While the act of the blessing cannot be reversed, the grace that comes from the blessing may be rescinded due to sin.

If, for example, a priest blesses someone's home, and later they practice the occult or live a sinful lifestyle like cohabitation or indulging in pornography, the grace offered is being rejected.

Confession and repentance are needed to get back into a state of grace. If one obstinately, with a closed heart, remains in a state of sin, no blessing will be of any benefit.

Paul

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