One of the most beautiful customs in Puerto Rico is that children greet their elders (parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles) with a simple word – “Bendición.” A greeting and a goodbye. A statement and a request. It means ‘blessing’ and is short for ‘bless me.’ It becomes as second nature as saying hello, and as a child, I did not know the power those words contained within them. Bendición… a claiming of the blessing due, of a promise made. ‘Que Dios te bendiga,’ ‘May God bless you,’ is the elder´s reply.
Children were brought to Jesus that he might lay his hands on them and pray (Matthew 19:13).
What a beautiful blessing for the whole family. In fulfilling their role, the elder is imitating Christ. For whatever else was happening that day, the mere presence of a child would cause a blessing to come forth from the mouth. We are constantly reminded of the truth that each child is a blessing. This simple yet profound custom carved in each heart our identity in Christ.
“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned…” This is how I begin each time I greet the priest in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Children of God seeking the blessing of the Father. The blessing echoed once more when the Mass ends, and we are sent forth.
Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (verse 14)
I am now in my fifties, yet I still begin and end each conversation with my mom the same way I do with my uncles and aunts – Bless me! … Bendición! This reminds me who I am; to fulfill my role. Call blessings upon your family, and remember, you are also still a child in the eyes of God.
Let us pray:
Almighty ever-living God, whom, taught by the Holy Spirit, we dare to call our Father, bring, we pray, to perfection in our hearts the spirit of adoption as your sons and daughters, that we may merit to enter into the inheritance you have promised. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Collect)