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The Priestly Blessing

Bishops and priests are bearers of grace. They are called to guide and sanctify the faithful and to call down upon them Godís blessing. In Old Testament times God commanded the priests, "Bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, the Lord bless thee, and keep thee!ľ And they shall put My name upon the children of Israel; and I will bless them" (Numbers 6:23-27, Leviticus 9:22). The blessing given by a priest of the New Testament confers upon the faithful even greater spiritual strength. In giving a blessing, the priest is following the example of our Saviour, Who embraced children, put His hands upon them and blessed them (cf. Mark 10:16; Luke 24:50).

In bestowing a blessing, a priest makes the sign of the Cross, holding his fingers in such a way that they represent the initial letters of the Lordís name, Jesus Christ. In order to receive a blessing upon meeting a bishop or a priest, one joins his hands, right over left, palms upward, and says, "Bless me, Father," to a priest, or "Bless me, Vladyka (Master)," to a bishop. The blessing should then be received with faith that one will receive Godís grace. On receiving a blessing, one kisses the hand that gives the blessing, as if kissing the invisible hand of the Saviour.

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