I’m still relatively new to the Catholic Faith and this is something I never covered before I was confirmed. When a priest gives a blessing, is he acting in the person of Christ, or is he asking God to bless us? Also if this is the case, can anyone bless anybody? What kinds of graces are imposed with a blessing? Thank you for your help!
Welcome cadet! I think this article looks pretty informative regarding your question:
Wow! I guess the word “bless” has a lot of meanings!
Etymology of “bless”
Old English bletsian, bledsian, Northumbrian bloedsian “to consecrate, make holy, give thanks,” from Proto-Germanic *blodison “hallow with blood, mark with blood,” from *blotham “blood” (see blood).
Originally a blood sprinkling on pagan altars. This word was chosen in Old English bibles to translate Latin benedicere and Greek eulogein, both of which have a ground sense of “to speak well of, to praise,” but were used in Scripture to translate Hebrew brk “to bend (the knee), worship, praise, invoke blessings.” Meaning shifted in late Old English toward “pronounce or make happy,” by resemblance to unrelated bliss. No cognates in other languages.
One of the liturgical books is “Book of Blessings”. It has a wide range of blessings and instructions about who does them. For example in “Order for the Blessing of a Cemetary” it has “1419 This rite should preferable be celebrated by the bishop of the diocese, but he may entrust the responsibility to a priest …”. The “Order for the Blessing Before and After Meals” can be done by any lay person. “Order for the Blessing of Organizations Concerned with Public Need” has “576. The present order may be used by a priest or deacon.”
The introduction to the book describes the different people in n. 18, in this order:
b. presbyter or priest
d. “An acolyte or a reader who by formal institution has this special office in the Church is rightly preferred over another layperson as the minister designated at the discretion of the local Ordinary to impart certain blessings.”
Other laymen and laywomen.
It concludes “But whenever a priest or a deacon is present, the office of presiding should be left to him.”
The Latin word is “benedicat.” Break it down and it means to speak well of. The priest asks God to speak well of you.
Think about that for a day or two. Or three.
Father John Hardon’s Modern Catholic Dictionary:
BLESSING. As found in Scripture, it means praise, the desire that good fortune go with a person or thing, dedication of a person or thing to God’s service and a gift. In liturgical language a blessing is a ritual ceremony by which an authorized cleric in major orders sanctifies persons or things to divine service, or invokes divine favor on what he blesses. The Church’s ritual provides for over two hundred such blessings, some of which are reserved to bishops or members of certain religious institutes.