From the St. Nicholas monthly bulletin…
On the Christian Life
All Orthodox Christians Can Give Blessings
We are so accustomed to receiving a blessing from the priest that many of us have forgotten that all Orthodox Christians can give blessings. This is an expression of our spiritual love for one another.
The rule is that the greater in the Church blesses the lesser. Thus a priest may bless his parishioners. But parents, who are heads of their own households, can, and should, bless their children. This is part of the spiritual authority that parents have over their households to pray and bless those in their charge, "for the prayer of parents establish their children," as it says in the marriage service.
We can do this any time, but we should bless our children every day – when they rise from sleep, at the end of morning prayers, when they go forth from the house to school, when they return from school or work, when they retire for sleep at night after evening prayers, when they go on a journey, or whenever they begin any serious or significant task. We bless our children as we bless ourselves, namely: with our thumb, index finger and next finger together, and the two little fingers folded back. We start at the forehead, go down to the heart, then to the right shoulder (our left) and finally to the left shoulder (our right).
Spouses can bless each other, and friends can bless friends. In this way we commend our loved ones to the care of our Lord, and pray that He will prosper all their endeavors.
Fr George Lardas