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“Have a Blessed Evening!” What the What?

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Marge Fenelon - published on 11/19/14

We never know what good a small, “unthinking” gesture can do.

I’d initiated an online chat with my wireless carrier because I can’t stand my cell phone and wanted to see if there’s any way to upgrade before the March, 2015 eligibility date. To my deep disappointment and escalated irritation, the answer I received was a flat-out “no.” I really wanted to ream the agent out, but then realized that, one, that’s a bit tough to do in the context of an online chat and, two, it really wasn’t the poor guy’s fault. Policies are policies. After all, I did sign a contract with them. So, I let the guy off easy by politely thanking him for his efforts in spite of the results.

But, the way he ended the chat caused me to raise my eyebrows and fall back into my seat. I’ve done a multitude of online chats for a vast number of reasons but have never has this one come at me.

The agent’s closing comment was, “Thank you, Margaret. Have a blessed evening.”

In the day and age when a student can be suspended simply for saying “bless you” to a classmate who sneezed, it seems incredible – and unlikely – that a phone company representative would so boldly wish a customer a “blessed evening.” I mean, a doctor can be dismissed for quoting the Bible these days, so wouldn’t a cellular employee fear similar repercussion?

Apparently, this one did not, and I am grateful. He made my evening. In fact, he brightened my entire next day. Granted, he didn’t specifically mention God, but I think it’s safe to assume that it was implied. Who gives blessings? God. Who would grant someone a blessed evening? God. God is the source of all blessings, whether we say so directly or indirectly.

The Catechism puts it so beautifully.

“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.” (CCC, 2626)

When we wish blessings on another human being, we become part of a sacred cycle. God blesses us, we bless someone else, and in return, God is blessed. It’s such a simple thing to do, and yet we probably miss hundreds of opportunities a week to wish God’s blessings on others.

A few years ago while using  our pharmacy’s automated prescription ordering line, I unthinkingly ended my message with, “God bless you.” I have to admit, I felt pretty stupid for making such a mistake. Saying “God bless you” at the end of a prescription order seemed inappropriate. Two days later I went to pick up my order and was stopped by the pharmacists before I left. She wanted to thank me for my phone message.

“You have no idea what that did for me,” she said. “I really needed to hear that, especially that day.”

We never know what good a small, “unthinking” gesture can do.

There are legitimate reasons to be concerned about negative consequences, and that’s a shame. As society grows more and more hostile toward our Christian beliefs, we’ll be faced more and more often with situations like the student suspended for saying “bless you” and the doctor who was dismissed for quoting the Bible. And yet, the overall consequences could be far worse. Once God disappears from our language, he’ll begin to disappear from our minds and hearts.

I wonder what would happen if we started consciously invoking God’s blessing on those with whom we interact. If we can’t do it verbally, perhaps we can do it mentally. God hears every word we say no matter if it’s vocalized or not. Sure, we might get caught. Then again, we might not. We might even discover that we’ve completely changed someone’s day, evening, or maybe even their entire life. You never know how far God’s blessings will go. Wouldn’t it be worth the risk?

Marge Fenelonis a Catholic author, columnist, and speaker and a regular guest on Catholic radio. She’s written several books about Marian devotion and Catholic family life, including Strengthening Your Family: a Catholic Approach to Holiness at Home and Imitating Mary: Ten Marian Virtues for the Modern Mom. Find out more about Marge at www.margefenelon.com.

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Religious Freedom
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