Parents often trace a cross on their little one’s foreheads to invoke the Lord’s blessing. We should let our children do the same for us.
Many parents have adopted the beautiful habit of blessing their children by tracing the sign of the cross on their foreheads. This gesture brings many things to the heart: an act of love and affection, the desire for protection from Heaven, the silent worries that are always present in every father and mother’s heart. But it is also the way we offer this child in our care to the hands of God: receiving and giving is encapsulated in the simple gesture we trace with our thumb.
A calming gesture
The child receiving this ritual does not entirely understand what it all means, but he or she will always feel the love in it. At troublesome times, when the relationship is tense, we may not always remember to do it, but the older ones will notice its absence.
If we get out of the habit, we can take advantage of occasions that lend themselves to bringing back this short and sweet blessing that helps calm the soul. A birthday, a feast day of the liturgical calendar, a happy or painful event in the family, will give this gesture meaning and intensity. “In the name of the Father, I still love you even though you have distanced yourself from us—which is part of growing up—but distancing yourself from Him is not.”
The day our children bless us
But the day will come when the tables have turned. When we are old, it will be our children caring for us, washing us, feeding us, and keeping us calm at the prospect of death … They will also be able to bless us and fill our soul with that balsam of freshness. The first time a child blesses their parents could be the day they are confirmed. We, too, can ask to share in receiving this favor, showing that the communion of saints is real, not something virtual, through this small gesture.
As a priest, I grant blessings every day to all the children and young people of the parish and the souls that God entrusts to me. I like to make the sign of the cross on the foreheads of those who finally become “complete” consummate Christians. They become rich in faith. Up to that moment they had everything they needed, except for the icing on the cake. And the first fruit of their new status can be that they bless us, that they bless their father and mother, their brothers and sisters, the people who attended the ceremony and, why not, the bishop himself that confirmed them.
Abbot Vincent de Mello