Sunday, July 3, 2011

Blessing My Daughter

(L to R) Husband of friend who came with me to China,
Son of same friend and the one who performed the blessing,
Jie Jie and Mama, our Stake President.

This was a very special day, one I've looked forward to most of my life, the blessing of my child. I found the following explanation of this kind of blessing on a formum, but it's like a baby dedication, only more...

"The term "blessings" is used in two different ways in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In a broad traditional sense as used in many cultures, the word applies to all good things that come in a person's life-the wonders of nature, the joys of family, the benefits of liberty and education-anything and everything that enriches life. Such blessings are often pointed to as a manifestation of God's love for his children. Latter-day Saint writings are interspersed with this usage. In more specific terminology, blessings refer to ordinances performed under priesthood authority.

A priesthood blessing may be given only by those who have been ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood. In the Church, most boys at the age of twelve have the Aaronic Priesthood conferred upon them and are ordained to the office of deacon. At age fourteen, they are usually ordained teachers, and at age sixteen, priests. If the priesthood bearer continues to show faithfulness and worthiness, then at age eighteen, or anytime thereafter, he may receive the Melchizedek Priesthood with ordination to the priesthood office of elder. An elder in the Melchizedek Priesthood has authority to perform most priesthood functions in the Church, including giving priesthood blessings.

Each priesthood ordination, from deacon to apostle, is a type of priesthood blessing and is characterized, as are all priesthood blessings, by (1) the laying-on of hands by those in authority, (2) an invocation of the authority of the priesthood and the name of Jesus Christ, and (3) such words of blessing as follow the impressions of the Spirit.

This third element, that of spiritual impressions, is vital for any priesthood blessing. A fundamental doctrine of the Church is a belief that a worthy priesthood bearer, when giving a priesthood blessing, will receive promptings from the Holy Spirit regarding what is to be spoken-not necessarily the exact words, but ideas or thoughts that he will then express as clearly as he can in his own words. This is the essence of a priesthood blessing, and distinguishes it from a prayer. A prayer seeks to communicate with God, either vocally or silently, and is rooted in the faith that God will hear the words or the thoughts and feelings and then, in his infinite wisdom and power, will respond. A priesthood blessing is based on trust that the priesthood holder, while speaking the blessing, will receive spiritual promptings regarding what is to be spoken and thus his words represent the will of God.

When babies are just a few weeks old, they are usually given a priesthood blessing for the special purpose of conferring a name by which the baby will be known and bestowing promises based on spiritual impressions regarding the baby's future life. A quality of prophecy attends this process. If a baby's father is a worthy holder of the Melchizedek Priesthood, he will usually pronounce the blessing, but it may be given by a grandfather, a family friend, or any other qualified priesthood holder chosen by the baby's parents. Babies are usually blessed in the presence of the congregation at a fast and testimony meeting. However, the blessing may be given at other times and places, such as in a hospital or home, if there is a special need."

Obviously, this type of blessing isn't only for new babies. Without family nearby who have the authority to bless my child, I'd asked our Stake President long ago if he'd do it and he agreed. Then, in the three days prior to travelling to China, The Son of the friend who came with me, we'll call him B, and his wife came to town and helped me get ready to leave, often doing things before I needed to say anything. They had adopted their second child from Korea so they knew exactly what I needed. When I found out that B was going to be in town this weekend, I asked him if he'd bless Jie Jie since I felt he was closer to us personally and the Stake President was a VERY busy man. The Stake President did end up being there, having arrived back into town late last night from a business trip to Singapore, so he stood in the circle.

In addition to these three men, in the circle there was also our Bishop and another family friend who has been so supportive and excited for Jie Jie's arrival, a missionary whose companion sat beside Jie Jie and me and translated what was being said to her during the blessing, in Mandarin, so she'd know what was being said.

Jie Jie was looking forward to her blessing and said she liked it and understood what was said. One of the things that touched me most about the blessing was that B included Jie Jie's birth parents and country of her birth, that she'll have a special relationship in her heart with them.

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