This is another from Joe's emails.
You often mention blessings in your posts. What are they - well I understand they are blessings from God, or along those lines, but what do they represent to you?
Joe, I'm going to first state that I don't understand priesthood blessings completely. This is something I need to keep studying. In a priesthood blessing we believe that the person giving the blessing can receive inspiration from God and tells the person receiving the blessing the words of comfort and instruction that God has for them at that time- usually related to what the blessing was asked for. The are lots of kinds of blessings, but I would say that the two main types are for comfort and for healing. Healing blessings usually involve an anointing by oil, and both are given with the laying on of hands (ie the person giving the blessing puts their hands on your head during the prayer). I've mentioned a couple blessings for healing: for my migraines in pregnancy, for the back labor I had a 30 weeks, and I may have mentioned other times when I was ill. For example, earlier this year McKay and I took turns having the flu. During my week, I asked for a blessing for healing. In that blessing, I was promised health and I was told my breastmilk would make the appropriate antibodies needed to protect Margaret. Margaret never did get sick from that flu. I've had healing blessings that don't stick to just being about healing: sometimes they've included comfort and instructions for other parts of my life.
Comfort blessings give instructions and comfort and don't involve an anointing with oil. I've asked for blessings like this at various times in my life: after something traumatic happening, before I got married, days when I just felt stuck. There was one day about a month ago that I was very distraught over something that had occurred: I was in tears off and on all night. I didn't want anyone around me because I felt so negative and knew that if I had called friends to help, I'd just have spread that negativity. I actually considered going to get energy work done the next day because I just reeked of negative energy. I asked McKay for a blessing and I was given some instruction and promised comfort, but I was feeling a bit skeptical about that comfort... sometimes I get in negative ruts like that for days. I pretty much went to sleep crying that night, but when I woke up the energy in me was completely different. I was still mentally upset about the previous day's occurrences, but I couldn't feel upset inside. I don't know how it worked, but I felt that the energy inside and around my body had completely changed- this energy lasted for days.
What do they represent to me? I take the instructions given to me in each blessing as God's literal word to me. This has given me a lot of strength in various endeavors (personal, political, social).
And can anyone give them, or do you go to Church for them? I think you mentioned your husband often gives you some? I’m interested – I think that they are lovely, a great way to give back some positivity and remind you of God’s love (anyway… to my understanding!).
In the current arrangement of the Church, blessings can only be given by someone who is at least ordained to be an Elder in the Church. This, in general, means pretty much (exceptions exist) all male members above the age of about 18. This has not always been this way. In 1978, it was declared "every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood" when previously black men had been excluded from this. Also, in the 19th and early 20th centuries, women gave blessings of healing. In a 1914 letter from the First Presidency to the stakes and wards, stated that sisters, "have the same right to administer to sick children as to adults, and may anoint and lay hands upon them in faith.*" Women also anointed each other in preparation for childbirth. A quick google search can find you the text Rixa was quoting there. If either is still done today, it is not widely disclosed- I would even say it is discouraged and looked down upon. Why this is, I don't know- and I personally feel many of the "explanations" for this are just as reaching as Elder McConkie's attempts to explain why black people couldn't hold the priesthood. Like I said at the beginning, I don't understand it all and need to study it further. Some of my thoughts on gender roles and responsibilities in the Church may become a blog post in the future.
But ultimately, I very much do believe in priesthood blessings and that they are comfort and instructions directly and literally from God for us.
*Joseph F. Smith, Anthon H. Lund, and Charles W. Penrose, "To the Presidents of Stakes and Bishops of Wards, 3 October 1914," First Presidency Circular Letters, 1899-1990, Church Archives.
Monday, August 31, 2009
This is another from Joe's emails.