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Asking a Priest’s Blessing

It is the practice of our Kyivan tradition that we ask for a blessing every time we meet a priest or a bishop.

priest giving a blessingThe Church transforms even as simple a thing as greeting a priest into yet another occasion to encounter God. The ritual we perform in this social meeting is directed not so much at the priest, but at God who is everywhere present. The encounter with the priest is a kind of catalyst to find God in humility and grace for both the priest and the parishioner.
 
It becomes an opportunity to worship God. It can be an opportunity to receive divine blessing, for God alone is the source of all blessing. God can use the occasion of the meeting to recall our unvigilant selves back to God, and back to His presence in our lives, back to the grace and blessings that are given to those who seek Him.

“…The Hand of God is held out in blessing for all who seek Him…” (Ezra 8:18b)

kissing a priest's hand

Image: http://www.stgabrielashland.org/

Saint John Chrysostom taught that if we meet a priest walking along with an angel, we should greet the priest first and kiss his hand, since that hand has touched the Body and Blood of our Lord.

Approaching a priest, we offer our hand to him for the blessing. Our hands should be held right crossed over left, palms upward.
 
We say to him: “Blahoslovy,” or “Father, bless.” In the case of a bishop, we say, “Blahoslovy, Vladyko,” or “Master, bless.”
 
With his hand in the shape of the Christogram (ICXC spelled out in his fingers–a traditional symbol of 
blessing reserved to priests, recalling that Jesus Christ Conquers), the priest makes the Sign of the Cross over our extended hands.

Then he puts his blessing hand in our open hands. When he does this, the priest invokes God’s blessing with this prayer:
“May the Lord bless you from Zion and may you see the good of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.” (Ps 128:5)

We then kiss the top of the blessing hand of the priest as a way to express to God our response to divine love.

“Blessed are You, O Lord, teach me your statutes!” (Ps 119:12)