Of blessings of airplanes and blessings from God

This post comes to you from fabled Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, at the NAS.  How I got here and what happened after is the topic of this entry.   But first a forward…

I have often related from the pulpit and in conversations that, for the first 15 some years of my priesthood, whenever I would bless a car, it would soon thereafter be in an accident.   It was like clockwork.  Someone would ask me to bless the car, I’d warn him, I’d bless the car and a couple days later, news would come back of some fenderbender.  I always warned people about that.

One time, however, a lady came back to me and said: “Imagine how bad it would have been if you hadn’t blessed it!”

Yesterday, I had a dreadful travel experience.  I had flown to Jacksonville and stayed over at what turned out to be bad choice of hotels so that I could take an early flight out to GITMO the next morning.  The RP picked me up, we went to the NAS terminal for the flight, all was well.  Then we got on the airplane, a 737 from something called Miami Air.  “Hmmm…”, quoth I.

I have a little hobby when travelling of noting the tail numbers of planes – in case I get a repeat… it’s something to do when travel is boring – but I couldn’t find this one on FlightRadar.

And there was no AC.

So, they took us out to the runway and then brought us back.  There we sat, in this sauna-plane, for over an hour while they tinkered.   Eventually they let us off.   Hours later we tried again.

No AC.   We flew anyway.

Two and a half hours later we landed at GITMO, completely rung out.   I don’t know what the temperature was on that plane, but we were all pretty much soaked through and drained.

There at GITMO, I met far far too briefly my good friend who is the Catholic chaplain here.  He is a terrific priest and chaplain.  A couple years ago he came to Madison and helped us with our Sacred Triduum.   Alas, we just had time for a quick greeting, because he was to get on that same airplane for the return trip…. poor guy.  I knew what was in store.  And he had been waiting at their terminal in Cuba for this flight all those hours.

So, off I go to explore the base and get oriented.    I eventually settled into my BOQ, ate something, watched a movie and hit the rack, determined to sleep in.

This morning I texted my priest buddy to ask if he got to his destination.

“Ha! Ha!”, quoth I.  And wrote back something jocular.

Of course, I hadn’t seen the news.

The next 30 minutes or so found me getting my DMR up and running.  I have to tether it to my phone, and this phone is Android (for TMobile, the only carried on the base) and it mystifies me.   But I got ZedNet up and active.

I got a DX call from someone who asked if the airplane that crashed was my airplane.

“WHAT?!?”, quoth I?  “I thought he was kidding!”

Right away I got a hold of my priest friend who was on that airplane that ran off the runway into the river at NAS JAX.   He was on the return flight of the plane I had got gotten off in GITMO.

He is okay.  There were a few injuries.   Some water came in and the hold is probably flooded, so bags and some – I hear – pets are a loss.  I’ll spare you the rest.

Now back to my point about blessing cars.

After several hours of uncomfortable waiting at NAS JAX for the GITMO flight, one guy in a small group I was standing with quipped, “Hey Father!  Can’t you say a pray for this plane and get us going?”

I told them my story about blessing cars and they all looked a little serious.

The photo, below, I shot immediately after I blessed this airplane.

This is the same plane that, with my chaplain friend, went into the drink at JAX.

Meanwhile, last night before I had heard about any of this, I watched a movie before getting some sleep.   It happened to be..

I am so grateful to God that no one was seriously injured in that dreadful airplane.  

I told my priest friend about the blessing thing and we both thought that it was a good idea that I blessed that aircraft.  It could have been a lot worse.


A story about this airplane.   HERE

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Kathleen10 says:

    Thank God people were not lost. The poor pets, oh dear, oh dear. The poor owners.
    I know people get very relaxed about flying. It never is that way with me. I have flight anxieties every time. Safe travels Fr. Z, God be with you, and all who are traveling.

  2. jameeka says:


  3. roma247 says:

    The moment I heard about the accident on the news, the few images and details you shared with us about your recent travels flashed into my head and I wondered if you had been involved in any way. As the downed flight was returning from Gitmo, I doubted it. But reading your account made my hair stand on end.

    So glad to hear that both you and your priest friend (and all the passengers) are safe. Ever since your run-in with the motorcyclist, I worry whenever you travel. :) I’m convinced you’re on more than one person’s hit list…

  4. Amante de los Manuales says:


  5. moosix1974 says:

    When my husband was coming into the Church, the priest that was preparing him blessed his motorcycle after class one night. Shortly thereafter, he had small accident with it and lost part of his finger. He said he never understood that until I explained to him that it could have been MUCH worse.

  6. KateD says:

    Keep up the good work, Father!

    Of course the devil would like to dissuade you from removing trains/planes and automobiles from his dominion.

    Many priests (and laity) succumb to the suggestion that they will, “catch” bad luck/hardship/possession if they get involved in doing God’s holy will. Psshaw.

    This is WAR! Good for you for not letting the enemy psyche you out :D

  7. Traductora says:

    Yes indeed! It was probably terrifying but everybody survived and there were only two minor injuries. (I live in Jacksonville so it’s gotten coverage all day.) It might have been much worse had you not blessed the plane.

    A wise somebody once told me that one of the things you will know at the Judgment is how many things you have been saved from by the protection of God, Our Lady or your Guardian Angel…and it will make your hair stand on end!

  8. Ms. M-S says:

    Okay, so when you bless something the Devil goes after it but your blessing preempts the worst from happening. I’d take this as a compliment.

  9. benedetta says:

    I think your blessing was a protection against worse harm. I’m so glad everyone is ok. Thank God.

  10. iPadre says:

    I think our Lord has you bless the vehicles before to protect from what is coming/

    Glad you are safe, and those in that terrible accident.

  11. GypsyMom says:

    I completely believe that your blessing brought down protection for the passengers. My family had two very close calls on long-distance trips, one which stranded us in an out-of-state motel for two days, but I believe that the Rosaries and other prayers we prayed at the beginning of our trips miraculously kept us alive. We really “should” have died in both incidents. Sometimes when things look they’re going wrong, they’re really going right.

  12. Suburbanbanshee says:

    That plane sounds like it was a junker, poor thing, but it did its best at the end. I am sure the blessing helped, along with a darned good pilot.

  13. Charivari Rob says:

    Definitely agree that “blessing prevented it from being any worse” is a healthy way to view it.

    Besides – we can’t have “Father Z blessing vehicles/transportation” becoming a bad omen trope on the order of “I got invited to a society weekend soiree at somebody’s country estate and just found out I’m supposed to be dinner seatmate of Jessica Fletcher”

  14. Suburbanbanshee says:

    It skidded off the runway, and into the river? Oops. That I had not heard. I thought it was a river crash landing.

    Very early aviation-ish. At least it was not a cliff, like that killer airport in Nova Scotia.

  15. padredana says:

    GITMO? Have you been arrested?

  16. Gab says:

    The person that asked you to bless the plane must have got a supernatural nudge from his Guardian Angel to make that request, I reckon.

    And yes, imagine if you hadn’t blessed the plane, Father! God’s Grace.

  17. Spinmamma says:

    If it comes to that, I would be grateful to have you bless any mode of transportation on our behalf!

  18. Charles E Flynn says:

    The injury count is up to 22:

    Reuters: Probe begins after Boeing 737 slides off runway into Florida river
    Brendan O’Brien


  19. Scotty says:

    Bad hotel in Jacksonville? I am extremely not surprised!

    I’m glad everything is all right for everyone involved. Thanks for visiting the sailors and Marines down there, Fr.

  20. SanSan says:

    Oh Thank God for your blessing of that plane. So thankful that you and your priest friend are both OK.
    Ya know Father, we may have to put you on a shorter leash….1st Paris, now this……hmmm?!

  21. bartlep says:

    All great comments on your various blessings.
    But GITMO? Not a place I’ve dreamed of for a vacation destination. You’re not in trouble, are you ???

    [Why would you even think that of a priest subbing for a chaplain?]

  22. You live a remarkable life.

    [And I have remarkable friends!]

  23. Dan says:

    “GITMO? Have you been arrested?“


    As I typed that as a stupid joke I realized how true that is of most of our society today and it became less funny.

  24. Semper Gumby says:

    A blessed sojourn in Gitmo Fr. Z, and safe continued travel for your priest friend. Deo gratias there were no fatalities.

    [He’s good. Hit his head. Sort of blech. His vestments in the hold are a total loss. I think we have to do something about that. Yut.]

  25. Liz says:

    Wow, Fr. Z, I said prayers of thanksgiving about this all at mass this morning. Those blessings are so powerful! God bless you and still praying for your motorcycle accident deal in case you still have any ill effects from that. God bless you.

  26. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Re: Jessica Fletcher, the memoir written by Lt. Joe Kenda (the police detective from Homicide Hunter) revealed that you can indeed go on vacation or go out to have fun, and run into a murder case or another crime. In real life, it does not sound fun.

  27. bobbird says:

    Fr. Z, would you PLEASE bless: Pope Francis, Cdls. Cupich, Wuerl and Tobin? Cocopalmeiro and Maradiaga? Fr. James Martin? The list is loooooong.

  28. Yeah… think about it… motorcycle in a Paris crosswalk… GITMO airplane…. And there are lots of others I haven’t written about.

  29. Semper Gumby says:

    Fr. Z: Good news that your friend was not seriously injured. Yep, something needs to be done about his vestments, it’s uncomfortable being separated from one’s gear.

    Enjoy BOQ life at the NAS Padre, I know the Navy does three hots and a cot better than us Leathernecks (we get confused with anything fancier than a Conex box). Padre, you did bring your Challenge Coin…

  30. Semper: I brought challenge coins.

    I am so grateful that God helped.

  31. Semper Gumby says:

    Fr. Z: Let a Non Nobis and Psalm 150 be sung!

    Padre, I don’t know what the gear list is for Heaven (first, a cot for me in Purgatory), but I’d like St. Peter to permit me a bottle of whiskey in my seabag for my guardian angel.

    And a second for Fulton Sheen.

    And a third for…

    …this is gonna be great.

  32. TonyO says:

    Thank God you are OK, and your priest friend.

    Since there are no coincidences in God’s planning, I wonder what He is doing with all of these near-miss brushes. Whatever it is, I suppose the admonition to keep on your toes and keep on praying is probably in there somewhere. That goes for all of us, of course.

  33. fishonthehill says:

    First car I blessed as a newly ordained I dented the hood with the top of the aspergillum. Always make sure the top is on! The owner was good about it, as it was a work car; he just shrugged it off and said it will be the first of many.

  34. Elizabeth R says:

    “Capt. Michael Connor, a commanding officer at the station, called the safe landing ‘a miracle.’ ” (from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/05/04/florida-plane-crash-survivor-landing-guantanamo-bay-cuba/1100290001/)

    I’m glad you blessed the plane!

  35. Chuck4247 says:

    Admittedly way off on a tangent, this makes me wonder as I work on code at my desk:
    How would one go about blessing a codebase or some other virtual entity?

  36. Suburbanbanshee says:

    I imagine that blessing some code or a program would be much the same as blessing a book or a library.

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