ASK FATHER: Can a referee or umpire bless athletes like a father can bless children?

From a reader…


 I have been officiating sporting events for almost a decade now. Recently, I began to wonder, would I, as a layman ref/umpire, have any spiritual authority to bless either the field of\ play or the players prior to the game? (e.g. avoid injury, play cleanly and well, avert ominous weather) I am thinking that this might be similar to a father blessing his children, but I also figure that this is not a place to ask forgiveness…

That’s an interesting question.

I get the connection you have made about authority.   The authority of a father over his children gives him a measure of ability to bless his children.  This he would do as a father of physical children, not in the same way that a priest blesses.

I remind the readership of the distinction between constitutive and invocative blessings, a distinction that the ghastly “Book of Blessings” tried to eliminate.  Constitutive blessings, impart a blessing or consecration that renders the thing, place or person a blessed thing in an enduring way.  Examples: sacramentals like rosaries, cemeteries, and consecrated persons such professed religious and priests.   These things are, in an enduring way, torn out of the authority of the Enemy, the “prince of this world” who dominates material creation since the Fall, and handed over to the King.  An invocative blessing calls God’s blessing down here and now but not in such a way that the blessing “sticks”, as it were.

It is good to ask for the priest’s invocative blessing.  It is good to ask the priest to bless  (constitutive) your religious objects.

I am of the mind that asking for blessings is a good thing, no matter what the “results” are.

One of the reasons that we ask God to bless is to manifest our faith, hope and love for God.  It is the right and normal stance for any child of God to ask for blessings and it is the desire of the Father to give them.   The asking and the blessing is wholesome manifestation of the relationship.

Is the blessing of a referee or umpire for the field and players like the blessing of a father for his children?   I don’t know.   But whatever it is, it is not bad.

Can’t hurt.  Might help.

One thing, however: don’t make the sign of the Cross over the field or players, in the manner of the priest.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. tho says:

    Father, your answer to questions are an enlightening joy to read. You and the Baltimore Catechism light the way for us all.

  2. RobinDeLage says:

    To reiterate Father’s final point, a lay person should conclude a blessing by crossing themselves. I usually will recite “May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life” as I am crossing myself. Other concluding prayers may be better suited to the nature of the blessing.

    God Bless

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