In my post, "Can we keep our children Catholic?" I mentioned Pat McDonough's article which refers to the importance of creating a Catholic culture at home for our children's faith formation. There I mentioned that Pope Benedict XVI recounts being a child and the parental blessing he received when leaving home. In his wonderful book, The Spirit of the Liturgy, here is what Benedict says:
Through the Cross, we can become sources of blessing for one another. I shall never forget the devotion and heartfelt care with which my father and mother made the sign of the Cross on the forehead, mouth, and breast of us children when we went away from home, especially when the parting was a long one. This blessing was like an escort that we knew would guide us on our way. It made visible the prayer of our parents, which went with us, and it gave us the assurance that this prayer was supported by the blessing of the Savior. The blessing was also a challenge to us not to go outside the sphere of this blessing. Blessing is a priestly gesture, and so in this sign of the Cross we felt the priesthood of parents, its special dignity and power. I believe that this blessing, which is a perfect expression of the common priesthood of the baptized, should come back in a much stronger way into our daily life and permeate it with the power of the love that comes from the Lord (p. 184).
There is so much in this brief passage. "Through the Cross, we can become sources of blessing for one another." Although the sign of the Cross is usually used in blessing, we don't usually think of the Cross itself as a source of how we can bless each other. As baptized Christians, we have a share in the priesthood of Christ, something else we don't much think about. But as parents we are called to be a blessing to our children. And I was very moved by the Holy Father's urging that parental blessings "should come back in a much stronger way into our daily life and permeate it with the power of the love that comes from the Lord." I was so moved that my wife and I now bless our children at night with the sign of the Cross before they go to bed, and we say a family blessing in the morning when one or all of us leave the house. We need to find more ways to permeate our daily life with visible signs of our Catholic faith.