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Bible Dictionaries

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary


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In a general sense the act of blessing, or giving, praise to God, or returning thanks for his favours. The Jews, it is said, are obliged to rehearse a hundred benedictions per day, of which eighty are to be spoken in the morning. It was usual to give a benediction to travellers on their taking leave; a practice which is still preserved among the monks. Benedictions were likewise given among the ancient Jews as well as Christians, by imposition of hands. And when at length the primitive simplicity of the Christian worship began to give way to ceremony, they added the sign of the cross, which was made with the same hand as before, only elevated or extended. Hence benediction in the modern Romish church is used, in a more particular manner, to denote the sign of the cross made by a bishop or prelate as conferring some grace on the people. Benediction is also used for an ecclesiastical ceremony, whereby a thing is rendered sacred or venerable.

In this sense benediction differs from consecration, as in the latter, unction is applied, which is not in the former: thus the chalice is consecrated, and the pix blessed; as the former, not the latter, is anointed, though in the common usage these two words are applied promiscuously. The spirit of piety, or rather of superstition, has introduced into the Romish church benedictions for almost every thing: we read of forms of benedictions for wax candles, for boughs for ashes, for church vessels, for ornaments, for flags, or ensigns, arms, first fruits, houses, ships, paschal eggs, cilicium, or the hair-cloth of penitents, church-yards, &c. In general, these benedictions are performed by aspersions of holy water, signs of the cross, and prayers suitable to the nature of the ceremony. The forms of these benedictions are found in the Roman pontifical, in the Roman missal, in the book of ecclesiastical ceremonies, printed in Pope Leo X.'s time, and in the rituals and ceremonies of the different churches, which are found collected in father Martene's work on the rites and discipline of the church.

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Bibliography Information
Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Benediction'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. 1802.

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Monday, October 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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