While I was on my mission, my mom was preparing for her Master’s recital in vocal performance, and she kept getting sick. She had laryngitis, rashes, sleeplessness, bronchitis… She asked a family friend to giver her a priesthood blessing. He was in the process of leaving the church by that time, I think. He invited my non-member step-father, and his own disaffected wife to join him in laying hands on my mother’s head during the blessing.

When I received my mother’s letter describing this unorthodox blessing, I was shattered. I worried for the welfare of my mother’s soul. I feared her husband would never respect the church of its authority if it was so lightly given. I wrote a letter to her stake president, begging him to look after her and help her find her way back. I never heard back from that stake president, nor do I believe he ever checked up on my mom.

Looking back, with eyes of disillusionment, I think how lovely it was of our friend to include others who also loved my mom in a bestowal of goodwill and divine blessing. I don’t know if there is any physical effect of a priesthood blessing, but I believe there is a psychological effect, which may be magnified when the receiver understands the love of those giving it. On the other hand, I can see no harm in including people who don’t “hold the priesthood” in the act of laying hands for a blessing. At the very worst, they won’t be channeling divine power, but they would not hinder the channeling of the the person who does hold the priesthood, if God really loves the person being blessed.

I also find it beautiful to have a woman participating in the blessing of another woman. In the early church, women ministered among other women, giving blessings and comfort as only women can do for one another. The only place where this idea is carried on now is in the temple, where women perform the initiation rites on other women in exactly the same manner the men are served by other men.


~ by woundedhart on March 25, 2008.

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