Daily Prayer 365

Day 294
Wednesday, June 21, 2023


I will bless those who bless you —Genesis 12:3

Saying “bless you” or “God bless you” after someone sneezes seems to be a reflex response. Why do we feel compelled to say it to anyone who sneezes, even if the sneezer is a stranger or the sneeze is heard from afar? …How and where did this social behavior originate? Historically sneezes were thought to be an omen or warning from the gods, according to W. David Myers, a professor of history at Fordham University. “For European Christians, when the first plague that weakened the now Christian Roman Empire around 590, Pope Gregory the Great believed that a sneeze was an early warning sign of plague, so he commanded Christians to respond to a sneeze with a blessing,” he said…. And saying “bless you” may engender an extremely brief and passing feel-good connection to the person sneezing, a phenomenon that Dr. Farley calls “micro-affections,” an antidote to the “micro-aggressions” we hear so much about. —Judy Mandell, New York Times, Sept. 17, 2019

May we bless one another. In sickness and in health, may we bless one another. Amen. —The Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster

June 23, 2023

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