A warning: The actual blessing part of this benediction is going to go very, very quickly, so stay awake. But I will need a little time to set it up, so please stay with me.
I presume part of the reason I was asked to do this benediction is because, like you, my formal time at Regis is at an end. But I also presume that I have been asked because I am a priest. Giving blessings is part of the job description.
As a newly ordained priest, a long time ago and far away, I was humbled by people who would bring me things to bless. Who was I to do this? I was particularly uncomfortable when people would try to kiss my hands when I knew full well that I was and remain a sinner. What is so special about these hands? I was so uncomfortable that at the end of Mass when the priest gives the blessing, I would say, “May almighty God bless us,” instead of the prescribed, “May almighty God bless you.”
Although life continues to remind me I am an all-too-flawed human being, I have also come to learn that it is not all about me. God chooses the weak as well as the strong, the young as well as the old, the saint as much as the sinner. God can and does impart blessings in all manner of ways and by all manner of people.
And so, Regis Class of 2019, the blessing which it is my honor and privilege to bestow on you in a minute is a timely reminder of all the blessings you have received from the hands of others over these past four years.
To be blessed means to be made holy — to be consecrated. And you have been blessed again and again in many ways by many people: In the classroom. In the chapel. In the field. In the cafeteria. In song, and in speech and debate, and in listening on the subway and on the sidewalk. You have been consecrated by teachers and classmates; by priests and maintenance staff; by parents, grandparents, family, and friends. Your four years here have consecrated you. They have made you holy. Gentlemen, you have been blessed.
If I can leave you with one small piece of advice from many years of imparting blessings, it is this: You are a blessing. Not because you are worthy of it. Not because you earned it or deserve it, but because you allow yourself to be a channel of grace for yourself and for others. And you will be that means of grace if you humbly and gratefully accept the blessings of where you are. They may not always be easy circumstances or situations. They may not always be easy people. They may not always be what you want, and you may often be called to great courage and indeed sacrifice. But if you are always present to wherever you are, and you embrace it with generosity and gratitude, you will be a blessing.
Feel this place. Feel this moment. Feel the person that you are and are becoming. Feel and be aware of the people around you and with you. Feel the God who is always with you in each and every moment. When you know that you are indeed blessed, then you can become a blessing for others.
Gentlemen, I ask you to look at your hands. What is special about them? Gentlemen, I suggest to you that you have the power to bless. That you have the power to heal, to console, to caress, indeed to bless.
You are blessed, the Class of 2019, so that you can go out from here and be a blessing in a world that so keenly needs you. So finally, here is the blessing I impart on behalf of all gathered here to support you: Regis graduating Class of 2019 — just a reminder the appropriate response is a confident “Amen” — I bless you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.