Most of us would like a watch, chain or smart phone for our birthday, but for Eucharistic Minister of the Roman Catholic Church, Joe Issa, who has built a small conglomerate on a Cool brand of over 50 companies, all he wanted was a gift from above, from God’s humble servant here on earth; and that’s just what he got on the first day of Christmas: an invisible blessing from Pope Francis
Issa’s birthday, which falls on December 1, had special meaning this year, his 50th. “All my birthdays have been special to me, but this year, it has been made extra special with the Pope’s blessings,” he says, while admiring the parchment scroll he received from the Vatican.
Technology savvy Joey, as he is fondly called, this year received was an Apostolic Blessing from Pope John Francis on the occasion of his landmark 50th birthday.
The papal blessing, which is invisible to the eye, of course, is represented by a certificate for keepsake, which takes the form of a parchment scroll, hand painted with calligraphy, design with the papal seal and signature.
Issa’s Apostolic Blessing reads: “The Holy Father Francis cordially imparts the requested Apostolic Blessing to Joseph John Issa on the occasion of his 50th Birthday invoking through the intercession of the Virgin Mary an abundance of Divine graces, December 1, 2015.”
According to Wikipedia’s at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostolic_Blessing, the term Apostolic Blessing also referred to as papal blessing, “is a blessing imparted by the Pope, either directly or by delegation through others,” noting that “bishops are empowered to grant it three times a year and any priest can do so for the dying.” It cautions against confusing Apostolic Blessing with Episcopal blessing, which is also known as pontifical blessing that bishops can impart at any time by their own authority.
But not everyone is normally entitled to the papal blessings, including Joey who, as a young man, once kissed the ring of Pope John Paul when, during his visit to Jamaica, paid a courtesy call to his devout Catholic parents a function in Kingston. Only baptized Catholics can receive papal blessings; and they are denied to the dead, inanimate objects and animals.
Papal Blessings are issued either directly by the Pope or indirectly through another baptized Catholic, and are given for specific occasions such as birthdays at ages 18, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 and 100, and weddings anniversaries at 10, 25, 40, 50 and 60 years, says the Office of Papal Charities in Vatican City, at http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/institutions_connected/elem_apost/documents/rc_elemosineria_doc_20130218_benedizioni_en.html.
They are also issued for priestly ordinations, religious profession, Anniversaries of religious profession, baptisms, first communions, confirmations, and conversions. However, they will not be given for death, anniversaries of death, or birth (because one is not a Catholic until one is baptized). The blessings are also not issued for events already passed.