The Blessing Cup first appeared in 1979. Its popularity of this ritual happens in families, base Christian Communities, Faith Formation sessions, sacrament preparation, adult formation and welcoming new people to faith communities. People along the way have offered suggestions and given support and encouragement for its use. Those who gather around it and the best rituals for families, classes, groups, meetings or any prayer celebrations make the cup holy.
The practice of using a blessing cup is part of an old Jewish custom, which has been incorporated into our modern day celebration of the Eucharist. Used as a symbol, the blessing cup can become a sign of togetherness and a means to strengthen the family bonds or relationships within groups.
Groups and families who are striving to strengthen bonds do so by mutually sharing hopes, fears, joys and sorrows. Used as a family or group symbol, the blessings cup can become a sign of solidarity—oneness in prayer and blessing. The blessing cup service, centered on a common cup and based on the Scriptures and petitions, can help members express their deepest feelings.
Make your own Blessings Cup, or you can purchase one. I used “The Blessing Cup” many times during my time in parish ministry as well as with my children as they grew. First Communion families often made their own blessings cups during the retreat, so families continuing the ritual at home. At our family catechesis sessions we introduced the blessing cup, families made their own decorated cup, shared in the prayer ritual and continue to share at home.
The list of opportunities for celebrating with a blessing cup is as varied as the experience life experiences: birthdays, anniversaries, and holy days, Thanksgiving, First Communion, Advent, Lent, birth or death in the family, new home, time of misfortune or hardship, study groups, book clubs, Secular Franciscan meetings or any occasion that calls for recognition and attention. Suggestions for both formal and informal rituals to use the blessing cup can be found on-line, ideas in Blessings Cup Books, (one in the Bookstore at St. Anthony Spirituality Center).
A blessings cup ritual includes: filling the cup with a beverage related to the event, an opening prayer, scriptures, petitions (members invited to add), and closing prayer, usually the Our Father.
It’s a very enriching way to pray as a family, staff, group, etc. My hope this Thanksgiving is to have my grandchildren/family make blessings cups to take home and continue the prayers during Advent and then share again at Christmas.
Consider making a blessing cup for your prayer celebrations. May your blessing cup be filled to overflowing!