Aaaah-tchoo! When someone sneezes we often automatically use the expression “God Bless you” without even thinking about it. What does it mean to bless someone or to be a blessing? The Beatitudes begin with the word “blessed” and remind us that a blessing is the basic movement of Christian prayer—it is an intimate encounter between God and us. In blessing, God’s gift and our acceptance of this gift are united together in love. When we bless someone we unite our heart to that person’s heart so that we can truly be called children of God. Because God blesses us, we can in turn bless others.

As you reflect upon the Beatitudes, ponder in your heart the people in your life: Who needs more peace, mercy or more joy in their life? Who is undergoing a time of mourning? And ask yourself—who will I bless in my life today?

—Julianne Stanz is a speaker, writer and mother of two, originally from Ireland. She currently serves as Director of the New Evangelization for the Diocese of Green Bay, WI.