Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Blessing of the Fleet

My blog today is dedicated to all those who sail upon the seas, those who make their livings from our oceans and those who go in harms way upon the waters to keep the rest of us safe. Palm Sunday is generally recognized as the traditional date for “The Blessing of the Fleet”, although many communities celebrate it at different times throughout the spring and early summer.

The Blessing of the Fleet is an annual event, originally a Catholic Religious activity, which started in the Middle Ages. It was brought to America by European immigrants and is celebrated in many of the sea ports and fishing villages along our coasts. In some places it has remained a mainly religious gathering but in many places it has also become a larger, social event with boats decorated and paraded as a part of the celebrations.

I first attended a Blessing of the Fleet in Sausalito, California in 1972. My best friend at the time was 2nd generation Portuguese whose family were fishermen. He and his family invited me to celebrate the event with them. Their celebration included a big community dinner at which the “rich” people and the community leaders were expected to do all of the serving and cleaning up. It was a great deal of fun and the blessing itself was moving.

I have tried to attend a “Blessing of the Fleet” whenever  I could since then. People who have not “known the sea” do not realize how dangerous it can be, even for the best and most experienced mariners. Those who make their living from the sea have a special and shared understanding.

Prayer of Blessing
We gather to bless our ships and boats; those who work on them; those who protect our country; those who protect our citizens; those who provide food from our waters; and those who use these waters for family and pleasure.

God of boundless love, at the beginning of creation your spirit hovered over the deep. You called forth every creature and the seas teamed with life. Your son Jesus calmed the Sea of Galilee, brought his disciples to safety, and filled the nets of his disciples. He has given us the rich harvest of salvation. Bless our ships and our boats, the equipment and all who serve on them and who would use them. Protect them from the dangers of wind and rain and of the perils of the deep. Bring us all to the harbor of light and peace. May the saving power of our Lord guide and protect us all. Amen.

Live Long and Prosper….

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