TRINIDAD Y TOBAGO: PRIEST: I AM NOT BLESSING THE TOYS - EntornoInteligente / Trinidad Express / No Christmas toys were blessed at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church in San Fernando on Wednesday.

Instead, Fr Martin Sirju placed his arms around the children gathered in the congregation and blessed them.

It has become a tradition for Roman Catholics to take their children, along with their Christmas toys, to be blessed at the celebration of the Feast of the Holy Innocents.

But Sirju advised his parishioners that no Christmas toys would be blessed by him from this year onward.

“I have nothing against the blessing of toys, I just don’t think today is the day to do it because to me it does not reflect the seriousness of the occasion. The scriptures, text, Gospel for today ends on a pretty sad note…a woman weeping for her children and it is hard for me,” he said.

The Feast of the Holy Innocents is observed on December 28, in commemoration of the slaughter of male children, two years old and under, in Bethlehem when King Herod attempted to kill the infant Jesus.

Sirju said he had been thinking about the tradition for a long time before making his final decision this year.

“So I had to let it develop in my mind for a while to settle and reflect. I reach the stage where I think it is not a helpful thing to do,” he said,

The blessing of Christmas toys, he said, was not written in the scriptures but was a local custom.

He said the tradition had become less meaningful over the years and even cheapens the true meaning of the Feast. And he noted that with all the developments and achievements in the world too many children were still suffering.

This year, Sirju said, he asked parents to not bring their toys to church this morning.

And he even suggested that parents bless the toys themselves.

“I don’t see why parents can’t do it themselves, either on Christmas Day or the Feast of the Holy Family which is coming up. They can gather at a family gathering and ask almighty God to bless their children and bless the toys. And I think today has a more sombre mood to it considering all our developments and achievements and so on and yet so many of the children of our world and nation continue to suffer,” he said.

Sirju said he was not against any priest who wishes to continue the practice, as it was his personal decision.

He said following the service this morning, he placed blessed oil on the children’s foreheads, placed his arms around them and blessed them.

“The Bible tells us Jesus put his arms around the children and bless them, I decided to do that instead. I blessed them with some blessed oil and laid my hands on them. It was much more enjoyable than blessing toys,” he said.

The Roman Catholic church has had to deal with dissident priests recently when Archbishop Joseph Harris delivered a stinging rebuke of Father Ian Taylor, one of his priests who advocated for the imposition of the death penalty.

Harris declared that capital punishment was an offence against the inviolability of life and the dignity of the human person and it was highly irresponsible for anyone representing the Church to promote it.

Taylor had called for the death penalty to be swiftly reinstated. He said the country may never come to terms with the killing of bank employee Shannon Banfield.


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