“Have a blessed day”–What does it mean?

A voicemail greeting I heard recently ended with, “Have a blessed day.” I found myself feeling both comforted and uncomfortable: comforted because of the well wishes, and uncomfortable because of the words’ challenge to my religious beliefs.  What does it even mean to have a blessed day?  Is “blessed” just one of those words that means “good” or “great”?  Or is it strictly religious?  In the case of this particular voicemail greeting, I know it’s religious, because I know that the woman saying it is a fundamentalist Christian.

As a Catholic growing up, I saw blessings thrown around like confetti at a parade.  At Mass (for me, six days a week), chances are you’d have been blessed at least a few times.  At Confession (in my case, every week), we would recite, “Bless me Father for I have sinned.  It has been one week since my last confession.”  Nearest I could figure, imparting a blessing onto someone meant giving them a shot of the Holy Spirit.  Or at least making the thing being blessed a little holier.

Holy water was water that had been blessed.  Reminds me of the scene in the movie The Exorcist when the priest sprinkles tap water on the possessed girl and she reacts as though the water were blessed.  Holy water was somehow very special.

But I was getting blessed a LOT and I wasn’t getting any holier.  Far from it.  Receiving so many blessings just served to remind me of how sinful I was, and only made me feel guiltier.  They could have dumped me into a bath of holy water and it wouldn’t have washed my soul clean of the sinfulness I felt in that Church.

The superlative adjective describing your day depends on the culture of the well-wisher.  An entrepreneur might say, “Have a profitable day.”  A sailor might say, “May the wind be at your back.”  A fellow teacher will often say, “Have a good class.”  So it’s not so strange that a Christian would say, “Have a blessed day.”  But what does it mean?

The power to bless is reserved to God and to the religious hierarchy.  In the Catholic Church, the priest has the power to bless, and above him the bishop and so on.  It is presumptuous for a mere mortal such as myself to believe that I can bless anything.  Except possibly when someone sneezes and you say, “Bless you.”  Why not just say, “May God bless your day!”, since all blessings must ultimately come from God anyway?

To bless means to make holy.  But to have a “blessed day”?  Does that mean that the day will be holy?  Or does it mean that, because of God’s influence, the day will be extra special, unlike any day before or since?  Do we demean God’s blessing by wishing it upon every day?

I’m not trying to be disrespectful.  Really!  I’m just trying to get at the truth.  And I don’t wish to appear ungrateful for someone’s wish for me to have a blessed day.  I’m sure that her wish is sincere.  But would she wish me a blessed day if she knew that I’m an atheist?  Would her language or attitude toward me change?  Would an entrepreneur wish you a profitable day if he knew that you don’t believe in or value Profit?

Maybe but I doubt it.  The entrepreneur would recoil in horror, unable to believe that someone doesn’t believe as he believes.  And after a perfunctory attempt to convince the other person of his error, the entrepreneur would wander off, probably never to talk to that person again.

4 thoughts on ““Have a blessed day”–What does it mean?

  1. I appreciate what you’ve written, and your thoughts behind it. I’m an atheist living in an uber Christian area of NC. I keep my beliefs, or lack thereof, to myself but I also wondered about the blessed day phrase, as you hear that a lot down here. I’m not offended in any way by being wished a blessed day ( although I found it a bit disconcerting the first few times) but in researching I’ve found that I can accept it and wish it back without it having any underlying religious connotation, on my part.

  2. Well said! I’m a Catholic that has a hard time with my religion. But I need God in my life and if it means being Catholic so be it. I came back after 30 years.

  3. Blessed can be defined as blissfully happy or contented. It is linked strongly to religion but just because it is used does not mean the person behind the words are trying to make you turn against your beliefs or will theirs on you. I come from a religious back ground and attend church every now and again but most religious people would state I’m far from Christ like or would even believe me to be religious. I use the phrase have a blessed day. I just want you to be filled with what ever makes you happy not only today but every day. Btw my best friends are gay, I believe in aliens and to top it off I hang with people of all religions. I believe that religion is meant to be good but causes more hate, segregation and prejudice because of members whom call themselves religious have acted out not positively but negatively and go against the very thing they say they are. For instance a Christian who says they are pro-life but is willing to blow up an abortion clinic and everyone in there in the name of their God. Or how they say only God can judge but they judge other religions stating theirs is the right one. I’m not atheist nor am I religious I’m just a good person that believe all is good whether you believe in a higher being or non at all it is your preference but enjoy being whatever you are. In other words be blessed.

  4. Thank you for your post. I am a believer in Jesus Christ & deal with a lot of bad habits, hurts, and hang-ups. I sign off frequently with “Have a blessed day” I know what it means for me. It means that I need something that is not of me but of my Creator to get me through life on life’s crappy terms. I am going to deal with spiritual warfare as long as I am alive. Awful people are aimed to kill, steal, & destroy my joy but the peace in Jesus promises me a more abundant life. I have been a victim of legalistic religious abuse but that is not going to stop to seek my Saviour’s face. People including myself suck but I am learning more about God & He loves me … With warts & all. So, I don’t get your take on blessings. I just keep it simple & know that I need them in my life, I worship a God that gives them to me if I deserve them or not because He loves me unconditionally & when I hear regardless of where it’s coming from.. All I have to do is be ready to receive a blessing that surpasses my understanding. I am sorry that u struggle in this area but I gave God one more chance & I don’t regret it. Thank you for letting me share on your post and have a fill in the blank of whatever works for you day 🙂

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