You may have heard the story of Emma Smith desiring a blessing from the hands of her husband Joseph shortly before he was taken to jail at Carthage. Because time and opportunity did not permit, Joseph suggested that Emma write the best blessing that she could, and that he would sign it on his return. Joseph was killed on June 27, 1844, and never signed Emma's blessing. But still extant are the words of the blessing Emma wrote.
“First of all that I would crave as the richest of heaven’s blessings would be wisdom from my Heavenly Father bestowed daily, so that whatever I might do or say, I could not look back at the close of the day with regret, nor neglect the performance of any act that would bring a blessing. I desire the Spirit of God to know and understand myself, that I desire a fruitful, active mind, that I may be able to comprehend the designs of God, when revealed through his servants without doubting. I desire a spirit of discernment, which is one of the promised blessings of the Holy Ghost.
“I particularly desire wisdom to bring up all the children that are, or may be committed to my charge, in such a manner that they will be useful ornaments in the Kingdom of God, and in a coming day arise up and call me blessed.
“I desire prudence that I may not through ambition abuse my body and cause it to become prematurely old and care-worn, but that I may wear a cheerful countenance, live to perform all the work that I covenanted to perform in the spirit-world and be a blessing to all who may in any wise need aught at my hands.
“I desire with all my heart to honor and respect my husband as my head, ever to live in his confidence and by acting in unison with him retain the place which God has given me by his side, and I ask my Heavenly Father that through humility, I may be enabled to overcome that curse which was pronounced upon the daughters of Eve. I desire to see that I may rejoice with them in the blessings which God has in store for all who are willing to be obedient to his requirements. Finally, I desire that whatever may be my lot through life I may be enabled to acknowledge the hand of God in all things.”
Because of some recent circumstances in my life and a separation from my husband for the past week and a half, it was suggested to me that I write myself a blessing. DH was amenable to this suggestion. So I have been thinking about this possibility and considering the words of Emma Smith.
The first thing I have wanted to consider in possibly giving myself a blessing is the priesthood authority which would be used in such an action. Recently on the Mormon Heretic blog was a post discussing Women and the Melchizedek Priesthood which spoke of the priesthood which an endowed woman receives in the temple in concert with her husband. I have often wondered what constitutes this priesthood which is independent of ordination or hierarchical office. Does it include, as Mormon Heretic suggests, "the power to act in the name of God?" Does it make a difference that my husband has approved the action? Would he have to sign the blessing for it to be effective?
Next, can one give oneself a blessing? Can even an authorized priesthood holder write a blessing for himself, or is part of the very nature of a blessing contingent upon giving it to someone else?
Impossible to ignore is the wording which is used in Emma's blessing. Rather than giving the promises with authority, she instead "desires" and "craves" the blessings, couching them in the form of requests. Contrast her words with an example of an 1844 patriarchal blessing given to Mary Elizabeth Knight by Joseph Knight, Sr.:
"If you will obey your parents in all things you shall live to return to Missouri and you shall see the foundation of the Temple laid and you shall inherit plenty of the riches of the Earth inasmuch as you are faithful."
As Carol Cornwall Madsen has observed, Emma's words are longings, perhaps even a "penitent's recovenant with God." Even in the modern-day Church, most members would be more comfortable with a woman writing a blessing in the form of requesting blessings from God rather than as a pronouncement in Joseph Knight's style and in the style used by male priesthood holders today. I am not sure I would even consider a writing done in the style of Emma Smith to be an actual blessing.
What do you think? Is it appropriate for an endowed woman to give herself a blessing? Should she request the blessings, or confer them? Must it be signed or approved by her husband (with whom she shares this priesthood authority) to be effective? Can blessings be given in other, non-traditional ways, such as through an email or over the phone?
I would like to request any of you who might hold these views to give me a blessing, whether through the traditional Mormon priesthood or not. This is a time in my life when I particularly need comfort and guidance. You can put it on comments here, or send it to my email, clbruno at hotmail. If you would like, I'd be particularly interested if you state the authority by which you are giving the blessing. Thank you, friends.