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Are any left-handed blessings given? Part two

02 August 2019

Write, if you have any answers to the questions listed at the end of this section, or would like to add to the answers below


In more than 60 years since being confirmed by the then Bishop of Chichester, I have regularly attended holy communion. More than 50 priests have provided services, and I have never seen one who does the absolution or the blessing using other than their right arm raised. Is it that left-handed candidates for ordination are refused, or are they trained not to use their natural arm?

Your answer: Some years ago, I suggested to confirmation candidates that they place their right hand over their left hand in the form of a cross to receive holy communion. It was also the first time I had a candidate with a diminished and virtually unusable right hand. I was embarrassed, to say the least.

I had done this in good faith partly from something that I read, and after a visit to Mali with Christian Aid. There, we were warned about not using our left hands to eat out of communal eating bowls, or even wave at anyone. Right hands were for eating, shaking, and waving; left hands were for other functions at the other end of the body.

This may be the root of the traditional liturgical use of the right hand.

(Canon) John McKegney
Portrush, Co. Antrim

Your question: In a 1905 diary of a tour of South Africa, which I am transcribing, the writer describes the meeting of two men (one Afrikaner and one Scottish) and records that, after lunch, “Dr. B. played Hesekiah [sic] with Sir M.B. and all his treasures.” Does anyone know what this refers to? I can find no “game” called Hesekiah/Hezekiah nor any aspect of the eponymous biblical king of Judah’s life which might have any connection with this statement. The diary entry suggests that in 1905 the meaning of this would have been apparent to an educated reader.

G. P. H.

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