Saturday, 15 September 2012

What do you say when you leave a loved one?

I mean, you say 'goodbye' of course.

          It would be 'Good night, God bless' if a Doodlebug landed near you

What else? All my love? Take care? Safe journey?

Well, 'God bless' is a desirable part of one's farewell but, there is an addition to 'God bless' that is seldom heard these days.

I am a child of the post war years, born when London was being flattened by the doodlebug bombs.

Of course, I  do not remember any of that (heh, heh) but what I do recall is how my parents and six siblings (those who were not away at war) used to sign off each night.

We used to say: 'Goodnight. God bless you and spare you'.

A fitting prayer if you were wedged in a damp and dusty bunk in an air raid shelter, complete with two maiden aunts who recited the Rosary during each raid.
The flying bombs used to whine as they came over and the danger moment was when the whine stopped; then you knew that the bomb was heading earthwards and you held your breath and prayed liked there was no tomorrow, and there was no tomorrow for thousands.

Legend has it that my aunts sat  piously telling their beads but, as the whine grew louder so the pace at which they said their 'Hail Marys' increased until, when the sound cut out and the bomb was due to hit they were rattling off each prayer at the rate of knots.
Shades of Robert Redford in 'The Longest Day' as he rowed across the river under a torrent of fire.

It seems to me that 'God bless' is only half a prayer; if we add ' (you) and spare you' it becomes complete and it adds a dimension of charity and concern.
We ask God to spare our loved ones from evil, from physical harm and from God's own judgement.

'Spare us, O Lord.......

......That You spare us, that You hear us, We sinners beseech You, hear us. That You will make known Your love for us in this most Holy Sacrament, We sinners beseech You, hear us. That You will vouchsafe to accept our reparation, made in the spirit of humility, We sinners beseech You, hear us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world:
 Spare us, O Lord. Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world:
Hear us, O Lord. Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world:
Have mercy on us, O Lord.

Today, praise be to God, we do not have the flying bombs, but we do have religious fanatics, Muslim for the most part, who are just as intent on destroying us as Hitler was.

More than ever we need to say goodybe or good night to our children, brothers, sisters, friends and relations: 'God bless you and spare you'.


  1. Ah yes, but Catholic tradition is that by saying the first part, the rest is taken as read...

    "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" being the prime example!!


    "God bless!" is a sign off I use frequently... not just for family. Anything more would seem too intimate for general use!

  2. Great post. I have been following WWII on Twitter and it has brought those air raids into focus for me, but not in the same way as they were to you.
    BTW, I think Redford was rowing across the river in A Bridge Too Far. Don't recall him in The Longest Day at all.

  3. Thank God that in your infancy brave young men in the RAF were trying to knock down the V2, and in Downing Street you had a prime minister who was not in the least concerned about Adolf Hitler's feelings.