Forgive Bless Me, Father


While in the process of applying to graduate schools, I read a lot of papers (okay, mostly abstracts) relating to natural language processing. Including this one, which suggests that using search engines is a good way to determine how popular a given phrase is — the more hits, the more popular. With the amount of material out on the Internet these days, that seems more than reasonable, and I have in fact used that technique. But, unsurprisingly, it turns out not to be entirely failsafe.
When brainstorming names for our MIT Mystery Hunt team this year, someone suggested “Forgive Me Father, It Has Been Two Years Since My Last Mystery Hunt.” However, someone (possibly even Matt) suggested to me that that was the incorrect phrase and that Catholics say “Bless me, Father.” And so we did a quick comparison with Google, and determined that “forgive me father” was more popular, and thus correct. And then our team opted to not select my favorite suggestion, “Guillotined Priapism,” and “Forgive me, Father” became our name. But Matt McGann actually looked at Google’s results and it turns out that Catholic’s do say “Bless me”.
So… Bless us, Father, for we have sinned. We’re still going to be called “Forgive me, Father” anyway.


4 responses »

  1. A) I remember saying “Forgive me, Father…” back when I was a practicing Catholic.
    B) Guillotined Priapism is an infinitely better name than FMF. I can’t believe there was even a question there.

  2. As an academic point, it is important to note the theological distinction between “Forgive me, Father…” and “Bless me, Father…” The sacrament of reconciliation is meant to be between the penitent and God. The priest is there to act as a symbolic representation of God granting forgiveness.
    Thus, the priest’s blessing is a tangible means of the penitent receiving God’s forgiveness. Unless you ran over the priest’s dog, you aren’t asking him for forgiveness.
    And now you may begin the molestation jokes.

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