The Blessing of Water
On January 6, in joyous celebration of the holy Theophany of our Lord, water was solemnly sanctified in our churches. It is a beautiful and meaningful ceremony which begins with special hymns and the incense of the water surrounded by candles and flowers as a sign of the beautiful world of God’s original creation and ultimate glorification through Christ and the Holy Spirit in the Kingdom of God. Sometimes, if it is possible, the blessing actually is done outdoors at a place of natural flowing water.
In today’s sophisticated and secular world, some people are of the opinion that the blessing of water and the practice of drinking it and sprinkling it on everyone and everything, is a kind of “paganism” which has falsely crept into our Church and is now outmoded. The ritual of using special water was a practice found throughout the Old Testament, if we look at the Bible; in the New Testament, the Church gives this usage new and very important meaning.
Our holy faith teaches us that all flesh and all matter became sanctified and made pure because God Himself, in the Person of His Son, Jesus, has taken on human flesh and appeared as a human being in the world. Because of Jesus Christ, the world has been purged of its work of evil. In the appearance of God at the feast we celebrate on January 6, all creation becomes good again the way that God called it forth and created it to be in the beginning of time. God called His creation “good”. When, through man’s sinfulness, it became polluted, corrupted and dead, filled with evil and not with God, God through Christ, His Son and our Lord, redeemed and glorified it once more. This is what the upcoming feast and the solemn sanctification of water test us. God has saved and glorified by Christ and the Spirit the very creation He made through the same Christ and the same Spirit at the dawn of creation. We, as part of that creation, share intimately in its renewal.
Water is used as a special symbol of this newness because water is a prime element. There is hardly anything on the face of the earth which does not need water. Creation itself began with water covering the earth. The blessing of water tells us that we and the world indeed were created and saved to be “filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19) and the “fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Ibid.). The blessing of water tells us that Christ, in Whom “the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, is and shall be truly all in all” (Colossians 2:19; 3:11). We are told that the “new heavens and the new earth” which God has promised through His prophets and apostles are truly “with us” as the holy prophet Isaiah proclaims (6:22). The blessing of water, then, is no empty ritual or pagan ceremony. It arises from the depths of the biblical and ecclesial faith experience of God’s people as the expression of its most central doctrine - the salvation of the human race through the redemptive acts of Christ. The blessing of water proclaims and celebrates the very deep conviction and vision of the Christian faith that man and his world have the destiny to be filled with all the fullness of God.
For this reason water used in blessing makes holy what is touched. This blessing is taken into your homes so that the place where you live would be filled with every blessing, to rid it of evil, protect it and to mark it with God’s favor. The blessing of our homes reminds us that the family is considered to be a “small Church”. The family table is the “home altar” on which the members of the family gather to receive their “daily bread” from God with thanksgiving in the name of Christ. During this holy Theophany season, the priest, who is the father of the greatest “family of God,” that is, the Church community, comes to each of the small Churches to make new again the fact of our salvation through Christ.