Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Great Blessing of Water

On the feast of the Holy Theophany, we bless water, since we are celebrating (among other things) Christ’s descent into the Jordan River to sanctify the waters of all creation. So we have the Great Blessing of Water on this feast, and this water will be used to drink, to bless homes, and for all other things holy water is used for. I’d like to share here part of the prayer of the Great Blessing. This is really just a fraction of the entire blessing, but I hope it will give you a bit of a feel for it. You have to be present in the celebration to experience the full power of it, but I think that even with these snippets you’ll get a greater appreciation for the sacredness of holy water, “energized” as it is with the grace of the Holy Spirit.

“O Trinity, transcendent in essence, in goodness and in divinity, O Almighty, invisible and incomprehensible, who watch over all, O Creator of intelligent essences…O Goodness of utter and unapproachable brilliance, who enlighten everyone who comes into this world: enlighten me also, your unworthy servant! Illuminate the eyes of my mind, that I may venture to praise your immeasurable goodness and might…that I may be permitted to cry out and say: ‘We glorify You, O Master and Lover of mankind, almighty King from all eternity! We glorify You, O Creator and Maker of all!’...

“Today we have attained the time of feasting, and the ranks of saints have joined us, and the angels celebrate together with men; today, the grace of the Holy Spirit, in the likeness of a dove, comes down upon the waters; today there shines the sun that never sets, and the world is sparkling with the light of the Lord… Today the whole universe is refreshed with mystical streams; today the sins of mankind are blotted out by the waters of the Jordan River; today paradise has been opened to mankind, and the Sun of righteousness has shone upon us…today we escape from darkness, and through the light of the knowledge of God we are illumined…today a way of salvation is prepared for us by the coming of the Lord…today the One who never has to bow inclines Himself before his servant so that He may release our chains; today we have acquired the Kingdom of Heaven…

“The Jordan River turns back its course as it beholds the Invisible made visible, the Creator existing in the flesh, and the Master in the likeness of a servant… And I, your unworthy and sinful servant, encompassed by fear as I proclaim your great wonders, cry out reverently to you and say: “GREAT ARE YOU, O LORD, AND WONDERFUL ARE YOUR WORKS, AND NO WORD CAN DO JUSTICE TO THE PRAISE OF YOUR WONDERS! (said three times)…

“By your divine will You brought forth all things out of nothingness into being; by your might You control all creation; by your providence You govern the universe, O You who made the whole world out of four elements and crowned the cycle of the year with four seasons… You sanctified the course of the Jordan River by sending to it your all-holy Spirit, crushing the head of every dragon hiding in it. WHEREFORE, O YOU OUR KING AND LOVER OF MANKIND, BE PRESENT NOW THROUGH THE DESCENT OF YOUR HOLY SPIRIT, AND SANCTIFY THIS WATER (three times)… Make it a fount of incorruptibility, a gift of sanctification, of redemption of sins, a healing drug for illnesses, a destroyer of devils; make it hold back the powers of the enemy and fill it with the might of the angels, so that all who drink and receive of it may be blessed in their souls and bodies, healed of their sufferings, sanctified in their homes, and may receive every befitting grace…

“WHEREFORE, O MASTER, SANCTIFY THIS WATER BY YOUR HOLY SPIRIT (three times)… Have mercy on us according to your loving kindness, so that the elements, the angels, human beings, visible and invisible creatures, may glorify your all-holy name, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, both now and forever and unto ages of ages, amen!”

Now that’s holy water!