Theophany has passed for those of us following the new calendar. The waters have been blessed. Our souls have been cleansed and refreshed by the drinking/sprinkling thereof. And now it’s time! Time to clean our house. Literally.
Why should we clean our home at this time of year? We want to prepare for the special event that will happen soon within our walls: our house blessing! The traditional “after Theophany” visit from the parish priest to bless each home with holy water has been part of Orthodox Christian practice for centuries. We work to prepare our homes for this blessing, just as we work to prepare our hearts for other blessings (like communion) that we receive from God. While the house blessing is not a sacrament, it is an important part of helping us to live the Faith at home, and so we need to take time to prepare accordingly!
The house blessing is a special time for each family. It is unique because of the prayers requesting God’s sanctification of our home, and also because of the personal time that it offers with our parish priest. Every member of the family can participate (and even help!) with the house blessing, and each person will benefit from it.
So, let us do all that we can to prepare our home, our family, and our hearts for our house blessing! And then, let us participate with joy. We will be the better for it.
Here is a useful printable that can help us teach our children about Theophany and house blessings. It also provides a checklist that we can go over together to be sure that we have everything ready! http://www.antiochian.org/sites/default/files/Antiochian_Theophany.pdf
Here are a few links that may be helpful as you teach your children about and prepare for your house blessing:
The house blessing service can be found in its entirety here: http://www.goarch.org/chapel/liturgical_texts/home_bless
“If the priest comes to bless the home when the children are present, they have the opportunity to see the parish priest in a different and personal situation. If the priest permits, they can lead the way through the house, or hold a candle. They can show him their rooms or pets or favorite toys. They receive a blessing with water. For children, the house blessing shows the connection of the Church to the home.” ~ Phillys Onest, from http://www.antiochian.org/content/why-do-we-have-our-homes-blessed (used by permission)
“…the entire home is blessed, with the family walking with the priest holding candles and the Theophany icon while the Theophany Troparion is sung over and over:
Tone 1: When Thou, wast baptized in the Jordan, O Lord, / the worship of the Trinity was made manifest; / for the voice of the Father bare witness to Thee, / calling Thee His beloved Son. /And the Spirit in the form of a dove / confirmed the certainty of the word. / O Christ our God, Who hast appeared / and hast enlightened the world, glory be to Thee.
It is a very good idea for the family to sing this troparion, and know it by heart. Otherwise, of the priest has many houses to bless, his voice will get tired!” ~ from http://www.orthodox.net/10things/theophany-house-blessings.html
“The blessing of homes by these holy waters maintains the spiritual association between the ‘family church’ and the parish, as well as again providing for the sharing of God’s spiritual gifts… This annual blessing… should not be overlooked, for it is in this way that the grace of God is extended to individual dwellings.” (Marriage and the Christian Home, http://orthodoxinfo.com/praxis/xc_home.aspx.)
“There are few things more vital to our lives than our homes. In our homes we pray, we work, we talk to others, we order our lives, we work out our marriages, etc. What more important place to reclaim for the Kingdom of God – or is it better to continue living in a place which is occupied by the enemy. For the most effective working out of our salvation, we must drive the enemy out of our homes, and keep him at bay by our prayers, our righteous life, and the annual sprinkling by Holy Water at Theophany.” ~ from http://orthodoxwayoflife.blogspot.com/2010/01/blessing-of-homes.html
“…By sanctifying our home, we extend the grace of God to the neighbors.” ~ from an Indonesian Orthodox house blessing video found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJm2S5qeDns
Consider showing this to your children and talking about how our brothers and sisters around the world worship as we do. Look and listen for things that are the same from your house blessing!