From the St. Nicholas monthly bulletin…
On the Christian Life
Question: Fr George, I would like my house blessed with Holy Water this year. What must I do, and what do I need?
Answer: It is a good thing to have your house blessed each year, essentially rededicating it and the household to Christ for the coming year. For blessing a house with Holy Water at Epiphany, you need to prepare the place where the prayers may be said, by your Icon Corner, or if you do not have one, set one up. You need a table, a white cloth on the table, a bowl to hold the Holy Water (many like to use crystal), sufficient Holy Water from the service of the Blessing of Waters (if you did not take any home I will bring it), an Icon of our Saviour (of His Baptism if possible), a candle on a candestick and a match to light it. The Icon should be propped up on the table or hanging on the wall (at your Icon Corner), the bowl should be on the white cloth with the candlestick behind it.
When I arrive, you lead me to the place where we will begin the prayers. We light the candle, and we say the initial prayers. When we come to the singing of the Troparion of the Feast (either in Slavonic or in English, When Thou wast baptized in the Jordan, O Lord) we go from room to room. Please sing along if you can. You lead the way with the candle. If you have a child in the house, a son or daughter, they carry the bowl ahead of me as I sprinkle each room with Holy Water. At every room we go to the Icons in the corner, which we sprinkle first, and then the rest of the room. I will go to whichever rooms you wish to be blessed.
We then return to the table before the Icon where we started and finish the prayers there. If there are any sick in the household, I will also read the prayers for the sick, and prayers for any other intentions you wish. At the end, after the Exclamation of the Dismissal, we sing many years to the members of the household, and each member comes one at a time from the most senior to the youngest to be sprinkled with Holy Water. The whole service should take no more than 15 or 20 minutes.
Q: May I offer you some refreshments? I would like to have you stay for more than just a few minutes.
A: You are certainly welcome to offer whatever you wish. However, please remember that I am usually on a tight schedule. If you have me stay for more than a few minutes, please let me know ahead of time so that I might adjust my schedule.
Q: How much should I give you for coming to my house?
A: That is entirely up to you. When I was ordained I gave an oath not to require anything for the sacraments or blessings of the Church. To make such a request is a sin, and it is called simony, and it is forbidden by the Canons of the Church. Therefore, for example, the schedule of donations posted at the Candle Desk is a guide, not a demand. And everyone may give however much one is willing and able to give.
However, please remember that the Church and her ministers do not subsist on nothing. We are able to serve out of the freewill offerings of the faithful. Some are able to give only a little, and that is fine, and others are able to give more. Please, however, keep in mind that travel is not so inexpensive as it once was.
Fr George Lardas