Epiphany 2017 – Blessing of the Holy Water

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 Father Thomas Kobak, OSBM and Father Julian Khomechko, OSBM bless the ice cross with holy water after the  water had been blessed

 

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The Feast of Epiphany is a liturgical event that is celebrated every year on January 6th. Over the past 2000 years, it has evolved to commemorate one of the most significant events in Christendom – the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist in the Jordan river.
Amazingly, it’s still possible today to visit the purported site on the Jordan river where Jesus was baptized. This World Heritage site is in the country of Jordan and very close to the border with Israel. Click here for more information.

 

During Epiphany, people traditionally attend a prayer service where the priest blesses regular water into holy water – a “Blessing of the Water” ceremony. Years ago, it was customary to go to the nearest river (symbolic of the Jordan river) where a priest would bless the entire body of water. Since the ceremony took place outdoors on a river or lake during the first week of January, an ice cross was often constructed for the event. vluecross6

 

 

On Friday, January 13, 2017, the staff and students of IHMS celebrated Epiphany with a “Blessing of the Water” ceremony. Ordinarily, the first half of this ceremony takes place in the gym while the second half takes place outside in the playground around a specially constructed ice cross. However, the weather was bitterly cold and extreme windchill forced the entire ceremony to take place indoors.

 

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Mrs. Stanowych’s choral group sang songs during the blessing of the water ceremony. They also sang as the priests processed throughout the school to blessed every room with holy water

 

The ceremony was conducted by two priests – Father Thomas Kobak, OSBM and Father Julian Khomechko, OSBM. After years of faithful service as our school’s chaplain, Father Thomas has been reassigned to a new parish in Edmonton. Father Julian will now be our school’s new chaplain

 

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The top photo shows (l-r): Father Julian Khomechko, OSBM and Father Thomas Kobak, OSBM. In the bottom photo, Father Thomas is presented with a gift for his many years of service as the chaplain to IHMS

 

In order to bless the water, Father Thomas and Father Julian invoked the Holy Spirit to come upon the water, and then did four triple blessings over the water. The first blessing involved the use of 3 triple candlesticks called Trikirion. dove4

 

 

The Trikirion
trisk2 The trikirion is a large three-branched candle used by Ukrainian Catholic priests while blessing water on the Feast of Theophany. The trikirion has a flat base so that it can stand upright. Above this base is a vertical shaft terminating in three candle holders, with each candle representing the three persons of the Holy Trinity.

 

 

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Two special guests: Provincial Superior Sister Christina Syrotynsky, SSMI (in the middle, next to Mr. Picklyk), and Sister Janice Soluk, SSMI

 

 

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He did a triple blessing with a Trikirion

A Trikirion stands for the Holy Trinity. Jesus is the Great Light, and when immersed, the burning candle (the Lord) sanctifies the water (the world).

 

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He did a triple blessing with his hand

The hand is a concrete, physical way in which the water is blessed. This symbolizes the fact that God is with us in a concrete way through the humanity of Jesus.

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He did a triple blessing with his breath

Breathing over the water, the priest asks the Holy Spirit to come upon the water. It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that the water is blessed.

 

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He did a triple blessing with the immersed cross

The cross represents Jesus’ personal descent into the water.

 

 

At this point, the blessing of the water ceremony was over, and the students were dismissed back to their classrooms. Father Thomas and Father Julian soon followed, walking around the school with a small group of students and blessed each room with a sprinkle of the newly blessed holy water. The students, lead by Mrs. Stanowych, sang a hymn throughout this process.

 

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Father Thomas and Father Julian started in the gym, and proceeded to bless every room in the school

 

The holy water that was left over from the ceremony is kept in the front foyer near the trophy case for anyone interested in taking some home with them. It can be used for blessing your home or car, and can even be used for drinking. Please bring a container of your choice to school and help yourself.

 

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Father Thomas, Father Julian, Mrs. Stanowych, Mr. Picklyk, and a few members of the choral group gathered around the ice cross