Epiphany 2018 – Blessing of the Holy Water

The above photo shows the ice cross used in this year’s “Blessing of the Water” ceremony. IHMS has always celebrated Epiphany with a prayer service, but a custom made ice cross has only been incorporated into the service since 2004. The ice cross has always been located near the  school’s front entrance, and gradually melts away as the weather warms up. Interestingly, the weather this year was so mild that the ice cross in the above photo was actually melting during the ceremony.

 

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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.

 

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               Purported site for the baptism of Jesus on the Jordan River

 

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. The ceremony often took place outdoors on a river or lake during the first week of January, so an ice cross was usually constructed for the event.

 

Since the entire school body was assembled in the gym for the “Blessing of the Water” prayer service, Mr. Picklyk used this opportunity to introduce the school’s new interim caretaker, Mr. Rostylav Trokhanovskyy. Mr. Trokhanovskyy (or “Ross” as he likes to be called) is filling in for Mr. Fil for the rest of the school year as Mr. Fil recovers from his illness.

 

In the top photo, Mr. Trokhanovskyy is shown posing in his new office. He is actually a cousin of the school’s vice-principal, Mr. Trochanowski – the names are spelled and pronounced differently because Mr. Trokhanovskyy has not anglicized his name. In the bottom photo, Mr. Trokhanovskyy meets Father Isadore as Father Isadore prepares to sprinkle holy water throughout the school, including Mr. Trokhanovskyy’s office,

 

On Friday, January 19, 2018, the staff and students of IHMS celebrated Epiphany with a “Blessing of the Water” ceremony. Part of the ceremony took place in the school gym while the actual blessing of the water took place outdoors. The ceremony was conducted by the school’s chaplain, Father Isadore Dziadyk, OSBM and his new assistant, Father Emilian Ntchak OSBM. The outdoor portion of the service took   place next to a specially constructed ice cross that was set up in the playground.

 

Father Isadore Dziadyk, OSBM and Father Emilian Ntchak OSBM performed the first half of the prayer service in the school gym (top photo). Mrs. Stanowych led a small choral group of grade 5 and 6 students during the ceremony (bottom photo).

 

In order to bless the water, Father Isadore 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.

 

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A  Trikirion

The Trikirion

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.

 

 

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).

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.

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.

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 Isadore and Father Emilian 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.

 

Father Isadore and Father Emilian started in the gym, and proceeded to bless every room in the school with holy water

 

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.

 

A unique view of the “Blessing of the Water” prayer service from on top of the school