Epiphany – Blessing of the Holy Water

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 This year’s “Blessing of the Water” ceremony was conducted by the school’s new chaplain, Father Thomas Kobak, OSBM

 

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Baptism of Christ, 1472 

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.

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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. 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.

 

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The school’s ice cross was set up in the playground near the front entrance

 

On Wednesday, January 14, 2015, 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 new chaplain, Father Thomas Kobak, OSBM next to a specially constructed ice cross that was set up in the playground.

 

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The first part of the ceremony took place in the school gym

 

In order to bless the water, Father Thomas Kobak 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. trisk2

 

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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 Kobak soon followed, walking around the school with a small group of students and blessing 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 blessed every room in the school with a sprinkle of holy water. He was accompanied by a small choral group lead by Mrs. Stanowych

 

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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Holy water from the  ceremony is available in the front foyer