Blessing of homes
Blessing homes of Orthodox Christians is done each year on or after the feast of Theophany. This act is the central sign of God's sanctification of all things through Christ's baptism in the river Jordan and his epiphany to the world.
About the blessing
The family is considered, by the Orthodox faith, to be a small church. The family table is the home altar where the members gather each day to receive their daily bread from God with thanksgiving in the name of Christ.
Sanctification of the home
The sanctification of the home takes place with prayer and the sprinkling of holy water. The priest, at this annual visit, asks God to have mercy on the house, to rid it of every evil and to fill if with every blessing. Everyone of the house, prays together for the living and the dead of the family, and all who live and have lived in the house. They all sing the hymn of salvation and process from room to room while the priest blesses the house.
Traditions of the ceremony differ according to local custom, but these general guidelines should are observed:
- A candle with an icon and some holy water should be placed in a suitable place, such as kitchen or dining room table, or a home altar.
- Also, a list of first names for whom prayers are to be offered, including members of the family and all those living in the house. The list should have a clear distinction between the living an the dead.
- If it is the practice to give the priest a gift, it should not be placed with the holy objects on the table. It can be prepared in advanced, but given at the conclusion of the service.
When the priest comes, all who are present in the house should gather around the icon with the candle. They should, if they are able to join in, say the Trisagion Prayers and sing of the Troparion of the Feast of Epiphany. Then a family member leads the priest through the house with the candle. As he goes, he sprinkles holy water, and prays for a blessing upon each room and the activity that goes on there. When they have gone through the entire house, the family gathers again around the table and the priest blesses each person present.