we know, water is essential for life. God has covered most
of the earth (71%) in water, and He has created man to be
physically comprised mostly of water (60%).
Water is a great and
essential gift from God, and the fundamental nature of
water is to give, sustain, and nurture life.
the true nature of water is found in its relationship to
the salvation of man and of the world. Water is blessed to
be used as the means through which a person is “born
again” in the Sacrament of Baptism. Water is blessed to be
used for the sanctification of people, animals, homes,
business, and any useful object.
During the blessing of
water – either at the Annual Feast of Theophany or at any
other “Agiasmó” (“Blessing”) Service, a wonderful miracle
the Holy Spirit, is invoked by the Bishop or his Presbyter
(Priest) to descend upon the water, and change its natural
properties. It again becomes incorrupt, remaining
transformed and fresh for a very long time. Holy Water
receives the grace of the Holy Spirit to heal illnesses,
to drive away demons, to preserve and protect people and
their homes, and to sanctify the faithful as well as
various objects whether for church or home use.
Thus, Orthodox Christians
drink Holy Water with profound faith and reverence
sometimes even daily. They also bless their homes, their
children, as well as their “comings and goings” throughout
is important to know that the blessing of water restores
the water to its original state. The prayer at the
blessing of water reveals the true “nature” and “purpose”
of water, and thus of the world: the sanctification of
creation. Being restored through the blessing to its
proper function, Holy Water becomes a means of communion
His Baptism in the Jordan River, Christ purified the
nature of the waters. He showed that He came to save
humanity through “water and the Spirit,” He showed that He
desires, and causes, the transformation of all Creation.
Therefore we must be sure
to keep in mind that, contrary to the often mistaken
perception, the blessing of water does not occur “make bad
only is water contained in a bowl or vessel blessed in the
church. Over the centuries, there have been many natural
springs of water believed to have been granted grace from
God, which also gives them healing and blessing properties.
Orthodox Monasteries, and in traditional Orthodox
parishes, there is often Holy Water and cups to drink from
at the entrance of the church. The faithful may also take
Holy Water home for their sanctification, as mentioned
above. (Note that Orthodox Christians do not bless
themselves with Holy Water upon entering a church as do
Every Orthodox family
should have Holy Water at home, typically in a small
plastic bottle kept near the family icons.
Holy Water should be used
by families in cases of illness, when leaving on a trip,
when a child is frightened by a bad dream, if someone
feels threatened by evil influence or presence. Students
may partake of Holy Water before tests.
Couples bless their
homes, and themselves, with Holy Water after an angry
fight or struggle. Many of the faithful partake simply to
strengthen their faith and hope in God.
Water is seen by the
Church as a prime element of creation. In the prayers said
for its blessing, we ask that the original purpose of
water — as a source of life, blessing, and holiness — be
revealed to one who drinks it and who is sprinkled with it.
the Old Testament Book of Genesis, creation began when the
Spirit of God “moved over the face of the waters.” In the
blessing of water it is understood that the world and
everything in it is “very good” (Genesis 1:31), and when
it becomes corrupted, God restores it by effecting the new
creation in Christ, His Divine Son and Our Lord, and by
the grace of the Holy Spirit.
celebration of the Great Blessing of Water at the Feast of
Theophany is an affirmation that through Christ’s own
Baptism, He has lifted the curse of Adam’s sin and
restored the creative goodness of God’s creation back to
mankind. Thus when Christians are baptized into Christ,
part of creation is once again sanctified in Christ.
the weeks following Theophany, in January each year, the
priest customarily visits parishioners and offers prayers
of blessing for their homes, businesses, and family
members. This tradition is meant to visibly represent
God’s sanctifying work everywhere in the world and to
bring the blessing of the Church to the “church” of the
home and hearth.