He only shuts up when he is writing!
From the Pastor: Epiphany Holy Water Blessing Ceremony
Last week I wrote a little about the upcoming Epiphany Water blessing and that this year was the first time we would be able to use the complete ceremony. I wasn’t sure how many people would come for it but I figured that, along with the choir, maybe a dozen people would make the trek. In case I was off by a lot, I printed out 25 copies of the basic blessing prayers in English for them to have. We set up 4 eight-foot tables across the front of the church outside of the altar rail and started labeling and opening up 6 cases of water bottles which I planned on blessing to give out this weekend to those who could not make it on Epiphany Eve. Some hearty helpers came in early and it is a good thing they did! People started coming in with salt (a necessary component of Holy Water in the old Rite) and water. Lots of it. We printed out 25 more copies of the previously mentioned prayers and it still seemed that less than half the people got one. All four tables were soon full and the large jugs underneath the tables had to share space with the continued “stream” of water being brought in. Most people were a bit taken back by the need to take the lids off the water, as they didn’t realize that exorcized and blessed salt had to be added to the freshly exorcized and blessed water.
Most of the time when people get their water blessed by a priest, he simply says a quick prayer over the container, and off they go. The new Rites, even when they are followed to a “t” are sorely lacking compared to the ancient Rites, as so much was simply discarded as “superfluous” and “unnecessary”. As for the Epiphany Eve blessing of the Holy Water, it is nowhere to be found in the new books. To drive this point home, let me show you what the prayer of blessing is in the new Rite “Book of Blessings.” As in most new Rite blessings, the priest “may” say a bunch of non-blessing stuff as written in the book or using “similar words” and perhaps read a few lines from Scripture, with a choice of eight passages being suggested. This part, of course, is optional. Then the prayer of blessing is written for him to say with “hands outstretched.” “Blessed are you, Lord, all-powerful God, who in Christ, the living water of salvation, blessed and transformed us. Grant that, when we are sprinkled with this water or make use of it, we will be refreshed inwardly by the power of the Holy Spirit and continue to walk in the new life we received at baptism. We ask this through Christ our Lord.” There is, of course, a second optional prayer, because, well, there always must be options! “Lord, holy Father, look with kindness on your children, redeemed by your Son and born to a new life by water and the Holy Spirit. Grant that those who are sprinkled with this water may be renewed in body and spirit and may make a pure offering of their service to you. We ask this through Christ our Lord.” Note that in reciting neither of these prayers does the priest make the sign of the cross, nor does he mention driving away demons (neither from the water nor with the water!), or sanctifying the persons, places, and things that will be sprinkled with the water. In fact, neither prayer of blessing even (read them again if you cannot believe this!) asks God to exorcize, sanctify, or bless the water! Need I mention that there is no mention of salt, either? It is pretty apparent even to newly ordained priests that they are better off “winging it” and making up their own prayer if they want the water to receive any sort of blessing at all.
Granted, the Epiphany Eve blessing of Holy Water is much more complex than the normal old Rite blessing of Holy Water, but even in the “normal” old blessing the priest not only exorcizes and blesses both salt and water, he also prays extra prayers while mixing them together, and, just to make sure there is no doubt about what he was doing, prays yet another prayer after the mixing is done. All of the prayers are explicit in stating what is being done and the sign of the cross is made multiple times during all of it. But on this one night, the evening before Epiphany, the old Rite adds even more solemnity to the blessing prayers. We started out with the chanting of the Litany of Saints, asking prayers of individual Saints (ora pro nobis) and multiple or groups of Saints (orate pro nobis). Then came my first beseeching of God that He would ✠ bless and ✠ sanctify the water, then we chanted the Agnus Dei, Kyrie, Pater Noster, and three Psalms. Then came the powerful exorcism prayer I showed you last week, followed by the Magnificat. Only after all of this did I pray the multiple “normal” exorcism and blessing prayers. The schola sang the Te Deum, a traditional hymn praising God with joy and thanksgiving. Oh, and a final prayer thanking God for granting all of the petitions for which we had asked. It took just over an hour, about twice what I expected and half of what I feared! Now that we have done this once in all its splendor, I believe that we may need a larger church to accommodate everybody that will participate next year!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Epiphany Holy Water
This coming Wednesday, January 6, is our parish Feast Day! On Tuesday, January 5, at 6:30 pm I will be exorcising and blessing special Epiphany Holy Water which will be made available beginning the next day (along with blessed chalk) for the traditional Epiphany House Blessing. Since we don’t have a neighborhood parish, I cannot simply walk from house to house to do the blessings, so I will give you a modified version of the blessing which should be done by the spiritual head of the house. All of the new parishioners will finally realize what the chalk marks above the doors of the church and rectory mean! As for the special Epiphany Holy Water, although I will be blessing cases of water in bottles, if you wish to bring your own holy water bottles to fill or if you wish to bring gallons of water to be blessed, feel free to do so. Salt, too. I will also need some help ahead of time opening up each of the bottles (exorcized and blessed salt has to be added) and again afterward closing them again, so if any of you can come early and/or stay late, I will be very appreciative. This special water blessing on the eve of Epiphany has, until this year, been a very small, inconspicuous blessing with little to no chanting since there has always been something interfering with the schedule. This year the schola will be present to chant the Psalms and Antiphons as the Church expects to happen at such a special ceremony. I don’t know how much time it will take, though, as this will be the first time we are doing it “by the book.” I am guessing 30 minutes but so many of our Traditional Latin ceremonies take longer than I expect that I have put it on my calendar to be finished by midnight! Again, we will start the blessing at 6:30 pm. Come one, come all.
Just to give you some idea of the power of the exorcisms and blessings of the Epiphany Holy Water, I have printed below the first (not only) exorcism prayer which I will be chanting that evening.
Exorcism against Satan and the apostate angels
In the name of our Lord Jesus ✠ Christ and by His power, we cast you out, every unclean spirit, every devilish power, every assault of the infernal adversary, every legion, every diabolical group and sect; begone and stay far from the Church of God, from all who are made in the image of God and redeemed by the precious blood of the divine Lamb ✠. Never again dare, you cunning serpent, to deceive the human race, to persecute the Church of God, nor to strike the chosen of God and to sift them as wheat ✠. For it is the Most High God who commands you ✠, He to whom you heretofore in your great pride considered yourself equal; He who desires that all men might be saved and come to the knowledge of truth. God the Father ✠ commands you. God the Son ✠ commands you. God the Holy ✠ Spirit commands you. The majesty of Christ, the eternal Word of God made flesh ✠ commands you; He who for the salvation of our race, the race that was lost through your envy, humbled Himself and became obedient even unto death; He who built His Church upon a solid rock, and proclaimed that the gates of hell should never prevail against her, and that He would remain with her all days, even to the end of the world. The sacred mystery of the cross ✠ commands you, as well as the power of all the mysteries of Christian faith ✠. The exalted Virgin Mary, Mother of God ✠ commands you, who in her lowliness crushed your proud head from the first moment of her Immaculate Conception. The faith of the holy apostles Peter and Paul and the other apostles ✠ commands you. The blood of the martyrs and the devout intercession ✠ of all holy men and women commands you. Therefore, accursed dragon and every diabolical legion, we adjure you by the living ✠ God, by the true ✠ God, by the holy ✠ God, by the God who so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but shall have life everlasting; cease your deception of the human race and your giving them to drink of the poison of everlasting damnation; desist from harming the Church and fettering her freedom. Begone Satan, you father and teacher of lies and enemy of mankind. Give place to Christ in whom you found none of your works; give place to the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church, which Christ Himself purchased with His blood. May you be brought low under God's mighty hand. May you tremble and flee as we call upon the holy and awesome name of Jesus, before whom hell quakes, and to whom the virtues, powers, and dominations are subject; whom the cherubim and seraphim praise with unwearied voices, saying: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts!
Oh, yes, Epiphany Holy Water is special! It is powerful! It is useful! “Regular” Holy Water, blessed in the old Rite, not the new, has been exorcized and blessed and has had exorcized and blessed salt added, and has been given still more blessings. But this holy water gets so much more. Bring coolers and buckets and jugs of water for yourself and for distribution to family and friends all year long! See you Tuesday evening!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka