From the Pastor: Epiphany Eve Blessing of Holy Water and More!
Our parish feast day, January 6, falls on Friday of this week, which is also First Friday. We will celebrate Masses of Epiphany of Our Lord that morning at the regular Friday times of 6:30 and 8:00 followed by the special Epiphany Blessings of chalk, gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The chalk will be used to mark the door lintels of the church, rectory, and, of course, of your homes. Because we are not a parish where everyone lives within walking distance of the church, I will not be able to visit your houses to bless them. But we will once again give out a sheet of prayers asking God’s blessing upon your home and those who live there. Pray the prayers, mark the doors with the blessed Epiphany chalk (20 + C + M + B + 23), sprinkle the house and family with Epiphany Holy water, and you should be protected for another year! Bring in any extra chalk, gold, frankincense, and myrrh if you want to have them blessed. If you wish to leave blessed gold and frankincense at the church, I am sure we can put them to good use! Please note that I will not be blessing other items that morning, so don’t bring other articles. Following the blessing, we will have our normal First Friday Adoration, ending with 6:00 pm Vespers and Benediction.
But although that is the Epiphany Day schedule, there is still more to put on your calendar. (This is a good time for me to write that we will not be putting out an Epiphany parish calendar this year. Yeah, I know, everyone is disappointed, including me. But sometimes life gets in the way of what we desire to accomplish.) January 8, the Sunday following Epiphany, we will celebrate the External Solemnity of Epiphany. That day, instead of the normal Sunday Mass, we will celebrate the Mass of January 6, which the 1962 liturgical books allow for several big feasts during the year, including parish feast days. We will have our annual luncheon following the 10:30 Mass for those who reserved tickets in advance. For those who forgot or who waited beyond the last moment to see if anything better showed up on their social calendar, I am sorry to say that, since caterers need a headcount to prepare the right amount of food (and to charge us properly for their services), we cannot accommodate those without tickets.
But wait, there’s more! At 6:30 pm on January 5, the evening before Epiphany, there is a special blessing of Epiphany Holy Water! This special blessing includes a schola solemnly chanting multiple psalms, canticles, and hymns along with the priest chanting (recto tono—a very simplified single note chant) the St. Michael exorcism prayer, all of the prayers of exorcism of salt and water, the prayers blessing the salt and water, the prayers combining the exorcised and blessed salt and water, the Te Deum and thanksgiving to God for what He has done for us in giving such a great sacramental to be used throughout the year. This particular blessed water is, according to exorcists, the most powerful of all the blessed water. Every year the crowds coming for the ceremony and to receive some of the water have been increasing. We started out blessing several cases of water, then moved up to more than a dozen cases of water, then last year, when even that wasn’t enough, we brought in a 125-gallon container to bless. But the 125 gallons proved to be too little, too. Here is what will be done this year. You may bring in as much salt as you wish to have blessed and I will bless it and you can take it home with you. If you bring in water containers of 5 gallons or more, bring them in filled with water and open at the top (so that I can add the exorcised and blessed salt to them) and set them in front of the altar rail and they will be exorcised and blessed. If you have smaller containers, bring them in empty and you can fill them from the larger containers once the blessings are completed. We will have two 125-gallon containers from which to fill your gallon and half-gallon jugs, and two smaller containers (about 15 gallons) from which to fill your small—normal sized!—holy water bottles. Let me be clear that on that evening, I will only be blessing salt and water. Please don’t bring other items to be blessed at that time. Last year these beautiful chanted prayers took about an hour to complete and the filling of the water bottles took another hour or so. The chanted prayers will still take about the same amount of time but the water bottle filling may go quicker with the additional huge container. This year we may even have extra water left over for those who cannot make it to the evening blessing but can come on Epiphany day itself. Don’t forget to bring your container!
For those of you who plan ahead a few weeks, February 2 brings us the blessing of candles on Candlemas Day. The candle blessing and daytime candle procession will take place at 8:00 am outside in front of the rectory (weather permitting), and Mass will begin after we process to the church. You must come early to bring your candles to this spot! If you come late, your candles will not be blessed. February 3 brings us the Feast of St. Blaise, at whose Masses we bless throats as well as give a special blessing to still more candles (probably for the benefit of those who showed up late the day before!) plus bread, wine, water, and fruit for the relief of throat ailments.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka