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Among Eastern Orthodox and Eastern-Rite Catholic Christians, holy water is used frequently in rites of blessing and exorcism, and the water for baptism is always sanctified with a special blessing.
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3 billion baptised Catholics worldwide as of 2017. As the world's "oldest continuously functioning international institution", it has played a prominent role in the history and development of Western civilisation. The church is headed by the Bishop of Rome, known as the Pope. Its central administration, the Holy See, is in the Vatican City, an enclave within the city of Rome in Italy.
In religion, a blessing is the infusion of something with holiness, spiritual redemption, or divine will.
Exorcism is the religious or spiritual practice of evicting demons or other spiritual entities from a person, or an area, that are believed to be possessed. Depending on the spiritual beliefs of the exorcist, this may be done by causing the entity to swear an oath, performing an elaborate ritual, or simply by commanding it to depart in the name of a higher power. The practice is ancient and part of the belief system of many cultures and religions.
Throughout the centuries, there have been many springs of water that have been believed by members of the Orthodox Church to be miraculous. Some still flow to this day, such as the one at Pochaev Lavra in Ukraine, and the Life-Giving Spring of the Theotokos in Constantinople (commemorated annually with the blessing of holy water on Bright Friday).
Ukraine, sometimes called the Ukraine, is a country in Eastern Europe. Excluding Crimea, Ukraine has a population of about 42.5 million, making it the 32nd most populous country in the world. Its capital and largest city is Kiev. Ukrainian is the official language and its alphabet is Cyrillic. The dominant religions in the country are Eastern Orthodoxy and Greek Catholicism. Ukraine is currently in a territorial dispute with Russia over the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014. Including Crimea, Ukraine has an area of 603,628 km2 (233,062 sq mi), making it the largest country entirely within Europe and the 46th largest country in the world.
Theotokos is a title of Mary, mother of Jesus, used especially in Eastern Christianity. The usual Latin translations, Dei Genetrix or Deipara, are "Mother of God" or "God-bearer".
Constantinople was the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), of the Byzantine Empire, and also of the brief Crusader state known as the Latin Empire (1204–1261), until finally falling to the Ottoman Empire (1453–1923). It was reinaugurated in 324 from ancient Byzantium as the new capital of the Roman Empire by Emperor Constantine the Great, after whom it was named, and dedicated on 11 May 330. The city was located in what is now the European side and the core of modern Istanbul.
Although Eastern Orthodox do not normally bless themselves with holy water upon entering a church like Catholics do, a quantity of holy water is typically kept in a font placed in the narthex (entrance) of the church, where it is available for anyone who would like to take some of it home with them. It is customary for Orthodox to drink holy water, to use it in their cooking and to sprinkle their houses with it.
A baptismal font is an article of church furniture used for baptism.
The narthex is an architectural element typical of early Christian and Byzantine basilicas and churches consisting of the entrance or lobby area, located at the west end of the nave, opposite the church's main altar. Traditionally the narthex was a part of the church building, but was not considered part of the church proper.
Often, when objects are blessed in the church (such as the palms on Palm Sunday, Icons or sacred vessels) the blessing is completed by a triple sprinkling with holy water using the words, "This (name of item) is blessed by the sprinkling of this holy water, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
Palm Sunday is a Christian moveable feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter. The feast commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in each of the four canonical Gospels.
Holy water is sometimes sprinkled on items or people when they are blessed outside the church building, as part of the prayers of blessing. In Russia, it is common for Orthodox Christians to bring newly bought cars to the church for blessing. Holy water is sprinkled inside and out, as well as under the hood. Similarly, in Alaska, the fishing boats are sprinkled with holy water at the start of the fishing season as the priest prays for the crews' safety and success. Some Catholics also have a priest bless their cars or homes with holy water as a way of invoking God's blessing and protection.
Alaska is a U.S. state in the northwest extremity of North America, just across the Bering Strait from Asia. The Canadian province of British Columbia and territory of Yukon border the state to the east and southeast. Its most extreme western part is Attu Island, and it has a maritime border with Russia to the west across the Bering Strait. To the north are the Chukchi and Beaufort seas—southern parts of the Arctic Ocean. The Pacific Ocean lies to the south and southwest. It is the largest U.S. state by area and the seventh largest subnational division in the world. In addition, it is the 3rd least populous and the most sparsely populated of the 50 United States; nevertheless, it is by far the most populous territory located mostly north of the 60th parallel in North America: its population—estimated at 738,432 by the United States Census Bureau in 2015— is more than quadruple the combined populations of Northern Canada and Greenland. Approximately half of Alaska's residents live within the Anchorage metropolitan area. Alaska's economy is dominated by the fishing, natural gas, and oil industries, resources which it has in abundance. Military bases and tourism are also a significant part of the economy.
Orthodox Christians most often bless themselves with holy water by drinking it. It is traditional to keep a quantity of it at home, and many Orthodox Christians will drink a small amount daily with their morning prayers. It may also be used for informal blessings when no clergy are present. For example, parents might bless their children with holy water before they leave the house for school or play. It is not unusual for pious Orthodox Christians to put a little holy water in their food as they cook their meals. It is also often taken with prayer in times of distress or temptation.
Temptation is a desire to engage in short-term urges for enjoyment, that threatens long-term goals. In the context of some religions, temptation is the inclination to sin. Temptation also describes the coaxing or inducing a person into committing such an act, by manipulation or otherwise of curiosity, desire or fear of loss.
There are two rites for blessing holy water: the Great Blessing of Waters which is held on the Feast of Theophany, and the Lesser Blessing of Waters which is conducted according to need during the rest of the year. Both forms are based upon the Rite of Baptism. Certain feast days call for the blessing of Holy Water as part of their liturgical observance.
The use of holy water is based on the Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist in the River Jordan, and the Orthodox interpretation of this event. In their view, John's baptism was a baptism of repentance, and the people came to have their sins washed away by the water. Since Jesus had no sin, but was God incarnate, his baptism had the effect not of washing away Jesus' sins, but of blessing the water, making it holy—and with it all of creation, so that it may be used fully for its original created purpose to be an instrument of life.
Jesus' baptism is commemorated in the Eastern Orthodox churches at the Feast of Theophany (literally "manifestation of God") on January 6 (for those Orthodox Christians who use the Julian Calendar, January 6 falls on the Gregorian Calendar date of January 19). At the Vespers of this feast, a font of holy water is typically blessed in the church, to provide holy water for the parish's use in the coming year. The next morning, after the Divine Liturgy a procession goes from the church to a nearby river, lake or other body of water, to bless that water as well. This represents the redemption of all creation as part of humanity's salvation.
In the following weeks, the priest typically visits the homes of the members of the parish and leads prayers of blessing for their families, homes (and even pets), sprinkling them with holy water. Again, this practice is meant to visibly represent God's sanctifying work in all parts of the people's lives.
On the Great Feast of Theophany, holy water is blessed twice: at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy on the eve of the feast, and on morning of the feast itself. After processing to the place where the vessel of water is prepared to the singing of appropriate troparia (hymns) of the Theophany there are a group of Scripture readings (Isaiah 35:1-10, Isaiah 55:1-13, Isaiah 12:3-6, and 1 Corinthians 10:1-4), culminating in the baptism account from the Gospel of Saint Mark (1:9-11) followed by the Great Litany. This is sung just as at the beginning of the Divine Liturgy, but with the following additional petitions which make clear what is being asked of God and what the use, purpose, and blessing of the water is believed to entail.
- That these waters may be sanctified by the power, and effectual operation, and descent of the Holy Spirit, let us pray to the Lord.
- That there may descend upon these waters the cleansing operation of the super-substantial Trinity, let us pray to the Lord.
- That he will endue them with the grace of redemption, the blessing of Jordan, the might, and operation, and descent of the Holy Spirit, let us pray to the Lord.
- That Satan may speedily be crushed under our feet, and that every evil counsel directed against us may be brought to naught, let us pray to the Lord.
- That the Lord our God will free us from every attack and temptation of the enemy, and make us worthy of the good things which he hath promised, let us pray to the Lord.
- That he will illumine us with the light of understanding and of piety, and with the descent of the Holy Spirit, let us pray to the Lord.
- That the Lord our God will send down the blessing of Jordan, and sanctify these waters, let us pray to the Lord.
- That this water may be unto the bestowing of sanctification; unto the remission of sins; unto the healing of soul and body; and unto every expedient service, let us pray to the Lord.
- That this water may be a fountain welling forth unto life eternal, let us pray to the Lord.
- That it may manifest itself effectual unto the averting of every machination of our foes, whether visible or invisible, let us pray to the Lord.
- For those who shall draw of it and take of it unto the sanctification of their homes, let us pray to the Lord.
- That it may be for the purification of the souls and bodies of all those who, with faith, shall draw and partake of it, let us pray to the Lord.
- That he will graciously enable us to perfect sanctification by participation in these waters, through the invisible manifestation of the Holy Spirit, let us pray to the Lord.
Then, following a lengthy set of didactic prayers that expound on the nature of the feast and summarize salvation history, praising God's creation of and mastery over the elements, the priest makes the Sign of the Cross over the water with his hand and prays specifically for the blessing to be invoked upon it. At the climax of the service, he immerses the hand cross into the water three times in imitation of Christ's baptism to the singing of the festal troparion:
- When Thou wast baptized in the Jordan, O Lord,
- The worship of the Trinity was made manifest.
- For the voice of the Father bore witness to Thee,
- And called Thee His beloved Son.
- And the Spirit, in the form of a dove,
- Confirmed the truthfulness of His word.
- O Christ God, Who hast revealed Thyself,
- And hast enlightened the world, glory be to Thee!
- Εν Ιορδάνη βαπτιζομένου Σου, Κύριε,
- Η της Τριάδος εφανερώθη προσκύνησις.
- Του γαρ γεννήτορος η φωνή προσεμαρτύρει Σοι,
- αγαπητόν Σε Υιόν ονομάζουσα.
- Και το Πνεύμα εν είδει περιστεράς,
- Εβεβαίου του λόγου το ασφαλές.
- Ο επιφανής, Χριστέ, ο Θεός,
- Και τον κόσμον φωτίσας, δοξα Σοι
The priest then blesses the entire church and congregation with the newly consecrated water. All come forward to be sprinkled over the head with the Theophany Water as they kiss the hand cross, and to drink some of it.
The priest will then set out to bless the homes of all of the faithful with Theophany Water. In large parishes, this process will take some time. However, the priest must bless all of the houses of the faithful before the beginning of Great Lent. In monasteries the Hegumen (Superior) will bless the cells of all of the monks.
Orthodox Christianity teaches that the Great Blessing of Waters actually changes the nature of the water,and that water so blessed is no longer corruptible, but remains fresh for many years.
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The Great Blessing of Waters is normally only blessed at this one time of the year; however, at the Consecration of a church, a Great Blessing of Waters will often precede the service.
The Lesser Blessing is called "lesser" not because it is shorter (in fact, it isn't), but because it does not have the same solemnity as the Great Blessing, and does not necessarily change the nature of the water.
While much is the same, the rite begins with Psalm 142 (LXX) and the hymns to the Theophany of the Great Blessing are replaced in the Lesser Blessing with hymns to the Theotokos. The scriptural readings are different (Hebrews 2:11-18, John 5:1-4), and the special petitions at the Great Litany are different:
Then the priest says a prayer very similar to the one used at Theophany, but when he immerses the hand cross into the water three times, instead of singing the troparion of Theophany, he sings the troparion of the Cross:
Save, O Lord, Thy people and bless Thine inheritance, granting unto the faithful victory over enemies. And by the power of Thy Cross, do Thou preserve Thy commonwealth.
The Lesser Blessing of Waters may be performed according to need. It is specifically called for on August 1 (the feast of the Procession of the Cross); on Bright Friday (Friday in Easter Week) which is the feast of the Theotokos of the "Life-giving Spring"; and on the Feast of Mid-Pentecost, when all of the fields are blessed. There is also a tradition of blessing Holy Water on the first day of each month.
Though there is no special blessing said over it, the water used for the Washing of Feet on Maundy Thursday could be considered a form of holy water, in that the Bishop or Hegumen will bless the faithful with it at the end of the ceremony. Among the Coptics, this water is blessed with the cross before the Washing of Feet. The Coptics also sprinkle the faithful with holy water on Palm Sunday, and at the end of every Divine Liturgy.
Anointing of the sick, known also by other names, is a form of religious anointing or "unction" for the benefit of a sick person. It is practiced by many Christian churches and denominations.
Divine Liturgy or Holy Liturgy is the Eucharistic service of the Byzantine Rite, developed from the Antiochene Rite of Christian liturgy which is that of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. As such, it is used in the Eastern Orthodox, the Greek Catholic Churches, and the Ukrainian Lutheran Church. Although the same term is sometimes applied in English to the Eucharistic service of Armenian Christians, both of the Armenian Apostolic Church and of the Armenian Catholic Church, they use in their own language a term meaning "holy offering" or "holy sacrifice". Other churches also treat "Divine Liturgy" simply as one of many names that can be used, but it is not their normal term.
The epiclesis is the part of the Anaphora by which the priest invokes the Holy Spirit upon the Eucharistic bread and wine in some Christian churches.
Holy water is water that has been blessed by a member of the clergy or a religious figure. The use for cleansing prior to a baptism and spiritual cleansing is common in several religions, from Christianity to Sikhism. The use of holy water as a sacramental for protection against evil is common among Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and Eastern Christians.
Epiphany, also Theophany, Denha, Little Christmas, or Three Kings' Day, is a Christian feast day that celebrates the revelation of God incarnate as Jesus Christ. In Western Christianity, the feast commemorates principally the visit of the Magi to the Christ Child, and thus Jesus' physical manifestation to the Gentiles. Moreover, the feast of the Epiphany, in some Western Christian denominations, also initiates the liturgical season of Epiphanytide. Eastern Christians, on the other hand, commemorate the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River, seen as his manifestation to the world as the Son of God. Qasr el Yahud in the West Bank, and Al-Maghtas in Jordan on the east bank, is considered to be the original site of the baptism of Jesus and the ministry of John the Baptist.
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Asperges is a name given to the rite of sprinkling a congregation with holy water. The name comes from the first word in the 9th verse of Psalm 51 in the Latin translation which is sung during the traditional form of the rite except during Eastertide. The 51st Psalm is also one of the antiphons that may be sung in the rite under the Mass of Paul VI.
Easter Saturday, on the Christian calendar, is the Saturday following the festival of Easter, the Saturday of Easter or Bright Week. In the liturgy of Western Christianity it is the last day of Easter Week, sometimes referred to as the Saturday of Easter Week or Saturday in Easter Week. In the liturgy of Eastern Christianity it is the last day of Bright Week, and called Bright Saturday, The Bright and Holy Septave Saturday of Easter Eve, or The Bright and Holy Septave Paschal Artos and Octoechoes Saturday of Iscariot's Byzantine Easter Eve. Easter Saturday is the day preceding the Octave Day of Easter.
The Oil of Catechumens is the oil used in some traditional Christian churches during baptism; it is believed to strengthen the one being baptized to turn away from evil, temptation and sin.
The Sursum Corda is the opening dialogue to the Preface of the Eucharistic Prayer or Anaphora in the liturgies of the Christian Church, dating back at least to the third century and the Anaphora of the Apostolic Tradition. The dialogue is recorded in the earliest liturgies of the Christian Church, and is found in all ancient rites.
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Good Friday Prayer can refer to any of the prayers prayed by Christians on Good Friday, the Friday before Easter, or to all such prayers collectively.
The Lity or Litiyá is a festive religious procession, followed by intercessions, which augments great vespers in the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic churches on important feast days. Following a lity is another liturgical action, an artoklasia, and either of these terms may be used to describe both liturgical actions collectively.
The usual beginning is the series of prayers with which most Divine Services begin in the Eastern Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite.
The Paschal Hours are the form in which the Little Hours are chanted on Pascha (Easter) and throughout Bright Week in the Eastern Orthodox Church and those Eastern Catholic Churches which follow the Byzantine Rite.
Blessing in Roman Catholicism, in the narrow liturgical sense, is a rite consisting of a ceremony and prayers performed in the name and with the authority of the Church by a duly qualified minister by which persons or things are sanctified as dedicated to Divine service or by which certain marks of Divine favour are invoked upon them. In a wider sense blessing has a variety of meanings in the sacred writings:
The Scapular of St. Michael is a Roman Catholic devotional scapular associated with Michael, the Archangel and originated prior to 1878. It was formerly controlled by the now defunct Archconfraternity of the Scapular of St. Michael.
Consecrations in Eastern Christianity can refer to either the Sacred Mystery (Sacrament) of Cheirotonea of a bishop, or the sanctification and solemn dedication of a church building. It can also be used to describe the change of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ at the Divine Liturgy. The Chrism used at Chrismation and the Antimension placed on the Holy Table are also said to be consecrated.