Types of Blessings
Our Orthodox Church has a number of Blessings which are associated with the needs, events, and tasks of human life. In celebrating these various Blessings, the Church is constantly bearing witness to the presence and action of God in our lives. Our God is one who loves us, cares for us, and is near to us. The Blessings also serve to remind us that all of life is important, and that the many events and gifts of life can be directed toward God and receive their fulfillment in Him.
The Church blesses individuals, events such as trips, and objects such as icons, churches, flowers, fields, animals, and food. In so doing, the Church is not only expressing our thanks giving, but also affirming that no gift, event, or human responsibility is secular or detached from God. For the Orthodox Christian, all good things have God as their origin and goal. Nothing is outside of God's love and concern.
Agiasmos: Blessing of the Waters
Each January, the priests visit homes in the parish to offer prayers for the family and to bless their home with the Holy Water of Epiphany. This is a very personal way of inviting God into our lives and our homes. A priest should also be invited any time during the year to bless your new home or your new business. Call the Church Office to set up a time.
Forty Day Blessing
Forty days after birth and in accordance with the Old Testament tradition observed by the Virgin Mary (Luke 2:22-24), the mother brings her child for its first visit to the Church.
You must schedule your 40 day blessing with the Priest. Having first notified the church office as to the day and time, the mother and child will be met by the priest in the narthex of the Church where the appropriate prayers are offered. The child is then carried by the priest into the nave and to the Royal Gates followed by the mother. The mother proceeds to the iconostasis to venerate the Icon of the Virgin Mary. Since the prayers allude to the reception of Holy Communion by the mother, it is recommended that she prepare to receive Holy Communion shortly after the forty day blessing.
The Blessing of Bread Artoklasia
The Blessing of Five Loaves of Bread is a brief service of thanksgiving through which we express our gratitude for all the blessings of life. Oil, wine, wheat, and the loaves of bread which are used in the service, are viewed as the most basic elements necessary for life. The Blessing reminds us of the miracle of the multiplication of the bread and fish by which Christ fed the multitude. This Blessing is usually offered during Vespers or after the Divine Liturgy on Feast days and other special occasions. After the Service, the bread is cut and distributed to the congregation.
Blessings on the Birth of a Child
The birth of a child is more than a joyful occasion or the fruit of conjugal love. It is an expression of God's love for mankind. From the moment of conception, God's spirit is evident, for without Him there can be no life. The Church, established by Jesus Christ to continue His redemptory work on earth is, therefore, concerned about life from the moment of conception and birth.
Blessing of the First Day
This beautiful service is traditionally performed by the priest either in the hospital or the home on the day in which a child is born. It includes prayers for the recovery of the mother and the protection of the child.
If you would like a priest to pray these prayers of blessing, you should speak to the church office approximately two weeks in advance of your "due date;" then, on the day of the birth, you may either call the church office during business hours, or else contact the priest.
Blessing on the Eighth Day
Although we often think of the service of baptism as the occasion for the solemn naming of a child, this is more properly done on the eighth day, just as our Lord received his name, "Jesus," on the eighth day (cf. Luke. 2:21). The "prayers of the eighth day" are traditionally performed by the priest in the home. On this day, special prayers are offered for the naming of the child. If you would like for a priest to pray these prayers of blessing for your child, please make arrangements through the church office, before or as soon as possible after the birth.