Theophany House Blessings
In the Orthodox Church, the period from Theophany to the beginning of the Lenten Triodion is traditionally used for house blessings. The priest will (when possible) visit the home of each parishioner and bless it with the holy water from the Theophany service. Through this service, the grace of God continues from the church proper into the little churches of the congregation and help the parishioners to bring the Faith into their homes. There are several things we can do to prepare our homes to be blessed—this is also a great opportunity for children to get involved.
Preparing for your house blessing
The first thing you will want to do is clean up the house! We just got done with Christmas, so this is the perfect time for a good once-over anyway. Have the children help with this and teach them what is about to happen. They will most likely be very excited to have their priest in their own home (kind of like seeing a teacher out of class) and be willing to pick up their toys readily. This is a special occasion, so you might find ways for them to make the house look a little extra fancy.
The next thing you can do to prepare for your blessing is to gather materials for the service. Your priest will come with most of the things he needs, but there are a few things he will ask you to provide. Gather the items and place them near your icons, where the service will begin.
Items to prepare for a house blessing
- a nice cloth to go on the table to be used
- a clean bowl for the holy water
- an icon of the Theophany of Our Lord
- candles, lighter
- censer, incense (optional)
- a list of names of those living in the home, as well as beloved departed ones
- a donation for your priest (never required, but a nice gesture of thanksgiving)
- children can make thank you notes
Here is a sweet video from Orthodox Children's Press you can show to your children about preparing for the house blessing.
Once the house is ready, the items are gathered, and the priest has almost arrived, it is important to create a prayerful atmosphere. Turn off any televisions, radios, or other noise-making devices. Go around the house, turn on all the lights, and open closet doors—this will make it easier for your priest to access home to bless it.
The House Blessing Service
Once your priest arrives, he will go to your icon corner and set up the things he has brought. The service begins with the usual introductory prayers and then a prayer asking Christ to preserve those who live in the home, keeping them from snares or dangers, and to grant them any good thing profitable for their souls. With the family joining him, the priest will then begin to sing the Troparion for Theophany, which is be sung repeatedly while they go from room to room, blessing each with holy water. Once everything is sufficiently blessed, the service concludes where it began, with more prayers for protection and blessings. Then each member of the family will receive a blessing from the priest.
If your family wishes, it is appropriate to invite the priest (and his family) to a meal after the house blessing. While this is not required—and sometimes not possible—it is a wonderful opportunity for your priest to get to know your family more, and can be a special blessing for your children to spend time with their priest.
- House Blessings from Draw Near Designs
- Theophany House Blessings: 10 Things from St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church
- The Prayer for Blessing Homes at Theophany from the Greek Archdiocese
- Communal House Blessings from the Orthodox Church in America