Blessings of Epiphany
Last Thursday we celebrated the Solemnity of the Epiphany, the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus in Bethlehem. Gentiles, like us, outside the Hebrew people of Israel, seeking and recognizing the Saviour of Mankind. While the Solemnity of the Epiphany in the Western Roman Rite is primarily focused on the visit of the Magi, historically it was more focused on the baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan River. Something we celebrate this Sunday. For this reason, there developed a special blessing of Epiphany water in memory of Jesus sanctifying the waters of Baptism.
This blessing of water on Epiphany is maintained by Eastern Rite Catholics and those of the Ordinariates but mainstream Roman Catholics also have an optional ceremony that was approved in 1890 that did homage to this tradition.
The emphasis of the blessing, however, was less on the commemo- ration of Jesus’ baptism and more on the sacramental nature of blessed water as a purifying and protecting agent. In this way, the blessing of Epiphany water is used to cast out Satan and all his demonic angels. A means of protecting us and our homes from those who would lure us away from our faith in Christ. Like the chalking of our doors, it invokes God’s blessing and protection upon us at the beginning of a New Year.
It is a powerful blessing, one that uses strong language to invoke the power of God over evil and the powers of darkness. It reminds us of the spiritual power of holy water and encourages us to use it in faith, trusting in the protecting help of God over our spiritual enemies. Here is an excerpt from the long prayer:
In the name of our Lord Jesus + Christ and by His power, we cast you out, every unclean spirit, every devilish power; begone and stay far from the Church of God and all who are redeemed by the precious blood of the divine + Lamb of God…….
Remember Holy Water is available for you to take at the side of the Sanctuary to bless yourselves, your loved ones, and your homes.
May God protect and guides us through this New Year and may the love of Jesus grow in all our hearts and lives.
Fr David Jones OLW