What a joy to have Fr. Andrew visit and bless our home on Monday. The house blessing is a beautiful tradition in the Orthodox way of life. With several hundred homes to bless each year, I am thankful that our church continues to honor this practice. I think it’s an example of the shepherds tending to the flock.
After our greeting, Fr. Andrew asked, “Where do you usually pray?” I led him to our den, where I have designated a small area for the icons of Christ and the Virgin Mary as well as a few candles. He then began to pray, to ask God’s blessings upon the members of our family and our home. I led him through our house as he continued the prayers and sprinkled each room with holy water.
We read in Revelation 3:20 that: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and eat with him, and he with me.” Christ seeks to bestow us with His blessings, it’s up to us to open the door and invite Him in. We should rejoice in the ways He blesses us, through our friends, our mentors, our priests and children.
I wish the kids had been home from school when Fr. Andrew came by. Even so, I recounted the afternoon to them and they were happy to know their rooms had been sprinkled with holy water. As I continue to grow in the Orthodox faith, I am realizing the meaning -and power - of symbols at home as well as in God’s sanctuary. When Fr. Andrew asked, “Where do you usually pray?” I led him to the icons. When the kids want to offer a special prayer, we go to the icon corner. This isn’t to say that you can’t pray wherever you are, it is to say that Christ has a visible, powerful presence in our home through the “windows of heaven”, as icons are sometimes called.
Helen Iswolsky writes in her book, Christ in Russia:
“In the old days....a Russian entering his home or visiting a friend would first of all bow low before the icons and make the sign of the cross before greeting his family or host. The icons symbolized God’s presence; they were a constant reminder of the supernatural life, and appealed to morality and conscience. It is difficult to lie, to cheat, to be brutal in front of an icon. The Communists in Russia did all they could to tear away the icons from men’s homes, to deprive them of the image of their God, and to stifle the conscience of the people.”
Glory to God for the blessing upon our home, for Fr. Andrew and our church family, for all things!
*Image of icon is from Monastery Icons, where I have purchased several icons for our home.