The Blessing of the Waters

CyprianCyprian Shipmate
edited January 10 in Ecclesiantics
Do any of your churches practise this publicly for the feast of Theophany/the Baptism of the Lord? It is a prominent feature of various Orthodox church calendars. However, locally, most churches perform it on a small scale by blessing containers of holy water inside the church.

In my 16 years of being Orthodox I haven't known any of the local parishes to do this publicly. My former parish, over on the Wirral, once went to the sea front during my time there, and did a heavily foreshortened version of it, blessing the Irish sea. Otherwise, my experience of it has been quite limited.

I feel that it is a gift in the calendar, in that we are provided with a ready-made opportunity for public witness and preaching. So my little mission parish made a go of it yesterday, as we blessed the Manchester Ship Canal.

We followed this with a Memorial for all who have lost their lives in the waters of the canal, as the reports are far too frequent. Sadly, the news media reported that another body was removed from the water only today - a very tragic end to the worry of a family over the past month or so.

I know there is a well-established custom among the Anglican churches of St Magnus-the-Martyr, London Bridge, and Southwark Cathedral. Do any of your churches do something similar?

Comments

  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    I seem to remember the Greek Church in Brighton used to do it.
  • PomonaPomona Shipmate
    I wonder if any coastal Anglican churches do something like this for Sea Sunday. However, I don't think many Anglican churches would connect blessing external waters with baptism in that way.
  • Moderately 'low' Episcopals get a stressed look on the face if holy water is mentioned.(speaking from USA). Or, blessing river, bay, sea, lake and so on. Also, can anyone give me information about numbers or words chalked above the main doorway of the church? I'm curious.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    edited January 10
    Also, can anyone give me information about numbers or words chalked above the main doorway of the church? I'm curious.
    It’s actually a house blessing, though it is sometimes done at churches, too. The numbers are the year, so 2022 this year. The letters are the initials of the names traditionally given the three magi, so Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar. Alternatively, the letters can be understood to stand for Christus mansionem benedicat—“May Christ bless this house.”

    The traditional form is:
    20+C+M+B+22.

  • I think the CMB thing is strictly western. I've never heard of Orthodoxen doing it.
  • mousethief wrote: »
    I think the CMB thing is strictly western. I've never heard of Orthodoxen doing it.
    I suspect you’re right that it’s strictly Western.

  • There is the blessing of the Thames courtesy the clergy of St Magnus the Martyr, London.

    Quite an occasion according to an old friend (MWer Ora pro nobis in days gone by) who attended last Sunday.
  • SpikeSpike Admin Emeritus
    Sojourner wrote: »
    There is the blessing of the Thames courtesy the clergy of St Magnus the Martyr, London.

    I seem to remember Southwark Cathedral doing something similar in the past as well.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    edited January 11
    Cyprian wrote: »
    ... I feel that it is a gift in the calendar, in that we are provided with a ready-made opportunity for public witness and preaching. So my little mission parish made a go of it yesterday, as we blessed the Manchester Ship Canal. ...
    Thank you for your link @Cyprian . Just
    two quick queries. Was this the first time you've done it and what were the British Legion doing there with their flags? Had you asked them or had they approached you?

  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    edited January 11
    Enoch wrote: »
    Cyprian wrote: »
    ... I feel that it is a gift in the calendar, in that we are provided with a ready-made opportunity for public witness and preaching. So my little mission parish made a go of it yesterday, as we blessed the Manchester Ship Canal. ...
    Thank you for your link @Cyprian . Just
    two quick queries. Was this the first time you've done it and what were the British Legion doing there with their flags? Had you asked them or had they approached you?

    Thanks, Enoch.

    It was our first time doing anything like this. In truth we didn't know if anybody would turn up and whether the whole thing would turn out to be a terrible embarrassment. In any case, we were determined to do it for the sake of public witness.

    I've a friend in the Navy who also is very heavily involved in the Royal Naval Association. During lockdown, he wanted representatives of different Christian traditions to send video greetings for a Christmas video he was putting together for the isolated veterans, and I did a bit to help him with that.

    So, when he saw that I was planning this event, he rallied the troops, and supplied the bugler and standard bearers, which really added dignity to the occasion, especially to the Memorial Service that followed the blessing. He had hoped that some members of the Merchant Navy might be able to attend, given the place the canal has played in the life of Salford, Manchester, and beyond but it didn't work out on this occasion.

    All in all, for a first attempt, it didn't go too badly at all, and there were some people who really felt the need to reach out just when we were there.
  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    mousethief wrote: »
    I think the CMB thing is strictly western. I've never heard of Orthodoxen doing it.

    I've never heard of ANYONE doing it!
  • CyprianCyprian Shipmate
    It is a custom observed among the Orthodox.

    "Orthodox" and "Western" are not mutually exclusive.

    It's just that it isn't a Byzantine custom.
  • Alan29 wrote: »
    mousethief wrote: »
    I think the CMB thing is strictly western. I've never heard of Orthodoxen doing it.

    I've never heard of ANYONE doing it!

    There's been something of a revival of the custom among Anglo-Catholic-ish folk in recent years.
  • angloidangloid Shipmate
    Spike wrote: »
    Sojourner wrote: »
    There is the blessing of the Thames courtesy the clergy of St Magnus the Martyr, London.

    I seem to remember Southwark Cathedral doing something similar in the past as well.

    It's a joint occasion with the clergy and congregations of both churches (and this year, two bishops). Pictures on St Magnus the Martyr Facebook page.

  • 20 C+M+B 22 is a widespread custom in Central Europe. In the UK I have only seen it once over the door of an RC church in Edinburgh much frequented by people from various countries of Central Europe and also over the door of an Anglican church in Durham.
  • Alan29 wrote: »
    mousethief wrote: »
    I think the CMB thing is strictly western. I've never heard of Orthodoxen doing it.

    I've never heard of ANYONE doing it!
    It’s generally referred to, at least in my experience, as “chalking the door,” the writing being done with chalk.

    It seems to have gained popularity among Catholics, Episcopalians, United Methodists, Lutherans and Presbyterians (and maybe others) in the States over the last few decades. Both the main door to our (Presbyterian) church and the main “weekday” door have been chalked every year for a number of years now. A prayer for chalking the door is included in the PC(USA)’s Book of Common Worship, and pre-pandemic, our place provided copies of that prayer and small bags of chalks for people to take home with them.

  • Alan29Alan29 Shipmate
    Thank you Nick.
  • angloidangloid Shipmate
    edited January 11
    Spike wrote: »
    Sojourner wrote: »
    There is the blessing of the Thames courtesy the clergy of St Magnus the Martyr, London.

    I seem to remember Southwark Cathedral doing something similar in the past as well.

    It's a joint occasion with the clergy and congregations of both churches (and this year, two bishops). Search Facebook for pictures.

    [sorry for the repeated post: I thought one was lost and I couldn't work out how to delete the other]
  • North East QuineNorth East Quine Shipmate
    edited January 12
    The late Rev. Graeme Longmuir used to bless the river Don at the start of the salmon fishing season in March. IIRC it involved pouring a dram of whisky into the river and the rest of the bottle being passed around.

    I think this ceremony came within the definition of "Celtic Christianity" though I may wrong.

    (I'm basing the assumption re "Celtic Christianity" on the fact that the Rev Longmuir was deeply knowledgeable about the early history of Christianity in the area, and the history of various ruined early chapels. He may well have based the blessing on some early tradition. )
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    The late Rev. Graeme Longmuir used to bless the river Don at the start of the salmon fishing season in March. IIRC it involved pouring a dram of whisky into the river and the rest of the bottle being passed around.

    I think this ceremony came within the definition of "Celtic Christianity" though I may wrong.

    (I'm basing the assumption re "Celtic Christianity" on the fact that the Rev Longmuir was deeply knowledgeable about the early history of Christianity in the area, and the history of various ruined early chapels. He may well have based the blessing on some early tradition. )

    I have an image of Lord Summerisle breaking the ale barrels as a sacrifice to the gods of the sea...
  • The late Rev. Graeme Longmuir used to bless the river Don at the start of the salmon fishing season in March. IIRC it involved pouring a dram of whisky into the river and the rest of the bottle being passed around.

    I think this ceremony came within the definition of "Celtic Christianity" though I may wrong.

    (I'm basing the assumption re "Celtic Christianity" on the fact that the Rev Longmuir was deeply knowledgeable about the early history of Christianity in the area, and the history of various ruined early chapels. He may well have based the blessing on some early tradition. )

    I hope the whisky itself was duly blessed before being poured and shared...
    :wink:
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    edited January 13

    (I'm basing the assumption re "Celtic Christianity" on the fact that the Rev Longmuir was deeply knowledgeable about the early history of Christianity in the area, and the history of various ruined early chapels. He may well have based the blessing on some early tradition. )

    I hope the whisky itself was duly blessed before being poured and shared...
    :wink:

    Well, yes, blessing is most definitely required especially with a less than top grade whisky.

    As to Mr Longmuir: was he knowledgeable of various ruined early chaplains as well?

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