>Holy Water

>Our bodies are nearly 80 % water. So is the earth. Personally, I’m chronically dehydrated, which causes dry skin, itchy eyes, headaches, and rusty joints. Easy to fix, just drink more water, right? I’m working on it. Slowly. If my body is 80 % water, how come I don’t like the way it tastes? How come I’m always thirsty for things that, well, make me more thirsty? Like alcohol. Or caffeine.

The same is true, I think, of spiritual thirst. Saint Innocent of Alaska said:

Nothing in this world but God can fill our heart or fully satisfy our desires. A fire cannot be put out with brushwood and oil, because only water will put it out. In exactly the same way, the desires of the human heart cannot be satisfied with the goods of this world, because only the grace of God can quench the thirst of our desires.

This morning I got sprinkled with Holy Water. During the Great Blessing of the Water at the Feast of Theophany at St. John Orthodox Church here in Memphis. Sophie, my four-year-old Goddaughter who often sits with me at church, asked what was happening. I pointed to the large icon of Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist and explained that the water was made Holy by Jesus. After the service, I went forward with the others, carrying my small Holy Water container, and received a cup of freshly blessed water to drink, and then a deacon filled my water container to take home.
What will I do with it at home? Well, first thing today, I shared it with my husband, who had stayed home sick this morning. For healing. Then I put the container in our icon corner, where we’ll drink a small amount from time to time after our prayers. The pious tradition is to drink some every morning after your Morning Prayers… for it to be the first thing you consume each day, just as the Body and Blood of Christ (in the elements of bread and wine) are the first thing we consume at Divine Liturgy. Which is why we fast before the Liturgy. Because we are about to receive something Holy.

I also use Holy Water mixed with egg yolk to bind the dry pigments I use in painting icons. Correctly done, icons last for centuries.

So do Holy Traditions…. Like Blessing the Water… sometimes rivers and oceans, like in these pictures. Click here to see a slideshow of yesterday’s Blessing of the Water at Ross Barnett Reservoir in Madison, Mississippi. Father Paul Yerger is the priest that we traveled to Greece with in October (along with his wife, Sissy). And click here to see a slideshow of the Blessing of the Water and diving for the cross in 2004 in Madison, Mississippi. Several Orthodox Churches in and around Jackson, Mississippi joined together at the Ross Barnett Reservoir for the event. I was thinking about it this morning, because my husband was baptized in those very waters about thirty years ago… before we were Orthodox.

Here’s a picture of a bishop blessing the water in Moscow. And parishioners processing from the church to the river. brrrrr. Hard to believe it was 70 degrees here today. We should have blessed the Mississippi River and had the boys dive for the cross! (well, the currents are pretty dangerous there.)

Tuesday morning I’m going to Campbell Clinic for my foot surgery. I thought about it during the Divine Liturgy this morning (to a distraction, I’m afraid) but I also thought about the power of the Holy Water to heal, and it brought me great peace. I may need to drink some more first thing Tuesday morning.

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