What is a home blessing?
It is a popular and joyful Orthodox tradition to invite the Priest into your home once a year for a home blessing, typically just after the feast of Theophany (Baptism of Our Lord) and its blessing of Holy Water. You may also have your home blessed at other times of the year. It is a great time for the Priest to get to know you better (and vice versa) and to receive your prayer lists (Pomelnici) for the year.
New Homes: There is a special service for those coming into a new home (permanent residences/purchased homes) which is similar to the consecration of a church—for your home is indeed a little church, a place where God is meant to be glorified! We encourage you to have this blessing done sooner than later--unpacking can wait!
When can I have my home blessed?
Typically the home blessings follow the feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Theophany) on Jan. 6 and are carried out until the beginning of Great Lent. You may also request home blessings at other times of the year by request.
What should I prepare for a home blessing?
Please make sure there is a central location where the Parish priest may set up for the blessing, either at a table or icon corner. It should have an icon, a candle, your prayer list, and a bowl or container to receive the remaining holy water at the end of the service. Please have a candle to carry around the home to lead the procession.
Some will like to invite friends and family and make it an event. Others will want to feed the priest--please check with him first about scheduling and limitations.
What are pastoral visits?
Your parish priest is also available for home visits for other reasons. These may include special blessings on the family (e.g. Srb. Slava), businesses, vehicles, facilities, special occasions, etc. Or it may be for pastoral counseling, pre-marital education, catechesis, etc. It may be easier in some situations for the Priest to come to you because of small children that need care or early bed times. Please do not hesitate to contact your Parish Priest with your questions and needs.
For various reasons, such as disability or a chronic illness, a parishioner may be unable to attend services at St. Mary. If you cannot come to church let the church come to you! It is a wonderful blessing to have the clergy come to visit you at home, bring you the sacraments, pray and visit with you. Do not hesitate to call and ask for a visit and if desired, to make it a regular appointment! To prepare, please have a clean table to serve as a home altar upon which may be set forth the sacraments in the communion kit. You may want to have an icon and a lit candle there. There are no "stole fees" for pastoral visits. Visiting the sick and praying for healing is just what the church does, as Christ commanded.
Sick? If you or a loved one are suffering from an illness, please do not hesitate to contact the Parish Priest to be put on the prayer list, in addition to scheduling a pastoral visit. You may specify whether you want to be on the list recited out loud during services or just in silent prayers for privacy’s sake. Last names are never used nor personal information distributed.
In the case of Hospitalization
Hospitalization: If you or a loved one are hospitalized, please do not hesitate to contact the Parish Priest and request a pastoral visit. It is worthwhile to bring the church in early to support the hospitalized person as well as the family through prayer, presence, and counsel. Often, the sacrament of Holy Communion and Confession can be offered and this can strengthen one’s faith through the trial of sickness and recovery, and Holy Unction for healing of soul and body even in non-life threatening circumstances. Note: Once a person becomes non-responsive or NPO (nothing by mouth) they can no longer receive some sacraments, so please do not wait.
A Note on Accountability
Accountability: To the benefit of everyone involved, we follow OCA Policies, Standards, and Procedures. We require that there always be two adults present, besides the priest, when a priest visits a home. If you live alone and unable to have a second adult present, please inform the parish priest so he can bring a pastoral assistant with him. You will still be able to discuss things privately. We think this provides accountability for all people concerned.