Blessing of the Water includes prayer for everyone in the Valley
Published:Wednesday, January 7, 2009
By Linda M. Linonis
The prayer service relates to the baptism of
Jesus and the spiritual promised land.
YOUNGSTOWN Water references such as the clouds
refresh humanity, washing away mans sin and
baptism of salvation flowed in a Blessing of
the Water service Tuesday afternoon on the icy
shore of Lake Glacier at Mill Creek MetroParks.
The prayer service relates to the feast of Holy
Theophany, the baptism of Jesus, where water
plays a prominent role, and revelation of the Holy Trinity.
A few members of the Eastern Orthodox Clergy
Association of the Mahoning Valley gathered under
cloudy skies as an icy mixture pelted the group
of about 20 people. They braved the elements to
pray for and ask blessings for people of the
Mahoning Valley. The clergy and laity prayed for
the people of Youngstown, the leaders, travelers and those who are sick.
The lake site was chosen, said the Rev. Thomas
Constantine, pastor of St. John the Forerunner
Greek Orthodox Church in Boardman, because the
water flows into the Mahoning River, and that in
turn, touches residents in various ways. Lake
Glacier was chosen because it is beautiful and scenic, he said.
Holy Theophany, the baptism of our Lord, was of
great importance because at the baptism it was
revealed that Jesus was the son of God and also
God himself, said Father Constantine. The Holy
Spirit rested on his head in the form of a dove.
Father Constantine said verses from Matthew and
Luke mention the baptism of Jesus. From Luke
3:22, And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily
shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from
heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.
Tuesday also marked the Epiphany, which Father
Constantine called the Feast of Lights because
Jesus is the light of the world. Holy Theophany
also marks the beginning of Jesus ministry.
Epiphany in the Western church marks the day when
the Magi (Three Wise Men) visited baby Jesus and is the 12th day of Christmas.
Father Constantine said he and other pastors have
Blessing of Water services at their individual
churches but wanted to have a community service.
This was the second annual event.
The service also included the use of basil, which
Father Constantine called the flower of the
church. He explained that the popular herb,
often used in cooking, was growing at Golgotha,
the site of Christs crucifixion. St. Helen, the
mother of Constantine the Great, went on a
pilgrimage to find the true cross of Christ. She found three crosses.
He noted that the cross with the basil growing by
it turned out to be the true cross because St.
Helen took it to hospitals and it was a healing cross.
Father Constantine dipped the basil in holy water
and then blessed those in attendance. An icon of
the baptism of Jesus also was used in the service.
The Rev. Daniel Rohan, pastor of St. Mark
Antiochian Orthodox Church in Liberty Township,
tossed a small wooden cross into Lake Glacier as
a symbolic gesture. The Rev. Steve Denas, of
Archangel Michael Greek Orthodox Church in
Campbell, explained that the cross symbolizes
Christ being baptized in the River Jordan.
Father Denas said the Jordan was important in the
Old Testament because it was seen as a boundary
of the promised land. Jesus being baptized in
the Jordan opens up the spiritual promised land, he said.
Also participating in the prayer service were the
Rev. Cosmin Antonescu of Holy Trinity Romanian
Orthodox Church in Youngstown and Elestherios
Constantine, a seminarian at Holy Cross Greek
Orthodox School of Theology in Boston.
Last year, Theresa Ritter of Youngstown, who
attends Holy Name of Jesus Church in Youngstown,
attended with her dog, Peaches. She was there
again this year, though she kept Peaches in the
car to stay dry. I like the idea of the blessing
of all of us, she said of the service.
Alexis Tsikouris, a member of Archangel Michael
church, said she wanted to attend the service
because of the beauty of this special day when
Christ revealed himself as the son of God.