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Blessing of the Water includes prayer for everyone in the Valley

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://www.vindy.com/news/2009/jan/07/blessing-of-the-water-includes-prayer-for-everyone/ Blessing of the Water includes prayer for everyone in the Valley
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 7, 2009
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      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 man’s 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 Christ’s 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.”

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