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August 21, 2010
Brooklyn, NY: Parishioners of the Church of Our Lady "The Inexhaustible Chalice" performed a procession and blessing of the ocean

bkln.lg.jpg (49899 bytes)The parish of the Church of Our Lady "The Inexhaustible Chalice" and the community of the Mercy House of St. John of Kronstadt have been performing the touching tradition of blessing the waters of the ocean for several years. Twice a year, on the Epiphany of the Lord (January 19 n.s.) and on the Procession of the Life-Giving Cross of the Lord (August 14 n.s.), priests, choristers, parishioners, parish children, and the resident brethren of the Mercy House head out in procession and with hymns from the church to the seashore, graciously blessing the Metrobridge, stores, and passersby with holy water. And every year, the number of people desiring to bathe in the blessed water grows.

This year, the divine service was celebrated by parish rector Priest Vadim Arefiev, co-served by Archpriest Petro Sgoba (parish cleric).

Pictures of the blessing of the ocean are available to our readers below.


An Interview with Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York

In the quarters of the First Hierarch of ROCOR, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and new York, Priest Vadim Arefiev (rector of the Сhurch of Our Lady  "The Inexhaustible Chalice" and the Mercy House of St. John of Kronstadt in Brooklyn, NY) was given an opportunity to ask several question of His Eminence.

bkln2.jpg (68270 bytes)- Your Eminence, I would like to speak of the miraculous effect on the human soul of holy water. We in the Mercy House long ago instituted the following practice: every Tuesday, we serve a moleben with the rite of the blessing of the water. We know that in Russia and in the Ukraine these services are done frequently, though here they are much rarer. Still, people here come and ask for priests to perform them. And once, having watched a documentary on how this moleben is serviced in the city of Serpukhov, in Holy Ascension Monastery before the Icon of "The Inexhaustible Chalice," how the hieromonks so bountifully blessed the suffering with holy water, we also took up this practice of generously blessing all of the worshipers, and all of a sudden we started to notice that this was having a special effect on the human soul. Maybe this is my own subjective sense of things, but when a person comes in off the street to this service, having no experience of Orthodoxy, he feels himself to be at a feast, feels an uplifting, seeing how the people are being blessed by the water, how they drink of it, and this somehow touches his heart. I would like to speak about this some. Why do you suppose, Vladyka, that the water acts namely in this way; what happens during the blessing of the water? After all, this is simply tap water, nothing special about it. And the ancient prayers are pronounced, the Sacrament is performed, the priest lowers the Holy, Life-Giving Cross...

- Water by itself is a wondrous creation of God’s; it gives us life, without it we could not exist. But when water is blessed with prayer, as well, with good intentions, with those holy words uttered by the priest in prayer, calls down God’s special blessing. God’s blessing consists of the Lord sending down His Grace, the Holy Spirit in invisible form coming down on the substance of the water and making it holy, that is, that Grace is transferred which was called down on the water through prayer, both of the Lord God and the Holy Spirit, and the water is made miraculous for all those who approach it with faith, as it is with all of the Sacraments of the Church, when people approach them with faith. If we have faith, then the wondrous works of God are done, because the Lord promised to always be with us, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." Although He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father, He knows our needs, both spiritual and physical, and for that reason gives us water for drinking, but also holy water for the healing of illnesses, for the expulsion of demonic powers, for the driving away of every temptation that rushes upon us, and for spiritual fortification. This is all given to us by holy water. And as we recently saw in a film about the water, when the prayers are said, the molecular structure of the water harmonizes. When discord, wrath, abuse, unkind feelings come upon the water, its structure becomes chaotic. And all water, whether blessing in church or in a lake, or in the sea, it all receives that Grace-filled effect, which is why the people draw from it so. And when the blessing of the homes is performed, for the banishment of evil and misfortune, and we try to bless homes with water blessed on the Epiphany, we do it all for the good of man and for his salvation. And so let all who love the Lord come with a good disposition of the heart and blissful attitudes one toward another come to draw holy water for fortification and salvation!

- I would also like to talk about the blessing of the ocean, for a majority of our brothers, alcoholics and drug addicts, flock to its shores, taking advantage of its resort-like nature, and die there. We try to draw them away from there, but some paw pulls them back. And so, at the behest of one priest, we have for the last two years on the Epiphany and the Procession of the Cross of the Lord, the first day of the Dormition Fast, come to bless the ocean. It bears mention that our community resides in a quite anti-Christian neighborhood, although many Orthodox Christians live and work there. When we go through in procession, for us it is a festal missionary procession. We bring a great deal of holy water with us. We bless the Metrobridge, we bless the buildings and we can feel the tension decrease, we can feel the bitterness of our neighbors fade away, and they even begin to greet us with smiles. And the procession continues to places where the homeless congregate, and if they are there we invite them, bless them with holy water, and even people in a heavily drunken state come and follow us, becoming, so to speak, partakers of the sacrament, partakers of the holiness. Perhaps Your Eminence could say a well-wishing word for those who will join in the procession, showing them how best to prepare themselves for participation in the holy rite.

- We live in the sea of life, which rages on all sides: difficulty, illness, misery, misfortune. And beside us is a physical sea, which can also billow: people drown, boats, sink, etc. And it is in need of blessing just as our lives are all-around in need of blessing with prayer, good deeds, fasting, temperance, good thoughts, and good intentions. So does the ocean need for blessing, as today ecological disasters are on the rise and we read all manner of dire predictions, but we must pray, live a godly life, in order that might influence the world, influence nature, that nature might not be embittered. And so participation in this procession is a very good deed, because this is a procession in prayer, with icons, with the Cross, Which bears witness to God’s love for us. It bears witness also that God, Who is Love, became man; He loved us so, that He humbled Himself and became man, descended from the heavens, and in that way He took upon Himself all of the weights of mankind, and helped us carry our Cross, which has become light, further with Him. Through His Redemptive Sacrifice, He opens to us once more the path to Heaven, an even greater Heaven than the one had by Adam and Eve. And so the procession is a foretaste of that future honor of proceeding to the Throne of God, of all those who love Him, who try to keep His commandments, and the greatest among them: love, co-suffering, and charity. And may all the participants of the procession receive God’s help, God’s Grace, in their partaking in this holy procession, plunging into blessed waters!

- Christ save you, Holy Master! I will do my best to convey, to the best of my meager strengths, that which you said to our parishioners, to our suffering people. And may the Lord grant that each receive healing according to the openness of his heart!

Media Office of the Eastern American Diocese