As in all other years, the Feast of the Theophany was celebrated in the monastery with special solemnity. Liturgically it is a continuum of the feast of the Nativity and as is known, mimics the Nativity liturgically, as originally it was one feast, the Theophany, or the Appearance of Our Lord to the world.
Throughout this festal period, there is great joy also among the many pilgrims who make their way to the monastery to capture some of this celebratory spirit. As is customary, on the Eve, during when the liturgy of St. Basil was celebrated, the Great Blessing of Water was served at the end of liturgy in the monastery bell tower baptistery. On this first blessing, water in the large basin is blessed, from which the monastery’s neighbors and pilgrims take holy water for their homes. At the conclusion of the service, it is our custom to have all of the monastery’s buildings and the rooms blessed by several of the monastery clergy, one blessing the brotherhood cells and monastery offices, another the seminary dormitory, another the seminary classroom building and still another the icon studio. Upon conclusion of this only is the one meal of the day served.
On the feast itself the liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is served, upon the conclusion of which there is held another Great Blessing of Water, the clergy and faithful again processing to the bell tower. On this occasion, the basin for infant baptism is used.
On the following day, the Synaxis of St. John the Baptist, Divine Liturgy is served at 8AM. Apparently, in the early years of the monastery, this day was not kept as a festal day. In 1959 there was a terrible tragedy in the monastery on this day, when one of the monks perished while operating snow cleaning machinery. Due to this, it was decided to observe this day as a full feast in future years.
This year, the following day being a Sunday, once again the Theophany feast was continued. Now the monastery clergy are beginning to bless the houses of our many neighbors, many of which are not in the immediate area. We bless houses up to two hours in distance, the dwellings of the faithful, who even though they live at such distances from the monastery, consider our sacred habitat to be their spiritual home.