Epiphany Water Report!

The other day I posted about special blessings of sacramentals for Epiphany, including the Blessing for Epiphany Water.

As a follow up, since the blessing of Epiphany Water is reserved to bishops and to priests with permission from their bishop, I asked for and obtained said permission and, with the help of a great group of guys, blessed around 25 gallons yesterday, along with a lot of salt and a bunch of chalk.

No myrrh, alas.

Here is one shot.

This was not a scheduled event for the parish. Instead we blended it together with a regular meeting of a men’s group at St. Mary’s in Pine Bluff (D. Madison) where Fr. Heilman reigns supreme. I have written of his before. Just click this tag to be amazed at all the irons this guy has in the fire. HERE.  (Get one of his rosaries: see the right side bar.)

Side note: The church is beautiful and well-decorated for the season.  Fr. Heilman told me that he showed his people a picture of the sanctuary of St. John Cantius in Chicago as their model for the flowers.

The men’s group in question meets every month to drink beer and smoke pipes and eat a lot of unhealthy food… as one does. The group also heavily overlaps with the parish’s schola cantorum. It was a perfect fit for them to suit up, meet in church, and help with the rite for the Epiphany Water.

It took about 45 minutes for the whole thing. The rite is rather like the singing of a liturgical hour: done in the evening, for example, it includes the Magnificat.

The Rite begins with the Litany of Saints, with a couple special petitions about the blessing of the water to follow. Satan and the fallen demons are then driven from the place with a mighty prayer. I must share it. This is NOT a prayer for lay people to recite. Period. Understand? Just don’t.

Exorcism against Satan and the apostate angels [In Latin, of course. The “+” is where the celebrant makes the Sign of the Cross.]

In the name of our Lord Jesus + Christ and by His power, we cast you out, every unclean spirit, every devilish power, every assault of the infernal adversary, every legion, every diabolical group and sect; begone and stay far from the Church of God, from all who are made in the image of God and redeemed by the precious blood of the divine + Lamb. Never again dare, you cunning serpent, to deceive the human race, to persecute the Church of God, nor to strike the chosen of God and to sift them as + wheat. For it is the Most High God who commands you, + He to whom you heretofore in your great pride considered yourself equal; He who desires that all men might be saved and come to the knowledge of truth. God the Father + commands you. God the Son + commands you. God the Holy + Spirit commands you. The majesty of Christ, the eternal Word of God made flesh + commands you; He who for the salvation of our race, the race that was lost through your envy, humbled Himself and became obedient even unto death; He who built His Church upon a solid rock, and proclaimed that the gates of hell should never prevail against her, and that He would remain with her all days, even to the end of the world. The sacred mystery of the cross + commands you, as well as the power of all the mysteries of Christian faith. The exalted Virgin Mary, Mother of God + commands you, who in her lowliness crushed your proud head from the first moment of her Immaculate Conception. The faith of the holy apostles Peter and Paul and the other apostles + commands you. The blood of the martyrs and the devout intercession of all holy men and women commands you.

Therefore, accursed dragon and every diabolical legion, we adjure you by the living + God, by the true + God, by the holy + God, by the God who so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but shall have life everlasting; cease your deception of the human race and your giving them to drink of the poison of everlasting damnation; desist from harming the Church and fettering her freedom. Begone Satan, you father and teacher of lies and enemy of mankind. Give place to Christ in whom you found none of your works; give place to the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church, which Christ Himself purchased with His blood. May you be brought low under God’s mighty hand. May you tremble and flee as we call upon the holy and awesome name of Jesus, before whom hell quakes, and to whom the virtues, powers, and dominations are subject; whom the cherubim and seraphim praise with unwearied voices, saying: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts!

The salt and water are exorcised, blessed, blended.

At the end of the rite the Te Deum is sung.  Spiffy.

I see that my friend Fr. Finigan did this also at his parish in Blackfen.  GMTA.  Mulier Fortis has a photo. HERE

As I wrote in my post the other day, we need for more of this sort of thing, rather than the flabby soft-identity mewlings which are today so prevalent.

This is why we need Summorum Pontificum.

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40 Responses to Epiphany Water Report!

  1. Mike says:

    If envy be permitted, I’m envious; otherwise I’m resigned to humble admiration. I pray that your example be swiftly followed here in Washington, D.C., which exigently needs it.

  2. Joshua Mincher says:

    why shouldn’t any baptized person pray this?

  3. george says:

    There are some prayers that the ordained have the authority to pray and the laity do not. My small understanding is that most exorcism prayers fall into that category. I think it was Fr. Pavone of HLI who wrote a book about exorcising abortuaries and included the prayers at the end of the book for priests to use. As I recall, he issued the same warning “these are *not* for the laity”.

  4. NBW says:

    I wish all parishes would swiftly follow your example.
    It makes me angry that so many important traditions in our Catholic church have been brushed aside in the name of Vatican II.

  5. Priam1184 says:

    @Joshua Mincher Certain prayers, especially where the rite of Exorcism is concerned, are reserved to ordained priests alone. It is not our role as laypersons, since we lack the graces associated with Ordination, and we would fail miserably if we attempted to go toe to toe with the demonic in this way. The Gospels and Acts provide examples of this.

    Thank you Father for doing this. I only wish I lived closer to Madison and/or could obtain some of the salt and water. And the Magnificat is my favorite hymn in all of human history. The very words of the Mother of God inspired by the Holy Spirit, and they sum everything up so well.

  6. Bea says:

    Ditto on what Mike said. (except for the locale, where we have, at present, no hopes of it ever happening here)

    Joshua@ I believe it is because the priest has the power to speak directly to Satan and his minions, whereas we do not and would be dangerous for us to do so.

  7. Ed the Roman says:

    What is the water used for?

  8. ReginaMarie says:

    Ed the Roman: Eastern Catholics take Theophany Water (also called Jordan Water) for use in their homes to drink for spiritual & physical health, for use when the priest comes to bless their homes, to use in making the Sign of the Cross when praying before our icons, or in tracing the Cross on a sick child or to ask God’s blessing upon them. Some use it in their cooking (which is why we go for large jars versus small containers of holy water!).

    At tonight’s Divine Liturgy for the Feast of Theophany (if Father can make it down from the monastery on the icy roads), the Great Blessing of Water begins with the chanting of special hymns, the censing of the water, & concludes with Bible readings, petitions & prayers. A portion of the beautiful & powerful blessing follows…

    That these waters may be sanctified by the power & descent of the Holy Spirit:
    That there may descend upon these waters the cleansing of the super-substantial Trinity:
    That He will endow them with the grace of redemption, the blessing of the Jordan, the might & descent of the Holy Spirit:
    That Satan may speedily be crushed under our feet, & that every evil counsel directed against us may be brought to naught:
    That the Lord our God will free us from every attack & temptation of the enemy, & make us worthy of the good things which He hath promised:
    That He will illumine us with the light of understanding & of piety, & with the descent of the Holy Spirit:
    That the Lord our God will send down the blessing of the Jordan & sanctify these waters:
    That this water may be unto the bestowing of sanctification; unto the remission of sins; unto the healing of soul & body; & unto every expedient service:
    That this water may be a fountain welling forth unto life eternal:
    That it may manifest itself effectual unto the averting of every machination of our foes, whether visible or invisible:
    For those who shall draw of it & take of it unto the sanctification of their homes:
    That it may be for the purification of the souls & bodies of all those who, with faith, shall draw & partake of it:
    That He will graciously enable us to perfect sanctification by participation in these waters, through the invisible manifestation of the Holy Spirit:

    Following a lengthy set of prayers that expound on the nature of the feast & summarize salvation history, praising God’s creation of & mastery over the elements, the priest makes the Sign of the Cross over the water with his hand & prays specifically for the blessing to be invoked upon it.  At the climax of the service, he immerses the hand cross into the water 3 times in imitation of Christ’s baptism to the singing of the festal troparion & then blesses the entire church & congregation with the newly consecrated water. Were it not so bitter cold, he might also go down & bless the local body of water (Monongahela River).

  9. If one lives in a diocese where they never even heard of Epiphany water, is there a reliable source where one can get it?

  10. Wiktor says:

    The rule is: if an exorcism is directly adressing devils in second person, it’s reserved to priests or even bishops. This is why the prayer to St Michael Archangel is permitted: it does say “thrust into hell Satan” but these words are not addressed to Satan, but to Michael.

  11. If you missed your chance on Sunday (in the Latin church) to get your water blessed, you still have a chance. Today in the Eastern churches (or at least, the Byzantine-rite churches) is the feast of Theophany (kind-of a combination of the Latin feasts of Epiphany and the Baptism of the Lord, but more emphasis on the baptism) and the blessing of water will occur after the Divine Liturgy as well.

  12. Mike says:

    Lay people should not be messing with exorcism rites. I confine myself to a simple prayer for binding (in English, thank you) and the prayer to St. Michael, and leave the serious demon-wrasslin’ to the qualified.

  13. Netmilsmom says:

    Is there somewhere we can send a donation and get some Epiphany water?

    [I suppose you could contact Fr. Richard Heilman at St. Mary’s in Pine Bluff and ask him.]

  14. Gratias says:

    We were given blessed chalk at the end of our Diocesan Summorum Pontificum EF Mass here in California. After blessing the home the instructions read:

    Take the blessed chalk and first write the initials of the three Wise Men, connected with crosses, over the inside of your front door (on the lintel, if possible). Then write the year, breaking up the numbers and the year so that they fall on both sides of the initials. It should look like this, for example:

    C stands for Caspar, M for Melchior, and the B for Balthasar. The Kings’ initials stand for “Christus mansionem benedicat” (Christ bless this house). [Maybe.]

    This sacramental is said to keep the Devil away. I had never heard of this but a German friend told me she does it every year.

  15. Uxixu says:

    At the NO Mass yesterday they handed out copies of the house blessing prayer but no water or chalk. I went to the local parish that does the EF but it was a daily NO (EF is really early). Wonder if they would have had some yesterday… thinking of taking my own chalk and asking Father to bless it. I’d love to get some water, as well.

  16. Nicholas Shaler says:

    QUAERITUR: A while a go father posted a prayer banishing rats, would that also fall in this category of exorcisms? I remember that he had said that he recommended that we should not, but I don’t remember of he said DO NOT DO THIS.

    Thanks and God bless,


  17. asophist says:

    What a powerful-sounding exorcism prayer! I didn’t even dare to read it all the way through. St. Joseph, protect us; St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in our constant battle!

  18. eulogos says:

    I attended the vigil service for Theophany last night. This is a Holy Day of Obligation in the Ruthenian rite (or at least in the eparchy of which my parish is a part). The water is blessed with very similar words, including the part about the dragons! Afterwords people go up and drink from paper cups but also use their own containers to bring home some water.

    Susan Peterson

  19. lucy says:

    This is not to be found in our diocese. Sniffle. I dearly miss our FSSP presence here. I never heard of this before they came. How much we have lost! [Sniffle? DON’T depend on them! Move your local diocesan priests to get with it. The reform won’t take place because of these small groups. The reform will get on the way big time when diocesan priests suit up and lock’n’load.]

  20. Kathleen10 says:

    Boy that prayer really points out the chasm between thee and we. The faculties of the priesthood, it is awesome. One reason why it is frustrating to see how foolishly some clergy minimize the realities of the priesthood, to seem to want to make the priesthood appear less than it is. It is an awesome power, to pray a prayer like that, to invoke God in so focused a way against our enemy, to speak in God’s name that way. It is so powerful it impacts the temporal and the supernatural world, every realm. If this reality were accurately demonstrated to laypeople, there would be more vocations.

  21. Bless you, Father Z, for the link to my blog. I have more photos from the blessing of Epiphany water in the Flickr set.

    Your ceremony looks pretty awesome too !!

    At the risk of taking a mile when an inch was given, might I be allowed to mention the fact that we had Mass for the Epiphany today at Blackfen as well as the blessing of chalk, and I have photos on Flickr for that too…

  22. Allan S. says:

    I brought some chalk to out TLM at the Cathedral, and Meier the priest nor anyone in attendance had ever heard of this. The celebrant was an older, pre-V2 priest as well. Fortunately, I had my Weller Rituale with me and I could produce the blessing to prove I wasn’t just making it all up.

    We have fallen pretty far I guess.

    [Good for you. I like this approach. You were proactive. This is how people who want to have these traditional things, sacramentals, devotions and Masses have to work. Plan for the objections. Provide the materials. Leave no excuse.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  23. AvantiBev says:

    As a St. John Cantius parishioner, and blessed to be one, I am sooooo proud and happy to hear that pictures of our sanctuary have inspired other parishes. Father Frank Phillips is a TRUE Chicagoan in the mold of Daniel Burnham, he came to a church with barely a dozen people in attendance at Mass back in 1988 and made “no little plans”! (Obviously with a biretta tip to the Holy Spirit and the late, sainted Fr. John Hardon.)

  24. Therese says:

    Combat rosaries? Father, I checked the sidebar, visited your Z-stuff site, and can’t find them. Help? (As my Polish husband says, if it was a snake, it woulda bit ya–but really, I can’t find it. ;-) [Give it another try. It’s there now.]

    Prayers, please, for a diocesan priest who actually read the new GIRM (N.O., third translation) and is struggling manfully to follow orders by offering his Masses ad orientem, et al. However his brother priests are making an awful fuss–you’d think it was Judgment Day–and the new bishop isn’t too happy with all the complaints. Surely (hopefully) there are many others like him.

  25. Random Friar says:

    Interesting history on the blessing here, about it being a Greek borrowing from fairly recent times: http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2010/01/blessing-of-epiphany-water.html

  26. Wiktor says:

    Chalk was blessed on today’s EF sung mass. No water, though.
    What was really extraordinary is that I counted twelve servers. A nice crowd at the altar.

  27. yatzer says:

    So if your state was completely closed down because of snow, ice, and below zero temps; can this be done at a later time or is it Epiphany or nothing?

  28. Allan S. says:

    Thanks Father! I also gave away the blessed chalk afterwards to everyone who wanted some (a coffee get together for the tlm crowd).

  29. Hank Igitur says:

    we have this every year. The gold, frankincense, myrrh and chalk are blessed the next day

  30. Maynardus says:

    It will surprise nobody who knows Holy Name in Providence (or Fr. Santos) that we had the Blessing of Epiphany Water… the only surprise is that we haven’t had it every year. Not a bad couple of days: Our parish’s feast day yesterday, Epiphany lessons and carols in the afternoon, the Blessing of the Epiphany Water, and a Sung Mass for the Epiphany tonight. The schola was absent so the fifty or so in the congregation sung the ordinary (Missa de Angelis) and Father chanted the proper prayers… not recommended in all instances but I think we pulled it off fairly well. There are little oases of sanity out there, but sadly they’re few and far between; we have to drive 45-50 min. for the privilege of worshipping like… Catholics. (speaking of privileges, I had the pleasure of serving with four of my sons tonight – must be at least one vocation amongst them!)

  31. C N says:

    I know our priest at the NO we go to hasn’t done this yet. We haven’t had an opportunity to go to the TLM in a while to see if the priest at that parish did it.
    My husband saved some blessed chalk we were given a couple years ago. Can we can still use that chalk to bless our house, or is it better to use chalk that has more recently been blessed? Does it matter?
    Thank you in advance to whomever answers this for me.

  32. liebemama says:

    How do you use your Blessed Salt? for cooking? It is a rare thing to find here, but a local Priest came to visit us last year and brought both, Blessed Salt and Epiphany Water, as a gift to us. He told us to be generous with it as he has much more at home. Unsure about it, I have been very frugal in using it. It seems so special, and I have had no example in using it before.

    I would bet that every N.O. Parish here in Germany supplies Blessed Chalk. The Sternsinger(usually children dressed as the 3 Kings) are sent out from the Parish to bless the homes and collect money for certain missionary works.

  33. MarkJ says:

    I got my Epiphany water yesterday after the 7:15 am Epiphany Mass, graciously provided by the FSSP in San Diego. My family and I will be using it all year to bless ourselves and each other. We also used blessed chalk to write +20+C+M+B+14+ above our door, said a prayer of blessing for the house, and then sprinkled the holy water throughout the house. An annual ritual for us. I pray it is adopted everywhere. In all the priests of St. Anne’s blessed 150 gallons of water on Sunday afternoon, along with any 5 gallon or larger personal containers that parishioners brought… next year I hope to be there for the blessing of the water!

  34. Marie Teresa says:

    Father Z,
    Thank you so much for the beautiful photos and prayers. Your article reminds me how important the use of Holy Water is!
    Our priest doesn’t provide any Holy Water whatsoever, and we’ve been out completely since late October.
    Several years ago, a priest gave me water from the Easter Vigil. He used the Latin and the exorcism prayers for water and salt. Would it be inappropriate to fill the fonts at our church with this water, or is it more prudent to not cause problems? (Granted, the priest should provide Holy Water, but we’ve asked, and he doesn’t.)

  35. We had the Epiphany water blessing at our parish on Sunday. The men’s & women’s scholas sang from the first pews – we women on the gospel side and the men on the epistle side. Hubby did all the intonations for the litany of the saints. Took about an hour (there was a LOT of water for Father to bless!). We got our blessed chalk last night after mass, and will be writing above our doors as soon as the weather warms up a little!

  36. ReginaMarie says:

    liebemama: Blessed salt is used as a sacramental. It may be sprinkled in a room, or across a threshold, or in other places as an invocation of divine protection. It may also be consumed. Eastern Catholics regular have salt in their Easter baskets to be blessed on Pacsha.

  37. Maynardus says:

    @Marie Teresa – your parish priest actually refuses to provide Holy Water in the fonts at the parish church despite having its absence brought to his attention? Did he give any reason? Is this just during Lent or something? Do the fonts leak? My knee-jerk reaction would be to notify the bishop but perhaps it would be better to find out what you can first… is it possible he has some peculiar but possibly valid reason e.g. it’s the Diocese of Antarctica, the church isn’t heated, and he’s afraid it will freeze and crack the fonts? Just trying to avoid jumping to conclusions here, but it sounds like something is rotten in …

  38. Marie Teresa says:

    @Maynardus – the priest smiles and nods and never makes more Holy Water. He doesn’t give a reason, but says, “Yes, there is no Holy Water.”
    The supply left by our previous pastor ran out in October. No leaky or freezing fonts. It seems more like he wants the parishioners to take care of it for him. He doesn’t seem rotten, just indolent.
    Fr. Z’s article brought home to me the importance of using Holy Water. Wow – it’s important! We only have two small fonts. I can easily keep them full for awhile.

  39. Maynardus says:

    @Marie Teresa – Wow. Just wow. How on earth can the parishioners take care of it? We laics simply cannot make Holy Water, even if Father gives us the recipe ;-) Seriously, I’d be a bit skittish about adding your own Holy Water to the fonts in the church, even though you know it is actually Holy Water it could create a scandal if anyone became aware of it… the pastor would obviously have some suspicions but he’d also have no way to know it was “real” Holy Water so that could create another issue. If he really just refuses to do it, you could play dumb and call the diocesan chancery (anonymously) and ask innocently where you could get some Holy Water… that might light a little fire under the situation once they start asking the obvious questions… Has anyone else complained about this? The whole thing sounds very weird to me…

  40. AVL says:

    Thanks for sharing the prayer, I find it fascinating. I promise not to try and say it! And the picture of the blessing in the church is lovely. Makes me long for such a place in my city.