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Great Blessing of Waters (Aguiasma)

The word aguiasma in Greek means "a sacred thing." Water sanctified in a special rite is thus called. The blessing of water can be great and small: the latter taking place several times a year, while the former one ó only on the day of Baptism of the Lord.

Russian people have a strange superstition: they believe that Baptism and Epiphany is not the same thing and that the water sanctified on the Epiphany Eve, on18th of January, is the Epiphany water and the one blessed on the holiday itself (the 19th) is the Baptism water. This superstition is so strong that true believers try to store water on both days and keep them in different vessels lest they confuse one water for another. This is a meaningless superstition. Both on the Eve and on the day of Epiphany proper the water is blessed in the same way to commemorate our Lord Jesus Christís entering the waters of Jordan.

The baptismal water has the special grace of God and people know (or feel) it. On those days churches are crowded with people. There is even a certain type of "parishioners" who come to church once a year ó "to get the water."

So what do we pray for during the blessing of the water? The faithful are asking for the water to have the blessing of strength, and action, and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We are asking for the water to become a gift of sanctification, cleansing from our sins, healing of our souls and bodies. We pray for the water to be blessed as the waters of Jordan, for it to divert from us the harm caused by all visible and invisible enemies, for it to lead us to life eternal. We pray that upon drinking the blessed water and through manifestation of the Holy Spirit we could become worthy of the blessing too. It is a great prayeróas great as the sacred thing itself. The Lordís baptism made holy the very essence of water.

We should drink aguiasma on an empty stomach in the morning, but we can do that any time of day or night whenever we feel a special need in Godís help. It should be kept in a separate place, preferably close to the home iconostas, (but by no means in a refrigerator). If you treat the blessed water with reverence it preserves freshness and good taste for a long time. You can apply it to your skin, use a little of it while cooking, sprinkle your house with it. People who cannot attend Communion due to penance take aguiasma as a spiritual consolation.

It is a pity that the miracle of great blessings of the water occurs only once a year and it is so rarely that we can hear the moving troparion, "The voice of the Lord is calling on the waters: come you all, receive the Spirit of wisdom, the Spirit of mind, the Spirit of fear of God, Christ who came down..."

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