June 26, 2016
June 19, 2016
June 9, 2016
In the past when there were several priests in each parish, priests would regularly go and visit the homes of families in their community. Getting to know people is such an important part of the work of a priest. These visits also serve to let people get to know their priest. Sometimes, people will take this opportunity to ask him some tough questions that they may struggle with regarding matters of faith or the Church’s moral teaching. The family home provides a very comfortable environment for such a discussion and allows parishioners to build a relationship with their pastor.
Often these house visits will come about because the family seeks to have their home blessed or recently had their child baptized. Some people ask to get their house blessed by a priest or deacon once they move into their new home, apartment, or condo. Others invite him over every year to give a combined family and house blessing. In this case, the family gives thanks for the past year and also asks for God’s protection and presence in their lives for the year to come.
There are many different options available for house blessings. If you have never had your house blessed, let’s look at the basic format so you know what to expect. Usually the family will gather in one room and the priest or deacon will start with a short Liturgy of the Word. After a couple scripture readings, like at Mass, the priest/deacon gives a simple reflection. Prayers for the family and for the protection of their home follow to personalize the experience. Then water is blessed and sprinkled throughout the house in each room. Family members may sing a familiar hymn while leading the priest around. After a closing prayer this basic experience can be completed in only 30 minutes or so. However, in my experience, after the blessing and prayers, often there has been a meal or snacks prepared to share with the family. This social time with the priest or deacon often leaves a very positive and personal experience of God’s loving presence for the family. Even the children get a kick out of the chance to ask “Father” some of their questions like, “why do you always dress in black?” Or, “how did you become a priest? – were you born that way?”