My childhood memories include regular home blessings. It was usually on a Saturday morning and my mom would walk around the house with a smoking censor as we played with our Barbies or watched TV. It wasn't a big production and we usually just went about our business, pausing to make the sign of the cross when she was near, as she walked from room to room quietly repeating, "Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us."
In the years I had forgotten about the gift that a home blessing gives a family. I don't practice it as regularly as I'd like, but when I do, I am overwhelmed why it's such a good practice to keep for my family.
- First, it reminds us that our home is a sacred place, a place we also want God to be and feel welcome. God doesn't impose Himself upon us, He waits for us to invite Him in, and to help us remember that we have invited God to be with us, there are a few things we can do in our homes. We hang icons on our walls, we have the priest come and bless our homes with holy water on a yearly basis (around the time of Theophany, January 6,) and we bless our homes and ourselves with incense.
- Our Home is our Church away from Church. It's where we pray, love, nurture, relate, encourage and learn. I do not suggest you go out a build pews or install stained glass windows, but with the elements of Church and worship in our homes we will remember that the family unit is a sacred entity and that God is ever-present with us.
- It reminds us that we are members of the church every day of the week and not just on Sundays; we are Christians everywhere we go and not just in church.
- It invites an environment of prayer and holiness through our senses of smell and sight, triggering our experiences in Liturgy or any time we were in church for a service.
- And especially with children, having the sights and smells of worship in our homes makes worship services a little less foreign and stressful... It makes church/worship a familiar environment.
How does one go about blessing a home? You need four things: censor, mini self igniting charcoals, incense, and a match.
Place the charcoal in the censor and light it with a match. Some people like using a lighter, but I find my hand is too close to the flame and prefer a match.
You may have to lightly blow on it to help it along.
Place one or two pieces of incense on the lit coal. The incense will start to melt and smoke will rise.
Make the sign of the cross over the censor three times while saying, "In the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit."
Now you can walk throughout the house, stopping in front of the icons, making the sign of the cross as you go, repeating, "Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us."
When I walk by doors I like to stop and add a prayer, "Lord, bless those who enter and leave through this doorway." And over beds I like to add "Lord bless us as we rest and sleep."