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Catholics/Blessing of Water on the Vigil of the Epiphany of the Lord


How is the the holy water that is exorcised on Epiphany different from the normal exorcised holy water?

In the traditional Catholic Church (the rite has been essentially jettisoned by the Newchurch of the New Order), water may be blessed on the Vigil of the Epiphany, the Eleventh Day of Christmas, January 5.  This custom is associated with the fact that already by the fourth century, an annual procession left Jerusalem for Bethlehem and returned the following morning of the Epiphany.  St. John Chrysostom (ca. 349-407) in his Homilia in Baptisma Christianorum tells how the Christians used to take home the water specially blessed on that occasion.

The traditional Catholic ceremony is quite elaborate and beautiful.  It begins with the chanting of the Litany of the Saints, followed by the chanting of Psalms 28 (Afferte Domino), 45 (Deus noster), and 146 (Laudate Dominum).  After chanting the Oration of the Epiphany (Deus, qui hodierna die), the celebrant then chants the Exorcism against Satan and the Apostate Angels (Exorcizamus te).  Then follows the Antiphon (Hodie caelesti sponso iuncta est Ecclesia) and the Canticle of Zacharias (Benedictus Dominus) or the Canticle of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Magnificat).  The salt and water are then blessed as for the Asperges at Holy Mass.  After the exorcisms, the rite concludes with the solemn chanting of the Church's great hymn of adoration, the Te Deum, and a final Oration (Deus cuius misericordiae non est numerus).

On Epiphany traditional Catholic Churches may also bless chalk (creta) in honor of the Magi.  The faithful receive pieces of this blessed chalk and inscribe their own homes with the names of the Magi and the year, by way of blessing their homes for the new year:  MM + G + M + B + XVI.


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Fr. Michael


A traditional Catholic priest, who provides forthright answers to questions FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF TRADITIONAL CATHOLICISM (not the New Order) on topics pertaining to TRADITIONAL Roman Catholicism, including theology, the Bible, Church history, the Latin language, liturgy (especially the Traditional Latin Mass), and music (especially Gregorian chant), and current events in the Catholic Church.

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