The other morning I utilized a "House Blessing Kit" offered to parishioners in what several dioceses provided in this country. The procedure is based upon a centuries-old custom of praying and writing the year and initials for the names of the three Wise Men. This form of house blessing was traditionally done on the Feast of Epiphany or evolved into doing it on the first day of the calendar new year.
But I also did a blessing of this old house, my hermitage I've named Te Deum [You, God] Hermitage earlier in the autumn due to on-going problems occurring, quite negative and dark. A friend sent some priest-blessed holy water, and my spiritual father said to use it liberally throughout the house while asking Jesus to cast out demons and to bless the dwelling in His Holy Name.
I did this as well as wrote on each window, "Jesus", with the holy water. (This was not the priest's idea but rather that of the friend, and I found it to be efficacious and powerful.)
My spiritual father also wanted me to get the parish priest to bless the hermitage (old farmhouse) due to the demonic assaults and activity occurring. In fact, he wanted the priest to do so for some time, but the priest did not grasp the urgency or necessity, which I have come to understand as many priests may not have lived experience with some types of negative spiritual activity even if they are intellectually aware from reading about such.
So my spiritual father also said, then, to get the priest from the Orthodox Church since the Roman/Western Church priest did not respond to bless the place. The Orthodox priest came quickly, as he had more a grasp of actual spiritual warfare. He flailed holy water all over, even climbing up the ladder to the second floor despite my concern for his feet getting caught in his long habit.
Now, which blessing is best? Which blessing was effective?
I have no idea, other than I do have some gut-level instincts and thoughts on the matter.
Since Jesus is about love and mercy, about intention and thinking with the heart, about God's law of love, I rather think He is quite pleased with the holy water used to write "Jesus" on each window while I prayed in earnest for the devil to be cast out of this dwelling and God to permeate.
Yet, I also know that Jesus is One to appreciate sacrifice in action, and the Orthodox priest taking time away from his monastery to drive here, to talk over the situation, to pray, and to bless every room and space in here with ample holy water, seems to have quelled the dark forces. Plus, the priest has given his entire life and liberty to his vocation, and the faith and efforts of the priest lend to the power of his blessing.
Jesus also would appreciate the utilization of an old tradition of house blessing in kit-form of dispersing among believers who then make the effort to read the prayer suggested and to chalk about their doorways, the prescribed year and Wise Men name initials C+M+C which can also mean in Latin for "Christ bless this home."
There is a power in unity and meaning in symbolic rendering reminiscent of Old Testament direction of God for Jewish people to put the blood of a sacrificed lamb on their lintels so that the angel of death would pass-over their homes and spare the occupants from terror deaths.
I rather think Jesus also appreciates the listening heart of this hermit (or of anyone's listening heart) in heeding the thought to write the Jesus Prayer as well, or to have written the Holy Name of Jesus on each window with blessed water.
What is obvious, given the effects of the first and second house/hermitage blessings, and no doubt the third will only help, is that a ritual blessing by the parish priest ended up not being necessary. Yes, it would have been marvelous and beneficial had he taken the hour out of the several months of my requesting to actually come, to read the prescribed prayers and scriptures and to sprinkle holy water about. But God provides regardless!
God provides beautifully and powerfully from spontaneity in trust and faith in His Name and in His mighty love and mercy! He honors the prayers of the heart and of the faithful; he loves the intentions and neediness of His little ones who in earnest desire call upon Him directly in whatever little creative, human, and super-and-natural means our hearts direct in us to do.
The situations such as this remind yet again that Jesus did not preach or emphasize the laws of minds or of men, but rather always placed the law of God above all other laws. And the law of God, He says, is the law of love.
Yesterday while waiting in civilization for an ophthalmologist appointment, I read more in my little volume of St. Bernard's Sermons on the Song of Songs. The emphasis of loving God so permeates all that Bernard writes, for Jesus' love of Bernard and Bernard's love for Christ so infuses Bernard that once more I know Christ's love and my love for Christ is what matters in existing in this temporal wold and in the mystical realm. I want nothing other than to accept God's love and to love God in return.
So when the headlines caught my attention of a spat occurring between this current pope and a group of Catholic believers who do much good for thousands of suffering people around the world--a spat over church laws--my mind and heart fled all the more from the secular church in-fighting. I said a prayer for there to be peace on earth among men of good will, and prayed that my body, mind, heart, and soul could think of God above all things and love God and others as He loves us.
As to which house/hermitage blessing is best, I still do not know for sure. However, I sense that there are aspects of each that please the Lord most: spontaneity of loving heart, desire in faith, sacrifice of the Orthodox priest-monk to take time and energy and cost to come to my hermitage, and the sacrifice of the friend to send not only holy water from her parish but also holy water that was her late mother's from Lourdes, France.
Perhaps blessing a house or hermitage or any dwelling is like how Jesus blesses us with His love and mercy, with his guidance and spiritual direction. It is an on-going process, including various aspects of faith, hope, and charity involving heart-felt instincts, listening within to Christ's inspirations, and accepting sacrifices of others, including loving friends and thoughtful priests.
Perhaps the best blessing of all is of God in us, Christ with us, His Real Presence residing in the tabernacles of our hearts and souls, and of our presence, then, within whatever earthly temporal and mystical dwelling in any given present moment. Christ with us, around us, above and beneath; Christ through us and in us. Remain in his love, and we and all about us are blessed.