Pan-Orthodox Blessing of Waters at Moraine State Park
On Sunday, January 5, 2014, the three Orthodox parishes in Butler, PA got together and served the Great Blessing of the Waters outdoors, at Lake Arthur in the Moraine State Park. The event was covered by journalists from Butler and Ellwood City, and even made the first page of the Butler Eagle!
The parishioners of St. Anthony Orthodox Church (Antiochian), St. Andrew (Orthodox Church in America), and Sts. Peter and Paul (Ukrainian) had grown accustomed to the beautiful practice of worshipping together on their patronal feast days and during Lent, or for the evening Liturgies of the Presanctified Gifts. Yet the outdoor Blessing of Waters was a first. God sent us a relatively mild day in the middle of the famous "arctic vortex" which brought to the area some of the coldest temperatures in decades.
Since the lake was frozen so that sinners and saints alike could walk on water, nobody would have been able to dive and retrieve the blessing cross. So it was that following the prayers, the priests threw three large ice crosses into the lake, thus "baptizing" the waters with the grace and power of the One who came to baptize all creation with Spirit.
It was a great joy to see the nuns of the Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Ellwood City joining the three parishes. The sisters helped with the singing and brought generous amounts of hot tea for all to enjoy. Thank God it was a milder winter day!
We are hoping to repeat this venerable and beautiful tradition in years to come, and to invite all parishes in driving distance to join us. O Christ our God, who hast revealed Thyself and hast enlightened the world: glory to Thee!