I just got my new house blessed! We had a nice short ceremony.
We started with the priest censing the inside and the outside of the house.
The priest was very thorough. He even censed the inside of the storerooms.
We then had a short prayer before the icon stand. This included a gospel reading, the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10:
Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house.” So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.” Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
I thought it was a very poignant choice of a gospel reading- a broken man invites Jesus to his home and is restored. “Today salvation has come to this house”.
Next there is sprinking with holy water. For this purpose we scrounged for a small branch outside. The priest dabbed it in holy water and used it to sprinkle every room of the house.
For the last step, the priest placed four little stickers in the house, facing north, south, east and west, and then blessed them with holy oil.
The stickers were supposed to be over doorways or windows, but I did not have an eastward facing entrance to the house, so the last one went over my bed instead. The design of the sticker is pretty cool: the usual Orthodox cross in gold, with Adam’s skull underneath.
The whole service took about an hour. I thought it was a very pleasant and meaningful ritual. I am glad how in this way, the Orthodox tradition allows us to make God the center of our big life transitions.