Theophany is an opportunity to remember our own baptisms and our own commitments as Orthodox Christians. It is an opportunity for renewal and repentance. It is an opportunity for a fresh start, for a changing and reorienting of our minds, hearts, thoughts, and bodies, every aspect of our lives, towards that which truly matters, towards the Holy Trinity.
Theophany is an opportunity to remember our godparents and godchildren. It is an opportunity to pray for them. Godparents especially have the awesome and humbling responsibility of praying for their godchildren and setting the right example. Let Theophany be an opportunity to do this!
Theophany is an opportunity to turn to the Holy Prophet and Forerunner John the Baptist for prayers. Saint John the Baptist, the one who baptized Jesus Christ, the one who prophesied about the Lord and saw his prophecy fulfilled, the special Angel (Messenger) who prepared the way for the coming of the Lord Jesus, is considered the holiest of all the Saints, after the Panagia, and is on a same level with Saint John the Theologian and Apostle. We know we need reinforcements and strength in the spiritual life, therefore we should seek Saint John’s prayers! A beloved professor of mine from seminary used to say that his grandmother, from the island of Aegina in Greece, where Saint Nektarios’ monastery and relics are located, had advised him that if you ever have a problem or issue, any difficulty, to run to the Forerunner of the Lord for help.
Theophany is also an opportunity, having undergone proper preparation, to partake of the Sacraments of Holy Communion, Confession, & the Holy Water (Agiasmos), all of which are great sources of strength for the spiritual life. January 5, the eve of Theophany, is a day of fasting as we prepare. Coming to church, participating in the Divine Liturgy, and preparing oneself properly to receive Holy Communion, even though no one is ever worthy and even though no one will ever be worthy, is essential. Preparing oneself properly entails fasting, prayer, repentance, love, forgiveness, the blessing of a spiritual father, and confession.
Theophany is also an opportunity too for the priests to bless our homes, not only during these days but in the coming weeks. Having a priest come to bless our homes has great significance. The priest has received the grace of Christ’s priesthood through ordination by a bishop who is a successor of the Apostles, and is thus integrally connected to the ancient Church, which is the Body of Christ. With respect and love for the whole world, we see our Orthodox Church as this Church which is the Body of Christ, the ancient Church, the Church of the Apostles, Fathers, and Saints. Blessing our homes therefore is marking them as belonging to the Lord. These special spaces where we spend so much of our lives, where we have our day-to-day chores, responsibilities, routines, and interactions, with the small and big decisions that can come with it, including the strengthening of marriages and the raising of children for many, we declare that this space of our homes belongs to the Lord. In blessing our homes, we say “Get behind me, Satan! You do not belong here!” It is affirming what Joshua, the leader of the Israelites, declared in the Old Testament, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).
All these opportunities! Take advantage, in a healthy sense, of the blessings!