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by Fr. Hector Firoglanis

When I was in eighth grade, I wrestled at the 105 pound weight class for my school’s team. One of my friends on the team was in ninth grade and he wrestled the 189 pound weight class. As the last two undefeated wrestlers on the team over half way through the season, there were two things we shared in common:

  • We were both Orthodox Christians — two of several Greeks on the Manheim Township Wrestling teams in the early 1990’s.
  • We shared a custom of drinking Holy Water (Agiasmo) — which we kept in little glass bottles in our lockers — after each weigh-in.

Was the Holy Water responsible for our undefeated records? Of course not, even though more and more of our teammates began to inquire about our “special water” as the year went on. The Holy Water, however, did give us spiritual strength and was a tangible reminder that God was with us before, during, and after our matches — which was very comforting and calming. This assurance of God’s presence was helpful during the victories, and even more beneficial when the losses eventually came as well.

Holy Water (as is the case with all the sacraments of the Church) is not magic. It is a visible means (in this case, water) through which God transmits to us His invisible Grace. God does not enter our lives in order to make our lives easier; rather, He makes Himself available to give us the strength and Grace to overcome the hardships and challenges of life.

There is nothing more important than to teach a young person that God is with us no matter what — during the good times and the bad, during the victories and the losses, in life and in death. There is no need to shield our children from hardship and failure. We simply need to teach them and remind them that God is with us when we experience the inevitable hardships and failures of life.

The Church gives us many tools to help with this: daily prayer, fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays, wear- ing a cross around our neck, wearing a prayer rope around our wrist, anointing ourselves with holy oil and myrrh, keeping icons in our physical environment and in our virtual environment (icon wallpaper on our phones and computers), and drinking holy water before exams, competitions, and other major life events. All of these tools remind us that God is always with us during every moment of life.

This year you will have the opportunity to pick up bottles of holy water for yourselves and your children during and after the Epiphany services. You will also have the opportunity to sign up for a house blessing and receive Holy Water for your family members. Use this as an opportunity to teach your children how to use the Holy Water as a source of spiritual strength — and as a reminder that God is with us at all times and in every part of our lives.

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Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church
64 Hershey Avenue
Lancaster, PA 17603

Phone: (717) 394-1735
Fax: (717) 394-0991


Weekday Office Hours: 8AM-4PM

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