Greek Orthodox Services to Bless the Atlantic Ocean

NORTH WILDWOOD – Father Steven J. Vlahos, pastor of the St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in North Wildwood has announced that the sacred observances commemorating and celebrating the Epiphany/Theophany, the major feast day that recalls the baptism of Jesus Christ in the River Jordan by John the Baptist will be observed at sacred worship services on Jan. 3, 2010. The rituals are open to the public.

The service schedule includes the Orthros Service at 9:00 A.M., the Divine Liturgy, 10:00 A.M., Holy Communion, 11:00 A.M., the Blessing of the Water Service, 11:15 A.M. and the blessing of the Atlantic Ocean at 12:00 noon.

This ancient ritual, one of the oldest Christian Church celebrations commemorates and remembers the baptism of Jesus. This sacred observance also recalls the start of the mission and ministry of Jesus to save creation from the power of evil and sin and to reconcile and restore human beings and all nature and creation with God.

The sacred observances will be held at the St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, 321 St. Demetrios Street, North Wildwood. The church is located on the Hereford Inlet in the Angelsea section of North Wildwood. The parish founded in 1968 is the only Orthodox Church serving Cape May County.

The central focus and most characteristic feature of the Orthodox Christian celebration of Epiphany/Theophany is the sanctification of water by the invocation of the Holy Spirit. Orthodox Christians abstain from meat and dairy products prior to this feast day in order to be spiritually reborn and renewed through the drinking and sprinkling of the consecrated water. The priest also distributes bottles of holy water for the blessing of homes and businesses and for preservation of holy water at home sanctuaries.

The culmination of the feast day ritual is the blessing of the Atlantic Ocean. This ritual includes special prayers, the sprinkling of the ocean with Holy Water and the tossing of a wooden cross. In commemoration of the deceased members of the parish and the victims of the September 11, 2001 bombings in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania a floral wreath is placed in the ocean.

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