I have been planning for some time to post some pictures of our house blessing a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, the only person who thought to took pictures had his camera on video. So, while I have a very nice recording of the ceremony, I do not have any stills. (Perhaps if I were more technologically astute, I could clip out some stills from the video, but I don't know how to do that if indeed it is possible.)
Lack of pictures aside, the blessing was beautiful. Padre (Fr.) Julio, about whom I have blogged from time to time, came up from San Diego, where he is currently assigned, and scooped up his brother, P. Mario, in Stockton and spent the day wihttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifth Donnie and me. We had lunch at a local restaurant that is a favorite of Padre's, then the blessing, and then P. Julio came to the catechism class I taught and talked to the kids (high school sophomores) about social justice, a particularly compelling topic for him since he founded a school and self-sustaining farm for children in a rural and impoverished area of Colombia (see his website, which Donnie and I designed, Por Amor a Los Ninos de Colombia -- there is a Spanish and an English version).
P. Julio tends to be very imaginative, and the way in which he conducted the blessing was very much in keeping with this tradition. He and P. Mario took turns reading Scripture and homilizing in English and Spanish. We also sang in English and Spanish -- most of the people in my community know both languages, and we were divided pretty much 50/50 among those whose first language was English and those whose first language was Spanish. Padre then blessed the house and the people at the blessing with holy water I had brought back from Jesus's baptismal site in the Jordan River, using a deep red rose that a friend brought for the housewarming/blessing.
About three dozen people filled our house, and I was glad that we had lots of open space so that everyone would fit. After the sprinkling of one and all, P. Julio asked each person to talk about our family, why they came to the blessing, what they wished for us, etc., etc. It was very touching. Then he asked me to say something about each there, which was not difficult, in spite of quite a variety among those who came -- neighbors, co-workers, family, parish members.
Afterward, we enjoyed a pot luck with an international flavor. We had chairs and tables set up outside, hoping the weather would cooperate. It did. The sun streamed down lightly all afternoon. One could tell that people were enjoying themselves and not just saying that to be polite.
The best part of our house blessing, at least for me, is that Padre Julio really enjoyed doing it. And he got a chance to see his brother, which, I understand, does not happen often. As far as my family is concerned, Padre Julio is a member of the clan of Mahlou, and when the clan gathers, there is much laughter and warmth. I had wondered whether it would be worth the effort to pull everyone together for such a brief event.
PS. We were able to find some stills among the video. So, below are pictures of the event:
(1) View from the window
(2) Padre Julio steps away from the blessing circle to gather holy water onto a rose.
(3) Padre Julio begins blessing the house with a rose.
(4) Padre Julio and Padre Mario in conversation after the blessing with Beth and a friend.
(5) Padre Julio in conversation with a fellow Colombian, the adopted daughter of one of our friends.
(7) People eating inside.
(8) People eating outside.
(9) Donnie and one of our friends picking lemons afterward.