House Blessing in the Philippines: Thanksgiving for a New Home
A new property is a new blessing. In this context, the word “blessing” takes another meaning in the Philippines.
A newly-constructed house, newly-bought car, or a newly-established business often gets blessed by a priest or pastor. Such kind of ritual is more than just a routine step into someone’s ownership of something; it is seen as a way to lead its auspicious beginning.
With the majority of the Philippine population identified as Roman Catholic, it is not seen as unusual to have a car “baptized” in church grounds or a new stall at a shopping mall being sprinkled with holy water.
Having your house blessed, imbues love, harmony, health, happiness, and prosperity in a dwelling that’s also considered an extension of your body and soul. But more than just focusing on a house as the center of attention, a house blessing is also an opportunity for a community to gather to mark a joyful moment to thank God, from whom all blessings come, for the new home.
A home is considered a domestic church where the family prays together, and a place where parents teach their children the Godly values they’ll carry with them for life. Having a ritual of thanksgiving is then only fitting.
What to prepare for a house blessing in the Philippines
A standard list of items to prepare during a house blessing consist of the following:
- Officiating priest or religious minister
For new house owners, the blessing ceremony itself is relatively short, but the preparation of getting a priest officiating their house blessing might require more time. Priest availability, auspicious date selection, and other factors are always in play. But the essential part of this all is the ceremony itself. And no house blessing takes place unless those who live there are present in the service.
Friends and other faithful who are given candles or prepare songs may join the ceremony.
When the family members and their relatives and friends have gathered in a convenient place, the priest or deacon says”
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
All make the Sign of the Cross and reply:
The priest or deacon greets those present in the following or other suitable words, taken mainly from sacred Scripture.
Peace be with this house and with all who live here.
All make the following or some other suitable reply:
And with your spirit.
A lay minister uses the following greeting:
May the God whom we glorify with one heart and voice enable us, through the Spirit, to live in harmony as followers of Christ Jesus, now and forever.
In the following or similar words, the minister prepares those present for the blessing.
When Christ took flesh through the Blessed Virgin Mary, he made his home with us. Let us now pray that he will enter this home and bless it with his presence. May he always be here with you, share in your joys, comfort you in your sorrows. Inspired by his teachings and example, seek to make your new home before all else a dwelling place of love, diffusing far and wide the goodness of Christ.
Reading of the Word of God
A reader, another person present, or the minister reads a text of sacred Scripture.
Listen to the words of the holy gospel according to Luke: 10:5-9
Peace to this house.
The Lord said to the seventy-two: “Into whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this household.’ If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another. Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, cure the sick in it, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God is at hand for you.'”
- Lord, do not pass your servant by. Genesis 18:1-10a
- Jesus went straight to Simon’s house. Mark 1:29-30
- Martha welcomed Jesus into her house. Luke 10:38-42
- Today salvation has come to this house. Luke 19:1-9
- Stay with us. Luke 24:28-32
As circumstances suggest, the following responsorial psalm or some other suitable song may be sung or said.
R. Happy are those who fear the Lord.
Happy the man who fears the Lord,
who greatly delights in his commands.
His posterity shall be mighty upon the earth;
the upright generation shall be blessed. R.
Wealth and riches shall be in his house;
his generosity shall endure forever.
He dawns through the darkness,
a light for the upright;
He is gracious and merciful, and just. R.
Well for the man who is gracious and lends,
who conducts his affairs with justice;
He shall never be moved;
The just man shall be in everlasting remembrance. R.
An evil report he shall not fear;
his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.
His heart is steadfast; he shall not fear
till he looks down upon his foes. R.
Lavishly he gives to the poor;
his generosity shall endure forever;
His horn shall be exalted in glory. R.
Alternative Responsorial Psalms:
- Psalm 127: 1. 2. 3-4. 5 (R. The Lord will build a house for us.)
- Psalm 128: 1-2. 3. 4-6a (R. See how the Lord blesses those who fear him).
As circumstances suggest, the minister may give those present a brief explanation of the biblical text, so that they may understand through faith the meaning of the celebration.
The petitions are then said. The minister introduces them, and an assisting minister or someone else announces the intentions. From the following intentions, those best suited to the circumstances may be used or adapted, or other purposes that apply to the particular circumstances may be composed.
The minister says:
The Son of God, Lord of heaven and earth, made his home among us. With thankfulness and gladness let us call upon him, saying:
R. Stay with us, Lord.
R. Lord, hear our prayer.
Lord Jesus Christ, by your life with Mary and Joseph, you sanctified the life of the home; dwell with us in our house, so that we may have you as our guest and honor you as our Head. (For this we pray:) R.
In you, every dwelling grows into a holy temple; grant that those who live in this house may be built up together into the dwelling place of God in the Holy Spirit. (For this we pray:) R.
You taught your followers to build their houses upon solid rock, grant that the members of this family may hold fast to your teachings, and, free of all discord, serve you with their whole heart. (For this we pray:) R.
You had no place to lay your head, but in uncomplaining poverty, you accepted the hospitality of your friends; grant that through our help, people who are homeless may obtain decent housing. (For this we pray:) R.
Prayer of Blessing
A minister who is a priest or deacon says the prayer of blessing with hands outstretched; a lay minister says the prayer with the hands joined.
be close to your servants
who move into this home (today)
and ask for your blessing.
Be their shelter when they are at home,
their companion when they are away,
and they’re welcome guest when they return.
And at last, receive them
into the dwelling place you have prepared for them
in your Father’s house,
where you live forever and ever. R. Amen.
After the prayer of blessing, the minister sprinkles those present and the new home with holy water and, as circumstances suggest, during the sprinkling may say:
Let this water call to mind our baptism into Christ, who has redeemed us by his death and resurrection.
The minister concludes the rite by saying:
May the peace of Christ rule in our hearts |, and may the word of Christ in all its richness dwell in us, | so that whatever we do in word and work, | we will do in the name of the Lord.
It is preferable to end the celebration with a suitable song.
Donations and offerings to priests
Filipino families are often generous and often insist on giving gifts and donations to priests or parishes who officiate the house blessings.
A small donation is requested to have a special Mass said for a particular intention, typically around P500 to P1,000 but it’s not unusual for families to give a bigger donation amount.
No priest is going to get rich saying Mass but Our Lord does tell us in the Scriptures that, “a worker is worth his wage.” (Luke 10:7)
If you choose to make a donation to the parish, religious order, or mission you are always free to do so.
Other Filipino house construction beliefs
There are superstitious beliefs practiced before Christianity was introduced in the Philippines that continue to be performed.
The practice of sacrificing a rooster or a hen and sprinkling the pillars of the house with its blood (padugo) is to ward off bad luck and evil spirits.
Placing coins at the foundations of the house during construction so that the investment poured into the house gets a handsome return.
Some Filipinos cleanse their surroundings by performing fumigation (pausok in local dialect). The rite uses medicinal herbs or incense by burning it in a vessel and carried around the house. The act is believed to drive away unwanted entities from the home.