A new home or a real estate property is a new blessing. In this context, “blessing” takes another meaning in the Philippines.
A newly-constructed house, a newly-bought car, or a newly-established business often gets blessed by a priest or pastor. Such a 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” on 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.
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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
The role of the priest or religious leader in a house blessing ceremony in the Philippines is central and essential. Here are some of the specific roles they play:
- Conducting the ceremony: The priest or religious leader leads the house blessing ceremony. They will typically perform a series of prayers, blessings, and rituals designed to invoke divine protection, blessings, and guidance for the house and its occupants.
- Blessing the house and its occupants: The priest or religious leader will offer blessings and prayers for the home, its rooms, and its occupants. They will also sprinkle holy water in different parts of the house to symbolize purification and protection.
- Reading of religious texts: The priest or religious leader may read from the Bible or other religious texts during the ceremony to reinforce the occasion’s spiritual significance and impart valuable lessons and teachings.
- Providing spiritual guidance: The priest or religious leader may offer advice, guidance, and support to the family during the ceremony or afterward, helping them to deepen their faith and to find ways to apply spiritual principles in their everyday lives.
- Symbolic gestures: The priest or religious leader may also perform symbolic gestures during the ceremony, such as lighting candles or incense, to invoke spiritual forces and create a sense of reverence and sacredness.
In the Philippines, decorating the house before a blessing is a vital preparation process. Here are some common ways to decorate the home before a blessing ceremony:
- Flowers: Fresh flowers are a popular decoration for house blessings in the Philippines. They symbolize beauty, freshness, and new beginnings. Common flowers used for house blessings include sampaguita, roses, and carnations.
- Candles: Candles are often used to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere for the house blessing. They also symbolize light, hope, and guidance. Placing candles in different parts of the house, such as the living room, dining area, and bedrooms, is common.
- Religious images: Many Filipino families have religious images, such as a statue of the Virgin Mary or a crucifix, in their homes. These can be decorated with fresh flowers or lit candles to add a touch of reverence and sacredness to the space.
- Red and gold: Red and gold are considered lucky colors in the Philippines and are often used for decorations during house blessings. Red symbolizes good luck and fortune, while gold represents wealth and prosperity. You can use red and gold ribbons, tablecloths, or other decorative items.
- Balloons and streamers: For a more festive atmosphere, some families decorate with balloons and streamers in different colors. This can create a fun and lively atmosphere for the house blessing.
A few traditional foods are considered appropriate or lucky to serve during a house blessing. Here are some examples:
- Rice: Rice is a staple food in the Philippines and is typically served during house blessing ceremonies. It symbolizes abundance, prosperity, and good fortune.
- Pancit: Pancit is a Filipino noodle dish often served during celebrations, including house blessings. It symbolizes long life and good health.
- Lechon: Lechon is a roasted whole pig often served during festive occasions, including house blessings. It symbolizes abundance, wealth, and good luck.
- Fruits: Fresh oranges, apples, and grapes are commonly served during house blessing ceremonies. They represent prosperity and good health.
- Kakanin: Kakanin refers to a variety of traditional Filipino rice cakes made from sticky rice and coconut milk. They are often served during house blessings and symbolize sweetness, unity, and harmony.
- Bibingka: Bibingka is a rice cake made with coconut milk and topped with salted eggs and cheese. It is often served during Christmas and other festive occasions, including house blessings. It symbolizes blessings and good fortune.
The role of a photographer or videographer during a house blessing in the Philippines is to capture the special moments and memories of the event. Here are some specific ways that a photographer or videographer can contribute to the house blessing:
- Documenting the ceremony: A photographer or videographer can capture the different moments of the ceremony, such as the blessing of the house, the lighting of candles, and the sprinkling of holy water. This creates a visual record of the event that the family can remember and cherish for years.
- Capturing family and guests: The photographer or videographer can also capture family members and guests as they participate in the ceremony or interact with one another. This creates a visual record of the people present at the event and can serve as a reminder of the love and support the family has in their new home.
- Highlighting the decorations: The photographer or videographer can also focus on the decorations and other details put into the house to prepare it for the blessing. This can include flowers, candles, and other decorative items to create a welcoming and sacred atmosphere.
- Creating a lasting memory: The photographs and videos created by the photographer or videographer can be compiled into a slideshow or album that the family can look back on and share with loved ones. This serves as a lasting memory of the special occasion and can be passed down to future generations.
The house blessing ceremony is relatively short for new house owners, but getting a priest to officiate 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 of the homeowner 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 a deacon starts the house blessing with a prayer:
In the name of the Father, 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 priest or deacon minister 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 guests 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 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, 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 donate to the parish, religious order, or mission, you are always free to do so.
Gifts from visitors to homeowners
There are many gifts a visitor can give on a house blessing that can help the new homeowners feel welcomed and settled into their new home.
- A potted plant or bouquet of flowers to add some life and color to their new space.
- A welcome mat for their front door.
- A personalized doormat with their family name or initials.
- A set of scented candles or essential oils to create a relaxing and inviting atmosphere.
- A gift card to a local home goods store or home improvement store to help them decorate or make improvements to their new home.
- A cookbook or kitchen gadget for the new kitchen.
- A framed piece of art or a decorative wall hanging adds some character to their walls.
- A personalized photo album or picture frame to showcase their new memories in their new home.
- A set of nice towels or linens for their bathroom or bedroom.
- A gift certificate for a local restaurant or spa to help them unwind after the move.
- 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 house’s pillars with its blood (padugo) is to ward off bad luck and evil spirits.
Placing coins at the house’s foundations during construction so that the investment into the house gets a handsome return.
Some Filipinos cleanse their surroundings by 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 home.
Other than home: car or shop blessing rites
House blessings differ from commercial business blessings in their purpose and intention.
A house blessing is usually a religious or spiritual ceremony that blesses a new house, makes it a happy and safe place for its new occupants, and protects it from negative energies. There may be prayers, incantations, holy water, or other religious symbols used in the blessing.
A commercial business blessing is usually done to bless a new business, bring success and prosperity, and protect it from negative energies. In addition to prayers, candles, incense, and crystals may be used, and positive energies or entities may be invoked.
Blessing a new car is a tradition that is common in many cultures and religions. It is often done to ask for protection and safety while driving and to express gratitude for the new car.
- Prayer: You can say a prayer of gratitude and ask for protection while driving. You can also ask for blessings of safety and protection for all who ride in the car.
- Holy Water: Sprinkling holy water on the car is a common way to bless it. You can obtain holy water from a religious leader or church.
- Smudging: Smudging involves burning sage or other herbs to cleanse and purify the car of negative energies.
- Chanting: Chanting mantras or sacred phrases is another way to bless a car. You can choose a mantra or phrase that has personal significance or is meaningful to your spiritual beliefs.
- Visualization: Visualize the car surrounded by a protective light or energy. Imagine yourself and your loved ones safe and protected while driving.
We all dream of owning our dream house. Once we achieve this goal, part of getting it right at the beginning includes a rite of blessing as a way of gratitude for such blessing and protection from any form of misfortune or bad luck.