Be sure to pick up a bottle of Holy Water for your home, they are located in church by the Baptismal Font.
The use of holy water can be a great blessing to our homes and add to our “domestic church.” This is all the more true now as holy water fonts remain empty in our churches due to concerns with COVID-19.
What is Holy Water?
The use of holy water is a sacred outward sign by which God brings us his grace and life.
Much like a rosary, religious statue, sign of the cross, etc., holy water is considered a sacramental, meaning it “prepare[s] us to receive grace and dispose[s] us to cooperate with it” (CCC 1670). Sacramentals can be words, objects, or actions; they effect grace through the prayer and intercession of the whole Church. A sacramental is not the same as a sacrament, such as Holy Eucharist, Reconciliation, etc., which were instituted by Christ and produce their effects. That is to say, sacramentals do not cause grace of themselves, as do sacraments, but rather are sacred outward signs by which God brings us his grace and life. They can be spiritually beneficial for us and help us to receive the chief effects in the sacraments. The use of holy water, then, is linked to our baptism, wherein we were cleansed of all original (or actual) sin and made members of Christ and his Church.
How to use Holy Water
Most of us are already familiar with the signing of oneself with holy water when we enter or leave a Catholic church. In addition, we would do well to keep and make use of holy water in our homes. Bless yourselves and your family members often. A common practice is to bless oneself each time we leave and enter our home. Bless the various rooms in your house. Bless your automobile. Bless other personal belongings. Parents may even smudge holy water on their children, especially as part of a bedtime ritual.
Making the sign of the cross with holy water is itself a prayer and asks the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to surround us with grace and protection. Since water is symbolic of cleansing and purification, as we so often see in Scripture, we ask God to cleanse us, too, of our impurities and iniquities. This verse from Psalm 51 can be a great prayer to recite with our blessing and, with time, can be easily memorized: “Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness. In your compassion blot out my offense. O wash me more and more from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin.”
Every time we use holy water to bless ourselves, we are reminded of our rebirth into divine life at our Baptism.
Efficacy of Holy Water
Both spiritual and physical effects may be obtained through the use of holy water. The largest spiritual effect is protection against the evil spirit. Yes, holy water has real effect against the Enemy because anytime we are connecting ourselves to the sacraments, and thereby uniting ourselves to God, the Enemy loses his power over us.
Holy water is spiritually beneficial for us, too, insofar as it helps us to receive the chief effects in the sacraments. Holy water points us to the sacraments, as do all sacramentals, and the sacraments unite us to God. Therefore, anytime we use holy water we are reminded of our birth into the Church at Baptism, as well as our dying with Christ to new life.
Keep in mind, since holy water is a sacramental, and has therefore been blessed, we should never dispose of it in the sink or use it improperly. Rather, if necessary, dispose of it in the ground. Holy water never loses its spiritual power.
May your use of holy water always remind you of your identity as a beloved son or daughter of the Father, which you received first at your baptism, and help further your mission to share the Gospel of Christ.
~ by Tyler Arens, our Seminarian Intern