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Why Holy Water?
Catholic Exchange ^ | May 22, 2014 | FR. WILLIAM SAUNDERS

Posted on 05/23/2014 4:49:59 AM PDT by NYer

Q: A Protestant friend came with me to Mass last Sunday and asked about the Holy Water fonts and why we make the sign of the cross with it when we enter and leave the Church. What answer would you give to her?

Traditionally, we have placed fonts of holy water near the entrances of our churches. This placement and usage corresponds actually to Old Testament Jewish practices of purification: The Book of Leviticus prescribed various ritual purifications using water to remove the “uncleanness” associated, for instance, with coming into contact with a dead body, menstruation, childbirth, or leprosy (cf. Lv 12-15). A person also purified himself with water before entering the Temple precincts, offering prayer and sacrifice, and eating. For this reason, in the Courtyard of the Priests (the area before the actual Temple building) was the Laver, an immense bronze basin filled with water. Here the priests purified their hands and feet before offering sacrifices at the nearby altar, bathed before entering the Temple itself, and also drew water for other purifications prescribed in Jewish rituals. Interestingly, the Qumran community, located near the Dead Sea and responsible for producing the Dead Sea scrolls, also had purification pools for the cleansing not only of external “uncleanness” but also of sin.

We too have fonts filled with holy water for blessings for three reasons: as a sign of repentance of sin, for protection from evil, and as a reminder of our Baptism. The repentance of sin symbolized in the washing with water is reflected in Psalm 50: “Have mercy on me, O God, in your goodness; in the greatness of your compassion wipe out my offense. Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me. Cleanse me of sin with hyssop that I may be purified; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (3-4, 9). (Hyssop is a small bush used for sprinkling water). Remember too how St. John the Baptizer called all to conversion and used a ritual washing of water to signify the repentance of sin and purification.

These actions have been incorporated into our own Mass. In the Penitential Rite, one of the options is the Asperges, which includes the Rite of Blessing and Sprinkling with holy water. As the priest passes through the congregation sprinkling them with the holy water, they customarily chant the Asperges Me, which is based on Psalm 50. In all these actions, each person again makes an act of repentance of sin.

Second, the holy water protects us against evil. In the prayer of blessing of water in the Sacramentary, we read: “Lord, God Almighty, creator of all life, of body and soul, we ask you to bless this water: as we use it in faith forgive our sins and save us from all illness and the power of evil. Lord, in your mercy give us living water, always springing up as a fountain of salvation; free us, body and soul, from every danger, and admit us to your presence in purity of heart.”

Finally, holy water reminds us of our Baptism, when by the invocation of the Holy Trinity and the pouring of holy water, we were set free from original sin and all sin, infused with sanctifying grace, incorporated into the Church, and given the title Son or Daughter of God. In making the sign of the cross with the holy water, we are mindful that we are called to renew those baptismal promises of rejecting Satan, all His works, and all his empty promises, and to profess our credal faith. Once again, we repent of sin, so that we can offer our prayers and worship to God with pure and contrite hearts. Just as water and blood flowed from the Sacred Heart of our Lord as He hung upon the cross — signifying the great sacraments of baptism and holy Eucharist — the taking of holy water and making the sign of the cross remind us of our baptism in preparation for the reception of the holy Eucharist.

Never should we doubt the power of this great sacramental. St. Teresa of Avila in her autobiography, The Book of Her Life, wrote of the power of holy water: “I was once in an oratory, and [the devil] appeared to me in an abominable form at my left side. Because he spoke to me, I looked particularly at his mouth — which was most frightening. It seemed that a great flame, all bright without shadow, came forth from his body. He told me in a terrifying way that I had really freed myself from his hands but that he would catch me with them again. I was struck with great fear and blessed myself as best I could; he disappeared, but returned right away. This happened to me twice. I didn’t know what to do. There was some holy water there, and I threw it in that direction; he never returned again. … I often experience that there is nothing the devils flee from more — without returning — than holy water” (Chapter 31). Upon the testimony of such a great saint, we see the importance not only of pausing to bless ourselves with holy water as we enter and leave church but also of having holy water available in our homes.


TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Worship
KEYWORDS:
Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

1 posted on 05/23/2014 4:49:59 AM PDT by NYer
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To: Tax-chick; GregB; Berlin_Freeper; SumProVita; narses; bboop; SevenofNine; Ronaldus Magnus; tiki; ...

Ping!


2 posted on 05/23/2014 4:50:21 AM PDT by NYer ("You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears." James 4:14)
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To: NYer

If a fly lands in Holy water, is the water contaminated or is the fly sanctified?


3 posted on 05/23/2014 5:01:45 AM PDT by MNDude
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To: NYer

I like Father Saunders. His RCIA classes are online.


4 posted on 05/23/2014 5:07:31 AM PDT by timeflies
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To: MNDude

Depends on what faith the fly is


5 posted on 05/23/2014 5:14:26 AM PDT by redhawk.44mag
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To: MNDude

Depends on what faith the fly is


6 posted on 05/23/2014 5:14:26 AM PDT by redhawk.44mag
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To: MNDude
If a fly lands in Holy water, is the water contaminated or is the fly sanctified?

My guess would be neither. The poor fly doesn't defile nor does it get blessed. Being a fly it's incapable of both.

7 posted on 05/23/2014 5:16:38 AM PDT by cloudmountain
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To: NYer

I have never understood the idea of blessing ourselves with Holy Water on exiting the Church after receiving the Eucharist. sure we can all use an extra blessing, but you have just received the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord.


8 posted on 05/23/2014 5:23:56 AM PDT by verga (Conservative, leaning libertatrian)
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To: MNDude

Kind of the same argument of putting our kids in public schools in order to “shine the light”.

However, if you put on a white glove and stick your hand in a mud puddle - the puddle doesn’t get cleaner...

As for the Why Holy Water question - you have to have something to put in your squirt guns to fight vampires, don’t you?


9 posted on 05/23/2014 5:26:10 AM PDT by MrB (The difference between a Humanist and a Satanist - the latter admits whom he's working for)
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To: NYer
Hey! We're still in the Sundays following Easter:

Vidi Aquam
I saw water coming forth from the temple
on the right side, alleluia:
and all those to whom this water came
were saved, and shall say, alleluia, alleluia.

10 posted on 05/23/2014 5:33:37 AM PDT by Oratam
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To: NYer
I often experience that there is nothing the devils flee from more — without returning — than holy water

Words fail me ...

Well, no they don't ...

Jude 10 But these men revile the things which they do not understand;

11 posted on 05/23/2014 5:41:32 AM PDT by dartuser
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To: Oratam

The Old Testament refers to Holy Water as well ... Numbers 5:17 - “And he shall take holy water in an earthern vessel...”

Holy water has been around since Moses.


12 posted on 05/23/2014 5:55:56 AM PDT by stonehouse01
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To: NYer

The Protestant is likely to shoot back that by that logic, Catholics should not be eating pork either.


13 posted on 05/23/2014 6:01:15 AM PDT by Buckeye McFrog
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To: All
A Protestant friend came with me to Mass last Sunday and asked about the Holy Water fonts and why we make the sign of the cross with it when we enter and leave the Church. What answer would you give to her?

Because Holy Jell-O can leave a stain.

14 posted on 05/23/2014 6:03:04 AM PDT by Alex Murphy ("the defacto Leader of the FR Calvinist Protestant Brigades")
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To: NYer

If ... the basis for the (explanation for the) use of holy water and founts is the OT practice(s) of cleansing, why then would it be explained as, “... a sign of repentance of sin, for protection from evil, and as a reminder of our Baptism.”,.. none of which have anything to do with cleansing ?


15 posted on 05/23/2014 6:04:02 AM PDT by knarf (I say things that are true .. I have no proof .. but they're true.)
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To: NYer
This man, Father Vincent Lampert, could tell you the value of holy water:

I highly recommend everyone watch this documentary about his introduction to exorcisms from the show Paranormal Witness. Close to the damned creepiest thing I have ever watched.
Father Vincent Lampert on Paranormal Witness Episode - The Exorcist
16 posted on 05/23/2014 6:11:10 AM PDT by Phillyred
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To: verga
Have you ever considered the prayer potential in the Sign of the Cross? Calling on the entire Trinity? One of the greatest prayers I can think of, and so simple.

The Biblical Roots of the Sign of the Cross
St. Francis de Sales: How to make the Sign of the Cross [Ecumenical]
The Sign of the Cross [Catholic and Orthodox Caucus]
The Sign Of The Cross [Catholic Caucus]
Sign of the Cross, Sign of All Time (User's Guide to Sunday)
Cross, Sign Of
The Sign of the Cross
In the Name of the Father . . .[The Sign of the Cross]
The Sign of the Cross
The sign of the cross capable of killing microbes

17 posted on 05/23/2014 6:26:32 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Phillyred
Why Holy Water?
Being Catholic: Sacred Things, [Holy] Water
18 posted on 05/23/2014 6:33:17 AM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: NYer

I got some great spiritual use out of a holy water bottle, even if it didn’t have holy water in it.

A group of goth kids had fallen under the sway of an older teen with aspersions of being a Satanist and a sort-of vampire wannabee. And he kept goading them to do bad things to themselves and others, which I found to be annoying and distasteful.

At one point, I decided to put a kink in his hose, so I showed his followers the small plastic bottle labeled “Holy Water” and gave a background that it had been blessed by a strong young Priest, and how it was good at dispelling evil.

Well, the blowhard took this as a challenge, so said that the evil of his Satanic lord was stronger than holy water, and yada yada. Basically inviting me to splash him with it.

So I did.

He even acted like it hurt for a second or two before boldly showing his followers that he was undamaged, and laughing.

And then the capsicum oil kicked in.

As an old country fellow once observed, “It smorts!”

Well, after about 10 seconds of agony, he ran off into the nigh, screaming, leaving his followers wondering what the heck they just saw.

Hopefully they might have learned a lesson about good v. evil. For his part, I bet he got a *devilish* rash.


19 posted on 05/23/2014 9:52:51 AM PDT by yefragetuwrabrumuy ("Don't compare me to the almighty, compare me to the alternative." -Obama, 09-24-11)
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To: yefragetuwrabrumuy

Great story!


20 posted on 05/23/2014 5:11:46 PM PDT by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: NYer

-— I often experience that there is nothing the devils flee from more — without returning — than holy water” -—

Mother Angelica told a story of a nun who was working at a hospital. She habitually sprinkled patients’ food with holy water. One particularly obnoxious patient reacted to it like it was Kryptonite.


21 posted on 05/23/2014 5:22:07 PM PDT by St_Thomas_Aquinas ( Isaiah 22:22, Matthew 16:19, Revelation 3:7)
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To: NYer
Remember too how St. John the Baptizer called all to conversion and used a ritual washing of water to signify the repentance of sin and purification.

That ritual washing with water that is referred to is John's baptism...And it was symbolic as the article states...

22 posted on 05/23/2014 5:48:23 PM PDT by Iscool
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To: verga
I have never understood the idea of blessing ourselves with Holy Water on exiting the Church after receiving the Eucharist. sure we can all use an extra blessing, but you have just received the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Our Lord.

It's called bondage...You need the water but you can't get it except from a Catholic...

23 posted on 05/23/2014 5:51:20 PM PDT by Iscool
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To: NYer

When I was in 5th grade the Priest came back from Lourdes with the Holy Water from it. He blessed the whole class with it. The droplets that hit my skin made it new skin. Only where it hit. I will never forget it. Very profound.


24 posted on 05/23/2014 6:44:42 PM PDT by johngrace (I am a 1 John 4! Christian- declared at every Sunday Mass , Divine Mercy and Rosary prayers!)
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To: Iscool

Saying stupid things does not make you look more intelligent neither does saying cruel things make you a Christian. I will pray for you and the rest of the lost sheep.


25 posted on 05/23/2014 6:47:06 PM PDT by verga (Conservative, leaning libertatrian)
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To: stonehouse01

You’ll get no argument from me.


26 posted on 05/23/2014 9:27:02 PM PDT by Oratam
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To: johngrace

What an amazing story! Did the experience encourage you to visit Lourdes?


27 posted on 05/24/2014 5:42:55 AM PDT by NYer ("You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears." James 4:14)
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To: NYer

Well no but I believe from afar. Peace In Christ.


28 posted on 05/24/2014 9:32:53 PM PDT by johngrace (I am a 1 John 4! Christian- declared at every Sunday Mass , Divine Mercy and Rosary prayers!)
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