|HOLY WATER |
Holy water, is "water blessed by the priest with solemn prayer, to beg God's blessing on those who use it, and protection from the powers of darkness."
Near the door, as you walk into a Catholic church you will find the holy water font; it's usually made of stone and contains water that has been blessed by the priest to make it holy. This water, now blessed, is both protective and spiritually cleansing. The holy water is also used to baptise people.
They always include a prayer, often accompanied by a specific sign, such as the laying on of hands, the sign of the cross, or / and the sprinkling of holy water.
The blessed water helps to protect us from bad or evil influences and gives us the ability or power to more easily choose to do good things rather than bad.A Symbol of Interior Cleansing
It helps to prepare ourself spiritually to meet with someone very special. That someone special is God who is present in the Church.
Water is the natural element for cleansing, and hence its use was common in almost every ancient faith, to denote interior purification. Among the Greeks and Romans the sprinkling of water, or "lustration," was an important feature of religious ceremonies. Cities were purified by its use, in solemn processions. Fields were prepared for planting by being blessed with water. Armies setting out for war were put under the protection by being sprinkled in a similar manner. The church have always attached great importance to ceremonial purification by means of water.The Kinds of Holy Water
Often a priest is asked: "Is Easter water the same as the other holy water?" The answer is that it has the same uses, but is blessed in a different manner... The first kind is baptismal water, which is blessed on Holy Saturday, and may also be blessed [before any baptism by a priest or deacon]. This water receives a special and solemn blessing... It is used... for the administration of the sacrament of Baptism. ... However, the Sacrament is valid if merely ordinary water is used, and in "private Baptism" the latter is lawful as well as valid.
The most common kind is the holy water which is blessed by the priest for the sprinkling of the people before Mass, and is placed at the doors of the church. This also may be taken home and used for the blessing of persons and things.
Thus the only varieties of holy water that directly concern the faithful are the water blessed on Holy Saturday for them, and that obtainable at any time at the church. They have the same value and the same uses, although the formula of blessing is different.
The Blessing of Holy Water
By the power of the Holy Spirit give to this water the grace of your Son, so that in the sacrament of baptism all those whom you have created in your likeness may be cleansed from sin and rise to a new birth of innocence by water and the Holy Spirit.
We ask you, Father, with your Son to send the Holy Spirit upon the waters of this font. May all who are buried with Christ in the death of baptism rise also with him to newness of life.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Meaning of the Salt
(The use of salt is optional in today's liturgy and blessing.)
Why meaning of salt. Just as water is used for cleansing and for quenching fire, so salt is used to preserve from decay. Therefore the Church combines them in this sacramental, to express the various reasons why it is used -- to help to wash away the stains of sin, to quench the fire of our passions. Moreover, salt is regarded as a symbol of wisdom. Our Lord called His Apostles "the salt of the earth," because by them the knowledge of the Gospel was to be spread over the world. The custom of using salt is a very ancient one.
How We Should Use Holy Water
Holy Water is used in the blessing of nearly everything which the Church wishes to sanctify. Holy water should be used frequently. [It is still the catholic custom to make the sign of the cross with holy water when we enter the church, and he must say the words: "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost."
Stand at the door of any church and watch the people who enter. Do many of them gain the indulgence? They dip their fingers into the water, make a mysterious motion in the air, and pass along. There is no recollection,... no recognizable sign of the cross -- merely an action performed through habit and in a very slovenly manner.
[ It would seem beneficial if people would slowly make the sign of the cross and thoughtfully say the words so that their entrance into the church is in God's name and what they do in the church will be under the Trinity's authority and done with God's help. ]