Where Does Holy Water Come From?

The Question: Where does this so-called 'holy water come from? Is it borne on eagles' wings or does a special cloud deliver it to their top dog? Nope, out of the same faucet that people get their bath water from.

The Response: Right! Ordinary, run-of-the-mill holy water is straight out of the tap – almost. Mama Church certainly is not going to allow any of the millions of souls bound in chains of false hope to get their hands on this sacramental without getting her shamans, or priests, involved in the process. Were the Catholic laity able to do such a thing, a few of them might be tempted to seek the Lord without intervening "helpers."

That stuff called "holy water" indeed is ordinary faucet water which, of course, is more than just water. The water we drink and bathe in has been drawn from artesian wells, rivers, reservoirs, rain barrels or whatever. In its natural condition it is host to a multitude of substances, living creatures, remains of once-living creatures and all manner of chemical compounds. The water that most folks living in towns or cities receive in their homes has been through a cleansing system to rid it of, or neutralize, the potential hazards to health from those contaminants. Part of the process involves introducing chlorine and, in some areas, fluorides. It may be potable when drawn from the faucet, but in the process of blessing it, the Catholic shaman adds a soupçon of salt.

Holy water is blessed on the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6) and any time thereafter that holy water is needed. First, the salt to be added to the water is exorcized and blessed. Then the water itself is blessed - Water, Fish Eaters

The salt is added as a preservative. Can't have our holy water going sour, now, can we? But if it does, despite the presence of demon-free exorcised salt, there must be some special way to dispose of it in a way appropriate to its sacramental status. There is. It is to be disposed of in the same way that all sacramentals are - by returning it to the earth. This involves digging a hole and pouring the "spoiled" holy water into the earth. Who knows? Might be a great way to grow some prize-winning azaleas.

Aside from its use as a water preservative, does the added salt serve any ritualistic, symbolic or pagan purpose in the Catholic Church? Of course it does:

Salt is now used sacramentally in two main ways in the Church.

First, in Baptisms: like the baptismal waters, salt is blessed and exorcised. Then it is put on the tongue of the catechumen during the Baptismal Rite.

Second, for use in the preparation of Holy Water and for the use of the faithful: regular salt is exorcised and blessed and is used in the preparation of Holy Water. It is also given to the faithful for their everyday use -- e.g., for use in cooking; for sprinkling around rooms, doorways and yards, to protect against evil, etc.

Because of its exorcism and blessing, it is a powerful sacramental in keeping away demons. . . .

Note: salt -- usually not blessed -- is also used to purify the priest's fingers after Unction. - Salt, Fish Eaters

Holy water comes in a variety of versions - flavors? Some are:

Easter water, or baptismal water, is the water that is blessed on Holy Saturday (the day before Easter) and is used to baptize Catechumens. This water receives a more solemn sort of blessing than "regular holy water": the Easter Candle is dipped into it three times, and the priest blows his breath over it thrice, recalling the Spirit over the waters at Creation, and the Spirit causing the waters of Noe's flood to subside, and how the Spirit appeared as a dove over the waters at Christ's Baptism. . . .

Gregorian Water: And finally (on the liturgical level), there is "Gregorian Water" -- holy water mixed with wine, salt, and ashes -- which is used in the consecration of churches, altars and altar stones.

Non-Liturgical "Holy Water:" There are also waters derived from holy wells and from places associated with Saintly apparitions, said waters having special curative properties by the grace of God. The most famous of these sites is Lourdes, where Our Lady appeared to the young girl who was to become known as St. Bernadette and instructed her to dig. St. Bernadette did so, with her hands, and revealed a spring whose waters have cured - Ibid.

Epiphany Water is my favorite brand of holy water. It is blessed on a special day - the Twelth Day of Christmas, which is the day we have been led to believe the "three" wise men delivered their gifts to infant Jesus. And the "special" water is not the only thing blessed at the Mass of the Epiphany. Also blessed are:

. . .gold, frankincense, myrrh, Epiphany Water, and, after Communion, a blessing of chalk. Bring small special items of gold to have with you during the Mass, and they will be blessed if they are exposed as you sit in your pew with them (wedding rings, rosaries, an heirloom piece of gold jewelry, for example).

When Mass is over, you will take some of the blessed chalk, frankincense, myrrh, and Epiphany Water home with you, so it's good to bring a container to transport Holy Water and one to put some grains of incense and a piece of chalk into. (Note: if you can, take and keep 5 pieces of blessed incense for your Paschal Candle this Easter).

When you get home, sprinkle some Epiphany water (otherwise and afterwards used as regular Holy Water) in the rooms of your house to protect it and bring blessings. This Holy Water recalls the waters of the Jordan, and is a visible reminder of Christ's Divinity, of Jesus's revealing Himself as God at His Baptism, when were heard the words from the Father: "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased." . . . - Feast of the Epiphany, Fish Eaters

Catholic faithful are advised to sprinkle Epiphany Water in the rooms of their homes. Why? To protect themseles from demons and such.

Holy water is a means of spiritual wealth - a sacramental that remits venial sin. The Church strongly urges its use, especially when dangers threaten. The devil hates holy water because of its power over him. He cannot long abide in a place or near a person that is often sprinkled with this blessed water. Holy Water, Et Cum Spiritu Tuo

Don't believe that devils and demons and such are afraid of holy water? Well, that famous Catholic mystic Teresa of Avila wrote of her first-hand observations of the demon chasing efficacy of holy water:

"One night, too, about this time, I thought the devils were stifling me; and when the nuns had sprinkled a great deal of holy water about I saw a huge crowd of them running away as quickly as though they were about to fling themselves down a steep place.", Ibid.

What about all that other stuff that Catholic faithful might tote to church to be blessed on the Feast of the Epiphany? Following the ritual blessing, lotsa neat things happen:

After the prayers of the blessing are recited, walk through the house and bless each room by sprinkling with Epiphany water and incensing it.

Take the blessed chalk and first write the initials of the three Wise Men, connected with Crosses, over the inside of your front door (on the lintel, if possible). Then write the year, breaking up the numbers and the year so that they fall on both sides of the initials. It should look like this, for ex.:

20  C+M+B  05

with the "20 "being the millennium and century, the "C" standing for the first Wise Man, Caspar, the "M" standing for Melchior, the "B" standing for Balthasar, and the "05" standing for the decade and year. It is also popularly believed that the Kings' initials also stand for "Christus mansionem benedicat" ("Christ bless this house").

Note that some write the first Wise Man's name as "Gaspar," "Kasper," or "Jaspar," so the initials would be "G+M+B" or "K+M+B" or "J+M+B." In any case, these initials over our doorway serve to remind us of Who the Magi saw and how they saw Him. They remind us to adore Him as they did. The chalk markings remain over the door 'til Pentecost.

It is a popular custom among some people that all who enter or re-enter their home for the first time after the blessing should step with their right foot across the threshold so as to start things off "on the right foot." - Feast of the Epiphany, Fish Eaters

Who says that church going stuff can't be fun?

After reading all this, you likely know more about holy water and related stuff than 99.9% of those who walk in Catholic chains.

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