Water is made holy when it is blessed by a priest. After it is blessed, it becomes “Holy Water”.
Water and the Bible
Water has been important throughout Bible times. The first book of the Bible, Genesis, speaks of water in the very second verse, “and the earth was without form or shape, with darkness over the abyss and a mighty wind sweeping over the waters. ” Again, water is discussed in the second book of the Bible, the Book of Exodus, this time the Lord turns the very water of the river Nile and all the water in every bucket and pail in all the land of Egypt into blood when Pharoah refuses to release the Israelite’s from slavery. These are only two of many, many references. Over and over, water is important to our faith story.
In the New Testament, water again plays a pivotal role, this time in the baptism of Jesus. The footnotes from the USCCB online Bible state, “the baptism of Jesus is the occasion on which he is equipped for his ministry by the holy Spirit and proclaimed to be the Son of God.” There are numerous other mentions of water throughout the Bible, Old and New Testaments, and we’ve established that it is important to our faith story. Now let’s talk about water as used by the Catholic Church in the sacramental called Holy Water.
What is Holy Water?
Essentially, Holy Water is water that has been blessed by a priest for the purpose of making it holy. The water that becomes Holy Water can be from any source of (perferrably clean) water. Our particular Church has purchased gallon jugs of a local spring water just before the priest is going to bless water at the Easter Vigil or before a baptism. Click this link if you would like to read the actual words said by a priest during a baptism and the blessing of the water for baptism
How Do You Make Holy Water?
Once the water has been blessed it becomes Holy Water and is therefore also considered a sacramental. The definition of a sacramental can be found here. Catholic Churches will have a font of Holy Water near entrances that is used by the baptized to bless themselves as they enter the Church. As we enter our particular Church, there is a small metal bowl affixed to the wall that contains Holy Water. We dip the first two fingers of our right hand gently into the surface of the Holy Water, then make the sign of the cross on our body. By doing this, we are reminded of our own baptism into the family of Christ, as well as placing ourselves under the care of God.
What Does Holy Water Do?
By themselves, a sacramental such as Holy Water has no actual power to help us on the way to Heaven, but it does have the power to excite in those that use it rightly, a fear and love of the Lord, hatred of sin, and aligns our hearts toward God.