HOLY WATER : USE AND PREPARATION

HOLY WATER : USE AND PREPARATION

An indispensable element of the Bible, water is considered in the Old and New Testaments as a symbol of Purification and Rebirth. 

In the Bible, the theme of water recurs several times, its first appearance being in Genesis (1,1) where the Creator is presented as the one who acts through his Spirit on the cosmic waters. Its function is however ambivalent. On the one hand, the call of water takes on a strongly negative, destructive connotation - let us think of the Universal Flood. On the other hand, the element of water recalls decisive historical events, let us think of the Passage through the Sea of the Jewish People fleeing from Pharaoh to the Promised Land.

Water is considered as the principle of Death and Life and when talking about water it is impossible not to acknowledge its purifying and regenerating power. This is the role entrusted to holy water, whose use is shown to us in the New Testament by Saint John. The Baptism of Jesus by his cousin, John the Baptist, presents and emphasises the other very important aspect linked to this element.

The episode is narrated by the three Evangelists Luke, Mark and Matthew, but not by John, who only deals with the Descent of the Holy Spirit, leaving out his Baptism.

It is with the spirit of Purification that John baptises Jesus.

The Messiah, then in his thirties, went to the river Jordan and waited in line watching the crowd of Penitents preparing for the Rite of Purification and Forgiveness. As John baptised the people present, seeing the Messiah and recognising him, the Baptist said: "I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire." And behold, while all the people were being baptized, and Jesus, who had also received Baptism, was praying, the Heavens were opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form, like a Dove, and there came a voice from Heaven:

"This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased " (Luke 3, 15 -16. 21 - 22).

The waters into which Jesus immerses himself become the waters of Salvation, into which we are all immersed as "Sons of Sons". The reflection matured during the General Audience of 2 May 2018 by Pope Francis on Baptism and the Holy Water is well known.

"Let us consider first and foremost the water, on which the power of the Holy Spirit is invoked so that it may have the capacity to regenerate and renew. Water is the matrix of life and wellbeing, whereas its absence causes all fruitfulness to die out. Water, however, can also be a cause of death, when, in great quantity, it engulfs everything. Lastly, water has the capacity to purify. Beginning with this natural, universally recognized symbolism, the Bible describes God’s interventions and promises with the sign of water."

The baptismal holy water thus enables us to be born again in Christ.

But how is Holy Water prepared and what is its function in addition to the sacraments and outside church walls?

An essential component in its preparation is certainly salt. Salt, known for its powerful purifying and healing powers, is blessed and added to the water. The blessing of salt originates from the prophet Elisha's healing of the water.

In the 2nd Book of Kings, we find the story of Elijah's heir.

When Elisha arrived in the city of Jericho, he was confronted by the inhabitants of the city who complained of a lack of water. The Prophet went to the spring, poured salt into it and said: "This is what the Lord says: ‘I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive."

Water is therefore traditionally shown to be able to erase venial sins, and using it would ward off evil and diabolical spirits. Having a small bottle of Holy Water at home is useful in various situations. Like any sacrament, it helps us to ask the Holy Spirit for help for the good of our souls and bodies.

Its use is very simple and does not require any great theological knowledge.

It is sufficient to open the bottle, wet your fingers, make the sign of the Cross and entrust your heart to God.

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