—St. Teresa of Avila
Lee en español: 8 Maneras de usar el agua bendita
When we read this quote from St. Teresa of Avila, we should be reminded of the importance of holy water. We Catholics dip our fingers in holy water and make the Sign of the Cross when entering a church in order to recall our baptism and our baptismal promises.
As you know, the baptismal promises included renouncing Satan and disdaining sin. We forget this, however, and take holy water for granted most of the time. If we use it regularly, that's an easy thing to do.
We must remember that holy water, through a priest, is blessed by God in virtue of Christ's baptism. The Catholic Church possesses enormous power in being able to impart sacramental grace—and holy water as a sacramental receives its power through the prayer and authority of the Church.
The rite of blessing said over water by a priest to make it holy contains prayers of exorcism. It can banish demons, heal the sick, and send unwarranted grace upon us—yet most of the time we cross ourselves with this water without even thinking about how holy it really is.
The fact of the matter is that holy water is a powerful sacramental and we ought to use it daily. To prevent us from using it without thinking, we should consciously find ways to use it more. Holy water can be used to bless people, places, and things that are used by humans in their goal of glorifying God with their lives.
Here is a list of eight ways to use holy water in your everyday life:
1. Bless yourself. This suggestion is obvious, but if we are only blessing ourselves with holy water on Sunday, then aren’t we missing out on the rest of the week? You can never have too much grace or blessing in your life. Use holy water daily. Keeping a holy water font in the home is a great idea so that you, your family, and guests can be blessed in the comings and goings from your home. Keep the font right by the front door to ensure you never leave home without it.
2. Bless your house. If you haven’t taken the time to bless your house with holy water, then no time is better than the present. Your home is the domestic Church and is in need of spiritual protection. You can sprinkle holy water in your home yourself, or have a priest formally bless your home using holy water as part of the house blessing ceremony.
3. Bless your family. Use holy water to pray and make the Sign of the Cross over your spouse and children before they go to sleep at night. Bonding the family to each other and to God in this way is a great family tradition to adopt. Keep a holy water bottle by the bedside for this purpose.
4. Bless your work space. If you work outside of the home, sprinkling your work space with holy water is a great idea, not only for spiritual protection on the work front, but also as to sanctify your daily work for the glory of God.
[Find a selection of holy water bottles and fonts here]
5. Bless your car. The car is probably the most dangerous place where you spend a significant amount of time each day. Never underestimate the power of holy water applied to your vehicle to keep you safe from harm's way, when used in faith and trust in God. In fact, you can also have a priest bless your car with holy water.
6. Bless your vegetable garden. It was a common practice in the Middle Ages for people to sprinkle their vegetable gardens with holy water. In times when people were very dependent on crops for their livelihood, lack of rain or early frosts could be devastating. Using holy water to bless and sanctify the plants that would be used for the family's sustenance showed their reliance on God's grace.
7. Bless the sick. If you know of any sick friends or family, then blessing them with holy water probably counts as a corporeal and a spiritual work of mercy. If you visit the sick in a hospital or nursing home, bless their living space with holy water and leave a holy water bottle with them as a comfort in their time of need.
8. Bless your pets. Many parishes on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi have a rite of blessing for pets. Pets are loved companions for individuals and families and often provide a great service to them, and even these can be blessed with holy water because all creation has the end of giving glory to God. This also applies to livestock and farm animals that provide labor, livelihood, and nourishment to humans.
Here is a simple prayer to say when using holy water:
“By this holy water and by Your Precious Blood, wash away all my sins, O Lord. Amen.”
There is no specific prayer to pray when using holy water, other than making the Sign of the Cross: "In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." You can also pray an Our Father or even the St. Michael Prayer when using holy water. Keep in mind that holy water has already been blessed by the prayers of the priest.
How do you use holy water?
Holy water is one of those beautiful gifts (and weapons) from God to keep us sanctified and holy in our daily lives and to keep the things we regularly use sanctified and holy. (Some parents even use holy water to bless things their children regularly use such as bicycles and school books.) If we stop and think about what a generous gift holy water is, we will use it more frequently, thoughtfully, and gratefully!
If you have other creative and faithful ways in which you use holy water to sanctify your everyday life, please share with us in the comments below.