Holy water

From Academic Kids

In Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy, holy water is water which has been blessed by a priest, a bishop or, for holy water used in Roman Catholic baptisms, a deacon.

A font is a vessel for holy water in a church
A font is a vessel for holy water in a church
Contents

Roman Catholic holy water

Holy water figures in Roman Catholic rituals of exorcism. It is also the usual water used in baptisms that occur in a church; however, the use of specifically consecrated water is not required for a licit baptism under Roman Catholic religious law.

A quantity of holy water is typically kept in a font, an item of church architecture that typically appears in a baptistery; a smaller font, called a stoup, may be placed near the entrance of the church. Roman Catholics bless themselves when entering the church by dipping their fingers in the holy water and making the sign of the cross. Holy water is also sometimes sprinkled upon the congregation during the Mass; this is called aspersion. or (in Latin) asperges, from the Latin word aspergere, to sprinkle. This ceremony dates back to the ninth century, but has now been replaced with the Rite of Sprinkling. An aspergil or aspergillum is a brush or branch used to sprinkle the water. An aspersorium is the vessel which holds the holy water and into which the aspergillum is dipped.

In the theology of Roman Catholicism, holy water is a sacramental, a "sacred sign which bear(s) a resemblance to the sacraments." Holy water recalls the sacrament of baptism. See the Catechism of the Catholic Church, ss. 1667, 1668 (http://www.vatican.va/archive/catechism/p2s2c4a1.htm)

Varieties of holy water

Roman Catholic rituals distinguish four different kinds of holy water. There are:

  1. Holy water per se, of the kind found in the stoup, which has been blessed with a small amount of salt as a preservative. This is the holy water used in aspersions and blessings;
  2. Baptismal holy water, to which a slight amount of chrism and the oil of catechumens has been added, used in church baptisms;
  3. Gregorian water, also called "water of consecration"; small amounts of wine, salt, and ashes are added to it, and it is used by bishops at the consecration of a church; and
  4. Easter water, which is distributed to the faithful on Easter Sunday for use at home.

Rituals and uses of holy water

The ritual of consecrating holy water traditionally is performed on Holy Saturday and during the vigil of Pentecost. Once consecrated, more ordinary water can be added to the supply of holy water, and the entire quantity of water remains consecrated provided that the amount added is less than the amount of water that was there. Holy water can in fact be consecrated upon any day in the liturgical calendar except Easter Sunday and Pentecost itself. The ritual of preparing holy water is itself in form an exorcism; the priest first exorcises the salt, and then the water itself; the traditional Latin formula for exorcising and blessing the water is:

Exorcizo te, creatura aquŠ, in nomine Dei Patris omnipotentis, et in nomine Jesu Christi, Filii ejus Domini nostri, et in virtute Spiritus Sancti: ut fias aqua exorcizata ad effugandam omnem potestatem inimici, et ipsum inimicum eradicare et explantare valeas cum angelis suis apostaticis, per virtutem ejusdem Domini nostri Jesu Christ: qui venturus est judicare vivos et mortuos et sŠculum per ignem.
(I exorcise thee in the name of God the Father almighty, and in the name of Jesus Christ His Son, our Lord, and in the power of the Holy Ghost, that you may be able to put to flight all the power of the enemy, and be able to root out and supplant that enemy and his apostate angels; through the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire.)
Deus, qui ad salutem humani generis maxima quŠque sacramenta in aquarum substantia condidisti: adesto propitius invocationibus nostris, et elemento huic, multimodis purificationibus prŠparato, virtutem tuŠ benedictionis infunde; ut creatura tua, mysteriis tuis serviens, ad abigendos dŠmones morbosque pellendos divinŠ gratiŠ sumat effectum; ut quidquid in domibus vel in locis fidelium hŠc unda resperserit careat omni immunditia, liberetur a noxa. Non illic resideat spiritus pestilens, non aura corrumpens: discedant omnes insidiŠ latentis inimici; et si quid est quod aut incolumitati habitantium invidet aut quieti, aspersione hujus aquŠ effugiat: ut salubritas, per invocationem sancti tui nominis expetita, ab omnibus sit impugnationibus defensa. Per Dominum, amen.
(God, Who for the salvation of the human race has built your greatest mysteries upon this substance, in your kindness hear our prayers and pour down the power of your blessing into this element, prepared by many purifications. May this your creation be a vessel of divine grace to dispel demons and sicknesses, so that everything that it is sprinkled on in the homes and buildings of the faithful will be rid of all unclean and harmful things. Let no pestilent spirit, no corrupting atmosphere, remain in those places: may all the schemes of the hidden enemy be dispelled. Let whatever might trouble the safety and peace of those who live here be put to flight by this water, so that health, gotten by calling Your holy name, may be made secure against all attacks. Through the Lord, amen.)

These prayers and exorcisms show the uses and powers that have been attributed to holy water in Roman Catholic tradition.

Eastern Orthodox holy water

Holy water is used in Orthodox rites of blessing and exorcism, and is the water normally used for baptisms.

A quantity of holy water is typically kept in a small font placed near the entrance of the church where it is available for anyone who needs it. Orthodox Christians most often bless themselves with holy water by drinking it, and they normally keep some at home for this purpose. Holy water is also sometimes sprinkled on items or people when they are blessed, as part of the prayers of blessing. For instance, in Alaska, the fishing boats are sprinkled with holy water at the start of the fishing season as the priest prays for the crews' safety and success.

The use of holy water is based on the story of Jesus' baptism by John the Baptist in the River Jordan and the Orthodox interpretation of this event. In this view, John's baptism was a baptism of repentance, and the people came to have their sins washed away by the water. Since Jesus had no sin, but was God himself, his baptism had the effect of Jesus blessing the water, making it holy, that is used fully for its original created purpose to be an instrument of life.

Jesus' baptism is commemorated in the Orthodox Church at the Feast of Theophany (literally "God shining forth") on January 6. At the Vespers of this feast, a font of holy water is typically blessed in the church, to provide holy water for the parish's use in the coming year. The next morning, the prayers often include a trip to a nearby river, lake or other public source of drinking water, to bless that water as well. This represents the redemption of all creation as part of humanity's salvation. In the following weeks, the priest typically visits the homes of the parish's members and prays prayers of blessing for their families, homes and pets, sprinkling them with holy water. Again, this practice is meant to visibly represent God's sanctifying work in all parts of the people's lives.

Holy water can also be blessed at any other time of the year if there is a need, and this is usually done on the first day of a month. The holy water used for a baptism is blessed as part of the baptism service.

Blessing of holy water at Theophany

On the feast of Holy Theophany holy water is blessed twice, at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgies both on the eve and on the feast itself. After processing to the place where the vessel of water is prepared to the singing of appropriate troparia there are a group of Scripture readings culminating in the baptism account from the Gospel of Saint Mark (1:9-11) followed by the Great Litany. This is sung just as for the Liturgy, but with the following additional petitions which make clear what is being asked of God and what the use, purpose, and blessing of the water is believed to entail.

That these waters may be sanctified by the power, and effectual operation, and descent of the Holy Spirit:
That there may descend upon these waters the cleansing operation of the super-substantial Trinity:
That he will endue them with the grace of redemption, the blessing of Jordan, the might, and operation, and descent of the Holy Spirit:
That Satan may speedily be crushed under our feet, and that every evil counsel directed against us may be brought to naught:
That the Lord our God will free us from every attack and temptation of the enemy, and make us worthy of the good things which he hath promised:
That he will illumine us with the light of understanding and of piety, and with the descent of the Holy Spirit:
That the Lord our God will send down the blessing of Jordan and sanctify these waters:
That this water may be unto the bestowing of sanctification; unto the remission of sins; unto the healing of soul and body; and unto every expedient service:
That this water may be a fountain welling forth unto life eternal:
That it may manifest itself effectual unto the averting of every machination of our foes, whether visible or invisible:
For those who shall draw of it and take of it unto the sanctification of their homes:
That it may be for the purification of the souls and bodies of all those who, with faith, shall draw and partake of it:
That he will graciously enable us to perfect sanctification by participation in these waters, through the invisible manifestation of the Holy Spirit:

Then, following a lengthy set of didactic prayers that expound on the nature of the feast and summarize salvation history, praising God's creation of and mastery over the elements, the priest makes the Sign of the Cross over the water with his hand and prays specifically for the blessing to be invoked upon it. At the climax of the service, he immerses the hand cross into the water three times in imitation of Christ's baptism to the singing of the festal troparion and then blesses the entire church and congregation with the newly consecrated water.

Other consecrated waters

Some Roman Catholics believe that water from Lourdes and other holy wells and shrines has supernatural powers, such as for healing. This water, technically, is not holy water since it has not been consecrated by a priest or bishop. Other Christian groups have sold water from the Jordan River and called it holy water as well.

The Sikhs prepare a sort of holy water, which they call amrit, and use in a ritual similar to baptism.

Holy water in popular culture

In Dungeons & Dragons and other role-playing games, their computer game analogues, or other video games(particularly the Castlevania series), holy water is occasionally used as a weapon; in these games it harms demons, the undead, and other evil aligned monsters when it is splashed on them. Clerics typically make the holy water used in these games. Some games allow the players to make or purchase holy-water grenades that splash holy water over a wide area. Holy water grenades were also in use in the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in which they were put to good use against vampires; in the show they were called holy hand grenades.de:Weihwasser sv:Vigvatten

External Links

References

  • (Mother) Mary; Ware, (Archimandrite) Kallistos (Tr.)(1998). The Festal Menaion (reprint), pp 348-359. South Canaan: St. Tikhon's Seminary Press. ISBN 1-878997-00-9.
  • Hapgood, Isabel Florence (Tr., Ed.)(1983). Service Book of the Holy Orthodox-Catholic Apostolic Church (6th ed.), pp 189-197. Englewood: Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese.
  • Collectio Rituum ad instar appendicis Ritualis Romani pro dioecesibus Statuum Foederatorum Americae Septentrionalis. Milwaukee, Bruce (1954)
Navigation

Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Art)
    • Architecture (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Architecture)
    • Cultures (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Cultures)
    • Music (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Music)
    • Musical Instruments (http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/List_of_musical_instruments)
  • Biographies (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Biographies)
  • Clipart (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Clipart)
  • Geography (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Geography)
    • Countries of the World (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Countries)
    • Maps (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Maps)
    • Flags (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Flags)
    • Continents (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Continents)
  • History (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/History)
    • Ancient Civilizations (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Ancient_Civilizations)
    • Industrial Revolution (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Industrial_Revolution)
    • Middle Ages (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Middle_Ages)
    • Prehistory (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Prehistory)
    • Renaissance (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Renaissance)
    • Timelines (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Timelines)
    • United States (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/United_States)
    • Wars (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Wars)
    • World History (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/History_of_the_world)
  • Human Body (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Human_Body)
  • Mathematics (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Mathematics)
  • Reference (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Reference)
  • Science (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Science)
    • Animals (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Animals)
    • Aviation (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Aviation)
    • Dinosaurs (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Dinosaurs)
    • Earth (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Earth)
    • Inventions (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Inventions)
    • Physical Science (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Physical_Science)
    • Plants (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Plants)
    • Scientists (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Scientists)
  • Social Studies (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Social_Studies)
    • Anthropology (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Anthropology)
    • Economics (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Economics)
    • Government (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Government)
    • Religion (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Religion)
    • Holidays (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Holidays)
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Solar_System)
    • Planets (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Planets)
  • Sports (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Sports)
  • Timelines (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Timelines)
  • Weather (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Weather)
  • US States (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/US_States)

Information

  • Home Page (http://academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php)
  • Contact Us (http://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Contactus)

  • Clip Art (http://classroomclipart.com)
Toolbox
Personal tools