Germs and Holy Water

A lot of people talk about receiving the Precious Blood from a communal cup and the risk of illness because of the germs. Now, one must keep in mind the classic replies to that concern: that it’s a metal chalice filled with alcohol and that the lip of the cup is wiped and turned, etc.

Well, has anyone ever considered the germs that must live in the stagnant water of a holy water font? I’d venture to say that perhaps some people’s mouths are…cleaner than their hands.

Unless the church has a big font that keeps the water circulating, it’s anyone’s guess what’s living and there and everyone’s just dipping their fingers and hands right in.

Isn’t that worse?

To be fair, you generally won’t be consuming holy water (though I have seen it done :wink: )

It’s true. But it’s also just one of the many “everyday” chances we take. How about doorknobs, missalettes, pew-backs, and the worst one of all the sign of peace? And we don’t even want to think about the money we handle. Sure we take chances. But we also do so in the supermarket and the movie theater, and every other public place we go.

We need to exercise some common sense and take appropriate precautions, but let’s face it, picking up germs is pretty much unaviodable.

By the way, periodically, I empty the holy water fonts, wash, rinse with bleach water and rinse very well.

Holy water used for this purpose is supposed to have salt in it which does prevent the passing of germs to some extent. Salt inhibits bacterial growth.

To be fair, you generally won’t be consuming holy water (though I have seen it done )

You do on Byzantine Churches all the time.

Holy water used for this purpose is supposed to have salt in it which does prevent the passing of germs to some extent. Salt inhibits bacterial growth.

Not in the Byzantine tradition.

And not, in my experience, done lately in the Latin tradition. I haven’t seen salt added to the water in 30 years but that may have been just in my parishes.

I haven’t either. In our parish maintenace is pretty good about replacing the water in the stoops very frequently. In my home parish there are things floating in the stoops and I would not put my fingers in there.

Which is where I’ve seen it done :wink:

I’m not Byzantine so my comments do not apply to them.

My sister went to a Catholic School for a year, and took a Biology class there. One of her labs was to grow bacteria in petri dishes from swabs of things around campus. She said one group took it upon themselves to use the holy water in the petri dish to see how dirty it really is. Turns out when put against the bathroom toilet, the door handle, and various other germ breeders, it had the MOST bacteria growth of all the dishes. Food for thought.

Personally, it doesnt bother me if it is dirty or not. It is a constant reminder of my Baptism and that I share that with everyone throughout the world. (But I do appreciate those who take the time to clean out the font once and awhile)

Okay, now I’m scared … :eek:

Gross. The urn with the faucet would probably be a better source to get clean holy water. I hope holy water from the font isn’t a source for forehead pimples. :rotfl:

No need to be. It’s just part of life as we know it. We pick up germs all over the place. There’s no need to be any more or any less concerned about germs in church than in any other place frequented by roughly the same number of people.

I once took a course to become certified to run a commercial kitchen from a health-standards perspective. Now *that’s *scary.

I’ve thought about this, too. My reaction is to continue to partake of the holy water and simply use waterless hand cleaner when I get to the car and then wash with soap and water before eating. Since (in the Anglican church) I preferred to receive on the tongue, my hands can be as contaminated as can be and it really won’t effect me.

Plus, as others have pointed out, germs are everywhere. I do my best to keep clean and put my trust in God and my immune system.

Paul

Holy water used for this purpose is supposed to have salt in it which does prevent the passing of germs to some extent. Salt inhibits bacterial growth.

Sea water is full of salt–and germs.

Is it licit to have chlorine in the holy water to inhibit bacterial growth?

That’s a good question. I would like to know the answer too.

Anyway, as a general rule, I usually do not put my fingers into the font if the water is murky.

Most tap water does have chlorine, so yes it’s licit. As long as it’s truly water, and not a solution of some chemical(s). All water has minerals and chemicals and a host of other substances, unless one is using outright distilled water. I shudder to think what the condition of the water must have been like when Christ was baptized in the Jordan. Picture that flock of sheep upstream…no wait, DON’T picture it.

Most churches regularly rotate the holy water in the fonts at the church. We do it every couple of days just because it not only evaporates but people seem to use it liberally in our parish. So rest assured, the bacteria has not been known to kill or get anyone sick as far as I know.

Salt is Sodium Chloride. I think that what it matters is the amount. Our baptismal font has chlorine in it.

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