Holy Water at Mass (Question)

When I go to Mass, I usually dip my hand in the holy water on the way into church, make the sign of the cross, and then go in.

I do the same after Mass on the way out.

Somebody commented that it should be done on the way into Mass, but is not necessary on the way out. Is that correct?

It is correct, but why miss an opportunity to bless yourself?

One can use holy water any time, any place to bless themselves and/or call to mind their baptismal vows.

It is praiseworthy to keep a bottle at home. Take a little bottle to church and fill up.

I do it both going in and coming out. When I dip my hand in, before I make the sign of the cross, I always let a few drops fall to the floor for the poor souls in purgatory.

Hmmm…interesting custom. Is there a basis for that? I’m not familiar with that practice. Not criticizing, just curious.

I know of a religious order, that prior to Vatican II, had the unusual custom of leaving a little bit of food on their plate for the Infant Jesus on the 25th of each month.

You can take some holy water home with you. Most churches have a holy water dispenser, just bring a clean bottle of some sort. You don’t need much, a few ounces will last awhile.

Once you have it home, you may want to put it into a home font to be able to bless yourself with while making the sign of the cross. They sell fonts, but they’re not really necessary. A small, nice looking bowl will do, and if you like the more natural look, a scallop or abalone shell works great.

I put a small clean makeup sponge in the bottom of the shell I have, and saturate the sponge with the holy water.

To clean out the font/bowl/shell, take it outside and pour out any remaining water onto the ground (not inside down the sink.) Then wash as you would any other dish or bowl.

It is just something my mother taught me some 50 years ago. We also keep a bottle at home and bless our outside doors at night.

I have a font at home, but all the Holy Water dried up :frowning:

Good idea, I think I’ll start doing that!

Speaking of Holy Water: is it likely that I, as an unbaptised (former) atheist, should not use Holy Water to bless myself? Of course, this question will become moot after March 25… :wink: but I still want to know the morality of doing it before I am Washed. There are still several months to go, after all, and I used to cross myself with Holy Water - until I heard someone say that it is a reminder of your baptism. I do hope I’ve not been corrupting the water with the blemish of my sinful soul. :frowning:

Someone once noted to me that an unbaptized catechumen can bless himself with holy water as a way of looking forward to his baptism. I don’t know if there’s any formal Church teaching on that, but it seems a nice idea to me.

we sign ourselves with holy water on the way into church because that font represents, or in some churches actually is, the baptismal font, which of course is the gateway to the Church. So no it is not necessary to do it on the way out but certainly not wrong if you want to.

Well, there is a symbolic gesture side of you waiting until you get baptized. Then, each time you bless yourself with the water there after you have that tied in with your baptism.

However, you should feel free to use any sacramental of the Church to draw you closer to Our Lord. Any of them that will aid you on your spiritual journey, that you particularly feel drawn to, just go ahead and use to your hearts content.

I have also heard that Holy Water “washes away” or removes our venial sins, another reason people keep Holy Water at home (but I haven’t done so myself). Any truth to this?

Well, according to fisheaters.com/water.html,

The ritual use of this precious substance is ancient and rooted in the Old Testament. When the Israelites entered the Temple, they had to undergo purifcation by immersion in a mikvah (modern Jews still make use of mikva’ot on Yom Kippur, on wedding days, for purification after menstruation or coming into contact with a dead body or semen, etc.). These ritual purifications by water prefigured Christian Baptism, which we recall when we bless ourselves (cross ourselves) using holy water upon entering our churches.** Devoutly blessing one’s self with Holy Water remits venial sins**.

My Mother used to bless Her garden with Holy Water before a hail storm. Our garden never got hailed on.

I’ve done it since my Catholic school days. “For the holy souls in purgatory, may they be released and rest in peace. Amen.”

I just happened to read a pamphlet about Holy Water that somebody gave me. It is a Marian Guild pamphlet and is also posted as a PDF on the 101foundation website.

It, too, states that letting a drop of Holy Water fall to the ground helps souls in Purgatory.

And it states that a short prayer should be said when blessing with Holy Water:

“By this Holy Water and by Thy Precious Blood, wash away my sons, Oh Lord.”

Here is the link to the complete brochure, if anybody is interested:


What I read somewhere was that you should bless yourself going into church in order to purify yourself in the presence of the tabernacle. It would not be necessary to purify yourself on the way out. That said, there’s no reason you can’t bless yourself on the way out, it’s a custom now that most people do (myself included).

To the person who asked whether it is fine to use before baptism - yes it is, and I did it when I was in RCIA. At first I didn’t because, like you, I was afraid I would “pollute” the water or make it unholy or something, but then someone told me it was fine to do. (Plus people in church glared at me if I didn’t - LOL.)
Welcome to the Church!!! :smiley:

I keep holy water at home, too. By the way, if you freeze it, it stays holy longer.

Just kidding.

You are more than welcome to Cross yourself and use the Holy Water to bless yourself. It have always been my understanding that everyone is free to do so, one does not have to be Catholic inorder to do so.

Also to the OP I was taught to Bless myeself with the Holy Water as I enter and exit the Church. the Bless as we exit it to remind us that we carry our baptiziamal promise out into the workld as we go.

I keep a gallon of holy water blessed by our pastor in our home all the time. We have a font in our home as well as blessing our home every evening before bedtime. We go through the house sprinkling it and the beds with holy water while saying the prayer to St. Michael.

Makes for a good nights sleep and much happy home life.

It is also permissible to drink holy water.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.