Holy Water Questions

What is it, exactly? I mean, what makes it holy?
What is it used for, generally?
If I bless my children with the sign of the cross before leaving the house in the morning and before putting them to bed at night, would it be all right to give them the sign of the cross using the holy water, as Catholics do when they enter the church?
What are you supposed to do with it, exactly? I mean, how does it's use bring you closer to God? Thanks!

[quote="rwillenborg, post:1, topic:178849"]
What is it, exactly? I mean, what makes it holy?
What is it used for, generally?
If I bless my children with the sign of the cross before leaving the house in the morning and before putting them to bed at night, would it be all right to give them the sign of the cross using the holy water, as Catholics do when they enter the church?
What are you supposed to do with it, exactly? I mean, how does it's use bring you closer to God? Thanks!

[/quote]

Holy Water sprinkling has it's root in Jewish Sprinkling rites. The Jews would "baptize" objects too large to ritually wash by dunking. We sprinkle Holy water while Blessing cars, houses,etc. When applied to person it recalls their Baptism or looks forward to their Baptism in the case of a Catechumen. The Blessing provides for the reception of Actual Grace.

What happens if you drink it? Seriously. I’ve always wondered.

Holy Water has various prayers said over it asking God to make it a channel of blessing.

[quote="rwillenborg, post:1, topic:178849"]
What is it, exactly? I mean, what makes it holy?
What is it used for, generally?
If I bless my children with the sign of the cross before leaving the house in the morning and before putting them to bed at night, would it be all right to give them the sign of the cross using the holy water, as Catholics do when they enter the church?
What are you supposed to do with it, exactly? I mean, how does it's use bring you closer to God? Thanks!

[/quote]

Holy Water is water that has been blessed. The ceremony for blessing it can take place during Mass or outside Mass. The Book of Blessings has a ceremony "Order for the Blessing of Holy Water Outside Mass" and the instructions include: "1390 But when the blessing of water takes place outside Mass, the rite given here may be used by a priest or deacon."

For blessing children, the Book of Blessings has two ceremonies.

The "Order for the Blessing of Children" mentions the sprinkling of holy water ("152. After the prayer of blessing, the minister may sprinkle the children (child) with holy water and ...". For this ceremony the minister is "136. The present orders may be used by a priest or a deacon. They may also be used by a layperson, particularly a catechist and also a person in charge of the children's education, who follows the rites and prayers designated for a lay minister."

The other ceremony is called "Order for the Blessing of Sons and Daughters". No mention is made of holy water for this ceremony. Parents can do this blessing: "175. When a priest or deacon is present, the ministry of blessing more fittingly belongs to him. ... 176. The present order may be used by the parents or by a priest or deacon. ...".

The General Introduction to the Book of Blessings includes: "26. ... d. Some of the orders of blessing provide for the sprinkling with holy water, and in these cases ministers should urge the faithful to recall the paschal mystery and renew their baptismal faith."

The Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy (at vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ccdds/documents/rc_con_ccdds_doc_20020513_vers-direttorio_en.html ) includes encouragement that holy water be used in the grace before meals on Easter Sunday:
"150. ... Among the pious exercises connected with Easter Sunday, mention must be made of the traditional blessing of eggs, the symbol of life, and the blessing of the family table; this latter, which is a daily habit in many Christian families that should be encouraged (footnote 155: Cf. RITUALE ROMANUM, De Benedictionibus, Ordo benedictionis mensae, cit., 782-784, 806-807.), is particularly important on Easter Sunday: the head of the household or some other member of the household, blesses the festive meal with Easter water which is brought by the faithful from the Easter Vigil."

Here "De Benedictionibus" is the Latin name for the "Book of Blessings". But the Book of Blessings does not mention the use of holy water for this ceremony. The numbers being referred to "782-784, 806-807" correspond to 1030-1032 and 1054-1055 in the USA edition.

Reference: Book of Blessings, Liturgical Press, Minnesota, 1989, ISBN 0-8146-1875-8.

If you want to drink holy water, you can, just as you can eat blessed salt. Some people cook with it, just as some people cook with blessed salt. (Usually for a special intention, like helping a scary illness, not all the time every day.) It's not the usual form of devotion, in the US in this time among most US ethnic groups; but there's nothing wrong with it.

If you look around your parish, there's usually a holy water dispenser with a spigot. If you want to take some holy water home, bring a holy water bottle or some fitting container with you and get some holy water out of the dispenser. It's there for your use.

You might want to boil your holy water before you drink it, though. They don't put as much blessed salt in holy water as they used to. (If there is a lot of salt in it, don't drink more than a sip or so. Salt water can hurt your body, sacramental or not. Grace builds on nature, not deliberate stupidity.)

I don’t think that is correct. You should not cook with blessed salt, I heard a priest say. But you can put it on food that has already been cooked. I think the rule would be the same regarding holy water, that is, you should not boil it for drinking.

[quote="Lutheranteach, post:3, topic:178849"]
What happens if you drink it? Seriously. I've always wondered.

[/quote]

It's drunk all the time in the Byzantine tradition. There's a special petition that the Holy Water will be a means of healing for those who drink of it with piety and faith.

I know a very sick man who almost always takes his meds with Holy Water.

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