What is holy water and what is it for?

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Saint Teresa of Jesus tells in her Book of Life that one day she was reading and the devil stood on top of her book. The saint crossed herself and the demon left. However, when he lowered his gaze again, the demon appeared again. This happened three times in a row until Teresa decided to pour holy water on it. Only then could he continue his reading. Some time later he wrote: “I have a lot of experience that there is nothing like holy water to make the devil flee and not return . “

Holy water is a sacramental of the Catholic Church.The sacramentals are “sacred signs with which, in some way imitating the sacraments, effects are expressed, especially spiritual ones, obtained through the intercession of the Church.” This means that with the use of a sacramental, such as holy water or the blessings of people and objects, the Christian benefits from the spiritual goods that the Church preserves as a treasure that God has given him to administer to all. 

Holy water is a sign of purification and, although it does not confer the grace of the Holy Spirit because it is not a sacrament, it prepares the person to receive it. This is one of the reasons why at the entrance of the churches there is a font or container with holy water for the faithful who want to sign with it before entering to pray. Now, you can Buy Holy Water online everywhere and anywhere everytime you need.

Santo Tomás de Aquino in the Theological Summa assures that “the holy water serves against the external assault of the devil. While the exorcism is destined against the internal assaults”.

And he explains that holy water is such a powerful weapon that, as long as there is repentance, it can forgive venial sins . This is how he explains it: “The episcopal blessing, the sprinkling of holy water, a sacred anointing, prayer in a consecrated church and any other similar practice produce the remission of sins.”

Like Tomás de Aquino and Teresa de Ávila, there are countless testimonies of saints and faithful who have witnessed the power of holy water, which, in addition to reminding the faithful of baptism and being a sign of purification, is ainfallible weapon against the devil.

As regards the first of the aspects, its use for the cleansing and purification of the body before coming into contact with sacred things, is a practice that should not be strange in Christianity, insofar as it is closely linked to its heritage. bean. An obligation that is extensive, at least, to the entire temple service, which is made up of all the members of one of the twelve tribes, that of the Levites.

From Judaism the practice goes directly to Islam, where it is collected several times in the Koran, which even distinguishes between different types of ablution. The truth, however, returning to Christianity , is that neither the canonical documents nor other early documents of Christianity such as notably the Didaché, -short text from the second century that focuses precisely on the liturgical practices of the first Christians-, stop at this “ablutional” use of water among Christians. It is very significant in this regard, the treatment that the Evangelist Marcos gives to the subject as something alien and foreign to the first Christians, and possibly even one of the fields (as was the Sabbath ) in which Jesusmore harshly he will be employed against his contemporaries Pharisees .

The truth is that among Christians the ablutional use of water seems to be restricted to the minister of the Eucharistic sacrament, that is, the priest, which takes its appearance back to that of the priestly order as we know it today. Among the first Christians, the office of the Eucharist was carried out not by a priest, but by any Christian in his home.

As for the second use of blessed water, its use in curing diseases, the Pontifical or Scrapion de Tumis, a 4th century bishop , already collects a blessing of the oil and water during the mass for this purpose.

An interesting text that is linked on the one hand to the blessing of oil, closely related to what will later constitute the sacrament of anointing the sick, and on the other hand the blessing of water, which will end up linked to the sacramental of holy water.

San Gregorio de Tours (538-594) in De gloria confessorurii, speaks of the hermit Eusitio who cured Quartan fevers with water that he himself blessed, something similar to what, according to what he claimed, San Martín or San Julián did .

The truth is that it does not seem to emerge until the end of the fourth century or the beginning of the fifth century . The important Apostolic Constitutions , a collection of eight books made up of independent treatises on Christian discipline, worship and doctrine, written around the year 400 and intended to serve as an orientation manual for the clergy and even for the laity, attributes the use of holy water to the apostle Saint Matthew .

In his History of the Church written in the first quarter of the fifth century, Theodoret (393-h.460) affirms that Marcellus I , Bishop of Apamea, sanctified the water by the sign of the cross (op. Cit. 5, 21) . A letter from Sinesio (370-414) refers specifically to the lustral water placed in the vestibule of the temple . Balsamon says that in the Greek Church water was blessed at the beginning of each lunar month, in a custom that puts us once again in contact with that evangelizing resource so typical of Christianity as syncretism, by which parties, places and places were Christianized. pre-Christian pagan practices.