AQUA BENEDICTA, HOLY WATER, BLESSED WATER
Holy Water is ''water blessed by a priest with solemn prayer, to beg God's blessing on those who use it, and protection from the powers of darkness." It is a very important sacramental of our Church.
Water is the natural element for cleansing, and its symbolical use to denote interior purification was common in many ancient religions - the Greek, Roman, Egyptian and others; and it is so used by the Brahmins of India, the American Indians and other pagans of the present time. Among the Jews, the laws of Moses (contained in the books of Exodus and Leviticus in the Old Testament), enjoined the sprinkling of the people, the sacrifices, the sacred vessels, etc.; and our Church has followed many of these Jewish practices.
There is a tradition that holy water was used by the Apostle St. Matthew, but this is uncertain. It is traced by some to the early part of the second century, and its use became common somewhat later.
The Kinds of Holy Water. There are four kinds, each blessed in a different manner. They are as follows:
1. Baptismal water, which is blessed on Holy Saturday, and may also be blessed on the eve of Pentecost. The oil of catechumens and the holy chrism are mingled with it. (Lesson 41.) It is used only in the administration of Baptism.
2. Water of consecration, or Gregorian water, so called because its use was ordered by Pope Gregory IX. It is used in the consecration of churches, and has wine, ashes and salt mingled with it.
3. Easter water, so called because it is distributed to the people on Holy Saturday, the eve of Easter.
A part of this water is used for the filling of the baptismal font, to be blessed as baptismal water; the remainder is given to the faithful. In some countries this water is used by the clergy for the solemn blessing of houses on Holy Saturday.
4. Ordinary holy water, blessed by the priest for the sprinkling of the people before Mass and for use at the door of the church. It may be used also for the blessing of persons and things, in the church and at home. Salt is mingled with it - a custom which goes back probably to the second century.
This holy water and Easter water are thus the only varieties of holy water that directly concern the faithful. They are sanctified by different formulas, but their value and uses are much the same.
The Uses of Holy Water. It is used in nearly all the blessings of the Church's ritual, in the ceremonies of Matrimony and Extreme Unction, in the giving of Holy Communion to the sick, and in services for the dead.
For use in church functions it is generally contained in a bowl-shaped vessel with a swinging handle, provided with a sprinkler.
The Asperges. This is the sprinkling of the people on Sundays before the principal Mass in a parish church.
It takes its name from the first word (in Latin) of Psalm 50, of which the opening verse is recited by the priest and sung by the choir at this ceremony during the greater part of the year: "Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be made clean; Thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow."
The Asperges goes back to the ninth century. It is intended to renew in us every Sunday the memory of our Baptism, and to drive away all distractions during the Mass.
In this ceremony, the holy water need not actually touch every person in the church. The whole assembly is blessed together, and all receive the blessing, even though the water may not reach each individual.
During the Paschal time (after Easter) the "Vidi aquam" is sung instead of the "Asperges."
The custom of placing holy water at the church door in a holy water font is very ancient - probably dating back to the second century. Among the Jews a ceremony of purification was required before entering the Temple, and the Catholic practice may have been suggested by this. In the Middle Ages it was customary to use holy water only when entering the church, and not when leaving it - to denote that purification was necessary before entering, but not after having assisted at Mass. At the present day holy water may be used both on entering and on departing, especially as an indulgence is gained every time it is used.
The Blessing of Holy Water. This is usually done just before the principal Mass on Sunday, but may be done at any other time. The priest reads several prayers, which include an exorcism of the salt and the water, after which the salt is put into the water in the form of a threefold cross, in the name of the Persons of the Trinity.
An exorcism is a prayer intended to free persons or things from the power of the Evil One.
The Symbolism of Holy Water. Water is used for cleansing and for quenching fire; salt is used to preserve from decay. Therefore the Church combines them in this sacramental, to express the washing away of the stains of sin, the quenching of the fire of our passions, and the preservation of our souls from relapses into sin.
Salt is also a symbol of wisdom. Our Blessed Lord called His Apostles "the salt of the earth," because they were to instruct mankind.
The Indulgence. There is an indulgence of one hundred days for using holy water.
Pius IX renewed this in 1876, under these conditions:
1. The sign of the cross must be made with the holy water.
2. We must say: "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost."
3. We must have contrition for our sins.
4. For this, as for any indulgence, we must be in the state of grace. (1)
1. In Sacramentalibus conficiendis seu administrandis accurate serventur ritus ab Ecclesia probati.
2. Consecrationes ac benedictiones sive constitutivae sive invocativae invalidae sunt, si adhibita non fuerit formula ab Ecclesia praescripta.
In performing or administering Sacramentals, the rites approved by the Church must be carefully observed.
Consecrations and blessings, those called constitutive, as well as those called invocative, are invalid if the formulas prescribed by the Church have not been employed.
For most of these blessings the Church has prescribed certain rites or formulas, which are all contained in the Roman Ritual, and should be carefully and accurately followed, without any admixture of frivolous ceremonies or the use of unsuitable objects. This applies especially to the prayers prescribed for exorcisms.(2)
Holy Water it is a very important sacramental of the Catholic Church.
In the Rituale Romanum Aqua Benedicta is normally translated into English as Holy Water that is, water sanctified through the prescribed rite, which consists of an exorcism of salt, the blessing of salt, the exorcism of the water, the blessing of the water, the mixing of the salt into the water with the prescribed formula, and a final collect.
Aqua Benedicta also can be translated literally as Blessed Water.
The legitimate minister of that sacramental is a priest (Sacerdos), not a layman.
The procedure proposed by the propagators of the “hidden pope” heresy is not a “sacramental” approved by the Church. If it had official approval, it would be in the Rituale Romanum, which it is not. Instead, it sounds like a superstition or wrong way of worshipping God. (3)
Hence, the following superstitious instruction on how to make “blessed water” by laymen, which is non-approved by the Church, must be rejected:
"A medal of my Divine Heart. A medal, traced on it my adorable cross. You will dip in a glass of water these two images, made either of cardboard or metal.
You will drink this water that is twice blessed and twice purified. A single drop in your food, a tiny drop will be sufficient to keep away not just the scourge, but the scourges of my Justice"
Idea: keep a small jug of blessed water on your kitchen counter, and hang the medal of the Sacred Heart and the Crucifix nearby.
Keep a holy medal of the Sacred Heart attached to a small crucifix. Keep them in your kitchen, for when you prepare food and drinks.
Keep a little jug of blessed water nearby, so that you will remember to use it now.
Friends in Christ, begin this practice now so that it becomes a habit.
(A superstitious instruction according to the book “Marie-Julie Jahenny, the Breton stigmatist” by Marquis de la Franquerie.)
Every Catholic knows that Our Lord Jesus Christ has given us an easy means to obtain His blessing of our food and drink, and that is the grace before and after meals:
GRACE BEFORE MEALS
BLESS us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.
GRACE AFTER MEALS
We give Thee thanks, O Almighty God, for all Thy mercies. Who livest and reignest world without end. R. Amen.
VOUCHSAFE, O Lord, to reward with eternal life all those who do us good for Thy name's sake. R. Amen.
V. Let us bless the Lord.
R. Thanks be to God.
May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
R. Amen. (4)
Below is a Sacramental of the Catholic Church approved by the Church (5):
In omne benedictione extra Missam data, Sacerdos saltem superpelliceo et stola coloris tempori convenientis utatur nisi aliter notetur.
Semper stando benedicat, et aperto capite.
ORDO AD FACIENDAM AQUAM BENEDICTAM
(THE BLESSING OF HOLY WATER)
V. Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini.
R. Qui fecit caelum et terram.
Deinde absolute incipit exorcismum salis:
Exorcizo te, creatura salis, per Deum + vivum, Per Deum + verum, per Deum sanctum etc.
(1) THE VISIBLE CHURCH
BY Rt. Rev. JOHN F. SULLIVAN, D.D.
A TEXT-BOOK FOR CATHOLIC SCHOOLS
NEW YORK, P. J. KENEDY & SONS
PUBLISHERS TO THE HOLY APOSTOLIC SEE
Nihil Obstat: ARTHURUS J. SCANLAN, S.T.D. Censor Librorum
Imprimatur: Patritius J. Hayes, D.D. Archiepiscopus Neo-Eboracensis
Neo-Eboraci die 5, Aprilis 1921.
Copyright, 1920, 1922, by P. J. Kenedy & Sons, New York
Printed in U. S. A.
HOLY WATER, p.p. 125-129
(2) A COMMENTARY ON THE NEW CODE OF CANON LAW
By THE REV. P. CHAS. AUGUSTINE, O.S.B., D.D.
Professor of Canon Law
De Rebus, or Administrative Law
VOLUME IV pp. 565, 566
On the Sacraments (Except Matrimony) and Sacramental
(Can. 726-1011, 1144-1153)
B. HERDER BOOK CO.
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IMPRIMATUR Sti. Ludovici, die 12. Martii, 1920. +Joannes J. Glennon,
Archiepiscopus, Sti. Ludovici.
Copyright, 1920 by Joseph Gummersbach
All rights reserved. Printed in U. S. A.
(3) “God may be wrongly worshipped either by false worship or by superfluous worship being paid him. Worship of God is false when its meaning is not in accordance with fact, or when the falsehood is in the person who performs the act of worship, as when a layman performs the duties of a priest, or when someone tries to gain credence for false miracles or false relics.”
A MANUAL OF MORAL THEOLOGY
FOR ENGLISH SPEAKING COUNTRIES
By REV. THOMAS SLATER, SJ.
VOL I. p. 140
FIFTH AND REVISED EDITION
LONDON, BURNS OATES & WASHBOURNE LTD.
PUBLISHERS TO THE HOLY SEE
NIHIL OBSTAT: H. DAVIS, SJ.
IMPRIMI POTEST: GULIELMUS BODKIN, SJ.
NIHIL OBSTAT: J. R. McKEE, C.O., Censor deputatus.
IMPRIMATUR: EDM. CAN. SURMONT, Vicarius generalis.
Die 1 Decembris, 1924.
Made and Printed in Great Britain
(4) A MANUAL OF PRAYERS
FOR THE USE OF THE CATHOLIC LAITY PREPARED AND PUBLISHED
BY ORDER OF THE THIRD PLENARY COUNCIL OF BALTIMORE
New York: The Catholic Publication Society Co.,
9 Barclay Street.
London: Burns & Oates, Limited
The Prayer Book ordered by the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore,
having been diligently compiled and examined, is hereby approved.
+ James Card. Gibbons, Archbishop of Baltimore, Apostolic Delegate. Baltimore,
May 17, 1889.
Imprimatur + Michael Augustine, Archbishop of New York
Copyright, 1888, BY CLARENCE E. WOODMAN. pp. 58,59
(5) COLLECTIO RITUUM
AD INSTAR APPENDICIS RITUALIS ROMANI
CUM LICENTIA SACRAE CONGREGATIONIS RITUUM
EX TYPOGRAPHIA BRUCE
COPYRIGHT, 1954, THE CONFRATERNITY OF CHRISTIAN DOCTRINE
MADE IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Prot. N. D.18/954
SACRA CONGREGATIO RITUUM
DIECESIUM AMERICAE SEPTENTRIONALIS
Datum Romae, die 3 Junii Anni Marialis 1954.
(ss), C. Card. Cicognani, S.D.C. Praefectus
(ss), A. Carinci, Archiep. Seleucien., a secretis
ORDO AD FACIENDAM AQUAM BENEDICTAM p.129