Q. 1. What can you tell me about the usage of blessed water in the Catholic Church?
A. 1. First of all, one must know the purpose of blessed water. Blessed water, also known as holy water, is water that has been blessed by a priest for the purpose of baptism and as a Sacramental for the blessing of persons, places, and objects, and for protection against evil.
On the subject of "Holy Water," number 1668 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
"Sacramentals are instituted for the sanctification of certain ministries of the Church, certain states of life, a great variety of circumstances in Christian life, and the use of many things helpful to man. In accordance with bishops' pastoral decisions, they can also respond to the needs, culture, and special history of the Christian people of a particular region or time. They always include a prayer, often accompanied by a specific sign, such as the laying on of hands, the sign of the cross, or the sprinkling of holy water (which recalls Baptism).
Some Catholics believe that the water from specific shrines such as the Lourdes Spring or the Saint Anne de Beaupré Shrine in Québec are means by which God chooses to bring healing. This water is not holy water in the same sense as traditional holy water. That is because the water flowing from a spring was never blessed by a priest.
Some of the ways in which holy water is used are:
When entering a Catholic Church, the faithful make a sign of the cross as a reminder of their baptism, as a cleansing of venial sins, as well as providing them protection against evil. This gesture is sometimes accompanied by a prayer such as:
"By this Holy water and by your Precious Blood, wash away all my sins O Lord".
On Sundays, the liturgy may begin with the Rite of Blessing and Sprinkling Holy Water. During this part of the Holy Mass, holy water is sprinkled upon the members of the congregation.
Many Catholics take holy water home for a multitude of purposes. One of them is to fill the wall font that is found in the bedrooms of the house beside the door frame. Children are taught to bless themselves when entering their bedroom so God may protect them against evil.
Some Catholics sprinkle the rooms of the house with the holy water. This is done to cast away any evil spirits that may be hanging around in search for an opportunity to corrupt God's children.