Both Christians and non-Christians use water for religious purpose.there is a belief among Hindus that the water of the Ganges has the virtue of purifying one of sin.we read in the Gospel that John the Baptist baptized fellow-Jews and Christ himself in the waters of the Jordan.Lourdes water is used by Catholics, praying for curses.The water of some wells attached to saint’s shrines in similarly used, such as the water of St Winifred’s Well at Holywell in Wales.
It has been a tradition in the Catholic Church to bless and use objects of nature to obtain heavenly favor and protection.There is the traditional blessing of candles on the feast of the Presentation os ashes on Ash Wednesday, of palms on Palm Sunday, and holy oils at the chrism Mass on Holy Thursday.But, water is an object blessed and used more often. The water over which the Church’s blessing has been pronounced is popularly known as’Holy water”.It is ‘holy’ because of the Church’s prayer attached to it.
Holy water can be blessed by a priest anytime.There is a provision in the Liturgy of the Mass for the blessing of holy water and the sprinkling of the faithful with it at the beginning of Sunday Mass, in which case the penitential rite can be omitted.
Holy water is a ‘sacramental’ by which is meant that, like other blessed objects, it is a sign of the effects to be obtained through the Church’s intercession.It achieves its effect by the prayers of the Church.As in other sacramentals, its efficacy depends on the dispositions of the use and God’s will>it does not produce an effect automatically, by any power inherent in it, as charms and amulets are expected to do.
The use of Holy water as well as other blessed objects is a form of silent prayers by which the user joins with the Church in her benedictory prayer.The use of the object is moreover an expression of our faith in God and our trust and confidence in Him. It is also a token of our faith in the efficacy of the prayer of the Church.
Corresponding to holy water there is a Buddhism ‘pirit’ water.This is water over which one or more of the Pali suttas (sermons) of the Sutta Pitaka (Buddhist scriptures) have been chanted by bhikkhus, as in the case of pirit thread.The efficacy of the water or thread is believed to come from the words recited.If the words themselves have such power, then we come into the realm of magic.It has been said in fact, concerning pirit, that “certainly there is a magical belief in its efficacy”(N.D Wijesekera, The people of Ceylon,2nd ed,p.219, footnote.
There is absolutely nothing magical in the use of Holy water or other sacramentals.Their use in a way of appeal to God for Help, a form of prayer, and their effect in-dependents onGod’ss will.
This excerpt is taken from the book: 50 Questions about Catholicism. For more information about the book: Click me!!!