Holy Water Is Powerful Against the Enemy

Catholic sacramentals are all around us.  Images and statues of Mary adorn our home’s bookshelves and other nooks and crannies.  We carry rosaries in our pockets and place them around our rear-view mirrors.  Another popular sacramental is holy water.  In all my travels to shrines throughout the world, I’ve noticed people wanted to bring home holy water.  It’s understandable why someone would want water from the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized; water from Lourdes where St. Bernadette uncovered that miraculous spring; or Banneux, Belgium, where Mary said she was setting apart a spring of water for her purposes.  I’ve seen pilgrims to Fatima, Knock or Champion, Wisconsin, want to bring home a bottle of holy water from that shrine even though the only thing that sets it apart from your parish’s holy water is that it comes from a special place of prayer and devotion.  In the alleged apparitions of Medjugorje Our Lady said: “Carry blessed objects with you. Put them in your house, and restore the use of holy water.”

In the Church’s devotional life, Holy Water enjoys a special prominence around Easter, when at the Easter Vigil the priest blesses the water which will be used for the baptism of catechumens.  A sprinkling rite during the Easter season is also common in our Sunday celebration of Mass.  The Epiphany is another liturgical feast when holy water is blessed with a special prayer over the power of evil.  The feast of the Epiphany celebrates the visit of the Magi, but there are two other traditional Epiphanies celebrated alongside it: the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan and the Wedding at Cana.  Epiphany water is associated more with the Eastern Church but the practice has been growing in Roman Catholicism. 

If you have been to a shrine and brought home a bottle of holy water or if you refill your bottle at your home parish, what do you do next?  How should you use holy water in your devotional prayer life? 

At Church we bless ourselves as we enter with holy water as a reminder of our Baptism, and we bless ourselves with the sign of the cross.  Religious stores sell holy water fonts for your home.  Maybe you wish to put one by your front door as a reminder that the home is a domestic church.  You can bless yourself as you leave asking for protection or upon entering.  Each time we bless ourselves with holy water, it remits venial sin. 

As a family, you might consider blessing one another before bed. When I went to seminary at Conception Abbey with Benedictine monks, they would pray night prayer and then the Abbot would bless each monk as they processed out of church to their room. It was a way to invoke God’s protection before sleep.

I always bless a room when I travel with holy water because you don’t know who stayed in the room before or what occurred there. Holy water is powerful against the enemy.  One prayer I use when blessing a room comes from Night Prayer of the Liturgy of Hours:

Lord, we [or I] beg you to visit this house [room] and banish from it all the deadly power of the enemy. May your holy angels dwell here to keep us in peace, and may your blessings be upon us always.  We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Another use of holy water might be to bless different parts of your body.  If you have a headache, make the sign of the cross on your head. Another part of the body? Invoke God’s healing with holy water.  A spring of water was discovered by St Bernadette in Lourdes, France which has been a source of healing for many.  Lourdes water can be a source of healing and grace for the sick if you have access to some. Ask a pilgrim whose been there to see if they have any left.

If it’s been a while since you used your holy water, go find the bottle, and place it in a prominent place in your home so you and your family can begin praying with it each day, Sunday, or whenever you need it. 

Fr. Edward Looney is a priest of the Diocese of Green Bay and author of A Heart Like Mary’s, A Rosary Litany, and How They Love Mary: 28 Life-Changing Stories of Marian DevotionFr. Looney is a popular guest in Catholic media and hosts the podcast How They Love Mary.