Holy Water 2017

Surrounding Ourselves with Sacramentals

Do you keep a bottle of Holy Water in your House? To some this is a familiar concept and to others something more foreign.

In the language of the Church, a bottle of Holy Water is what is known as a “sacramental.” There are many things which can be referred to as a “sacramental” including rosaries, bibles, statues, incense, prayer books, holy cards, etc.

The word “sacramental” is very similar to another word we often use in the Church – Sacrament – and this should give us a clue as to its meaning. A Sacrament is “an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace.” It should follow that a sacramental is very much the same.

Sacramentals are also outward signs, things we can perceive through touch, sight, smell, and sound. They also give grace but in a different way than that of a Sacrament.

The Church refers to the Seven Sacraments (Baptism, Confession, Confirmation, Marriage, etc) as instruments which relay Sanctifying Grace, that is, the grace that saves us. But there is another form of grace known as Actual Grace. This grace motivates an individual toward holy action. Think of the way that reciting a rosary might calm a person down who is in deep distress. Think of the way that reflecting on the Stations of the Cross might lead someone to be more compassionate to a friend or neighbor who is suffering. These are examples of Actual Grace at work.

Sacramentals are signs which remind us of our relationship with God and thereby enable us to act in accordance with God’s will, thus they are signs that give Actual Grace. It is why it is of great value to keep a rosary or a Bible by our bedside or hang a crucifix in our house. It is also why Catholics often keep a container of Holy Water in their houses and use the water when making the sign of the cross during daily prayers or as a sign of blessing over a new garden. The water serves as a reminder of God’s holy presence in our homes, where life with God is first and most intimately lived.

As a gift to you, our parish has purchased bottles of Holy Water which will be filled from the Holy Water blessed at the Easter Vigil on April 15, 2017. We were able to provide these bottles to you because of a gracious gift from the Ghattas family. You are invited to take one of these bottles home with you next weekend and to keep it in your home.

We would also invite you to consider purchasing your own personal Holy Water font for use in your home (another sacramental). Examples of appropriate home Holy Water fonts can be found on websites and online merchants such as www.catholiccompany.com or www.churchsupplywarehouse.com. You can also find them at Chicago vendors such as the Mustard Seed Bookstore in Rogers Park or the Pauline Books and Media bookstore downtown.

We are grateful that this gift can be shared with your family. May it be a sacramental, a sign of God’s grace, that reminds you of your baptismal call as a disciple of Jesus Christ in your daily life.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.