Dear St. Mary’s Family,
As we do every year during the Easter season, we are observing the sprinkling rite at Mass. Despite the mask, you may have noticed the look of joy in my eyes when I earnestly try to douse you as thoroughly as possible with holy water. It’s not just because I want to mess up your hairdo and get your glasses wet, it’s because it is such a joyful experience to remind you tangibly of your baptism. In the waters of baptism, we were buried with Christ into his death so that just as he was raised from the dead, we too might walk in newness of life. This is what the use of holy water is all about.
Holy water is simply water that has been blessed by a priest or bishop. It has been used for religious purposes other than baptism in the Church since the 4th century. Beyond its use at burials, blessings, dedications, and exorcisms, holy water has been kept in “stoups” at the entrances of churches for ceremonial cleansing since at least the 9th century. It is common to see members of the faithful dipping their fingers into the stoup and then making the sign of the cross when entering the church.
Holy water is also available to be used privately in the home. For example, when I say Morning and Evening Prayer at home, I place some holy water on my fingers and make the sign of the cross at the beginning of the service. It can also be used in cooking, and may be used to bless your home, car, or workspace.
I encourage you to use holy water regularly as part of your private devotions at home! Accordingly, this weekend and beyond, you may take a bottle of holy water home with you after Mass. By its use, may be tangibly reminded of your own death and resurrection with Christ in the waters of baptism.
 Romans 6:3-4, NRSV.
 See the articles on “holy water” and “stoups” in The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, edited by F.L. Cross and E.A. Livingston, Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom, 1997.
Fr. Charles Everson's love for music and liturgy led him to a suburban parish as a simple chorister, and as of late, to St. Mary's as a priest. He feels called to share the love of Jesus Christ with a broken world in desperate need of hope and reconciliation.