07 August 2007

Missing sacramental

A few years ago, when my husband and I took my aunt to Ireland with us, we stopped at the Knock Shrine. I wanted to bring home some Holy Water, so we got a big milk jug at a nearby gift shop made for this purpose and filled it up with Holy Water. It wasn't fun to lug it around Ireland with us, but the worst part came when I went through the airport and then got on the plane. In the post-911 world, I guess Catholics carrying Holy Water pose some sort of threat. The security folks murmured to themselves as I placed it on the conveyor belt to be scanned. Some even stopped and lifted it up for inspection. It even said "Holy Water" on the jug with a great big cross, which I know could just be a ruse in their minds. Some security folks even asked me what it was. Maybe their profiling has told them to be on the look out for people carrying Holy Water.

The worst part was when we boarded the plane. The flight attendant on our British-run flight treated me like a was a threat, a serious threat. My Holy Water was almost confiscated. In some respects, looking back, it seemed that she was more upset that it was Holy Water than she was worried about what I might do with it. Goodness, maybe I had a aspergillum (holy water sprinkler) and planned to sing the Asperges Me or recite the Miserere or Confitemini as I walked up and down the aisles sprinkling people. Actually, I have no doubt that the aspergillum would've been confiscated at the security check, along with my clippers and nail file.

Throughout our trip to Ireland, we stayed at Bed and Breakfasts nearly the entire time. That's kind of the way they do things in Ireland and it seems every town has at least one B&B you can stay at. Some are very nice and others, well, let's just say the bed bugs came free of charge. What many of these B&B's had, since they are usually part of the owner's home, were Holy Water fonts in the halls, in the rooms, every where. Even a new home we stayed at, built to be a B&B, had Holy Water fonts in each room. If Ireland could only stay this way forever.

Some info on Holy Water from this website:
Holy water is a sacramental that remits venial sin. Because of the blessing attached to it, Holy Church strongly urges it's use upon Her children, especially when dangers threaten, such as fire, storms, sickness, discord and other calamities. Every Catholic home should always have a supply of Holy Water. Did we realize now, as we shall after death, the many benefits which may be derived from Holy Water, we would use it far more frequently, and with greater faith and reverence.
The devil hates holy water because of its power over him. He cannot long abide in a place or near a person that is often sprinkled with blessed water.

Holy Water, sprinkled with faith and piety, can move the Sacred Heart to bless your loved ones, present or absent, and protect them from all harm of soul and body. When worry and fear take possession of you, give your dear ones the benefit of the Church's prayer.

Only in Purgatory can one understand how ardently a poor soul longs for Holy Water. If we desire to make a host or intercessors for ourselves, let us never forget them at the Holy Water font. The holy souls nearest to Heaven may need the sprinkling of only one drop to release them.

We have a Holy Water font in our house. Actually, it's been in the basement for about four years since we have been doing some remodeling. But, it makes me wonder why Catholics in America don't use this sacramental more often. With all the concern about our children and worries about our own personal (and spiritual) safety, we should be taking advantage of the sacramentals we are blessed with. Our parish keeps a large supply of Holy Water on hand, so it is very convenient to bring a bottle to Mass and fill it up. I just need to get the font out of the basement and get it back on the wall. According to our priest, we should have Holy Water fonts throughout the house, so maybe I should purchase a few more. A good place to hang them would be in my children's rooms under their crucifixes.

Asperges me, Domine, hyssopo, et mundabor: lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor.


Ray from MN said...


Wouldn't it be a wonderful addition to the Evangelization Movement if good Catholics would carry Holy Water with them at all times when they fly?

If you happened to run across a nasty inspector, and he doesn't want to permit it, you could just tell him that it is used to ward off terrorists. That would get you to the front of the line, I would bet.

Good post, as usual!

Hidden One said...

Ironically enough, it might just have some effect on terrorists, particularly the demon-possessed variety. Yay for holy water!

PS: I'm suddenly considering moving to Ireland. Any advice as to where, specifically? ;)

swissmiss said...

Ray and HO:

I think you both might have a point. Maybe the next time I fly, I'll carry a rosary, scapular (which is already on me) and some Holy Water.

Hidden One:
Not sure if you're planning to move to Ireland for work and what type of work you're looking for, but I'm kind of biased about Ireland. So many of my ancestors came from Ireland and it is very beautiful. That said, it is also very Catholic, but un-Catholic at the same time, and the idea of freeways taking you places and getting places quickly is kind of atypical of the area, unless you are by Dublin (haven't been to Northern Ireland). Personally, if I had to pick one place, it would be Westport, in County Mayo, way on the north central west coast. Also, down by Cobh or Cork in County Cork on the southern coast. It's all beautiful and the people are incredibly friendly. Hard to list just a few places. I only wish I could visit there more often. Now that we have kids and I'm not working, most vacations are spent at our cabin.

Sanctus Belle said...

We don't have holy water founts in our house because they are too hard to maintain: water on the walls, they dry up, etc. We do however have many bottles of holy water around...they are less messy and don't dry up. Thanks for the post!

:o) said...

Beautiful, thought-provoking post. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I like this post--"I guess Catholics carrying Holy Water pose some sort of threat." ROFL!

Well YEAH! Thats why every Catholic should use it liberally! When it evaporates into the air--the molecules just disperse more finely thought the home.

"The devil hates holy water because of its power over him. He cannot long abide in a place or near a person that is often sprinkled with blessed water."

Yes! I love Holy Water--and I use it often. Back off Satan--because I will use my weapon.

swissmiss said...

Growing up we never had fonts either, but we had bottles in each room. I might have to do that with the kids until they are old enough to not pull them off the wall and responsible enough to fill them...since they seem to evaporate at twice the rate of other things, like spilled milk or juice!

:o) Thanks for the kind comments. I usually gush a bit when I write about Ireland ;}

The flight attendant acted like I was going to pour the stuff all over the plane and told me she was going to take it from me because it is a CORROSIVE. Please. What a lame excuse to confiscate it. Fortunately, I told her I wouldn't put it in the over head bin and would hold it throughout the entire flight...which I was happy to do if she was willing to leave me alone!

Ray from MN said...


I'm a Kerryman myself. Swiss Miss is right though, the west country of Ireland is the best and the "least spoiled." Mayo, Clare, Kerry and Cork. Probably Donegal, too.

But frankly, what with Celtic Tiger prosperity and the fact that many Germans and other Europeans have discovred Ireland since it joined the EU, prices have increased phenomenally; not just housing, but everything, I'm told.

And the "almost 19th century tranquillity" of the area that used to be the norm is much harder to experience.

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Monica: I was at Knock in 1990. I was barely Catholic then so I did not "get" much of the impact of it.

I recall that I thought the town was horribly commercialized about the shrine. Lots of cheap Catholic memorabilia around. Plastic statues, plastic Rosaries, plastic this and that.

I've been in England too. I found many Brits to be horribly anti-Catholic. It's probably the thought of the Catholicism of the Holy Water that scared 'em. Probably, afraid they'll become Papists if they get sprinkled with it.

Oh, if only it were that easy. :-)

swissmiss said...

Have to agree about the Shrine. I was not really impressed. Actually, I found it to be a bit like you, kind of tacky. Too bad, really.
I also agree about the Brits, some are very anti-Catholic. However, I did visit Aylesford (Our Lady of Mount Carmel), in England, where St. Simon Stock received the scapular from Our Lady and didn't find it too commercial at all. We were there late in year (November), so we might have missed tourist season. Brought back a (smaller) jug of Holy Water from there without any problems. When I visited Mary's House in Turkey, they have a wall of fountains with water that reportedly has miraculous healing powers, but not a bottle of Holy Water could be found for purchase at the small smattering of gift shops right next to the fountains or even a bottle to fill yourself. I ended up taking a thick napkin and dipping it in the fountain.

Hidden One said...

Hmmm... I think I'll just imitate the Irish attitude toward sacramentals and maybe visit once in awhile. Sounds cheaper.