Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on June 16, 2016 and has been slightly revised.
Today, I was listening to the April 8, 2016 podcast of the “Calling All Catholics” talk radio show on the Station of the Cross, 101.7 FM, out of Buffalo, New York. This particular broadcast featured Catholic priest, Dave Baker, and moderator, Rick Paolini, taking questions from listeners.
During the show, Rick related how he and his wife often volunteered at the Divine Mercy Shrine in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. According to Rick, visitors often bring empty receptacles and fill them with blessed “holy water” provided by the shrine from large dispensers kept outside. One winter day, a gentleman showed up with “14 or 15” plastic containers to fill up for his friends, but it was so cold outside that most of the holy water in the shrine’s dispensers had frozen. The gentleman improvised by filling each of his containers with just a little unfrozen holy water, saying he would return home and fill them to the brim with tap water before distributing them to his friends. Rick was troubled by this and asked priest Dave if it was copacetic to dilute holy water as the gentleman had done. Priest Dave answered that it was okay to dilute holy water, but the ratio of holy water to tap water had to be greater than 50 percent otherwise the holy water would lose its “holiness.”
Huh? Are you serious?
Catholics believe water blessed by a priest can bring great spiritual and temporal benefits to people and objects that come in contact with it. Catholics dip their fingers in holy water fonts at church and make the sign of the cross on their forehead, chest, and shoulders. Zealously pious Catholics often have holy water fonts in their homes. At Catholic religious services and events you can often see the officiating cleric blessing the crowd by sprinkling holy water on them.
Holy water has its roots in pagan amulets and talismans. There’s nothing in the Bible that hints at anything like Catholic holy water.* The Bible reader can’t imagine the apostles or disciples of the early church using pagan holy water. Priest Dave says holy water can’t be diluted by more than 49 percent tap water. Really? Where do Catholics come up with these exacting ecclesiastical rubrics? The poor, deluded gentleman and his fifteen friends were unknowingly blessing themselves with holy water that had no holiness. Not that the results were ANY different either way.
Friends, none of this scrupulous and superstitious ritualism saves. Salvation is as simple as the story of the thief on the cross. Repent of your sin. Turn to Jesus Christ. Accept Him as your Savior by faith alone. Then ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that teaches His Word without compromise. You’ll never need another drop of holy water ever again. Jesus is all you need!
“I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts, a people who continually provoke Me to My face, offering sacrifices in gardens and burning incense on bricks.” – Isaiah 65:2-3
Nope, we’re not done with holy water rules quite yet. How do Catholics correctly dispose of holy water? Since holy water is a blessed sacramental, you can’t just flush it down the toilet like a bad clam. Excess holy water or holy water that’s become foul must be poured directly onto the ground or on plants growing outside.
*The “holy water” in Numbers 5:16-28 is referred to nowhere else in the Bible. Commentators suggest the water used to make the bitter potion that was to be given to the suspected adulteress was either to be drawn from the Tabernacle laver (and thus consecrated/set apart/holy for ceremonial use) or that it was to be “pure” (i.e. holy) running water as the Septuagint translates it. I’m partial to the latter interpretation. Either way, there are no similarities between the water used to make the potion with the holy water of Roman Catholicism.
Postscript from 2021: This “rules about holy water” post from 2016 is the sixth-most-viewed post ever published by this blog, with close to 2600 views in five years. Why? I assume many scrupulous Catholics came across this post precisely because they were attempting to find the RCC’s rules regarding diluting or disposing of holy water. Sad.