Holy Water is water which has been blessed and is used in blessing. Holy Water contains a very small amount of salt, with the salt itself having been blessed. Traditional prayers for the blessing of Holy Water (and of the salt) invoke God’s Name, and pray that His power will come upon the water to make it a sign of His presence and reign. The water is then used as follows:
- In Holy Water stoups (shallow bowls placed near the church doors). The believer dips his/her finger in the water and makes the sign of the cross over himself/herself. In doing so he/she invokes God’s blessing and also reminds himself/herself of the vows made in Baptism.
- When blessing is invoked or pronounced by the priest over a person, Holy Water may be sprinkled upon them. Blessing may also be made this way over a thing (e.g., an object used in worship, such as a candle). Sprinkling is generally accomplished using an aspergillum.
Water which is used in Baptism is also often used as Holy Water. A special prayer is said over the water of Baptism (found on pages 306-7 in The Book of Common Prayer), and at services of Baptism all of the participants are blessed with this water after the newly-baptized member has been welcomed.
Holy Water is used in blessings as well as in invoking God’s protection.