A Precious Gift
While it is generally well known among Catholics that the best way to help the Holy Souls in Purgatory is to have Masses offered for them, what is little known is that we can also help relieve their sufferings through sprinkling holy water.
Holy water has been used in the Church since Apostolic times. It is mentioned in the ‘Apostolic Constitutions’. Pope Alexander who died in the year 130, in a decree confirming this tradition said, “We bless salt and water for the people, that all who may be sprinkled therewith may be cleansed and sanctified.” Holy water is mixed with exorcised and blessed salt. St Justin Martyr who died in 163 also tells us that the faithful in his time were sprinkled with holy water every Sunday.
When a priest blesses holy water and makes the sign of the Cross over it, he does so in the name of the Church, which renders it more powerful than our ordinary individual prayers. He prays that God may preserve those sprinkled with it from the snares of the devil, grant them health of body and purity of soul. Thus whoever takes holy water and confidently sprinkles it on himself or on objects, or sprinkles it in the room with the intention of bringing blessings on those who are absent, he can be assured that every time the prayer of the Church reaches Heaven, it will bring down graces and blessings on his soul and body, and on all the objects touched by the holy water. Exorcists famously use holy water to send the devil on his way because it is recognised by the Church as being powerful over him and it burns him. The devil can’t bear to stay in a place or be near a person that is frequently sprinkled with holy water.
Holy water is especially beneficial to the Holy Souls in Purgatory and they long for it. A drop of holy water can be far more beneficial to them than a long prayer. Our prayers can often be distracted and lukewarm, but the prayer of the Church attached to the holy water is always pleasing to God. Hence the souls in Purgatory long for holy water and we should assist them by sprinkling it for them.
One day Venerable Dominic of Jesus-Mary (1559-1630) who was a Carmelite, and it was customary at the time for Carmelites to have a skull on their desk, one day he sprinkled this skull with holy water, when he heard a voice imploring him, “More holy water, more holy water.” The sprinkling no doubt relieved its pains in Purgatory. Also very effective is to sprinkle the graves of our beloved dead with holy water. A deceased sister once appeared to Venerable Sister Francis of the Blessed Sacrament begging that her grave be sprinkled with holy water because it relieved her sufferings.
So where do you get holy water? There is a big stone urn full of holy water by the Altar of the Sacred Heart. Bring a bottle, fill it, and sprinkle it frequently in your homes, on yourselves, on your children and for the Holy Souls. In the not so distant past, it was common practice for Catholics to have a small holy water stoup by the front door or in the bedroom. Among the Holy Souls, please remember the deceased priests who ministered to you, who baptised you, who absolved you in Confession and administered the Sacraments to you. In gratitude sprinkle them every day with holy water to relieve their sufferings in Purgatory saying the simple prayer, “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.” How many blessings and helps to salvation you would obtain for yourselves and your families by this simple act of charity which is basically no effort. A drop of holy water is so effective, and are we going to be so lazy as to back away from giving this priceless gift?
Fr Paul Gillham, IC