Faith/Spirituality Forum: Holy Water
Holy Water QUESTION from Joe January 21, 2001 Hello,
What is the reason that we make the sign of the cross using Holy Water as we enter/leave Church?
When did this practice begin?
When did the sign of the cross come into use?
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on March 19, 2001 Dear Mr. Joe:
The reason for blessing ourselves with Holy Water when we enter a church is to remind ourselves of our Baptism and our baptismal promises. It also represents the washing away of the worldly dust from our bodied and souls as we enter the Church to prepare to meet our Lord. Since we have already been blessed during the Mass and haven't been out in the world yet, technically, one does not need to bless themselves with holy water on the way out of Church.
The use of Holy Water goes back to apostolic times. The practice of the Sign of the Cross goes back in some form to the second century at least. There have been different ways in which this practice was performed. The Sign of the Cross as it is performed today practiced today was pretty much settled at the 13th century in the East and the 17th century in the West.
A good article on the history of Holy Water is at: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07432a.htm
A good article on the Sign of the Cross is at: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13785a.htm
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