Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Cool Catholic Stuff: Holy Water


We find holy water, one of the most readily-recognized sacramentals of the Church, utilized by our priests in numerous rites and ceremonies of the Church -- such as the blessing of religious articles, Baptisms and funerals, and general blessings of the Faithful in holy Mass -- but it's also an important staple of the Catholic home. No home should be without it! Blessing oneself with holy water upon entering or leaving our own home gains us the same indulgences as we do upon entering a Church and blessing ourselves (though the presence of the Blessed Sacrament kicks all prayers up a huge notch, of course!).

Holy water is well known as a strong defense against evil spirits, in general, and is carried by some Moms I know in their purses! (They are really "packing!") 

In dangerous times, the head of the household (or anyone!) may bless all the windows and doors -- and his family! -- with a sprinkle of holy water at nightfall or when deemed necessary. Naturally, it would be irreverent to splash or play in holy water (a thing to be sure our children realize), but it is permissible to scoop up a little holy water for little ones who cannot reach the font so that they may dip their fingers
in from the basin of our hand. This is not considered "playing patty fingers in the holy water." (Quiet Man reference familiar to many...)

Maureen O'Hara in a still from the movie,
"The Quiet Man" (1950), also starring
John Wayne and Barry Fitzgerald.
Blessing ourselves with holy water, wherever we may find it, is an automatic reflex for many of us, but
not an act that should be taken for granted, such grace attaches to our pious attention! It's a simple procedure, but a beautiful one really. Dipping the fingertips of our right hand in the Holy water, we cross ourselves in the familiar Catholic blessing, touching first, the forehead, then breast, left shoulder, right shoulder saying: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." 

But it's equally beneficial and traditionally a pious practice in some places to pray:

By Thy Precious Blood and by this Holy Water, cleanse me (him/her) from my (his/her) sins, O Lord.

When they were still tiny, we taught our children the significance of the tactile action of the blessing that incorporates so well the words of both of these prayers. At the same time that we trace the sign of our salvation, the cross of Christ, upon ourselves, we should be reminded to love our dear Lord with all our mind (as we touch our forehead), all our heart (as we touch our breast), and all our strength (as we touch our shoulders).

Blessing oneself with holy water is three prayers in one: one connected with the grace of the sacramental inherent within the holy water, itself, one verbal (the words and meaning of the prayer), one mental (understanding the significance of the tactile forming of the cross upon ourselves). It's such a wonderful thing as a Catholic to be able to honor our triune God with a trinity of a prayerand sacramental like this -- upon all our comings and our goings in our most important places: our own homes and Jesus's home!

 Good Things to Know About Holy Water

+ Many don't know that it is permitted that the sick or spiritually oppressed be given sips of holy water. Taking it in small amounts, or adding a few drops to foods is common, but it should never be consumed as a beverage.

+ The salt added to most holy water acts as a preservative, but if your holy water has gone bad (green), the proper way to dispose of it is the same as for all other sacramental: it must be returned to the earthly elements. In other words, dig a hole and pour it into the earth.

+ Interesting to note, too, that holy water is a somewhat renewable resource. As long as your container of holy water is half full, you can fill it to the top, rendering the new water, once added, equally blessed. In other words, it is not "half strength" or diluted. Once the 'added-to' bottle is again half empty, it can be filled again. I tell my children it is like the miracle of the loaves and fishes -- or, perhaps even more accurately, the ever increasing holy water works along the same principle of God's providence and power that allows for a crumb of the Sacred Host to contain in its entirety still, Christ in His entirety, body, blood, soul, and divinity, the very same as an entire Host.

Where Does Holy Water Come From?

Holy water  is blessed notably on the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6) -- and any time thereafter that holy water is needed. 

First, the salt to be added to the water is exorcized and blessed. Then the water itself is blessed with these words:

I exorcise thee in the name of God the Father almighty, and in the name of Jesus Christ His Son, our
Lord, and in the power of the Holy Ghost, that you may be able to put to flight all the power of the enemy, and be able to root out and supplant that enemy and his apostate angels; through the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire.

God, Who for the salvation of the human race has built your greatest mysteries upon this substance, in your kindness hear our prayers and pour down the power of your blessing into this element, prepared by many purifications. May this your creation be a vessel of divine grace to dispel demons and sicknesses, so that everything that it is sprinkled on in the homes and buildings of the faithful will be rid of all unclean and harmful things. Let no pestilent spirit, no corrupting atmosphere, remain in those places: may all the schemes of the hidden enemy be dispelled. Let whatever might trouble the safety and peace of those who live here be put to flight by this water, so that health, gotten by calling Your Holy Name, may be made secure against all attacks. Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.

* Holy water may be easily obtained in the vestibule or entrance of every true Catholic Church and is placed there specifically for the easy access of the faithful. If the dispenser is not easily found, contact the pastor. If yours is a mission church, again, contact your pastor or visiting priest to obtain holy water. It's a common request, and he will be more than happy to supply your family with this sacramental so beneficial to your use.

*  Important to note: Know that the exorcism of water is omitted in the new rite, just as it's been removed from the blessing of salt! Be sure that all your holy water is obtained through a verifiably ordained priest.

* Also, note that "regular" holy water should not be confused with Easter Water -- or the miraculous

water obtained from Lourdes or other holy shrines (Mother Cabrini's spring, as another instance.) Waters from sacred places, unblessed, are not sacramentals -- which is not to say they do not have unique inherent blessings, but they cannot be used in place of holy water.

Fr. Philip offering Mass at the
Franziskanerkirche in Uberlingen,
Baden, Germany

Easter water, or baptismal water, is the water that is blessed on Holy Saturday (the day before Easter) and is used to baptize Catechumens. This water receives a more solemn sort of blessing than "regular holy water": the Easter Candle is dipped into it three times, and the priest blows his breath over it thrice, recalling the Spirit over the waters at Creation, and the Spirit causing the waters of Noe's flood to subside, and how the Spirit appeared as a dove over the waters at Christ's Baptism. If you've ever attended the beautiful Holy Saturday blessings and read the prayers as they are prayed over the water on this day, you can't help but be impressed by the special strength and solemnity added to the Easter water!

Any clean water can be used in Baptism, of course, and often is, as in cases of emergency; but the use of Easter water is preferable in ordinary circumstances.

And then there's...

Gregorian Water -- holy water mixed with wine, salt, and ashes -- which is used in the consecration of churches, altars and altar stones. And that's a whole other post: the consecration of churches. 

                                                                                                                                           (Stay tuned.)


Thursday, October 8, 2020

An October Prayer

Mother, at thy feet is kneeling

One who  loves thee -- it's thy child

Who has sighed so oft to see thee;

Bless me, Mother, mother mild.

And when storms are raging 'round me,

And when tempests hover near,

In thine own sweet arms enfold me,

Shield me, Mother, Mother dear.

Mother when my Savior calls me, 

From this world of sin and strife,

Clasp me upon thy spotless bosom,

Let me bid farewell to life.

Plead for me when Jesus judges,

Answer for me when He asks

How I've spent so many moments,

How performed so many tasks.

Tell Him I was weak and feeble,

Yes, that I so often strayed

From the thorny path of virtue

To the one with roses laid.

Yet, O Mother, tell my Jesus

That I loved Him, fond and true

And, O Mother, dearest Mother,

Tell Him I belong to You

Then He'll place me,

(yes, I feel it)

Close to thee, O Mother, dear,

Then I'll praise and bless

and thank thee

Through eternity's long years.


- AnaStPaul

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

On the Feast of the Holy Rosary

 A Catholic Mom's take on the importance of the Family Rosary...

If I hadn't had ten children and a husband (and countless dogs, cats, canaries, chickens, goats, cows... etc.) to keep track of over these 33 years of our family, I'd have been a gypsy and sold tie-died tee shirts out of an RV or something.  Honestly. I wouldn't even have owned a watch.  

But, as much as I hate to admit it, order and routine really are a good thing.  It was imperative when we had children in Catholic school to live by the clock, but even when we were still home teaching all the kids, it was necessary to keep a general framework around our daily lives  to preserve my sanity and to give the children a feeling of security -- and the most important crossbeams of this framework have been our daily prayers.

I remember from my own childhood the truth of the addage that children learn from what we *do* more than from what we *say*.  One of our neighbors growing up used to strongly warn her children about smoking, but the mother was a pack-a-day addict; darned if her children didn't end up being smokers.  Someone else we knew couldn't understand why his children had such foul mouths, even though he told them they'd sure as *%# not cuss around him!   In the same way, I think that some Catholic parents are intent upon their children staying true to the Faith, and they talk the talk, but don't walk the walk.

I've seen families build their days around sports events and practices or what television shows come on when and then, when little Johnny and Jane fall away from the Faith as young adults, their parents are dumbfounded.  They always took the kids to church on Sundays, and the children had always been raised to know they were Catholic; they may even have gone through twelve years of parochial school.  But, they didn't surround their children with the complete framework of their Faith.

If a child knows all the players' stats of his favorite football or baseball team, or if he can name all the songs his favorite band ever recorded, or if she gets to every  barrel racing trial and places in all the events at the county fair...  but doesn't know the saint of the day, can't tell you in detail the lives of her patron saints, doesn't remember when he last went to Confession, and never prays the rosary, the parents have constructed a house that will fall.  It's all facade, with nothing behind it to hold it together.

If the Mass and the Sacraments are the foundation of a life of real faith, the rosary has to be the nails that hold everything else together. Praying the rosary is the best guarantee we have for personal growth as well as family harmony, and it's vital that it be prayed away from the church, as well as within it. It should be something that every Catholic can remember being part of daily home life from earliest childhood.

Because it's shared by a family within the walls of the home, children properly raised will associate comfort, peace, and togetherness with the rosary --  with the prayers themselves, with the intercessor of the prayer, Our Blessed Mother, and with the Faith, in general.  And, there's little doubt in a child's mind that religion is an important thing if Mom and Dad make a point to gather the family together *every day* to practice it.

There's little doubt that they believe in the power of prayer when the children see their parents committing to Our Lady's hands the worries and troubles of their lives.

And our world desperately needs prayers -- especially the prayers of children.  A bond of prayer within a family is the strongest, deepest security that parents can give their children; it brings the Holy Family into the very heart of the home, into the hearts of all the family members, and into the nation and the world, in general, because the family is the building block of all society. Strong and wholesome families build a strong and wholesome world.

In short, there can never be harm in putting aside twenty minutes a day for the rosary, but there can be great harm in forgetting it.  Our Lady of Fatima stressed to Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco how very important it is to pray the rosary.  And the greatest of all mothers always has our best interest at heart.  If we love our children and want to help them save their souls, we have a duty as Catholics to lead them to Jesus through Mary through the rosary.

Our Lady, Queen of the Rosary, pray for us!

An AWTY edit from 2013

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Feast of St. Margaret, Model for Moms

Today marks the feast day of St. Margaret, patron of Scotland -- and sympathetic intercessor for mothers of large families!

Margaret (1045-1093) and her husband, King Malcolm of Scotland, had eight children, six sons and two daughters. Three of their sons Edgar, Alexander I, and David I, became Kings of Scotland. Her daughter Matilda married Henry I becoming Queen of England.  All retained the Faith and were pious rulers.

St Margaret stands out as the happy and pious mother of a large family. Even beset by the trials and temptations of living a life in court, she remained always a true and faithful daughter of the Church, inspiring her children and her entire kingdom by her pious example. Though she lived a thousand years ago, Margaret faced many of the same trials we do today as mothers trying to preserve our families from the evils of the world and proves that in the hardest of circumstances, with a cheerful heart, a steady hand, and a reliance on prayer a mother can guide all her children toward heaven successfully.

Prayer for the Intercession of St. Margaret

“O God, who called your servant Margaret to an earthly throne that she might advance your heavenly kingdom, and gave her zeal for your church and love for your people: Mercifully grant that we mighty follow her wisdom and this day and others may be fruitful in good works, and attain to the glorious crown of your saints; though Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Ghost, one God, for ever and ever.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Hellos and Goodbyes

I hate goodbyes. The older you get, the more there are -- or the more you notice them maybe. Time marches on, though, because the earth turns its back on the sun every day, and it's all good; our darkness is someone else's light. Most goodbyes also mean hellos in some way or another.                                            
Living near Omaha, which is a hub of the CMRI (Congregation Maria Regina Immaculata), we get the privilege of meeting the new seminarians to the priesthood here and the postulants to the CMD (the Sisters of the Congration Mater Dei) and getting to know them at least a little bit (they're very busy!). We grow close to our pastors, and the Religious teachers of the school, and we get to know the school children -- especially the boarding girls who live right down the road from us. It's a grace and a pleasure to make friends with so many wonderful Catholics! But, the flip side of that is that most of them are only here for a time -- and then move on. It's pretty sad!

We miss our own children and family, of course, who live in far-flung places (Kevvy and his family in Germany, Paul and his family in Minnesota; Dominic and his family in Denver; Fr. Philip and our two young minor seminarians in Idaho; and Sr. Antonia in Arizona), but we have the added, continual burden of also missing our far-away former-boarder-kid friends -- all over the world! And the priests and sisters who get reassigned! It's always rather jarring to the whole Omaha parish when our long-familiar, beloved Religious move away, but we let them go knowing that our loss is someone else's gain. Big time.

So it was with a bittersweet pang that we "sang out' Fr. Timothy Geckle this week at a Bon Voyage. party with the Mater Dei choir members. If you know the Davises, you know we're all about the choir. And so is Fr. Geckle, our friend of -- goodness, half his life, I think! How we'll miss him in every way -- not the least of which is hearing his voice at High Mass or benefitting from his conducting the choir (a tremendous talent of his!). His fellow priests and the seminarians and we parishioners, his friends, will miss his wisdom and his humor, and heaven knows the school children will cry to lose him as a teacher. And we'll all just miss the twinkle in his eye. 

But, we trust him to you, Sacred Heart parish with every confidence that you'll appreciate Father as much as we do: all those admirable attributes, plus the consecrated hands that will bring Our Lord down upon the altar daily now in beautiful Mountain View, Arkansas. Our goodbye equals so many Divine Hellos there.  

Friday, May 29, 2020

Nothing more need be said -- but watch as I say more. (wink) You know it's a subject near and dear to my heart. As parents, it's what we'll be judged upon, regardless of where we live, how much money we make, the schools available to us or not, how scholarly we are or are not: how seriously do we take the priority of Christ in every decision we make for our family? When our children become adults and look back on their childhoods, will the golden threads of the Faith be the form and sense and beauty that weaves together their fondest memories? Will they know that our choices for them revolved around trying very hard to always do God's will? Will their faith be their natural solace in sorrow, their strength in difficulty and temptation? Their home? The happy place they want to reproduce in their own families? 

God is never to be outdone in generosity. The world may fail us, our children may even disappoint us, but in the end, if we've given all we could in good faith, putting Him first, He will not fail us. He won't fail them, either. As much as we love our children, God loves them so much more. If we've learned that, we've learned everything.