Of weasles, egg salad, broken teeth, blessed salt, and YOU

A weasel can chew through a cable and knock out a particle accelerator, but I can’t chew through an egg salad sandwich.

I had what might be called a “dental emergency”.  I knocked off the distal cusp of a mandibular molar.  Thus, pulling the priest card, I contacted a dentist friendly to clergy, who promptly opened his office, called a staffer, numbed a bunch of nerves (pretty obviously branching of the trigeminal, one of the cranial nerves), and repaired me.  They were super helpful and I’m grateful.

I was then told to rinse in the evening with salty water and asked to bless the dental office… which I did… both.  I might have also rinsed with a little rye… medicinally, of course, and to balance the humors, wry and other.

Which brings me to the next point.   Our relationship with salt.

Saline solutions are used to replenish our bloodstream.  We wash our eyes out with saline, our sinuses, our mouths.  Salt flavors our food and helps our bodies to work properly.

Saline solution, blessed, Holy Water, shoos away the Devil when we make the Sign of the Cross with it.  We splash it around before Mass in the Asperges and, during Paschaltide, the Vidi aquam.  We add it in the blessing of Epiphany Water.  We bless objects and sprinkle it.  The Lord used salt as a metaphor for our zeal and love in the Faith.

Bringing body and soul together in a single beautiful instant, in the traditional rite of Baptism, we put a little salt into the mouths of baptizandi before they are led into the church.  “Accipe sal sapientiae: propitiatio sit tibi in vitam aeternam…. Receive the salt of wisdom: may it be for you a token that foreshadows life everlasting.”

Symptoms of corporal salty deficiency (hyponatremia) include nausea and vomiting, headache, short-term memory loss, confusion, lethargy, fatigue, loss of appetite, irritability, muscle weakness, spasms or cramps, seizures, and decreased consciousness or coma.  Hmmm… sort of like what sin does to us.  No?  Translated into spiritual terms, if we lack what the Lord describes in being ourselves salty in the Spirit, we might say that sin makes us stupid and spiritually sick… until we die from the lack of habitual saving grace and wind up in Hell.

When a priest blesses Holy Water he exorcises the salt, addressing it personally, as if it were a living thing.

Blessed salt can be used for spiritual purposes alone or also for consumption!  The prayer in the traditional manner says:

O you creature of salt, I purge you of all evil by the living + God, by the true + God, by the holy + God, who commanded by the Prophet Elisha that you be put into water in order that the sterility of the water would be healed: so that you might be rendered a purified salt for the salvation of believers, and so that you might be a healthiness of soul and body to all who consume you, and so that you may put to flight and drive out from a place in which you will have been scattered every phantom and wickedness, and cunning trap of diabolical deceit, and every unclean spirit be solemnly banished by command through Him Who shall come to judge the living and the dead, and the world by fire.  R. Amen.

Consume!  Health of soul and of body!

As you can see, blessed salt is for the blessing of holy water, for sprinkling in places, and for consumption.  And the Devil hates it.

We really need salt, for our bodies and for our souls.

In nearly 25 years as a priest (anniversary coming in May) I have only… only…. used the older Rituale Romanum to bless salt and Holy Water.  I will not change in the next 25 years, if I am granted them.

Blessed salt and Holy Water.

Obtain them.  Use them.

Hell’s minions and the catch-farts who help them do not like blessed salt!


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. I have several boxes of blessed salt, as well as a several-gallon supply of holy water, all blessed according to the Rituale. My question is: can I used blessed salt in cooking, where a recipe calls for salt? [Sure!] I worry about the leavings, like say batter in a bowl or on a whisk, which are always there no matter how carefully one tries to eliminate that, and those might contain some of the blessed salt. [A good point. Just be a little careful. Remember: If salt is intended to be sprinkled around, how bad can it be if some gets cleaned up in food prep? It’s a sacramental, not the Blessed Sacrament.]

  2. LeeF says:

    One of the most insidious works of the liberals in the last decades is the denigration and omission of sacramentals. To me, they fill in the spaces between the sacraments themselves, along with other things like reading scripture, penance and mortification, acts of mercy, etc.

    What saddens me especially, is that when I was a child, parish priests were routinely given the authority to confer the scapular, and routinely did so prior to first communion. No longer. Now I would wager that the number of those who habitually wear a scapular in a typical NO parish smaller than those receiving communion on the tongue.

  3. Nan says:

    So I just take salt to the priest and ask him to bless it? [Take the text.]

  4. Deo Credo says:

    We always get a couple boxes of kosher salt blessed each year..I know “kosher” salt is funny but it’s what I like to use. [That’s what I get. I like its course grind.] I’m thinking this is usually done at epiphany during the vigil mass..I seem to think we always come home with holy water and blessed salt. I certainly use it for cooking. I never really thought about residue but then holy water will leave a residue of sorts or can drip or splash etc. Just my two cents. Sacramentals should be part of our lives.

  5. steve51b31 says:

    Our former pastor, during a discussion about why the holy water in the large font turned greenish especially during the summer months was mystified. I suggested that the holy water made to the older formulary of the Church, with blessed salt, will never turn green, and that the EF was simply the better way.

    Ha !!

    [Yes, the use of salt has various benefits. Also, Father should preach about the use of Holy Water so that people take it! He can always make more water… Holy Water, that is.]

  6. Lepidus says:

    Father, how about a little refresher on of these days on the proper use of Holy Water around the house? What’s appropriate, what’s not, what prayers, etc.

    Hope your tooth is feeling better….

  7. Charles E Flynn says:

    For a moment, I thought you were going to tell us that Father blesses two tanks of hydrogen and one tank of oxygen, opens their vales, and then, using the same matches that he uses to light incense…


  8. ConstantlyConverting says:

    Sea salt, real colored unbleached untreated salt is full of minerals which are sorely lacking in our food supply. Salt is great and healthful.

  9. ConstantlyConverting says:

    And there are plenty of coarse ground real salts.

  10. jilly says:

    I’m on a very high sodium diet (10 grams per day) due to autonomic nervous system dysfunction & hypovolemia (secondary to Ehlers danlos syndrome).

    Salt is pretty much keeping me alive right now but I never thought to get it Blessed! THANKS

  11. Grumpy Beggar says:

    I love this post and the comments. Thank you to everyone who posted.

    I’ve been using the blessed exorcised salt and blessed exorcised Holy Water mixed with the salt since a little before the year 2000. My spiritual director at that time ( M.Afr.) didn’t mind me bringing salt and water to our monthly meetings and exorcising and blessing them according to the older rituale romanum. So he wouldn’t have to go through it too often, I went for volume. Like Anita Moore, O.P. (lay) , I still have at least a box and a half of the regular granular salt, and maybe a half box of the Kosher salt ( hi Deo Credo) . . . can’t get used to the taste of the kosher salt, but I liked the idea of having a Jewish connection to it. I still have about a gallon of the Holy Water left too. One of the patients we had in long-term care along the way was a good Irish Catholic mom. She told me she always had a Holy Water font at home on the wall with Holy Water in it. And she would tell her kids to never leave the house without blessing themselves with the Holy Water first.

    A lot of the times, I’ll give a bottle or two away to a fellow parishoner who despondently discovers the fonts and the Holy Water dispenser empty during Holy Week.

    I got into this quite by accident (I say “accident” , but I’m willing to bet our Blessed Mother had something to do with it). I was reading this really old Roman Missal which belonged to my dad (I think he said he’d bought it used). Anyhow , at the Catholic university he went to, they were standard issue for students at that time. So, I get to this page bearing the formulas for blessing and exorcising the salt and the water and as I’m reading the blessings, I let out this : “Expletive deleted ! (I think our Blessed Mother covered her ears for that part) . . . why did they ever stop using this ?”

    Luckily not everyone stopped using it. The formulas were a slightly older version, and even though I wasn’t sure of the exact meaning of “baleful breath” on the first reading, the rest of it hit me like a ton of bricks. So, I asked my spiritual director if he would bless and exorcise the salt and water according to that formula and he said, “Sure, just bring me the Missal.”

    Now, I don’t leave home without it. . . literally. I always have a little bottle of the Holy Water, and the blessed salt in the car, and keep another little portable bottle in my coat pocket. My salt shaker has always had this blessed salt in it ever since. Even for people on salt restricted diets, as my spiritual director said, “You only need a little bit”.

    There was also this other expression I saw today that had a meaning I wasn’t really familiar with : catch-fart.
    Thanks Father Z – I still don’t know whether I laughed harder while I was looking it up, or when I discovered what it meant.

  12. APX says:

    Our pastor has forbidden our priest (FSSP) from making holy water for the laity to get themselves and for the fonts, and will only use the Book of “Blessings”. [What a jerk.] If we want holy water, we have to take our own supply for our priest to bless according to the Roman Ritual. I find the stuff made with the Book of “Blessings” to be rather ineffective.

    I keep an assortment of various types of holy water in my freezer, and have about 6 gallons of Epiphany Water, and a small container of blessed salt I keep in my purse and keep some on hand for cooking and medicinal purposes (I don’t waste money buying saline nasal spray; I make my own out of boiled Epiphany water and blessed salt, and I tell you that stuff works). I used to keep holy water and blessed salt in my desk when I was a probation officer to sprinkle in my office. Who knows what unclean spirits people were bringing into my office.

    On a bit of a side note, is there any requirement as to how much salt can be added to holy water? Our priest mentioned that he ran into a bit of a problem with keeping the holy water from freezing outside at the grave for winter funerals when it’s getting into the -30°C to -40°C without the windchill. I was thinking adding substantial blessed salt to the water to help lower the freezing point of the water.

  13. Elizabeth D says:

    I also like the traditional blessing for Holy Water. But as a sacramental it does not have any special abilities or qualities in itself based on the words said over it. A sacramental disposes you to receive grace–though you may be more or less disposed partly based on what you associate it with. If you are well disposed, the “type” of holy water made by the parish permanent deacon making a cross with his hand over it is as good as Jordan River water blessed in Latin with all the exorcisms in the Lourdes Grotto on Easter Sunday by Padre Pio and used to baptize. [Ummm… no. Yes, our disposition is important. But Holy Water – blessed with the older rite – has been, well, blessed. It has been removed from the realm of the prince of this world. Blessed Holy Water makes a difference.]

    If there were different efficacies of different kinds of holy water then you would have ministries with dispensaries of “different kinds of holy water”. [As a matter of fact, in the ancient Church there were special ministers at the doors of churches who would sprinkle people with Holy Water and distribute it to them.] Do I have a little bottle of Lourdes Water someone brought me? Yes. [That’s not Holy Water.] Do I try to make sure I get some Easter Water at Easter time? [Easter Water and Holy Water are noth blessed, but they are not the same thing.] Yes. But let’s be careful. I prefer the old rite blessing of Holy Water but I truly would not feel right to go out of my way to get water blessed with the old rite. [Again, I will NEVER – as in not ever in the life – use the new rite for “blessing” water.]

  14. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Elizabeth D: Yes and no. A sacramental is not magic. But from the OT on, a blessing is not something that only affects human creatures, or is only done for the benefit of humans. So although the new format of the Book of Blessings was reassuring to those theologians who don’t like God messing with material bits of Creation, or priests exercising Christ’s and Adam’s powers over it, it was a purposeful diminishment of the Church’s happy and close relationship with all God’s creatures.

    Humans from Eden on have been supposed to care for the Earth and protect it and tame it, as part of serving God. Blessings are part of that. They also express the way that Creation, which fell through Adam and Eve ‘s sin, was shown to be under God’s protection by God’s covenant with Noah, and was redeemed by the death and resurrection of Christ, true God and true New Adam. One of the minor motifs of the histories of hermit saints and of monasteries is that love, prayer, work, minor exorcisms, and blessings tend to make harsh places and dangerous plants and animals into something useful and beautiful, another Eden.

    The old blessing of holy water shows more love and respect for water, and asks God for more stuff. The new blessing probably still implies some of the stuff that is not explicitly said or prayed for, but it’s purposefully quite different in focus. I am sure that the new blessing is still efficacious, and I have experienced the “new” holy water’s efficacy in times of need. But the new blessing is asking for much less, and at times God finds that insulting when done for the wrong reasons. (Although that should be more the worry for the people who wrote the book.) If you don’t ask, it is possible that God will provide. But it is cruel to ask for blessings only on people, and thus to snub the rights of other creatures to receive the Church’s blessings and care.

  15. RichR says:

    DENTIST TO THE RESCUE!! As a fellow tooth-guy I can say that your situation is actually very common, FrZ. That doesnt make it easier for you, but know that a fractured distal cusp on a mandibular molar (as long as it is not too far below the gun line or isn’t into the nerve) is a predictable repair. Wishing you a speedy recovery.

  16. RichR says:

    Oops, I meant GUM-line. Freudian slip. How’s you’re pistol-shooting coming along, BTW? I miss your posts on that topic.

  17. RichR says: Libs freak out when I post on that, and run in little circles with eeek eeek eeek squeezing out of them. It’s coming along quite well. I’ll be going again early in the upcoming week. One of the last times I was out, I managed double-taps on two targets 10′ apart in 1.7 seconds from a draw. Nice and calm, of course. I should run in place for a while or doing push-ups till I burn and then see what happens. And… to keep this on topic, I’ll bring some Holy Water and blessed salt. Finally, I am feeling quite benign towards dentists today.

  18. acardnal says:

    I just asked my parish priest, a member of Jesus Christ the Priest congregation, if he blessed water and salt at the church using the old Rituale Romanum. His response was reassuring. He wrote, “Of course. I’m in the business of really exorcizing [sic] stuff, not just putting on a show. ”

    I’ll be refilling my holy water bottle tomorrow.

  19. Elizabeth D says:

    Should people have scruples about blessing themselves with the water in the stoups at places where waters is not blessed with the old rite? Surely it is an illusion when people experience consolation and relief from the demons when using that water?

    I doubt the wisdom of doubting that the holy water that’s actually available to me is backed up by the prayer of the Church and is good against evil. I don’t drive and cannot attend the parishes where they bless holy water with the old rite.

    [I have stated only what I intend to do concerning Holy Water. What other priests do is their business.]
    As you know I would like you to be at my parish regularly.

  20. Mike says:

    At the moment my household is in possession of Epiphany Water and chalk and blessed candles. Will have to add salt to the list. (Also, now I think of it, something to use the salt on in the event of TEOTWAWKI, although the Spam™ I’m apt to hoard probably won’t need it.)

  21. Jonathan82 says:

    My comment may sound flippant but I do intend it sincerely: If using the older rite causes water to be “removed from the realm of the prince of this world” (which I’m not arguing against), why couldn’t/shouldn’t the entire material world be blessed for that purpose?

  22. Allan S. says:

    As someone who also stocks up…after shopping around for a priest willing to use the traditional formulae…I have wondered about something, and you Father made a tangential reference to it:

    As a sick person who frequently receives IV fluids, including normal saline, I have often hoped that some priest managed to sneak inside a pharmseudical production facility and bless, exorcize the lab salt and then bless the final saline (salt water) solution, sealed in the bags. Can you imagine even a single lot of 1 million bags of NS being shipped out to hospitals everywhere? Streaming into our veins, a ‘grace’ injection?

  23. Nan says:

    Oh, my! Does that mean my 100 yr old bottle of Holy water from my great grandparents village has superpowers? What about the one from Trinity St Sergius Lavra, where there’s a holy spring? The water from the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe? A friend insisted I obtain properly blessed holy water. Or my parish Holy water, Blessed under which formula I know not?

  24. Father K says:

    I am not a liberal [ask anyone] but am Australian and we often tend to have a different attitude towards guns from our American cousins. I can remember the shock I felt when I walked into a Walmart and saw ammunition etc for sale.

  25. frjim4321 says:

    I certainly hope you are feeling better. Having recently had a dental emergency I can appreciate the situation. Our teeth have not yet evolved to support the relatively recent increase in longevity. My dentist is also very kind to priests and women religious, and accepts only what insurance pays and does not bill for the remainder.

  26. Nan says:

    Father K, I certainly hope that Walmart had guns to go with that ammo! I was raised in a household with guns. We knew better than to touch them.

  27. FarmerBrawn says:

    Regarding using salt to alter freeze point – as I recall, by the book, 9.8ppg NaCl would get you down to 15F. I have seen 9.8ppg NaCl at -15F and it was pretty slushy. Probably has something to do with dissolved solids. Regardless, to get into the -30F/C territory, you’re going to be looking at Calcium Chloride. I wouldn’t recommend flinging that around as it is pretty hard on clothing and skin. And you have to be careful with that stuff, as I think it will go the other way increase freeze temperature above 32F if you add too much.

    Perhaps a heated aspersorium would be in order. Even an aspersorium-thurible hybrid.

    [With which you could also make coffee after Mass.]

  28. AMDeiG says:

    Our wonderful priests have a standing practice to place a small bin far left of the communion rail on the gospel side of the altar. They encourage parishioners to place their salt and their olive oil in the bin with their name on it. The next week one does the pickup of their items, container marked with a black ink cross, to indicate it is blessed. The priests encourage the use of these in cooking and eating ino our homes and in particular they encourage the blessed salt be spread liberally around the nooks, crannies and corners of the home as often as deemed necessary.

  29. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Jonathan82 — It used to be one of the common practices of parish priests to bless everything within the bounds of their parishes, during Rogation Week. (That would be this week we’re in.) The prayers and Litany of the Saints, the procession, the Cross, the banners, and the bells were seen as chasing demons away from the parish and serving them notice that Christ demanded they leave, while the priest also prayed for the land and crops, safety from storms and earthquakes, and all sorts of other things.

    And of course various popes have consecrated the entire world to Jesus, to His Sacred Heart, to Mary, etc.

  30. dowd says:

    Excellent advice Father. I sprinkle Holy Water on my pillow each night before going to bed. Doing this, I believe, helps keep the devil and his bad thoughts at bay.

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