ASK FATHER: Holy ICE! Holy Water freezing in the stoop.

IMG_0422From a reader…


I have included some pictures as a visual aid for my question.

Today I went to confession at a church well over 100 years old. As such, the entrance ways are quite cold in the winter, especially right now since we’re in an Arctic Polar Vortex. As you can see below, the holy water in the stoup is a holy Popsicle. I had some blessed salt in my purse so I added a few granules to melt a small amount to bless myself with (also pictured below). It worked quite well.

This is not an uncommon problem. We had a funeral when the temperatures were reaching the -40°C mark (without the wind chill) and the holy water kept freezing outside.

This got me thinking; what are the requirements for holy water? Since salt naturally helps to prevent (or at least slow down) the freezing of water, and since exercised salt is already added to holy water that’s made according to the Roman Ritual, is there anything that prohibits adding a substantial amount of exorcised salt to holy water or using salt water to prevent freezing?

Interesting question.

I only have ever use and only will ever use the older, traditional blessing for Holy Water in the Rituale Romanum. Period.

In the traditional blessing, salt is exorcised and blessed. After the water is also given the same treatment, the salt is added to the water with the invocation of the Trinity in a three-fold pouring in crosses.

There is no specified amount for the salt.

There have been times when I have added quite a bit of salt to retard any algae growth if I knew it was going to sit for a while or be stored. There have been times that I have had to clean a salty crust from stoops, left as the water evaporated. No harm no foul.

Perhaps you might suggest to Father to use the older rite and add quite a bit of salt.

Holy water brings actual graces to those who are disposed to receive them.

There can be both spiritual and corporal effects from the use of Holy Water.  Use of Holy Water in making the sign of the Cross effects the forgiveness of venial sins.  One should use it consciously, perhaps also saying an act of contrition.  Holy Water helps us resist temptations that can come from the Devil, the Enemy of the soul.  Demons hate Holy Water.  The blessing of Holy Water refers to how it puts devils to flight.  Holy Water can aid our intellect and will.

We use Holy Water in the Asperges and Vidi Aquam at Mass.  We use it in blessing objects. We use it at funerals.  We use it, in fact, all the time… or we should.

There are various kinds of waters which we bless and use as Catholics.   Today I was chatting with a priest about my coming on the Vigil of Epiphay to bless a large quantity of “Epiphany Water” which will then be distributed to the large men’s group which will be in attendance.

Let’s use these spiritual aids.  It is so easy to incorporate their use in our daily lives.  Why not?


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Mary Jane says:

    “Holy ice, Batman!” :)

  2. bombcar says:

    If the holy water has evaporated, leaving behind salt, is the salt still holy?

    Should you cross yourself with “holy dust” if the font is empty from evaporation?

    If you regularly replace the holy water, how should it be disposed of?

    If a cat drinks from the holy water, is it a holy cat?

  3. un-ionized says:

    Where I am from the holy water is changed weekly and the old holy water is poured out on the turf outdoors. I wonder then if it’s holy turf. Holy Turf, Batman!

  4. un-ionized says:

    If the cat drinks from it it gets a blessed tongue at least.

  5. Allan S. says:

    For the definitive smack down in the old vs. new holy water debate, I refer your readers to The Order for Blessing Water: Past and Present, an essay by Daniel G. Van Slyke (Antiphon 8:2 (2003), 12-23). The author is a Professor at the Liturgical Institute of the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary. The act of blessing water is explained thus:

    “Hence blessing or consecrating a thing in general or water in particular entailed breaking Satan’s influence over it, so that it could no longer serve as an instrument of his hate. Then, by the power of Christ entrusted to the Church, the thing blessed could be used as an efficacious instrument for good – assuming the proper disposition of the person who benefits from the use of the item. This type of exorcism is frequently found in ancient rituals, including, for example, rites of baptism. It is prefatory in nature; if something or someone is to become an instrument of blessing, then, logically, that person or thing must be free from demonic influence. Such prefatory exorcisms do not indicate that the devil possesses the thing or person in the sense of indwelling, but in the sense of having some claim, jurisdiction, or power over it by virtue of the Fall.”

    The author ascribes the revisions to the traditional blessing rite to the following:

    “…any view that discounts the influence of evil in favor of an insistence on the goodness of creation can be accused of an optimism that verges on naïveté. Perhaps such optimistic views betray a privileged first world bias in their facile dismissal of the radical consequences of sin on the created world: “Cursed be the ground because of you! In toil shall you eat its yield all the days of your life” (Gn 3:17). Certainly God created all things good; but we no longer live in the Garden of Eden.

    “Nevertheless, such optimistic views culminate in a reinterpretation of exorcism, which exerts considerable influence over the current Order for Blessing Water.”

    I have a pdf of the article and will email it to Father Z – I don’t have a link to it.

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  7. Maypo says:

    Father, can you tell me the proper way I can bless rooms in my house with holy water? Thank you!

  8. acardnal says:

    There is a good book all about holy water that readers may be interested; it was originally published in 1909. It has been reprinted by Sophia Institute Press: Holy Water and Its Significance for Catholics by Rev. Henry Theiler. Available via Amazon.


  9. SundaySilence says:

    Oh my gosh, thank you for the reminder! I always keep a vial of holy water in my car (you never know when you are going to need it). Outdoor temperatures are plummeting. It’s now been safely transferred to a pocket of my winter coat.

    [My work here is done.]

  10. Grant M says:

    Not a problem in Jakarta…

  11. jaykay says:

    Maypo: “Father, can you tell me the proper way I can bless rooms in my house with holy water?”

    Why not just recite the St. Michael prayer? I do. And don’t stop inside your house. Bless all your property, outside and inside, praying for protection. Blessing your bounds, as it were. Invoke the Holy Souls as well. When you pray for them, they return it, on the double. In fact, pray for them every time you take Holy Water. They need it.

  12. Grant M says:

    “Is it a holy cat?”

    Just a Magnifi-Cat…

  13. Sword40 says:

    WOW. The comments here have really gone “downhill” fast. LOL.

  14. mharden says:

    ASK FATHER: Is it permissible for a permanent deacon to perform the traditional blessing for Holy Water according to the Roman Rite? Or only a priest?

  15. mharden says: permanent deacon

    No. The blessing of Holy Water is reserved to priests and bishops.

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