Why Using Holy Water Isn’t Superstitious

Full Question

How do I explain the use/power of holy water to a Catholic who believes it’s superstition?


It’s not superstitious because in using holy water we’re following the example of Jesus and his first disciples.

Remind your Catholic friend of his baptism, in which God and his Church used holy water to remove original sin and any personal sins (Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) 1237-43, 1262-66ff.). So we see that God uses material means as instruments of his grace.

Holy water is an example of a sacramental, “sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments. They signify effects, particularly of a spiritual nature, which are obtained through the intercession of the Church” (CCC 1667). Water is a life-giving source for humanity in and of itself, so it symbolizes how God uses it, i.e., to bring his blessing into people’s lives. And thus what makes holy water holy is its being blessed, not because it naturally has such powers.

We also see the use of other material means in the Bible. Recall that touching Jesus’ garment cured a woman of a longstanding affliction with hemorrhages (Luke 8:42-48), and handkerchiefs and aprons that St. Paul distributed resulted in the healing of the sick and the exorcism of the possessed (Acts 19:11-12).

By Tom Nash



  1. Patrick Gannon Reply

    Consider the use of “holy water” in the Old Testament. In Numbers 5, there is directive from Yahweh about how to deal with a pregnant wife that you suspect of infidelity, but for which you have no evidence (If you had evidence, she would be stoned). The woman is to be taken to the priests, and after a payment and some chanting and hand waving, the ink used to write the charges against her are mixed with “holy water” along with dirt/mud from the floor. This is the floor of the tabernacle where the sacrifices take place. So you take this e-coli laden drink consisting of blood, guts, urine and feces and drink it. If you get sick and have a miscarriage (abortion), and/or get sick and die, you are guilty and presumably stoned to death. If you remain healthy, you are innocent. The man, of course is innocent in either case.
    The use of “holy water” sounds pretty superstitious to me! It’s interesting that Yahweh has his own recipe for abortion!

  2. Terrence Tran Reply

    We can use holy water to bless raw foods, bless new visitors, and chase away evil spirits around the house or in every room.

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