8 Ways to Use Holy Water

By Gretchen Filz, O.P.

Every Catholic knows—at least partially—how to use holy water: we dip our fingers in the font and bless ourselves as we enter the Church.

Ideally, we are supposed to recall our baptism and our baptismal promises, including our renunciation of Satan and disdaining sin.

St. Teresa of Avila extolled the importance of holy water:

From long experience I have learned that there is nothing like holy water to put devils to flight and prevent them from coming back again. They also flee from the Cross, but return; so holy water must have great virtue. For my own part, whenever I take it, my soul feels a particular and most notable consolation. St. Teresa of Avila

Saint Teresa of Avila

We Catholics often forget the power of this sacramental, and take holy water for granted most of the time. If we use it regularly, this is an easy trap to fall into.

But we shouldn’t let ourselves remain numb to holy water’s efficacy.

Holy Water Is Powerful

We must remember that—through a priest—holy water is blessed by God in virtue of Christ’s baptism. The Catholic Church possesses enormous power in being able to impart sacramental grace—and holy water as a sacramental receives its power through the prayer and authority of the Church.

The rite of blessing that a priest says over to make it holy contains prayers of exorcism. It can banish demons, heal the sick, and send unwarranted grace upon us—yet most of the time we cross ourselves with this water without even thinking about how holy it really is.

The fact of the matter is that holy water is a powerful sacramental and we ought to use it daily. To prevent us from using it without thinking, we should consciously find ways to use it more. Holy water can be used to bless people, places, and things that are used by humans in their goal of glorifying God with their lives.

Here is a list of eight ways to use holy water in your everyday life:

1. Bless Yourself

This suggestion is obvious, but if we are only blessing ourselves with holy water on Sunday, then aren’t we missing out on the rest of the week? You can never have too much grace or blessing in your life. 

Use holy water daily. Keeping a holy water font in the home is an excellent idea so that you, your family, and your guests can be blessed in the comings and goings from your home. 

Keep the font right by the front door to ensure you never leave home without it.

2. Bless Your House

If you haven’t taken the time to bless your house with holy water, then no time is better than the present. Your home is the domestic Church and is in need of spiritual protection. 

You can sprinkle holy water in your home yourself, or have a priest formally bless your home using holy water as part of the house blessing ceremony.

Some parents also use holy water to bless things their children regularly use, such as bicycles and school books.

3. Bless Your Family

Use holy water to pray and make the Sign of the Cross over your spouse and children before they go to sleep at night. Bonding the family to each other and to God in this way is a great family tradition to adopt.

Keep a holy water bottle by the bedside for this purpose.

4. Bless Your Work Space

If you work outside of the home, sprinkling your workspace with holy water is a great idea, not only for spiritual protection on the work front but also to sanctify your daily work for the glory of God.

5. Bless Your Car

The car is probably the most dangerous place where you spend a significant amount of time each day. Never underestimate the power of holy water applied to your vehicle to keep you safe from harm’s way, when used in faith and trust in God. In fact, you can also have a priest bless your car with holy water.

6. Bless Your Garden

 It was a common practice in the Middle Ages for people to sprinkle their vegetable gardens with holy water. 

In times when people were very dependent on crops for their livelihood, lack of rain or early frosts could be devastating. Using holy water to bless and sanctify the plants that would be used for the family’s sustenance showed their reliance on God’s grace.

7. Bless the Sick

If you know of any sick friends or family, then blessing them with holy water probably counts as a corporeal and spiritual work of mercy. 

If you visit the sick in a hospital or nursing home, bless their living space with holy water and leave a holy water bottle with them as a comfort in their time of need.

8. Bless Your Pets

Many parishes on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi have a rite of blessing for pets. Pets are loved companions for individuals and families and often provide a great service to them, and even these can be blessed with holy water because all creation has the end of giving glory to God. This also applies to livestock and farm animals that provide labor, livelihood, and nourishment to humans.

Praying with Holy Water

Personalized Elegant Holy Water Bottle

Here’s a simple prayer to say when using holy water, especially when you are blessing yourself with the Sign of the Cross:

“By this holy water and by Your Precious Blood, wash away all my sins, O Lord. Amen.”

This is just a suggestion, of course. There is no “correct” prayer to pray when using holy water, other than making the Sign of the Cross and saying the words aloud: “In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” You can also pray an Our Father or even the St. Michael Prayer when using holy water. Keep in mind that holy water has already been blessed by the priest’s prayers. Its power is based on the authority of the Church—and thus of Christ. You don’t need to add anything!

How Do You Use Holy Water?

Holy water is one of those beautiful gifts (and weapons) from God to keep us sanctified and holy in our daily lives and to keep the things we regularly use sanctified and holy.

If we stop and think about what a generous gift holy water is, we will use it more frequently, thoughtfully, and gratefully!