Because of the importance and significance of holy water in the Catholic Church, there are strict rules on how it should be handled. This includes storage as well as disposal. So how to dispose of holy water?
Why Holy Water Is Important?
The practice of using holy water in sacraments such as baptism and anointing of the sick goes back to Jewish law.
Here’s a passage from Numbers 5:17;
And the priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel; and of the dust that is in the floor of the tabernacle the priest shall take, and put it into the water.
In Exodus, God instructs Moses to build a bronze laver – essentially a large basin – where Aaron and subsequent priests can cleanse their hands and feet before making a sacrifice.
Water in general, plays a big role in christian – not just catholic – rituals. It denotes cleansing and penance.
In the Catholic church, holy water is used in various blessings to signify repentance, ward off evil and remind us of the sacrament of baptism.
Most churches have fonts filled with holy water kept at the entrance to the church. Notably, many catholic churches are switching to automatic holy water dispensers in light of Covid-19 and other health concerns.
How Do You Dispose Of Holy Water?
Holy water that can no longer be used should not be disposed of like regular water. That’s because the water is sacred. Whether it’s at church or at home, it is improper to drain holy water into regular plumbing along with normal water.
The general recommendation is to pour holy water directly onto the ground. In many catholic churches, there’ll be a special basin – called a Sacrarium – to dispose of holy water.
The basin is connected to a pipe that leads to the ground, so the holy water ends up in the ground.
You likely don’t have a sacrarium at home. So the only way to dispose of holy water is pouring it on the ground. You can also pour it in your potted plants or garden.
Remember you can always ask for guidance from your church priest if you are not sure how to use or dispose of holy water.
And if you happened to unknowingly dispose of it improperly, seek penance in your next confession. Here’s our latest article on how Catholics get to heaven.