In the Catholic Church, holy water is sprinkled on a person or an object to bless or cleanse them. There’s no liturgy or sacrament that involves drinking holy water.
That said, it’s not a sin if you drink holy water, whether deliberately or accidentally. But, it may not be safe for your health.
What You'll Learn Today
What Does Holy Water Do?
To start, let’s talk a bit about what holy water is,where it comes from and what it does.
Holy water is regular water that’s been blessed and consecrated by a priest. When the holy water is sprinkled, it imparts God’s blessings, cleansing, and grace onto a person or object.
Holy water is a reminder of baptism and the new life we were born into. Through God’s grace It softens our hearts and minds towards God’s will and makes it easier for us to do good and avoid evil.
Holy water also confers God’s blessings on whoever or whatever it is used on. That’s why the priests sprinkles it on congregants during mass.
You can also sprinkle it on your family members to bless them, or on your house, your car, your garden or whatever you want to bless.
To be clear, the use of holy water is not magic although it has a lots of benefits.
That’s a common misconception that leads some people to drinking holy water. They think it’ll have an instantaneous magical effect on them.
We do not have control over which blessings and grace holy water imparts on someone or something.
So there’s no guarantee that you’ll heal someone by sprinkling holy water on them or that you’ll pass an exam when you dip your hands in a font of holy water.
It’s also important to remember that your faith matters a great deal.
Can You Drink Holy Water (and Is It A Sin If You Do)?
The typical way holy water is used is sprinkling it on someone or something. If you are blessing yourself, you dip your fingers in the font and make the sign of the cross.
There are denominations (like Eastern Orthodox) who drink holy water. But in the Roman Catholic Church, there’s nothing of the sort.
Now, if you want to drink holy water, you can do it. It’s not against any particular church rules nor is it a sin.
However, if the purpose for drinking the water goes against the bible (e.g. you think it has magical powers), that could potentially be a sin.
Remember holy water works by faith. Simply applying the water on your skin and making the sign of the cross is enough to receive God’s grace and blessings.
You don’t need to drink it or do anything else for it to be more effective.
Is Holy Water Safe To Drink?
The biggest issue with drinking holy water is not whether it’s a sin or not; it’s your health.
The holy water found in fonts in parishes is not suitable for drinking. Remember that everyone is dipping their fingers in it. One study found that holy water in most churches is teeming with harmful bacteria.
While many churches have improved hygiene by replacing the water regularly, it’s still not a good idea to drink it.
The only instance where you can drink holy water safely is if you’ve brought your own water to the priest for blessing. As long as you are sure the water is safe, you can drink it.
Just make sure you are not drinking it for the wrong reasons.
What Would Happen If You Accidentally Drank Holy Water?
Nothing would happen if you accidentally drank holy water. At least, not when it comes to the purity of your soul.
Drinking holy water is not a sin, whether you do it willingly or accidentally (as long as you don’t drink it for the wrong reasons such as magic or witchcraft).
If you don’t know the source of the water or you drank water from the church font, you may want to consult your doctor.
The water may not be safe to drink and could cause illness. Ask your doctor if there’s any preventive medication you can take.
How To Use Holy Water The Right Way
First, make sure you have actual holy water. It must have been blessed by a priest.
Get holy water from your local church. Carry a clean container (a small bottle or jar is adequate) and ask the church staff if you can get some water from the font.
To use holy water, simply sprinkle it on whatever you want to bless and make the sign of the cross. You can say a prayer or recite bible verses if you want.
To bless a person, sprinkle them with the water or touch them with it on the forehead. Make the sign of the cross and say a prayer for them.
To bless yourself, dip your fingers into the water and make the sign of the cross.
Do not keep holy water for too long as it’ll go stale and get smelly. Dispose it by pouring it into the ground, in the garden or in a flower pot.
Is Holy Water Mentioned In The Bible?
Using holy water is not a tradition that the Catholic Church came up with.
The Old Testament has several instances where water is sprinkled to purify or cleanse. Here’s an example in Leviticus 14:51.
Then he is to take the cedar wood, the hyssop, the scarlet yarn and the live bird, dip them into the blood of the dead bird and the fresh water, and sprinkle the house seven times.
Numbers 5:17 also mentions holy water.
Then he shall take some holy water in a clay jar and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water.
The Old Testament also talks a lot about ritual washing for cleansing purposes. The Israelites even had basins (what we call fonts today) that held water for cleansing.
Here’s Exodus 30:18.
Make a bronze basin, with its bronze stand, for washing. Place it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it.
In this chapter, God instructs Moses that the priests must wash their hands and feet before entering the tent of meeting and before presenting a food offering at the altar.
In the New Testament, the importance of water is in baptism. It represents a cleansing and a rebirth into new life.