Most Common Questions and Answers Concerning Holy Water

What is Holy water?

Holy Water is equal to regular water in its’ composition. The talk about the changes being made to the molecules of water after the consecration is not scientifically proven and has nothing to do with the Church teachings.

According to the Church teachings, Holy Water is different from regular water in the way that a prayer was said over it and it was sanctified by the blessing.

It is well-known that God hears our prayers. What is more, He appointed us to be active in the Church life and to approach spiritual life in a creative way. Think upon the words of the Holy Gospel: ‘Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them’ (Matthew 18:18-20).

These words have everything. They state that our earthly church life will be blessed in Heaven, as well as that God hears the prayer of even two Christians, gathered in His name and answers it if it does not contradict His will…

The tradition of blessing of the water appeared in the ancient days of Christianity and was unknown at the time of Christ. But this tradition appeared because of our love for God. Not only does it not go against Christ’s teaching, but it also complies to the Holy Gospel. Remember the part of the Gospel, where to heal the blind man Jesus ‘spat on the ground, and made clay with the spittle; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay (John 9:6). Here we can see that Christ uses an earthly substance to perform a miracle and to reveal His power. It was not the dirt that cured the blind man, but God’s grace. However, the grace was revealed through a material object.

In the Book of Acts we read that “from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them” (Acts 19:12). It is quite natural that it happened not through the Apostles’ clothes, but God’s grace, which worked through material objects by the means of sincere faith.

We can say the same about Holy Water. We pray over it, we call upon God’s power, we bless water and plunge the Cross of God into it. Can we really hope that God will hear not just the prayer of two or three men, but the prayer of hundreds of thousands and millions of people? Yes, we can. The Lord hears us, and He blesses water with His grace. We consume this water and believe that we receive God’s grace through this ordinary material substance from the Lord’s altar, from Heaven.

How can we explain to the others that Holy Water is not a remedy for all diseases?

Holy Water can help to cure diseases. Just as anointing together with prayer to heal practiced at the Apostolic times, anointing and drinking Holy Water can help us recover from different diseases. I was convinced of it many times in my life.

However, there are key points one should remember:

1) Our use of Holy Water should be combined with a pious Christian life. At least, it seems odd to hope for God’s help while we lead a sinful life and ignore God’s Will about ourselves. How dare we ask for mercy then?

2) When asking God to help us, we have to trust Him. We have to believe that He knows better what to give us. Neither should we be discontent if God does not fulfil our will, nor should we doubt God’s mercy and wisdom.

I have kept a bottle of Holy Water at home for more than ten years, and it is still good. However, I am afraid to drink it. What shall I do? In other words, what should we do with the remaining Holy Water? I believe we cannot just pour it into the sink…

We can pour the water into a clean place: in a flowerbed, water pond or in the ground.

In ancient Russia, the battle flag and the weapons of the warriors were blessed with Holy Water. Why so? Weapons bring suffering…

The only military achievement the Church can approve of is protecting innocent and peaceful people from aggressors. From the earliest times, the Church has given its blessing to defend the borders of the homeland, save peaceful citizens from the enemy and maintain law and order from criminals. When blessing the soldiers, we sprinkle their weapons with Holy Water, so that it could be used for bringing peace and order.

Is it true the Theophany water ‘has more grace’ than the water sanctified during moleben?

It is a myth.

Indeed, the rites of blessing the water are different. On the Feast of Holy Theophany the rite of Great Agiasma (from Greek The Great Blessing of Water) is held. The blessing of water during the moleben is a regular rite of blessing. But in both cases the priest reads similar prayers and makes request to bless the water.

That is why you will never hear the priest say that something ‘has more or less grace’. But some, who don’t really know the order of the blessing of water might think that sometimes we can ask for ‘more grace’ than we usually receive.

The rite of the Great Agiasma is not the same as the rite of blessing of water in terms of its solemnity.

As far as I know, when you are running out of Theophany water you can add a few drops of it into regular water. As a result, all the water will be sanctified. Is this true?

The thing is that holy water differs from regular water not because of its’ structure, power and other characteristics. It is special because it went through prayers, blessing, and the ritual of consecration.

Therefore, it can be added only when we are really in need of holy water, when it is not available and we only have some from earlier time. We have to aim at regularly taking the newly blessed holy water to our homes from the church (such as the feast days of Theophany).

I heard that on the day of Theophany all the streams of water become sanctified, even the water in the tap. It is really so?

Yes, there is such old pious belief. Believers who were incarcerated in soviet prison camps told stories about how they used water from rivers and lakes as holy on January, 19 and, indeed,  it had all the characteristics of holy (for example, it never went bad).

I believe, this is the matter of our approach to it. Basically, the water is not sanctified worldwide. If the water is sanctified in a certain river, then, the water in this river will be holy. If it is sanctified in a well – this very well will contain holy water. However, it would be strange enough to explain the blessing of water that happens worldwide by the diffusion effect.  

Why does Holy Water evaporate or even goes bad?

It happened for the reasons stated above. The molecular structure of the water does not change. Sometimes by the Grace of God as a miracle (and quite widespread may I add) the water remains fresh for many years. But often, blessed water can go bad just as any other water.

Is it true that the River of Jordan changes the direction in which it flows and turn back the tides on the Feast of Theophany?

No, it has not happened since the time of Joshua. You can read about it in the book of Joshua:

“And the Lord said unto Joshua, This day will I begin to magnify thee in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee. And thou shalt command the priests that bear the ark of the covenant, saying, When ye are come to the brink of the water of Jordan, ye shall stand still in Jordan. And Joshua said unto the children of Israel, Come hither, and hear the words of the Lord your God. And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites. Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth passeth over before you into Jordan. Now therefore take you twelve men out of the tribes of Israel, out of every tribe a man. And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap. And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people; And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,) That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho. And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.

Can a Layperson in extreme circumstances, when there is no priest near by, away from civilization but when he has a dire need for Holy Water bless the water himself and would such water be considered Holy?

It can not and will not be.

A person can pray to God in difficult situations and God will hear his prayers but a not layperson nor a deacon can bless the water (Only Baptism can be done by any Christian). The rite for blessing and Sacraments belong to the priest(with the exception of blessing of The Holy Myrrh, blessing of the church and The Sacrament of Holy Ordination. The bishop on the hand has the right to all blessing and Sacraments.