To salt or not to salt

I guess you learn something new every day. (At least for me that’s still the case.) Anyway, I was reading something or other and came across a mentioning of the Roman Catholic practice of putting salt in holy water. Strange. I was trying to learn more about it online and stumbled upon this forum thread on a site appropriately called Catholic Answers.

To begin with, the question was posed whether salt is needed. Or, more precisely, the person asked the priest to bless some more holy water as the holy water urn was being cleansed and she wanted it to be replaced with fresh water. When she told him that there was already salt added he told her that salt was unnecessary. To top it all off when he blessed the water she says, “he simply waved his hand in the sign of the cross over the urn and announced it was blessed”. Apparently, according to her, when their deacon usually does it he uses a “Book of Prayers and recites a beautiful prayer.”

Hence, now there are two issues: salted or unsalted/wave of hand or long prayer?

See here to read the full discussion.

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8 thoughts on “To salt or not to salt

  1. Salt itself can be blessed, and it usually used as an exorcistic sacramental, if I recall correctly. Thus the practice of placing salt in the soon-to-be holy water is a Western expression of our Byz prayers at baptism that no evil or unclean spirit be allowed to “hang out” in the water. I think the scriptural reference is to a use of salt by the Prophet Elisha — or was it Elijah?

  2. Father, Bless!
    It is indeed used as a preservative, to which they have “added” a symbolical meaning (you know, “you are salt of the earth”).
    And as for deacons being allowed to do blessings etc, that was in the time when the RC’s had abundand clergy, and very often priests would fill the role of deacon at services. Yet as far as I know, a “regular” deacon is also according to roman typicon not allowed to perform these blessings. Perhaps though these days, because of a lack of clergy, they allow it out of oikonomia…

  3. RC deacons can do these sorts of blessings. They can also do weddings, baptisms, funerals. Readers and pastoral workers cannot; these folks are still laity, while the deacons are clergy.

    I’ve never heard of salt in holy water before. I don’t think it was ever considered as necessary, but perhaps it was done by some in an attempt to keep that green slime away- and then others began thinking it was part of tradition. I’ve noticed there’s a lot of confusion about what is tradition- we have a lot of ‘traditionalists’ using the 1962 liturgy- an obvious innovation over the old roman liturgy, yet few people notice.

  4. Yes, I too wondered about that. It is not deacons but priests who are supposed to bless things, including the salt, before it goes into the water.

  5. I think there might actually be a thirth question: “Apparently, according to her, when their deacon usually does it he ………..” Huh???? I thought that also with RC’s these kind of blessings are done by priests and bishops, not by deacons or readers or even pastoral workers?

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