The Orthodox Sacred Tradition of Holy Water

My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,


During our entire life there is a great blessing next to us -- holy water. Blessed water is a form of God's grace: it cleanses the Christian believers from spiritual uncleanness and sanctifies and strengthens them for the spiritual struggle of salvation in God.

We are immersed in it for the first time at Baptism, when during this Mystery (Sacrament) we are lowered into a vessel (Baptismal Font) filled with holy water. Holy water of the Mystery of Baptism washes away sinful uncleanness of man; it renews and revives him into a new life in Christ. We are reborn through Water and the Spirit. Holy water is certainly present during the blessing of churches and of all objects used in church divine services, during the blessing of residential homes, buildings and any everyday objects. We are sprinkled with holy water on the Feast of Theophany and other services throughout the ecclesiastical year.

"Blessed Water", wrote the luminary Dimitri Hersonsky, "has the power to sanctify souls and bodies of everyone who makes use of it. Partaken with faith and prayer, it heals our bodily infirmities." Holy Water quenches the fire of passions.

Saint Seraphim, after (hearing) confessions of pilgrims, always gave them to drink from a cup of holy water. Venerable Ambrose sent a bottle of holy water to a terminally ill person, and the incurable illness, to the amazement of doctors, was gone. When someone was very ill, elder Seraphim blessed him to take a tablespoon of holy water every hour. The elder (geronda) used to say that there was no stronger medicine than holy water and holy oil (holy Unction).

Blessing of water was accepted by the Church from the Holy Apostles and their successors. But the first example was given by the Lord Himself when He immersed Himself into the Jordan River and made holy the nature of water.

Water was not always in need of sanctification. There were times when everything on earth was pure and holy. "And God saw everything that he had made", says the Book of Genesis (Old Testament), "was very good" (Genesis 1:31). At that time, before the fall of man, all was created by God's word, all came to life through the Holy Spirit that dwelled above the water. Everything on earth bore the Seal of the God's All-Sanctifying Blessing, and because of this, earthly elements served for the benefit of man: they supported life and preserved the body from destruction. Living in these harmonious surroundings of Paradise, man, as promised by God, was meant to be immortal, "For God made not death" (Wisdom of Solomon 1:13).

But man himself, through association with an unclean spirit, took into his soul the seed of uncleanness. And then the Spirit of God stepped away from the unclean creation: "And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh" (Genesis 6:3). Now, everything that the hands of sinners touched became unclean, everything became a weapon of sin, and therefore was deprived of God's blessing and was subjected to damnation. The elements, that previously served man, changed. The earth now produced thorns and wolves; the air, saturated with decay, became dangerous and sometimes lethal. Water, having turned into a runoff of sewage, became contagious, dangerous, and now in the hands of God's righteous judgment began to act as a weapon of punishment of the unrighteous.

But this does not mean that mankind has been denied holy water. The spring, brought out of a mountainside by Moses streamed, of course, not ordinary water but special water. Not ordinary was the water in the well of the Samaritan woman, which had been dug out by the forefather Jacob and later sanctified by our Savior's conversation at this source.

The idea of holy water is encountered even in the Old Testament: "and the priest shall take holy water in an earthen vessel" (Numbers 5:17). But water that is altogether special runs in the Jordan River. Our Lord Jesus Christ appeared on the Jordan River in order to sanctify the essence of water and to make it a source of blessing for the mankind. That is why at the time of Baptism of our Lord in the River Jordan, it was as if the wonder of creation was repeated: the heavens opened up, the Spirit of God descended, and the voice of the Heavenly Father was heard: "This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased" (St. Matthew 3:17). Thus, blessing of water took place for the first time after the fall of man into sin. (Author Unknown)

(To be continued)


"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!" - Saint John Chrysostomos


With sincere agape in His Holy Theophany,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George