Blessed Water and the Giving of Grace

Through the Easter Candle and Sign of the Cross the waters of blessing and baptism acquire the power of the Holy Spirit to distribute grace.

Hear the words of St. Ambrose.

Marah was a spring of bitter water. When Moses threw wood into it, its water became sweet. Water, you see, is of no avail for future salvation without the proclamation of the Lord’s cross. But when it has been consecrated through the saving mystery of the cross, it is then ready for use in the laver of the Spirit and in the cup of salvation. Therefore, as Moses in his role of prophet threw wood into the spring of Marah, so also the priest sends out into the fountain of baptism the proclamation of the Lord’s cross and the water becomes sweet, ready for the giving of grace.

Do not then believe only what the eyes of your body tell you. What is not seen is here more truly seen, for what is seen belongs to time but what is not seen belongs to eternity. What is not comprehended by the eyes but is seen by the mind and the soul is seen in a truer and deeper sense.

...Naaman was a Syrian; he was a leper, and could not be healed by anyone. Then a girl from among the captives said that there was a prophet in Israel who could cleanse him from the disease of leprosy. Taking gold and silver, we are told, he went to see the king of Israel. The king, on learning the reason for his coming, rent his garments, saying that it was really to find an excuse against him, for what he was being asked was beyond the power of a king.

Elisha, however, told the king to send the Syrian to him, and he would learn that there was a God in Israel. When he came, Elisha ordered him to bathe seven times in the river Jordan. Then Naaman began to reflect that the rivers of his own country had better waters, and that he had often bathed in them, and never been cleansed of his leprosy. This gave him pause, and he refused to obey the prophet’s instructions. But on the advice and persuasion of his servants he yielded and bathed, and was instantly made clean. He realized then that it is not waters that make clean but grace.

Here was a man who doubted before being made whole. You are already made whole, and so ought not to have any doubt. 1

St. Theresa of Avila on Holy Water:

“From long experience I have learned that there is nothing like holy water to put devils to flight and prevent them from coming back again. They also flee from the cross, but return; so holy water must have great value.” 2

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'I am wounded by love'

What, I ask, is more wonderful than the beauty of God? What thought is more pleasing and wonderful than God’s majesty? What desire is as urgent and overpowering as the desire implanted by God in a soul that is completely purified of sin and cries out in its love: I am wounded by love? The radiance of divine beauty is altogether beyond the power of words to describe.

- Saint Basil the Great