Saturday, February 10, 2007


Holy Water

Before engaging in religious activities, one should be washed clean. After the Offertory, the priest washes his hands while reciting "Lavabo inter innocentes manus meas" ("I will wash my hands among the innocent") from Psalm 25(26).6 ff. Only those who have been baptized (dipped in water) are entitled to eat Christ's flesh and drink His blood. During Mass on Palm Sunday, the priest walks up and down the aisles, dips a palm frond in an aspersory carried by an altar server, and sprinkles the congregants with holy water. Just inside the doors of churches are stoups of holy water, so that entering worshippers can dip their fingers and make the Sign of the Cross.

There are of course Jewish analogues for these actions, but there are also similarities in ancient Greek religious practices. Among the numerous examples of washing before performing sacrifice, pouring libations, or saying prayers are these:For washing before entering a sacred space, see e.g.:

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