Week of Ash Wednesday

Holy Water and Spiritual Warfare

Holy water is a sacramental that reminds us of our baptism. But what's so important about baptism that we need to be reminded of it all the time, and how is it related to spiritual warfare?

Baptism ushers us into the divine life, cleanses us from original and actual sin, and initiates us as members of the Catholic Church. It is the foundation of the Christian life—it is literally what makes us Christians at all. Ordinarily administered by a priest, this sacrament takes the form of a triple immersion or sprinkling with water in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. In baptism we die with Christ and are raised with Christ so we can be fully united with Christ in our life and death.

Baptism removes us from the kingdom of Satan and makes us citizens—and soldiers—of the Kingdom of God. Fittingly, the baptism rite includes an exorcism (a prayer that expels the influence of Satan in the name of Christ) and a series of promises to reject the works of the Devil and embrace the works of God.

Since baptism is the foundation of our Christian life, all acts of spiritual warfare are grounded in our baptismal identity. So next time you walk into a church, bless yourself with holy water and recommit to the fight for the Kingdom of God. And consider taking some holy water home with you in a bottle so you can bless yourself with it during the week!
Grant, O Lord, that we may begin with holy fasting this campaign of Christian service, so that, as we take up battle against spiritual evils, we may be armed with weapons of self-restraint.

This collect prayer begins the Mass for Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Jesus is calling us to "take up battle against spiritual evils." We'll explore fasting itself in a few weeks; during the week of Ash Wednesday, we're going to dig into an important set of weapons the Lord gives us to fight evil: sacramentals.

What's a sacramental? Well, if you attend Mass on Ash Wednesday, you're probably going to receive one on your forehead.