3.15 How is holy water made? What does a blessing do?
Holy water is water that has been blessed by a bishop, priest or deacon. A blessing is a prayer in which we ask for the blessing and presence of God. Blessed objects are consecrated to God: they have been set aside, so to speak, and are only used for the expression of our faith.
In addition to sacraments, there are also sacramentals. These are often prayers that are combined with a symbolic action, such as the sign of the cross or sprinkling with water. Holy water, blessings and the sign of the cross are all examples of sacramentals.
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The Wisdom of the Church
What are sacramentals?
Sacramentals are sacred signs or sacred actions in which a blessing is conferred.
Examples of sacramentals are holy water, the consecration of a bell or an organ, the blessing of a house or an automobile, the blessing of throats on the feast of St. Blaise, receiving ashes on Ash Wednesday, palm branches on Palm Sunday, the Easter candle, and the blessing of produce on the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. [Youcat 272]
What is a prayer of blessing?
A prayer of blessing is a prayer that calls down God’s blessing upon us. From God alone all blessings flow. His goodness, his closeness, his mercy—that is blessing. “May the Lord bless you” is the shortest prayer of blessing.
Every Christian should call down God’s blessing upon himself and upon other people. Parents can trace the Sign of the Cross on their child’s forehead. People who love each other can bless one another. Furthermore a priest, by virtue of his office, blesses explicitly in the name of Jesus and on behalf of the Church. His request for blessings is made especially effective through Holy Orders and the prayer power of the whole Church. [Youcat 484]
This is what the Popes say
[Today] is the dedication of your new parish church… May the care we show for the material building - sprinkling it with holy water, anointing it with oil, incensing it - be a sign and an encouragement for intensifying our care in defending and promoting the temple of people, formed by you, dear parishioners. [Pope Benedict XVI, Homily, 16 Dec. 2007]