But If It's Holy Water…

A Catholic bishop has finally admitted that holy water really isn’t any different from regular water.

Well, he didn’t say that in so many words, but he has advised a ban on holy water to stop the swine flu from spreading, which means the same thing:

The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Right Reverend John Gladwin, said at some churches people were invited make a sign of the cross using holy water.

“The water in stoups can easily become a source of infection and a means of rapidly spreading the virus,” he said.

In a directive to priests in Essex, he added: “It is not our intention at this stage to cause panic.”

Seems pretty straightforward, right? But this is holy water — water that has been blessed and exorcised by a priest. Part of the traditional prayer is:

May this your creation be a vessel of divine grace to dispel demons and sicknesses, so that everything that it is sprinkled on in the homes and buildings of the faithful will be rid of all unclean and harmful things. Let no pestilent spirit, no corrupting atmosphere, remain in those places: may all the schemes of the hidden enemy be dispelled. Let whatever might trouble the safety and peace of those who live here be put to flight by this water, so that health, gotten by calling Your holy name, may be made secure against all attacks.

So much for that. Even Bishops know it’s just plain water that can cleanse as well as spread disease.

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  • Jeremy

    I drank holy water once. I really couldn’t taste a difference. I thought about launching a new brand name called “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Unblessed”.

  • ash51

    what about hindu holy water-theerth prasad(abhishek water/panchamrutham.highly contaminated with amebiasis ,ecoli ,etc.infections.unsafe for human consumption

  • Elemenope

    They don’t say that the *water* is ” rid of all unclean and harmful things”, only those things onto which it is sprinkled are so cleansed.

    Not that it matters much, but if you are to catch someone on a technicality, make sure you’ve actually caught ‘em.

    • Daniel Florien

      Like swine flu, perhaps?

    • http://darknova.net Ender

      Oh so Holy Water cures swine flu when sprinkled on someone?

      • Elemenope

        Ask a Catholic. Hey, maybe we can do some double-blind studies.

    • Jabster

      Does it work on cookers?

      • Elemenope


        • http://darknova.net Ender

          Cookers. What you cook food on. If holy water really cleanses anything it’s sprinkled on, the Catholic church could clean up in the home cleaning products business.

          “With even less harmful chemicals than a homoeopathic remedy, Holy Water really cleans even the stubborn dried-on stains! Order with your credit card now and you’ll receive…”

          • Elemenope

            But Dihydrogen Monoxide has such a bad industrial reputation, being as it is such a dangerous chemical. Even the Holy Church will have a helluva time getting around the inevitable DHMO protests, regulations, and bad publicity!

            • Ty

              Dihydrogen Monoxide causes more fatalities per year than arsenic!

            • Jabster

              Although it does save a lot of lives as well …

            • Elemenope

              Yeah, but are you willing to take that risk? WITH YOUR CHILDREN?!

            • Roger

              Won’t someone PLEASE think of the CHILDREN??!!??

            • Sock

              I am. And it’s making me hungry.

        • Jabster

          Please don’t tell me they are called something else in America!

          • Elemenope

            Um…yeah. Pot? Stove-top? Griddle? We don’t really have an all-encompassing term for “surface you cook on”. But then again, you guys have had the language longer.

            • LRA

              It’s called a stove. And the thing you put the Thanksgiving Turkey in is called an oven.

            • LRA


            • Jabster

              You call microwave ovens just ovens … didn’t realise that!

            • Elemenope

              Actually we call microwave ovens “microwaves”.

            • http://www.multiplaying.net Slurms

              Ummm….they wouldn’t be having “Thanksgiving” Turkey…

            • LRA

              Slurms… I know that was part of the joke! :P

  • http://www.myspace.com/doppelgangerdowrong DDW17

    It’s still quite strange I have a small container of Holy Water. Maybe I’ll put it down the drain this following week. Just gotta make sure grandma doesn’t see me doing it. >.>

    • TheBob

      Just remember, you’re not pouring Holy Water down the sink. You’re “providing a liquid ministry unto the sewers.”

      It’s all about spin.

  • Brad

    The Bishop in question did no such thing and it is dishonest to say he did. Saying holy water is like water in one respect doesn’t mean it’s not unlike water in some other respect.

    Granted, I agree it’s no different, it’s just a lie to say that this is what the Bishop said.

    I’m all for fighting religion, but doing so dishonestly only hurts our cause and makes us look silly.

    • Daniel Florien

      How is it dishonest — I think I made it clear what he really said, I even quoted him. I gave my own logical conclusion.

      • Brad

        Your conclusion is based on a premises you are assuming to be true that involves the beliefs of another person.

        You are assuming that the Bishop believes everything prayed for will come true, or at least that prayer.

        It’s simply dishonest to do so. I have a hard time believing you don’t know that people, even clergy, interpret prayers and the nature thereof differently.

        • Daniel Florien

          If holy water that is supposed to heal people needs to be banned because it’ll spread disease, then sorry, there’s nothing holy about it.

        • http://darknova.net Ender

          What I see as dishonest is the clergy never mentioning these get-out clauses. When I recently attended a Catholic Baptism, at no point did the priest say “I should warn you this might not work — not all my blessings do”. He never warned the parents after the ceremony that when he said that he’d purified the water, it might not have worked. Even the expelling of the devil might not have worked – but the priest never made this clear. Everything he said assured of complete success, including a sure and certain resurrection…

          Maybe the Catholic priests would like to estimate the success rate of prayers to convert wine into human blood? I wonder how Catholics parents would feel if they knew that sometimes when their children take communion they’re drinking alcohol instead of human blood?

          • Elemenope

            Now, that’s divine blood. Drinking human blood would just be gross. Ur, um…

            • http://darknova.net Ender

              He might have been of one substance with his father when he was created, but he became man. The Nicene Creed doesn’t come with a footnote mentioning that he became man in every sense except the blood.

            • Elemenope

              That’s what that thing needs. Footnotes…

          • Brad

            First, they do not believe the wine turns into human blood. That would be transformation. They believe in transubstantiation, which basically means they believe the wine becomes part of Christ, not that it becomes his blood literally, but that it is a part of him. I know, it’s silly. I agree. I’m just saying, you’ve got the belief wrong. They will fully admit it’s alcohol because they don’t believe it transforms into anything else and never have.

            Second, I agree with your gripe, they profess certainty often and it’s unfounded. That’s pretty much the nature of faith as far as I’m concerned. It’s arrogant, yes. But that doesn’t make with the blog poster said here true. This priest is not saying holy water is the same as normal water. That is absurd.

            Again, I totally agree with you that they are arrogant and wrong. I simply refuse to use a dishonest point to try to convince anyone of that. You make good honest points that more than suffice for making our case.

            When we resort to dishonest points that gives the theists ammunition against us, and for that reason and others I think we should avoid them.

            • http://darknova.net Ender

              Where can I find that definition of transubstantiation? Everywhere I look it it it’s either a “transformation of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ” or “change in substance of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ”.

              When a priest says “this will change substance from wine into blood” and makes everyone in the room affirms this with “amen”, why am I the dishonest one for pointing out that the priest doesn’t actually believe that the wine is changed in any way?

              I appreciate that you’re just trying to improve the way we engage theists in arguments, but it drives me nuts when I’m supposed to respect their crackers because they’re the actual complete 100% body of Christ – but when I claim they’re drinking blood I get accused of extremism.

            • Elemenope

              They are using the original meaning of the word “substance” (ousia), which differs from the contemporary sense. This is the distinction between “divine” and “mundane” substance, not the distinction between wine and blood.

            • http://darknova.net Ender

              So when a priest says “the Eucharist transforms the wine into the blood of Jesus” what he actually means is “it’s the same cheap wine, but it’s now ‘divine’, although I should point out I’m not referring to the taste there”.

              Once again – why am I the dishonest one here?

            • Elemenope

              So when a priest says “the Eucharist transforms the wine into the blood of Jesus” what he actually means is “it’s the same cheap wine, but it’s now ‘divine’, although I should point out I’m not referring to the taste there”.


              Once again – why am I the dishonest one here?

              Because it is assumed that if you believe in something you know that the priest means by XYZ terms (or ought to), and according to those uses he is being fairly consistent, and is not deceiving his intended audience in any way. Whereas, you, wittingly or not, are taking his words to mean something he did not mean in order to ridicule the belief they describe.

            • noisician

              Below is a link to an explanation for transubstantiation NOT meaning blood literally becomes wine. Basically, they say the change is not a PHYSICAL change, but a METAPHYSICAL change… however it is also still a MATERIAL and LITERAL change… (?!?)

              OK, whatever. Sounds like a bunch of recent CYA BS to me, but hey, maybe this really is what they meant all along. Don’t try too hard to fit it into a rational framework – you may hurt your brain. :)


            • http://www.vidlord.com VidLord

              it’s both, physical and non-physical. It’s one of their great mysteries, as was mentioned before on this site. Reminds me of the magical dirt hole at chimayo, nm. Although pilgrims took dirt from it constantly, the hole never got deeper. Which was entirely believable to a small child until I saw a priest pouring a bag of sand down the “magical” hole….mommy, why is he pouring dirt into the hole that never gets deeper??????? Jack and the bean stalk anyone?

        • Brad

          It sounds like you are being more fundimental about Christianity than this Bishop and then condemning him for it. Which is silly.

          • http://darknova.net Ender

            What’s so ‘fundamental’ about expecting a baptism to do what the priest said it would?

            I didn’t claim to be expelling invisible demons from a 10-month old baby. I didn’t claim I was going to purify water with a magical spell. I didn’t claim that an incantation would turn wine into blood. The priest did. He also made the congregation affirm their belief in these actions, making them utter ‘amen’ after each stage of his ritual.

            What’s so ‘fundamental’ about asking the priests to explain exactly what their magic potions do?

            • Brad

              I think you are being purposefully obtuse.

              Asking for something and getting it are two different things.

              Obviously the priest is praying that those things happen, but is not assuring anyone they will.

              I feel “dirty” here because I dislike defending priests. But c’mon. If a priest says “Dear god, please bless whoever I sprinkle this water on and keep them healthy and happy.” and then that person gets swine flu, obviously the priest is going to say “it must have been god’s will.” There is no contridiction here. We don’t need to invent contridictions, there are so many that already exist.

            • http://darknova.net Ender

              Yes I was being obtuse. You may have noticed I’m in a ranting mood… sorry about that.


              A priest may well have “god’s will” arguments for when his spells fail, but how does he reconcile that with his concept that his god is all-good? Why on Earth is his god going ’round inventing swine flu and then giving it to his blessed subjects?

              Seriously, this god chap sounds like a total birth canal.

            • Francesc

              so, when a priest do a baptism, it may -or may not- clean the “original sin”?
              Should I ask to get my baptism twice to have more probabilities to be really “clean”?
              What happens when a “real chistian” die, if his baptism didn’t work?

            • Brad

              I don’t think a Catholic would say his god is all-good. It doesn’t say that in the bible. In fact the bible specifically says god created evil. Catholics have a surprisingly internally consistent theology, mostly because it’s been around for so long.

            • Brad

              Yes Franesc, if it’s god’s will. You gotta understand that is the answer to all of these questions for them.

              Catholicism is great because it illustrates this point so well. Internal consistency doesn’t make something true. What you really need to look for is whether something is or isn’t consistent with reality.

    • http://www.catholicsview.com Catholics View

      There isn’t any reason to fight Religion, just as there is no reason to ‘make fun of’ or call practices that have been in place for 2,000 years rediculous. If the Catholic religion helps people be better stewards of citizenship, then I see no reason that you feel the need to desicrate it as you have done. Check out my post to learn what Holy water really is.

      • Siberia

        ‘cept it doesn’t.
        The babies born with AIDS because the church says condoms are bad would like a word. As well as the raped little girl who was excommunicated for an abortion (she was 12, pregnant of twins, impregnated by her own father).

  • http://twitter.com/KetsugoJohn JW

    Any chance of getting the toilet pic in a larger size?

  • http://www.vidlord.com VidLord

    great post thanks…Christianity is just a continuation of Paganism by another name.

    Holy water is now permanently retained at the entrance of Catholic churches, blessed at the first of each lunar month, and sprinkled over patrons as they enter. This practice was created to supplant the pagan celebration of the New Moon, according to canon 65 of the Council of Constantinople (691). According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the earliest modern uses of holy water appear in the ninth century. That, coupled with the New Testament’s silence regarding the practice and use of holy water, it can be concluded that the tradition of holy water was created for the sole purpose of putting a pagan ceremony out of commission, using a few scant biblical references to water for purification.

    Any practice that makes us feel closer to God and furthers our walk with Him should be encouraged (cf. Romans 14, esp. v23). But also consider 1 Corinthians 6:12. If a practice is beneficial to a relationship with God, keep it; otherwise, throw it away. This is all the more true when said practice has little biblical foundation. The Bible nowhere instructs Christians to use “holy water” in any way, shape, or form. The Catholic practice of holy water is not biblical.

  • DDM

    Do people actually believe holy water is any different than regular water? So much so that it can cure anything because a priest said a couple words above it and make a couple gestures?

    Morons. Total, complete idiots.

  • Richard T

    Although this doesn’t detract from the story about the absurdity of holy water (which comes from the tap in the UK), the Bishop of Chelmsford is a Church of England Bishop – so he’d be Episcopalian not Roman Catholic.

  • EvanT

    Are you all guys serious?! Holy Water transmitting the H1N1 flu? You all seem to forget that the Orthodox commune both wine and bread from the same cup using the SAME SPOON!! This is far far far more dangerous than being sprinkled with water. Currently in Greece several bishops have already discounted the “shocking” idea that special precautions should be taken (such as plastic spoons) since it’s inconceivable for them that disease can be transmitted through communion.

    The problem first cropped up during the HIV scare in the early 90s, but lucky for us HIV isn’t transmitted through saliva. We’re also lucky that H1N1 isn’t THAT lethal in western countries (though in Greece those who commune often are the eldrerly, so they’re in greater risk). I also don’t expect them to admit to anything, even if an entire congregation ends up contracting the disease. How can it be convincingly proven that they didn’t end up getting sick just by being in a closed space along with carriers? It cannot.

  • muchadoaboutnothing

    So I guess this means it won’t work on vampires?

    • http://www.multiplaying.net Slurms

      maybe dirty Emo kids that think they’re vampires though

  • jim

    Great, now the front of every church becomes a Hazmat site !