Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Nothing puts the devils to flight like holy water

"I know by frequent experience that there is nothing which puts the devils to flight like holy water. They run away before the sign of the cross also, but they return immediately: great, then, must be the power of holy water. As for me, my soul is conscious of a special and most distinct consolation whenever I take it. Indeed, I feel almost always a certain refreshing, which I cannot describe, together with an inward joy, which comforts my whole soul. This is no fancy, nor a thing which has occurred once only; for it has happened very often, and I have watched it very carefully. I may compare what I feel with that which happens to a person in great heat, and very thirsty, drinking a cup of cold water -- his whole being is refreshed. I consider that everything ordained by the Church is very important; and I have a joy in reflecting that the words of the Church are so mighty, that they endow water with power, so that there shall be so great a difference between holy water and water that has never been blessed. Then, as my pains did not cease, I told them, if they would not laugh, I would ask for some holy water. They brought me some, and sprinkled me with it; but I was no better. I then threw some myself in the direction of the negro, when he fled in a moment. All my sufferings ceased, just as if some one had taken them from me with his hand; only I was wearied, as if I had been beaten with many blows. It was of great service to me to learn that if, by our Lord's permission, Satan can do so much evil to a soul and body not in his power, he can do much more when he has them in his possession. It gave me a renewed desire to be delivered from a fellowship so dangerous."

-- The Life of St Teresa of Avila by St Teresa of Avila

Traditionally, in Carmel, usually on Sundays, a sister sprinkles all the rooms, offices and chapels in the monastery. Each cell (bedroom) also contains a vial of holy water so that each sister may sprinkle her cell and anoint herself when getting up in the morning, and in the evening before retiring. Consider keeping a bottle of this sacramental in your home and office, and anoint yourself while making the Sign of the Cross.

St Teresa had great confidence in the power of holy water to ward off evil. You may read more about St Teresa's experience with holy water on Chapter 31 of the book of her life (see column in the left for a link to a free online version).


ocd sister said...

I need to clarify the use of the word "negro" in this translation (by E Allison Peers) to refer to the devil. In the original Spanish, St Teresa uses the word "negrillo abominable" (an abominable little black one/thing). We must remember that St Teresa lived in the XVIth century. Just as some people use the phrase "black as sin", it was socially acceptable in her times to refer to the devil as "negrillo". In fact, other saints used similar expressions to refer to the devil: St Paul of the Cross would see a black cat or black bird; St Gemma Galgani would also see him as a large black dog.

When St Teresa founded her reformed monasteries she made it extremely clear in her writings that she wanted no distinction of social classes and honors in her sisters. It would be incongruent with her beliefs if she had anti-racial dispositions.

Mary N. said...

I keep holy water in my house and use it in the morning during my morning offering and before my night prayers. We also sprinkle it around our house occasionally:)