The good news for those who believe in the importance of a faith-based life is that spirituality is booming. Far from being secular in their outlook, younger generations such as millennials are embracing spirituality, and scientists say this is excellent news – since faith boosts general wellbeing, helps battle stress, and leads to greater happiness. One study showed that of the many activities one could take part in, the only one that leads to sustained happiness – is community worship. In the Catholic faith, one element that plays an important role in many traditions is water. In this post, we look into just a few ways that water enhances our faith.
Water and Purification
In many passages in the Bible, water symbolizes purity. As stated in Hebrews 10:22, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” Thus, a bowl of Holy Water is placed in churches so that believers can dip their fingers into it before making the sign of the cross. This practice symbolizes the Catholic willingness to embrace spiritual cleaning. It also reminds us of the sacrament of baptism, of God’s forgiveness and care, and the great gift He gives human beings: eternal life. During Mass, before holding the Eucharist, the priest washes his hands in water, with a server pouring the water out of a vessel. The act once again symbolizes the purification that must take place before the priest offers the sacraments.
Water and Faith
In Isaiah 43:2, the Lord reminds us to have faith, even when times are tough. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sleep over you…” Rather than seeing water as a thing of fear, the Bible reminds us that God is always by our side. In this day and age, stress is a big impediment to mental health in the U.S. and beyond. Water is a natural stress buster; thus the proliferation of water features in homes and communal places of worship. For Catholics, the sound of water does not just soothe the stress response; it is also a powerful reminder of the care that God bestows upon them at all times.
Water, Humanity, and Divinity
During Mass, at the point in which the Eucharist gifts are brought to the altar, the priest pours wine and water into a chalice, stating, “By the mystery of this water.” The water symbolizes the water that flowed from Christ when he was crucified, and the wine represents the blood he shed to save humanity. In this sense, water and wine remind worshippers that Christ was both human and divine.
Isaiah 49:10 says: “They will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the desert heat or the sun beat down on them. He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water.” It is yet another powerful symbol of eternal life and salvation. Water plays an important role in both the New and Old Testaments, inspiring modern Catholics to strive for the purity, faith, and eternal life that God offered. It is present in sacraments and Mass and serves as a powerful reminder of the unconditional love bestowed by God on all His children.