My older son has all his stuff laid out for a big trip with friends. He’s been planning this trip for months, and after he finishes packing, I’ll run him to the airport this evening. I’m feeling a little anxious about him traveling for four months through a dozen countries. And I know how much I’m going to miss him.
He ran out for a few things and I found myself grabbing a little bottle of holy water and darting into his room. He’d definitely have a sarcastic comment and a roll of the eyes if he “caught” me blessing his things. He’s been away from the Church for four or five years now.
I say a simple prayer, “Please keep my adored son safe, Jesus. Please guide him back to your Church,” as I make the sign of the cross with the holy water.
My son’s backpack, phone, laptop, wallet, shoes, camera, passport, and glasses all get a tiny wet cross.
Holy water reminds us of our Baptism and in making the sign of the cross with it, we’re renewing those baptismal promises of rejecting Satan, and protecting ourselves from evil.
St. Teresa of Avila in her autobiography, The Book of Her Life, said this about the power of holy water: “I was once in an oratory, and [the devil] appeared to me in an abominable form at my left side. Because he spoke to me, I looked particularly at his mouth, which was most frightening. It seemed that a great flame, all bright without shadow, came forth from his body. He told me in a terrifying way that I had really freed myself from his hands but that he would catch me with them again. I was struck with great fear and blessed myself as best I could; he disappeared, but returned right away. This happened to me twice. I didn’t know what to do. There was some holy water there, and I threw it in that direction; he never returned again … I often experience that there is nothing the devils flee from more without returning than holy water.”
Now that I’ve prayed for protection for my son, I’m feeling better as he heads out on his journey.
Preparing to hit the road (or the airways)? Here’s a Traveler’s Prayer