Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Blessed Salt. Don't Be Home Without It

Blessed salt is a sacramental in the Catholic Church.  It is treated much the same way that holy water is.  I like to tell people that it reminds the devil who is really the boss over our lives...and that it isn't him!

The first time I heard of blessed salt, I rolled my eyes and probably said something to myself about superstitious practices. It was definitely not something I'd been exposed to.

I had had the mixed fortune of spending three of my high-school years taught by a rather liberal order of nuns.  As a child, my family attended a very 'hip' and fully Vatican II-impacted  (and beyond, I later learned) parish.   I didn't learn to pray the rosary until I was an adult, and never did learn to recite the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Popular piety was just so much ancient history.

I was already beginning my impromptu crash course in authentic liturgy when I heard about blessed salt.  It just seemed weird.

But the Holy Spirit tends not to just let these things go.  More and more I heard about people keeping blessed salt at home and using it to 'chase' apparent evil from their homes.  At the same time, I was becoming more immersed in volunteer work at our parish.  Smokey (the Devil) often doesn't take kindly to others working to teach the Catholic faith.

At this point, our family was living in military housing.  It was old.  My father came to visit.  He complained one morning that the overhead light in the bedroom he slept in had switched on in the middle of the night.  I thought I'd noticed the hall light doing the same thing...or maybe I just forgot to turn it off?

It got worse.  Electrical outlets stopped working intermittently.  The electrical breakers never seemed to trip, but I was getting really tired of having to reset the clocks because of the power shutting off.  I was particularly bothered when my bedside light wasn't working.  I prayed before bed, and not having a light made it hard to follow my Liturgy of the Hours.

I asked the housing office to send an electrician, which they did.  He replaced the light switch in the bedroom, but could find no other reason for the electrical trouble.  Everything was fine for a couple of days, then the outlets started cutting out again.  My aggravation was palpable.

In my parish work, I had become good friends with our priest.  One day I mustered up the courage to ask him about blessed salt.  His eyebrows shot up when I asked, and he said "You're the second person in twenty-four hours who has asked me about this."  He invited me to bring in some salt to be blessed.  He looked up the blessing.  It is no longer common thing.  Father told me simply to 'use it in faith' and I would not be acting superstitiously.

In the meantime, I had called again about our electrical troubles.  Again a frustrated electrician replaced a token receptacle, and again, the electric trouble began within a couple of days.

Armed with my blessed salt, I decided to bless our home.  I waited until no one else was home, and feeling a bit silly, I walked around the house sprinkling salt.

Much to my amazement, as I had not yet made the connection, the electrical trouble stopped dead after I sprinkled the salt.  To make it even more astounding, I discovered the the electrical circuit that had been plague with the problems was the same circuit which powered the computer.  The computer had never turned off.

Since that time, the only hint of trouble we ever had was a flicker in the electricity.  Not enough to reset the clocks.  When this happened, I said the Saint Michael Prayer and it stopped for good.

I am a firm believer in blessed salt to keep a home (or office or wherever) free of evil.  I do not use it a lot, but sprinkling it in a home where tensions are high, or where sin is entrenched seems like a powerful way to remind evil who is boss in that area.  The 1962 Missal has prayers for blessing salt, water and a great many other very common things such as food, animal feed, crops and machinery!

We need to be aware of the presence of evil and our susceptibility to it, particularly if we are working for God in whatever capacity.  We can become targets.  In a way, this is a good thing, as it means we are doing something good.  It can make life stressful and can affect those around us.  We need to re-discover the resources our Church has for us and use them.


Anonymous said...

I was wondering how you dealt with the contradictions of catholicism compare to first century practises of christianity. Like geographical and political authority, the separation of judaic customs and the intrusian of hellenistic pagan customs. Do you believe that your position, pope cardinal or mans naming on other men, is contrasted with righteouesness like the promise of israel, or doesn purenesss derive from Gods unrevealed positions whom by politics of men could not possibly know until all things are revealed. Could there been a flaw in our human political classificationn of a saint. Would a modern day daniel be known of.

JP said...

Hi Anonymous

I'm not sure I entirely understand your questions, but here goes:

I'm unsure of what you mean by "geographical and political authority". The geographical influence of Catholicism has changed throughout history largely because Christians travel to evangelize. As Christianity became popular and accepted, it naturally had more influence, even in political spheres. Today, the political influence, as far as governments go, has diminished. I don't see any contradiction here, just development.

You will need to clarify what you mean by "separation of judaic customs". At least some of that is dealt with in the New Testament.

Which "Hellenistic pagan customs" are you referring to?

I also need clarification (examples?) with regard to naming/righteousness. Are you referring to Papal Infallibility?

Saints: Yes, human political classification of a saint could err. We see that in media all the time. That is why we rely on the authority of the Church and follow the requirements for miracles etc. in the modern declaration of sainthood.

Modern day Daniel: It would depend. If God wished for all to know, then yes, somehow it would be. With modern media, I don't think that would be difficult. If Daniel were only known on a limited basis, then I would have to consider that there was a reason for the lack of exposure.

Feel free to reply, Anonymous, and fill in some of the missing detail I need to give you a better reply. I may write another post around your questions.

Anonymous said...

Really like your article. I recently got sea salt blessed by a trad priest who did the long prayer, and candles. I gave some to my niece who gets attacked all the time, everything goes wrong gor her, but shes not living completely clean. Would it still work for her with faith and prayers. Also i put some in my boyfriends place and occasionally in his water but see no change. His struggles are porn and anxiety. Hes not a well formed catholic coukd that be why?