About water … holy water

O wodzie

In the pre-pandemic days, I used to prepare for a pastoral visit, known as a carol, in a not-perfectly-cleaned apartment, but keeping the solemnity and customs: a white tablecloth, a cross, a sprinkler and a plate. Holding the child so he wouldn’t demolish the decorations, I planned the last act of preparation – filling the plate with holy water. I wanted to synchronize them with the pastoralist’s entry into the house to minimize the loss due to splashing during play. The climactic moment came when I discovered that my holy water, kept in a dark glass, had turned a greenish color. The white plate was filled with a murky liquid with algae. The peculiar suspension was evidence of the life that had developed in the devotional cabinet.

I assume that the holy water is “prepared” from water available at the church’s own intakes or from waterworks, according to the rules provided in the catalog of church procedures. And it is stored in such a way as not to give it a second life in the form of algae or bacterial growth (these are hard to see with the naked eye). Certainly, holy water placed in droppers, strops, etc. not suitable for drinking. But is it harmful when used as intended?

There are no things that are absolutely safe, although at every step we strive to minimize undesirable effects. My son asked me, on the back of a discussion of vaccine safety, whether I consider broccoli to be absolutely safe for the human body. Without hesitation, I replied that I did. In response, he informed me that broccoli, even cooked and blended, is not suitable for intravenous administration and cannot be considered absolutely safe for human consumption. I was clobbered! When preparing dinner, it is impossible to discuss serious topics with a teenager, despite the divided attention….

The general conclusion is that every thing should be used for its intended purpose and in moderation. A few drops of (holy) water will not wreak havoc on Easter foods. But the consumption of several liters of water (six is enough, I think), even holy water, can have lamentable (in the sense of dramatic) consequences.

Holy water is intended for baptism or blessing of persons, places and things. The custom of ordination stems from the belief in its purifying power, professed in the Church for centuries.

Long ago, but much later than the invention of the wheel, as late as the late 19th century, bacteriologists discovered staphylococci, streptococci, Escherichia coli, diphtheria bacilli and other bacteria in samples of holy water taken from a church in Sassari, Italy. Steeples have been identified as potential sources of bacteria and viruses. The possible infectious potential of holy water does not, fortunately, contradict the belief in its cleansing power.

Awareness of the presence of microorganisms in holy water has become fodder for all sorts of fears. The word “danger” is appearing more and more frequently in this context and is being conjugated by all cases. To make matters worse, many recipients, hearing them, are beginning to seriously consider the near-fatal danger that water ordination brings with it. They forget that each of us is protected by immunity that we acquire with age, and each has its own set of microorganisms. Using “security” as a key word and combining it further with concern for “our children” is always impressive. Pujar is built on semantics and emotions, often treating people like mindless puppets.

You can safely sacrifice food and eat a traditional breakfast, because no one is going to dip food into all available infectious resources. You can quietly make wishes, get a handshake and a kiss. Minor exchanges of germs through popular forms of physical contact won’t make us sick, but the lack of them can destroy interpersonal relationships. And that can already be deadly.

I hope that happily civilized Europe has eliminated indigenous shameful customs (such as “water testing”) and is stopping extremism that does not fit within the framework of humanism, respect and tolerance. Poland, rich in festive customs and holding generational traditions in high esteem, finds a balance between modernity and history, celebration and commercialization. So kindly prepare baskets and baskets, line them with decorative napkins, endow them with ham, sausage, horseradish, eggs, butter, bread and salt, and decorate them with boxwood. And last but not least, don’t forget the sweet lamb. And allow the drops of holy water to transform our ordinary, everyday food into a magical symbol of the Easter breakfast on the Saturday before the Resurrection, in the silence of this day filled with reverie.

Let’s remember that every bacterium, protozoan, virus, diatom or golden alga has its place in nature. It is largely up to us to keep them in the confines of their current environment or to nonchalantly change their areas of existence, with consequences that are difficult to predict.

I wish you an Easter full of hope and joy and moderate in food and drink.

Ewa Gondek is a graduate of the Agricultural Academy in Cracow. She also completed post-graduate studies – School of Land Knowledge at the Agricultural Academy in Cracow and Environmental Protection in Urbanized Areas at the Cracow University of Technology.
He works at the Provincial Inspectorate for Environmental Protection in Cracow. She participated in the preparation of reports on the state of the environment in the Małopolska province. Since 2004, he has been a member of the Polish-Slovak Working Group for the Protection of Boundary Waters from Pollution (OPZ). He is a co-author of the Boundary Waters Assessment, which is prepared annually on the basis of monitoring studies conducted on boundary waters. Served as an expert evaluator of project applications for funding from the European Regional Development Fund. Participates in seminars, conferences and training courses on environmental issues. He is a speaker for various professional groups in the area of environmental components. He actively participates in the environmental education of students and schoolchildren.

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