Catholic Water Rituals Essay

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Water Rituals in the Catholic and Islamic Faiths
Water is an important part of many rituals throughout both the Catholic and Islamic faiths, as it is seen to be a physical, metaphorical and spiritual cleanser and giver of life, and the rituals that it is used in correlate to these values as seen by the faith. Catholicism has Baptism, which is the initiation process into the faith (New Advent, NA). Islam has Ghusl and the complete washing of the body (OBE, 2015), which must be done with clear water at fountains in the mosque before worship in a Mosque, or Wudu, were the participant must wash his hands and face before each of the five daily prayers. However, when looked at more deeply, the use of water in ritual has a deeper meaning, relating
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As one is baptised, they are said to be ‘reborn’ when they emerge from the water (Lawrence, 2006), and the ‘stain’ of original sin is washed away (Saunders, 1998). In a purely physical sense, only the body has been washed from physical filth, but when looked at through the lens of symbolic spiritualism, it shows that the body and mind has been cleaned away of all previous sin to allow a closer relationship with God. This is the initiation process into the Catholic Church, however it is only one of many before one can obtain the title of a true Christian (Abrams, 2003). Once baptised, it is said that the person is part of a community that seeks out the coming of the Lord (Water Baptism, 2016). Divergently, it is clear that when one is submerged, they are symbolically dying alongside Jesus on the cross, taking the place of the thief. They are said to have had their old body killed, died alongside Jesus, only to be remerged from the water as a new person, spiritually clean, much like Jesus’ resurrection. The participant takes place as the thief next to Jesus, who did not have time to be baptised on the cross, however still pledged himself to Jesus, who said ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me’ in (Luke 23:42). Another vital use of water in the Catholic faith is the use of holy water throughout the places of worship (Johns, 1997). Holy water fonts are placed at the entrances of these places of worships and Churches in accordance to the Jewish practice of purification in the Old testament. Holy water is described in the book of Leviticus to ‘remove uncleanliness’ associated with many everyday aspects of life. According to priests, holy water also acts as a way to show a symbolic removal of sin (Oestigaard, 2013), protection of evil and a way to remember our Baptism into the faith (Saunders, 2016). When looked at in relation to Baptism, it is evident
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