It’s fairly easy to understand why we bless water. Water is cleansing, hydrating, and full of symbolism. We use it in Baptism, etc. Water is a necessity of life. The Bible is full of events that involve this element.
But did you know that the Church blesses salt, too?
It does—and a powerful blessing it is. Blessed salt is a sacramental that is strongly associated with protection from demonic influences. Demons hate it. It is thus used in exorcisms, as protection in homes and living spaces, is often added to holy water, and is used in the older rite of baptism.
But why salt, of all apparently-random things?
Salt in the ancient world was a valuable substance. Roman soldiers were, in fact, often paid in salt (Latin: sal), which is where we get the word “salary” from. Because it has a preservative effect, it was used to preserve food and also used medicinally to prevent infections. In a related way, it symbolized immortality and preservation from spiritual corruption. It saw use in both pagan and Jewish religious rituals.
Okay, you think. So it was valuable, anti-physical-and-spiritual-corruption, and anti-sickness. This is starting to make sense.
We even have a scriptural basis for our use of salt, such as Elisha’s blessing of the sickening waters of Jericho in the second book of Kings. This event is recalled in the present-day blessing of salt.
Then he went to the spring of water and threw salt in it, and said, “Thus says the Lord, I have made this water wholesome; henceforth neither death nor miscarriage shall come from it.” So the water has been wholesome to this day, according to the word which Elisha spoke.
—2 Kings 2:21-22
Salt is therefore highly symbolic and its use is well-supported by Scripture. Additionally, it has always been used for flavoring and hence is associated with hospitality, good cheer, welcome, and love of neighbor—all things the devil hates.
Speaking of hospitality, one of the lesser-known uses of blessed salt is as an addition to food. Yes, you can add a bit to your recipes not just for physical flavor but for spiritual blessings as well! Start with a recipe from the pages of From a Monastery Kitchen: The Classic Natural Foods Cookbook. Written by a monk and containing seasonal, frugal, simple, delicious, nutritious ideas for your table, this book is sure to transform your mealtimes. Add a dash of blessed salt and you’ll be on your way! Pick up a copy of this essential cookbook at The Catholic Company!