On any given Sunday, at the main Mass, the celebrant can bless the congregation with holy water. Water, as we know, is a symbol of spiritual purification. It reminds us of our baptism, where we were first cleansed of sin. That cleansing water is actually the blood of Christ poured for us, which we are about to experience once again in the Mass that follows this sprinkling rite.
This blessing is thus an excellent preparation for Mass. It reminds us of what takes place at Mass – our cleansing through the blood of Christ.
Most Sundays of the year, we call this blessing the Asperges, from the opening word of the chant that accompanies the ritual. “Asperges me, Domine, hyssopo et mundabor.” “Thou wilt sprinkle me, Lord, with hyssop and I will be cleansed.”
But in Easter Time, we sing a different chant. It is called the Vidi Aquam, again from the first lines which mean “I saw water.” Let’s look at the words :
Vidi aquam egredientem de templo (I saw water coming forth from the temple). This is a vision seen by the Prophet Ezekiel in chapter 47 of his book. This water started slow (ankle-deep) till it became so deep no man could cross it. These waters became the source of immense life; plant life and all kinds of fish. Plants that never die and fruits that never fail. This vision is prophetic of the abundant, eternal, spiritual life that is available to us through the blood and water that flowed from the side of Christ while He hung on the cross. His body is the true temple of God, for He Himself is God, housed in a human body.
A latere dextro : alleluia! (From the right side : Alleluia!) In Ezekiel’s vision, the water flows from the right side of the temple. The piercing of Christ’s side is something we learn from the Gospel of John, and he does not indicate whether the left or the right side, but tradition says the right side. It doesn’t matter; the Lord was pierced on one or the other side. A powerful detail : John says that the soldier “opened” the Lord’s side. Not merely pierced, stabbed, punctured – but opened. Like a door; a door that leads us to another world. In a sense, His opened heart becomes the door by which we enter into heaven. So in joy we respond : alleluia!
Et omnes ad quos pervenit aqua ista salvi facti sunt et dicent : alleluia! (And all those to whom this water came were saved and shall say : alleluia!) In Ezekiel’s vision, the flowing water made abundant life spring up wherever it went. Think of the history of the Church. Think how God took weak men and made them courageous Apostles, suffering death for Christ. Think of the martyrs, the saints, the missionaries. The Church has become a huge tree bearing much fruit, sheltering millions of souls. Alleluia!