A listener name Juan wrote in to The Patrick Madrid Show asking Patrick how he should go about blessing his home because of his family’s recent struggles with mental health. A while back, one of his daughters had brought a ouija board and tarot cards into the home, but they have since gotten rid of them. After encountering these issues, Juan met a man who was going through a similar situation. The man suggested he do several things including blessing the home with incense, spreading seeds (flax, mustard, seed grain) around the house, and praying the “12 truths of the world” in Spanish.
My question is, is this okay according to the Catholic Church? Do you have any suggestions?
Long story short, Patrick said, none of that is necessary.
“You don’t need to do all those things.” Patrick began by distinguishing the difference between the incense used at Mass and the incense that this person was suggesting – the burning of sage and other plants. The incense that appears in scripture, the same kind used in Catholic churches, is a symbol of the prayers of the faithful ascending to the throne of God. The priest is not driving away demons (although demons probably don’t like it). He is showing the holiness and sanctity of the altar, which is a man-made imitation of the heavenly sanctuary.
Burning sage or other incense in the home is not only done with different materials but it’s done for two vastly different purposes and in vastly different contexts. Patrick said this use of incense and the spreading of the seeds sounds a lot like a folklore take on spirituality or religion, “kind of like a mixture of superstitious folk rituals [and] Christianity.”
Blessing your home doesn’t have to involve any incantations, alternative rituals, or the praying of specific prayers.
“Rather, not only can you bless your home if you want to, but it’s even better if you have the parish priest come to your house and he blesses the home. And the traditional way to do that is he’ll go room to room with some holy water, and he would say prayers of deliverance and prayers of spiritual warfare designed to thwart any evil influence that might be in your home. And he would bless the rooms with holy water, and he would impart his priestly blessing on your home. That is the best way to do it.”
There’s no need, nor any benefit, to the introduction of alternative methods of blessing. The devil is not afraid of herbs or seeds or godless incantations. He is afraid of God. And calling on one of God’s servants, a priest, will ensure that you are blessed and protected the right way. When Jesus sent his disciples out to evangelize, he told them to do two things: forgive sins and cast out demons. And so they did.
Patrick closed by clarifying that while the Church has its own distinct office for the issue of exorcisms, in a way, a priest blessing a home is performing a minor exorcism. Just as when a priest uses the extended ritual of baptism to exorcise the water, the priest is extending a cleansing and protection to the person or thing he is blessing.
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