Blessed Salt
(by Rev. John H. Hampsch C.M.F)

There is a renewed interest today in the ancient sacramental of blessed salt, especially by charismatics, in healing and deliverance situations, etc.  To understand its proper use and its efficacy, it would be helpful to review the Scriptural symbolism and its history, since Vatican II urges us to participate “intelligently and actively” in the use of sacramentals, just as in the use of Sacraments.

Salt in the ancient world was a precious commodity (even monopolized by the royalty in Egypt and Persia).  Roman soldiers were partially paid with packets of salt (“sal” in Latin); this was the origin of our word “salary” and of phrases like “worth his salt,” etc.   Being costly, it was an appropriate offering to God as a “covenant of salt” (Leviticus 2:13; II Chronicles 13:5; Numbers 18:19) used in sacrifices by the Israelites (Ezek. 43:24) and for the accompanying sacrificial meal (Genesis 31:54).

Belief in its preservative and healing properties led to its use to dry and harden the skin of newborns (Ezekiel 16:4) and to prevent umbilical cord infection.  Used for 3500 years to preserve meats from deterioration, it became a symbol of preservation and spiritual incorruptibility that was to characterize anyone offering sacrificial worship.

Shared at the sacrificial meal, salt became a symbol of friendship and hospitality, a custom-symbol still used today in Arab culture.   Jesus referred to this salt symbolized friendship covenant in Mark 9:50:  “Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another.”—that is, “preserve that quality (flavor) that makes you a blessing to one another.” (Note the double symbol of preservation and flavoring.)

This double primary symbolization is also found in Paul’s advice in Colossians 4:6,  “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may

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