Why Salt Water is the Cure for Everything

By: Deacon Marty McIndoe

I have lived almost all of my life on an island, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Long Island Sound.  I feel very blessed by that.  The sea part of me. Every year my wife and I usually try to escape to warm weather for the months of January and February.

Two years ago we spent the time in the southwest traveling around Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and inland Southern California.  We absolutely loved it and appreciated the beauty of the southwest.  However, I really felt like I was out of place.  I was no where near any large body of salt water.  It just didn’t seem right to me.  I was out of place, literally.

This year we did our winter getaway in the south and in Florida and stayed almost all of the time in timeshares that were on the beach, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico.  I felt so much more at home than I did on our desert trip.  There is a real comfort and awe when we look out on the ocean.  For me, I see and feel God in the beauty and immensity of the ocean.

I came across a quote from Isak Dinesen (also known as Tania Blixen author of “Out of Africa”) from her “Seven Gothic Tales” which consisted of the following dialogue:

An old seaman says to his unhappy foster-son, “I know of a cure for everything: Salt water.”

“Salt water?” I asked him.

“Yes,” he said, “in one way or the other. Sweat, or tears, or the salt sea.”

History of Salt

I couldn’t help but to see the truth in that statement.  The cure for everything is “Sweat or Tears or the Salt Sea”.   It’s interesting to see the history of man’s use of salt.  The Hebrew Scriptures (The Old Testament) value salt so much that it was considered to be able to be used as a gift to God as a “covenant of salt” (Lev. 2: 13; II Chron. 13:5; Num. 18:19). It was also used in sacrifices by the Israelites (Ezek. 43:24 and Gen. 31:54).  Belief in its preservative and healing properties led to its use to dry and harden the skin of newborns (Ezek. 16:4) and to prevent umbilical cord infection.

The Egyptians and the Persians considered it such a special commodity that it could only be handled by their royalty.  The ancient Romans paid their soldiers their wages in salt (Latin word is “sal”) from which we today get the word “salary” and the expression, “worth his weight in salt”.

Salt Preserves

Salt had been used for over 3500 years as a preservative for meats and a flavoring for food.  It is still seen as a sign of hospitality and friendship in the Middle East. In Mark Chapter 9, verse 50 Jesus says, “Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”   St. Paul’s tells us in Col. 4:6:”Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”  Jesus also called His followers to be the “salt of the earth”.   Salt is all about preservation, healing, and peace.

The Church has a special prayer for the blessing of salt.  After the blessing, the salt is often placed in Holy Water, or sometimes used by itself.  This prayer, from the Roman Ritual says,

 Almighty God, we ask you to bless this salt, as once you blessed the salt scattered over the water by the prophet Elisha. Wherever this salt (and water) is sprinkled, drive away the power of evil, and protect us always by the presence of your Holy Spirit. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 Salt is also seen as a means of driving away evil or preserving one from evil corruption.

Salt is found naturally in the sea, in our tears, and in our sweat.  All three of these can help to heal us.  As motivational speaker Rita Schiano tell us, “Tears are God’s gift to us. Our holy water. They heal us as they flow”.  Tears come to us from our very being.  They are responses to hurt and loss as well as happiness and gain.

Soothing Tears

Tears can be shed from earthy stimuli such as movies and can also be shed from spiritual stimuli such as God’s Word or the touch of Christian love.  They are an expression that sometimes can speak louder and clearer than words.  They bring us healing in so many ways.

Sweat of our brow

Sweat is a result of our hard work.  The Catholic Church has always stressed the importance of work in our lives.  The Protestant Churches are also known for their work ethic.  Work is not only necessary for civilization to flourish, but it brings a sense of purpose and often healing to the individual.  It also helps us to accomplish our dreams.  Colin Powell tells us, “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.

We find our happiness in working hard for our dreams whether it be as simple (yet profound) as a man or woman working hard to support their family, or a researcher finding the cure for cancer.  Work, and sweat, are part of who we are called to be.

God’s Gift of Water

The Sea is a special gift to us from God.  Our scientists tell us that life itself originated there.  For us, it is a place to enjoy in so many different ways whether it is swimming and fishing or simply gazing out towards its majesty.  As John F. Kennedy told us, “We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came.”  The Sea can truly be a healing influence in our lives.

In writing this article, I hope to make you think and pray about the healing influence of the Sea, Sweat and Tears.  I am including some quotes for you to think about and pray about and see how the Lord may be speaking to you.  I hope that you find some quiet time to pray and think about these quotes.  May our good Lord bless you and bring you His healing love.   May you come to better realize the healing gifts given to us in Salt Water: the Sea, Tears or Sweat.

About the author

Deacon Marty McIndoe is a Roman Catholic permanent deacon in the Diocese of Rockville Centre on Long Island, NY. He was in the first class of deacons for the diocese and was ordained on October 4th, 1980. Marty also follows Franciscan spirituality as a member of the Society of Franciscan Deacons.
He has done numerous speaking and teaching events within the Long Island area, as well as published articles and blogs, and is currently working on his first book. He has been actively assigned to St. Francis de Sales in Patchogue New York since his ordination.
Deacon Marty prides himself in following the teaching Magisterium of the Church and in his commitment to obedience to his bishop. He also tries to follow his call given to him on his ordination day when his bishop handed him the Gospel book and said, “believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach.” Deacon Marty, a former Methodist, converted to the Catholic Faith in 1972.

Related Links

Are You a Salt or Sugar of the World

Discipleship, Holiness, and the Gospel Of Matthew Part 3


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Are You a Salt or Sugar of the World

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According to Matthew 7:15, Jesus cautions us by saying, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves.” Frankly, I did not realize that adage originated from the Gospels. Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing. Thinking about this phrase I have come to realize that Jesus is speaking not only to humanity in general, but directly to me! I need to be consistent in my love toward God and my fellow man in order to avoid turning into that same false prophet I am called to be on the look-out for.

Jesus spoke with such clarity and used tangible examples. I am not going to “reinvent the wheel” regarding today’s topic. During his Sermon on the Mount discourse in Matthew 5, the Good Teacher charged his followers to be the salt of the earth.

Above there are two pictures: one is salt the other is sugar. At face value both appear to be indistinguishable—similar to a wolf donning lamb’s fleece is camouflaged from its prey. Salt and sugar play a significant part in our life. Both add flavor to otherwise dull food. Excessive amounts of sodium and sugar lead to health problems. What I want to focus on is the dichotomous relationship between salt and sugar? Am I the salt or sugar of the Earth? Let’s see!

To preserve or not to preserve…that is the question

Aside from flavoring bland dishes or enhancing taste in already good meals, the main purpose of salt is to preserve food against deterioration. Salt draws out excess water from foods and dehydrates it. This process allows for increased storage times—especially in cases where food is in abundance and needs to be saved for later periods. Jesus used the example of salt because of its universal application and practical usage in daily living. He calls Christians to act as theological relish and preservative to society.

Sometimes a little salt goes a long way in improving the taste of food. We need not feel defeated if it feels like we are moving against a seeming endless tide of negativity from the world. Holiness is what all Christians are called to—look at the saints and the witness they provided a world in despair.

Deny Yourself and Follow Him

In high school, I took chemistry and became fascinated with the various atomic structures of elements, molecules, and compounds. I found a certain beauty in their ordering and design. Below are picture of the atomic structure of NaCL [sodium chloride- table salt] and C₆H₁₂O₆ [glucose- a common sugar].

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From a microscopic vantage point, a clear distinction may be made between these two common household items. Both are composed of entirely different elements [hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen in Glucose] and [sodium and chloride in salt]. Along with the having different building materials, sugar and salt are fashioned with different types of bonds—covalent and ionic respectively. Covalent bonds are stronger because the shared electron is what keeps the elements held together whereas in an ionic bond one element loses an electron to another causing one element to become positively charged and the other to become negatively charged such as in the case of NaCl or table salt.

In other words, the elements in table salt lose an electron to effect the ionic charge of the sodium or chloride molecule. Initially, losing may be viewing negativity [no pun intended!]. One may think that due to the stronger nature of the covalent bond in sugar that it should be preferred to salt. The New Testament does shed some light on the reality of loss and rejection. Luke 9:23-25 turns this notion on its head when Jesus says,

“Then he said to all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily* and follow me. 24For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?'”

Christ’s words elicit a sense of paradox, yet allure within my mind. Interesting, I gain life when I serving other’s needs above my selfish desires. In my weakness I am stronger! Through a theological ionic bond, Christians act as holy seasoning to embolden our world.

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Instant Gratification Leads to Decay

Dentists frighten me. Not in The Exorcist or The Shining sort of way. Still, I get apprehensive, anxious, and move toward hypochondriac-like behaviors when the subject of dentists come up. Perhaps, it stemmed from my penchant as a little kid for losing my teeth quickly and easily. Or maybe my periodontal panic happened due to my need for braces– not once, but twice in my elementary school years! Regardless of where this toothy torment began, I recognize that when I limit my sugar intake life is much easier during my semi-annual check-ups.

Excess Destroys

Excessive sugar proves damaging to both our physical and mental well-being. Unhealthy attraction to sugar is simply a euphemism for the sin of gluttony. Our society suffers from the belief that instant gratification is better than self-denial or self-control. I am as guilty of this vice as anyone. I have made it a point to limit my sugar consumption and practice fasting– to help me both spiritually and physically. Jesus choose not to use sugar as an example to relate to Christians because he understood the appeal and temptation this food item poses for humanity.

While sugar and salt look similar in outward appearance the two are vastly different. How do we distinguish between the two? First, we learn to trust the authority of the manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of these products. We trust that the packaging is correct. When a box at the grocery store says “SUGAR” it really is sugar and not salt. A second way to learn is more difficult– through the school of experience. Maybe sugar is housed in a clear container in your home. If you forgot to label it only tasting the substance will you determine if it truly is sugar and not salt.

How Will You Season the World?

The same may be said about temptations and goods sent our way. Oftentimes, Satan dresses up sin as “sugar” to enhance its allure. This makes is easier to fell prey to his trap. Our adversary disguised sin under the costume of a juicy fruit– see Genesis 3 for the story of the Fall. May we continue to rely on the tradition of the Catholic Church, Sacred Scriptures, and testament of the saints for guidance in our journey toward holiness. Let us be the salt of the Earth and preserve society! There is more to you than meets the eye.

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Thank you for sharing!