Monday, February 23, 2009

Emptying holy water fonts during Lent


Last night, after the Traditional Mass, my pastor called me aside. Here's a snippet of that conversation:
Father: Before the Ash Wednesday Mass at 9, we're going to have a brief ceremony.

Me: Oh?

Father: We're going to dump all the holy water from the holy water fonts.

Me: eyebrows rising while panic starts to set in

Father: We'll be putting sand in its place.

Me: (getting it and without batting an eye) I can bring cactus plants. (turning to my husband) Remind me to stop by the nursery and pick up some cacti.

Father: laughs out loud

Me: Do you want some round smooth stones, too? (pleased with myself that Father was the first to crack)
So what is your parish's practice with regards to holy water during Lent? Is your pastor one who teaches that Lent is to be desert experience therefore draining the holy water fonts creates a sense of thirst for the baptismal waters of Easter Vigil? Here's what the Congregation for Divine Worship wrote in 2000:
This Dicastery is able to respond that the removing of Holy Water from the fonts during the season of Lent is not permitted, in particular, for two reasons:

1. The liturgical legislation in force does not foresee this innovation, which in addition to being praeter legem is contrary to a balanced understanding of the season of Lent, which though truly being a season of penance, is also a season rich in the symbolism of water and baptism, constantly evoked in liturgical texts.

2. The encouragement of the Church that the faithful avail themselves frequently of the [sic] of her sacraments and sacramentals is to be understood to apply also to the season of Lent. The "fast" and "abstinence" which the faithful embrace in this season does not extend to abstaining from the sacraments or sacramentals of the Church. The practice of the Church has been to empty the Holy Water fonts on the days of the Sacred Triduum in preparation of the blessing of the water at the Easter Vigil, and it corresponds to those days on which the Eucharist is not celebrated (i.e., Good Friday and Holy Saturday).
Got that? I got into an argument with someone once about emptying holy water fonts during Lent. After I quoted from the CDW, this person angrily said to me, "You think you know more than the Church!" I laughed at the incongruity of that ad hominem.

6 comments:

Cookie said...

This reminds me of the time that a seminarian friend of mine called me over to the area behind the church/ sacristy and said, "Hey, Fr P [Yes, THAT Fr P] wants to know if you can get to Mass a little bit early on Maundy Thursday so he can wash your feet."

It took me about 1.5 seconds to realize he was kidding. But I panicked for that 1.5 seconds. And Fr P was watching me panic, which made it even funnier.

Argent said...

Oh, I can imagine Fr. P watching you panic. He's good at that.

Jean de B. said...

It's nice you can laugh about such things. Some of us don't have an alternative though. Our only option is attending Mass at a parish where a lunatic is in charge. And the way he condescendingly reacts when you complain is too much. And the bishop supports him. Mass for me is kind of like attending a marriage ceremony while there is some comedian up there cracking jokes about divorce through the whole thing. It's totally disheartening.

Argent said...

Dear Jean...I don't mean to minimize the suffering that others have to experience in other places. I have been there and it was purgatory on earth while we lived through it. The laughter was so that I wouldn't cry.

Adrienne said...

We leave the holy water but the 10:30 Mass has a "band" (folk rocky things) that blares all the way through Lent....we attend a different church now....

Jean - you really, really need to find a different church. There are some good things happening in your area. It would be worth the trouble to look around. I surely do understand how bad liturgy can drain the life out of you.

Cookie said...

He's quite the prankster. If I ever see you in person (it has to happen eventually, right?) remind me to tell you about the prank I helped him pull on that same seminarian. It's awful(ly hilarious).