Draining Holy Water Fonts during Lent?


#1

Is this a tradition where you’re at? It was never done back in the day, when I was a kid, but it is done in a lot of churches in the current day.


#2

O goody!!! It’s that time of the year when we get to discuss silly Lenten practices! :bounce:

…sorry. Couldn’t resist.

See it a lot around here? Yep. Should I? Nope. Does the bishop know? Almost certainly.


#3

Yes, it is pretty universal here but I didn’t see it at all when I lived “up North”. The CDW has stated that it is not permitted to do this link but we have “selective obedience” around here.

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments recently responded to a similar question (3/14/03: Prot. N. 569/00/L) giving a clear answer: "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:

The Pope (JPII) actually wrote in his Lenten letter one year that the practice of removing the holy water at Ash Wednesday was supposed to be stopped. Not only is it just stupid, it dilutes the significance of removing the holy water on Holy Thursday. I will try to find the link for the Pope letter later.


#4

I believe (though I have no factual proof) that this practice started a number of years ago due to an article in a rather common magazine/sourcebook published by LTP to help parishes come up with “art & environment” ideas. I forget the exact name; same people seem to put out Liturgy Today, and a slew of other magazines. The author of the particular article suggested that we remove the holy water and even fill the fonts with sand as part of a desert theme associated with Lent. Unfortunatly, many people view this magazine as an authoritative source, and don’t realize there is a LOT of garbage in there with the good stuff. Sadly, the people doing this just don’t understand. And I have to admit, we have them here at our parish too. I pick ,y battles, and this isn’t one I fight. We have bigger fish to fry so to speak.


#5

Here is the text of the Responsum from the CDW

Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
Piazza Pio XII, 10
00120 Vatican City

Prot. N. 569/00/L

March 14, 2000

Dear Father:

This Congregation for Divine Worship has received your letter sent by fax in which you ask whether it is in accord with liturgical law to remove the Holy Water from the fonts for the duration of the season of Lent.

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.
  1. 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 Tridium 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).

Hoping that this resolves the question and with every good wish and kind regard, I am,

Sincerely yours in Christ,
[signed]
Mons. Mario Marini
Undersecretary

Emptying the Holy Water fonts is not only prohibited by Rome, it is REALLY BAD Sacramentology

As the CCC 1670 says, “they prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it”

Why would Lent NOT be a time for us to configure our souls to receive Grace and co-operate with it??

In addition, Holy Water is a special Sacramental on two major counts. First, it is a reminder of how our souls were configured at Baptism to be Priest, Prophet and King. It is in the Common priesthood of the Baptized that we participate in the Mass exactly at Vatican II required, actively. We, as members of the common priesthood offer ourselves as sacrifice in union with the Eternal Sacrifice being offered by the Ministerial Priesthood on the Altar.

The removal of the Holy Water during the Triduum corresponds to this. We do not celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass during those days, hence we are not acting in our role of the Common Priesthood.

Can anyone explain to me why we should not be reminded of our status and role as the priesthood of Christ during any day we celebrate the Sacrifice of the Mass?

And secondly, the pious use of Holy Water on entering a Church is a partial indulgence, a restoration of the Grace lost in sin. Why should Lent be a time when we FORGO indulgences?

Whoever came up with emptying the Fonts clearly had no idea at all of symbolic sacramentology!!

For all those who’s parish’s have emptied the fonts, print out the above response from the Vatican, and ask your pastor to explain exactly why it would not apply to their parish.


#6

And one other point.

Sacrosanctum Concilium has this to say on Sacramentals

  1. Holy Mother Church has, moreover, instituted sacramentals. These are sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the Sacraments: they signify effects, particularly of a spiritual kind, which are obtained through the Church’s intercession. By them men are disposed to receive the chief effect of the Sacraments, and various occasions in life are rendered holy.

So, one would think that Lent is not a time to be reminded of the spiritual effects of Baptism, or have this occasion in Life be rendered Holy


#7

For all those who’s parish’s have emptied the fonts, print out the above response from the Vatican, and ask your pastor to explain exactly why it would not apply to their parish.

I did that. We got the Holy Water back for one week then it was gone again. Not only that but they started taking it out for Advent too!!! One year they put the Advent wreath IN the Baptismal Font (which is the only HW container in our church).

So, like TAS 2000, I pick my battles. :frowning:


#8

Yes, I saw this reprobated practice at the parish I went to mass at this weekend. I also know some places where they replace the water with sand. It is silly and not in accord with liturgical norms.


#9

[quote=Corki]I did that. We got the Holy Water back for one week then it was gone again. Not only that but they started taking it out for Advent too!!! One year they put the Advent wreath IN the Baptismal Font (which is the only HW container in our church).

So, like TAS 2000, I pick my battles. :frowning:
[/quote]

We just got a new pastor who instituted this practice for Lent. I’m fighting this one so I don’t have to fight others in the future.


#10

This wouldn’t be the hill I would want to die on. I don’t think this is such a big deal. There’s other abuses far worse that I would be more concerned about. But I do see Brendans point and I’m glad my parish is keeping the holy water. :slight_smile:


#11

Ours is the only parish I’ve seen in our area that does this - among other things. In the grand scheme of things probably not a big deal, but when it’s combined with a lot of other ‘little things’ it’s irritating when priests choose to ignore the direction of their Bishop, and in this case, Rome, because they 'personally ‘prefer’ something else.


#12

Then there are the parishes that put ashes or sand in the holy water stoups. …sigh… :banghead:


#13

With our old liturgical coordinator, yes they were dry. I’m happy to say that when our new pastor arrived, the silliness stopped.

Our liturgial coordinator is one of our deasons, and he’s great.
—KCT


#14

[quote=Chatter163]Then there are the parishes that put ashes or sand in the holy water stoups. …sigh… :banghead:
[/quote]

on purpose :confused: what I don’t like is when you go to a parish and begin to reach in for the holy water only to find it all milky and yucky looking.


#15

[quote=anamchara]This wouldn’t be the hill I would want to die on. I don’t think this is such a big deal. There’s other abuses far worse that I would be more concerned about. But I do see Brendans point and I’m glad my parish is keeping the holy water. :slight_smile:
[/quote]

Fortunatly for me, that practice is the only real abuse I’ve seen, so I won’t have a problem bringing it to the pastor’s attention.

I also don’t expect this pastor to not act accordingly on the issue.

He’s off on a Lenten retreat so I’ve haven’t had the chance to bring the responsum to his attention.


#16

[quote=anamchara]on purpose :confused: what I don’t like is when you go to a parish and begin to reach in for the holy water only to find it all milky and yucky looking.
[/quote]

I’ve seen that at another parish.

At least they have a blessed sacramental available.

Sacramentals, per CCC 1670,
" prepare us to receive grace and dispose us to cooperate with it."

So Lent would be a time for INCREASED use of Sacramentals, not their removal.

So at least this parish is leaving a Sacramental for use.

Holy Water has a particular function though. It is a reminder that we, through Baptism, are configured to the Common Priesthood of the Faithful.

As part of that priesthood, we offer ourselves and our sufferings to Christ at Mass, along with the Divine Sacrifice offered by the Ministerial Priesthood.

Why would anyone NOT want to be remined that we offer our sufferings to Christ at Mass?

In addition, the pious use of Holy Water upon entry to a Church is a partial indulgence. Considering that Lent is a penitential time, why should the most common indulgence act be removed from the Faithful?

It makes no sense whatsoever.


#17

[quote=Brendan]Fortunatly for me, that practice is the only real abuse I’ve seen, so I won’t have a problem bringing it to the pastor’s attention.

[/quote]

It sounds like you’ve sized him up pretty good so far. But I’d be careful you never know there might be bigger problems down the road. I guess it depends on how long he’s been there? :slight_smile:


#18

[quote=anamchara]It sounds like you’ve sized him up pretty good so far. But I’d be careful you never know there might be bigger problems down the road. I guess it depends on how long he’s been there? :slight_smile:
[/quote]

He’s a good guy. I really think this is a case of not having heard of the Vatican’s responsum on the subject.


#19

Looks like my parish is doing this. Since it will be closing in a year or so, I may move to a new parish sooner than later. There seems to be too many changes happening lately. I may check out Our Lady of Sorrows tomorrow (even though I went to Mass tonight).

PF


#20

Our church has always removed the holy water from its fonts the first Sunday after Ash Wednesday. I asked Parish Council about this today, and the fellow I spoke to said he tried to stop the woman from doing it, but she did it anyway. So I gave him a copy of the article from The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments where it states it should not be done, and he is taking it to the Parish Council meeting today, so we’ll see what the outcome is.

Our church is one of those where we have strong-willed people, (usually, if not always a woman) who insist on doing things their way. Our priest is isolated, with no other religious for support, so hopefully now that Parish Council is aware of this document, we will get the Holy water returned to the fonts.


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