Water for Washing Hands At Mass


#1

Hi I have a quick question;
I’m not sure what the correct term is for the water which the Priest and the EMHC use to cleanse their hands before and after Holy Communion, but I’m wondering if there are rules as to how it should be disposed of, considering it contains particles of Holy Communion.


#2

The pre-washing is called the Lavabo, and it seems odd to me that laypeople would participate in it in such a way that they look like they are participating in it with the priest. I'm not saying they shouldn't wash their hands at some point, but I am saying that it seems to distort the rite if it is done by them at the same time the priest is doing it, because that could seem to imply some stuff. The Lavabo is intimately connected to sacrifice and ritual purification.

The post-washing is called the ablutions.

As to the disposal, Lavabo water doesn't really matter. Ablutions water should always be consumed.


#3

The lavabo happens after the offertory(though the priests does the same before vesting before mass.) so the hosts are just hosts not the body of our Lord. Most of the time plain water is used though some priests might use holy water in which case it would have to be properly disposed of. Our EMHC's are told to wash their hands before mass but not with the priest during the lavabo.


#4

[quote="YoungTradCath, post:2, topic:334124"]
...it seems odd to me that laypeople would participate in it in such a way that they look like they are participating in it with the priest....it seems to distort the rite if it is done by them at the same time the priest is doing it

The post-washing is called the ablutions.
...Ablutions water should always be consumed.

[/quote]

Thanks for the response. The EMHC SOMETIMES cleanse their hands in a bowl of water, before and after administering HC. The don't do it at the same time as the Priest, however. They do it when the go to the altar, just before they recieve Holy Communion themselves.
If the water wasn't consumed, and, for example was disposed of down a sink, would that be a serious matter?


#5

[quote="sealabeag, post:4, topic:334124"]
Thanks for the response. The EMHC SOMETIMES cleanse their hands in a bowl of water, before and after administering HC. The don't do it at the same time as the Priest, however. They do it when the go to the altar, just before they recieve Holy Communion themselves.
If the water wasn't consumed, and, for example was disposed of down a sink, would that be a serious matter?

[/quote]

If the ablutions water goes down the sink that is basically like throwing the Eucharist away.

The Lavabo doesn't matter.


#6

[quote="YoungTradCath, post:5, topic:334124"]
If the ablutions water goes down the sink that is basically like throwing the Eucharist away.

The Lavabo doesn't matter.

[/quote]

This might be a silly question, but if someone receives Holy Communion in their hand, wouldn't there be particles there that aren't consumed, which might fall to the ground or be washed down the sink when they later wash their hands?


#7

Could this water be poured down the special sink in the Sacristy that goes down into the ground?


#8

Yes, and this common-sense observation is one of the greatest dangers of Communion in the hand. It seems clear to me that this can be totally avoided, but short of that, if one chooses to receive in the hand, it is that person’s responsibility to check his hands for particles and consume them.


#9

[quote="sealabeag, post:6, topic:334124"]
This might be a silly question, but if someone receives Holy Communion in their hand, wouldn't there be particles there that aren't consumed, which might fall to the ground or be washed down the sink when they later wash their hands?

[/quote]

Yes but FWIW, some of the particles would get absorbed into the body anyway. Those which aren't, of course, are subject to disposal in the manner you suggest.


#10

[quote="sealabeag, post:1, topic:334124"]
Hi I have a quick question;
I'm not sure what the correct term is for the water which the Priest and the EMHC use to cleanse their hands before and after Holy Communion, but I'm wondering if there are rules as to how it should be disposed of, considering it contains particles of Holy Communion.

[/quote]

It sounds like you are referring to the ablutions cup next to or very near the tabernacle. Periodically, the water should be refreshed and the general manner of disposal of the water in the ablutions cup is to pour it down the sacrarium.


#11

[quote="RichT, post:7, topic:334124"]
Could this water be poured down the special sink in the Sacristy that goes down into the ground?

[/quote]

My parish has a special sink. I wouldn't want to be the one who drinks the water that has washed hands. :eek:


#12

[quote="KendraDZ1902, post:11, topic:334124"]
My parish has a special sink. I wouldn't want to be the one who drinks the water that has washed hands. :eek:

[/quote]

In the EF, the priest is supposed to expose only his thumb and forefinger to the Host and while distributing communion. The ablution doesn't involve the whole hand, just those fingers.


#13

[quote="ProVobis, post:9, topic:334124"]
Yes but FWIW, some of the particles would get absorbed into the body anyway. Those which aren't, of course, are subject to disposal in the manner you suggest.

[/quote]

? Hands are permeable to bread particles?


#14

[quote="sealabeag, post:1, topic:334124"]
Hi I have a quick question;
I'm not sure what the correct term is for the water which the Priest and the EMHC use to cleanse their hands before and after Holy Communion, but I'm wondering if there are rules as to how it should be disposed of, considering it contains particles of Holy Communion.

[/quote]

If the water used is blessed it goes down the sacrarium .

I know a priest who says Mass in a chapel that does not have a sacrarium and he puts regular tap water in the lavabo bowl prior to Mass and then just dips his fingers in, so they can just dispose of that water normally (I think they still throw it outside, as it was still used for Mass, even though it was not holy water).

Hope this has helped. :)


#15

Wait, so before distributing Holy Communion, the EMHCs wash their hands in a bowl of water? Is this a shared bowl? Is it water only? If either answer is "yes", then this is extremely unsanitary! The Lavabo, which is a liturgical act performed by the presiding priest only (not even a deacon) is not intended to remove germs from hands. The priest should have washed his hands with soap and hot water before Mass begins. Likewise for the EMHCs, they should all have purified their hands non-liturgically in order to distribute food. Those who administer the host or chalice should always be aware that they are working with true food and drink, and ordinary sanitary measures must be observed. It is difficult to keep the chalice clean, but with judicious use of a purificator as well as rotating the vessel every time, should provide clean surfaces.

My father and I kind of laugh on Good Friday when the Holy Cross is venerated, for the reason that altar servers with purificators are wiping the cross after every kiss. My father calls it "spreading the germs around".


#16

[quote="YoungTradCath, post:13, topic:334124"]
? Hands are permeable to bread particles?

[/quote]

Especially when moist. :)


#17

When the Priest washes is his hands this is the “Lavabo” he says the words “wash me from my sin oh Lord and cleanse me from my iniquity” although it is a cleaning of the hands in preparation for the celebration of the Eucharist it is also a sign of the washing away of sin- some priests say this quietly as it is a personal moment for them to recognise their need to be free from sin and clean in order to celebrate the Eucharist- at the Traditional Mass this is always said silently, in the Novus Ordo Mass it can be quite or loud- doesn’t really matter. When the Lavabo prayer is aloud it shows the people the Priest’s need and desire to be cleansed and is a great preparation for the people as well before the Eucharist.

My Priest never washes his hands with the same lavabo water after Communion- I have only seen a few Priests ever do this (I am an Altar Server & have served many a Priest) I don’t know what the Traditional Custom was before Vatican II, however, any water that many contain Holy Substances cannot be disposed of in the normal way- it has to be given back to the Earth- therefore water used by the Priest after Holy Communion to wash his hands should be poured on plants or flowers etc. the idea behind this is that life is being given back from something Holy. This is also the case with Holy Water that can’t be used- for example if it’s in an open bucket after a funeral and the Priest can’t travel without spilling it everywhere in his car (eg.)then it can be given back to the Earth.

Anything that is blessed or contains any trace of Holy Substance cannot be disposed of- when the Priest wipes a baby’s head after the anointing with oils and pouring of Holy Water during a Baptism that cotton wool (or whatever) is then placed in the Thurible (incensor) to be burnt for incensing at the next Mass where it will be used.


#18

I am one of the sacristans in my parish and one of my responsibilities is cleaning out the bowl Father washes his fingers in after Communion. What he told me was to treat it as Holy water. I was told to pour the water on the ground, rinse it out and pour the second lot of water on the ground as well. Then refill it with normal tap water. I do that once a week. This morning as a matter of fact.

Hope this helps.


#19

[quote="Efrasios, post:17, topic:334124"]
.

Anything that is blessed or contains any trace of Holy Substance cannot be disposed of- when the Priest wipes a baby's head after the anointing with oils and pouring of Holy Water during a Baptism that cotton wool (or whatever) is then placed in the Thurible (incensor) to be burnt for incensing at the next Mass where it will be used.

[/quote]

I've never heard that about putting cotton-wool in the thurible. It would flare up or if still damp, smoke horribly.

Where did you read it?


#20

I still have never heard of pouring the ablutions down any hole or on any surface. I have only ever seen the priest/deacon consume the water.

Again, Lavabo water doesn't really matter, but if it is holy water it should be disposed of reverently.


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