Dumb liberal idea #3464: Removing Holy Water during Lent

Some of you have been to church already this Lent. Some of you will go tonight for Stations of the Cross. All of you will go on Sunday.

Each year we are seeing a lessening of liturgical stupidity, as those of a certain age go to their retirement or reward (the so-called “Biological Solution”) and young people with less strange liturgical baggage step into their positions. Nevertheless, some aberrations continue. One particularly dumb and annoying liturgical oddity is the removal of holy water from stoups during Lent.

If you are a new Catholic or catechumen and haven’t yet seen that, just remember that the people doing this, … know not what they do.

To all the priests out there still… unbelievably still putting sand in holy water fonts during Lent…

KNOCK IT OFF!

And if you go into a church where you see this sort of idiocy… for the love of God, DON’T bless yourself with SAND.

Total FAIL.

Little beach chairs made from toothpicks and a drink umbrella would look good in there.  Maybe a golf ball? Some fast sprouting beans and a little water when no one is looking?

Have sand in your stoups?  How about some photos!?

Holy water is a sacramental.

We get the powerful theology of its use in the older ritual in the prayers for exorcism of the water and salt used and then the blessing itself.  I wrote about this in an article for the WDTPRS series and it is on this blog.  I’ll come back to it soon.

The rite of blessing holy water, in the older ritual, is powerful stuff.  It sounds odd, nearly foreign to our modern ears, especially after decades of being force fed ICEL pabulum.

Holy Water is a power weapon of the spiritual life against the attacks of the devil.

You do believe in the existence of the Enemy, … right?

You know you are a soldier and pilgrim in a dangerous world, … right?

So why… why… why would these liturgists and priests REMOVE a tool of spiritual warfare precisely during the season of LENT when we need it the most??

Holy water is a sacramental.

It is for our benefit.

awardIt is not a toy, or something to be abstained from, like chocolate or television.

This is a response from the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments about this question. Enjoy.

The emphases are mine:

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.

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).

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

Sincerely yours in Christ,
[signed]
Mons. Mario Marini [Later, the Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, now with God.]
Undersecretary

Dumb liberal idea #3464: Removing Holy Water during Lent
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53 Responses to Dumb liberal idea #3464: Removing Holy Water during Lent

  1. John V says:

    Perhaps T. Ferguson and Zuhlio could collaborate on “Sand in My Stoups”, after The Drifters’ “Sand in My Shoes”.

  2. Father K says:

    Nothing wrong with a bit of ‘civil disobedience.’ If people have quantities of Holy Water at home [and I am sure they have] why not go round filling the stoups with Holy Water, preferably to almost overflowing. The sand will settle in the bottom. If it is removed by some officious liturgy co-ordinator, fill it up again: keep doing and the side of the angels will prevail! If caught with your hand, or bottle in the stoup respectfully brandish the above letter! :-)

  3. AnAmericanMother says:

    Green army men . .. Or if I was feeling really cranky, a couple of tootsie rolls artistically modified to resemble kitty by-products.
    Love the beach chair Santa, much nicer.
    None of this nonsense in our quite traditional OF parish. Thank the merciful workings of Divine Providence for a tough old Irish priest with a clear head (and a warm heart).

  4. rtjl says:

    Our Bishop sent out a letter several years ago forbidding the removal of holy water from the fonts during lent. It had been the practice of our parish to do so until the letter was sent.

  5. Blaise says:

    rtjl – at least your parish obeyed the bishop; sad that one has to be glad about that rather than take it for granted.

    Maybe a printed out copy of the letter from the CDW could be placed in each emptied stoop.

  6. APX says:

    Any Drifters fans???

    Sand in the Stoups
    Oh, the font has been emptied
    There’s purple cloth and beach shore
    and the Holy Water
    isn’t flowing freely anymore.
    Holy Water’s powers
    are just old news.

    (Refrain)

    ‘Cause now they’re putting sand in the stoups
    (Sand in the stoups)
    Brings mem’ries of the desert sand
    (Sand in the stoups)
    Oh-oh-whoa-oh, the Lenten journey that’s at hand
    and that on Fridays I can’t eat meat
    comes back to me (They’re still using sand)
    with the sand in the stoups

    Oh-whoa-oh

    When the water would flow
    all would bless themselves with their right hand.
    Now when they reach their hand in
    there’s no water, so they bless themselves with sand.
    Holy Water’s powers
    are just old news

    (Refrain)

    (Sand in the stoups)
    Whoa-uh-oh-oh
    Whoa, la, la, la, la, uh-whoa
    (Sand in the stoups)
    Whoa whoa whoa

  7. ContraMundum says:

    “When they was no holy water, we blessed ourselves with crawdad. And when they was no crawdad to be found, we blessed ourselves with sand.”

    “You blessed yourselves with what?”

    “We blessed ourselves with sand.”

    “You blessed yourselves with SAND?.”

  8. I carry Holy Water in my purse at all times.

    I have always found Lent to be a time of greater trials and attacks, never fails. IMHO, we need Holy Water more than ever at this time. What kind of sinister mind would dream up replacing the sacramental with sand?

  9. robtbrown says:

    Fr Z says,

    Little beach chairs made from toothpicks and a drink umbrella would look good in there. Maybe a golf ball? Some fast sprouting beans and a little water when no one is looking?

    Don’t give them any ideas.

  10. wmeyer says:

    Were I to find any such silly note in the stoups, I would shake the dust from my sandals, and move on.

  11. mamajen says:

    I’ve never seen sand, but usually see empty stoups during Lent. This year there was still water in them at Ash Wednesday mass (not to mention the Agnus Dei was sung in Latin, which I have NEVER heard done in this particular church).

  12. APX says:

    When I was kid the stoups were always filled with sand and cacti. The baptismal font was transformed into a magnificent sandbox and desert with huge cacti and rocks, draped in purple tapestry. Needless to say we didn’t have baptisms during Lent.

  13. ContraMundum says:

    In response to that note, drop the following in the collection plate.

    “As was customary in the past, there will be no monetary offerings to this parish until Easter. May the poverty remind the pastor and staff of our Lenten journey of self-denial as we prepare to celebrate the joy of Easter. As you await the return of contributions at Easter, may you cleanse your hearts of all avarice and wrath, but especially the pride which impels you to invent your own little traditions at the expense of the Church.

    The offerings which otherwise would have gone to this parish will instead be directed to the Archdiocese for the Military Services, for the spiritual benefit of those who still go into the desert and make sacrifices.”

  14. smmclaug says:

    Honestly, I had never seen or heard of this practice before now–not sure how I missed out on that. Anyway, it does seem like a strange and silly thing to do. The question, as ever, is what it reveals about the particular spirit that inspires such practices.

    Here’s my theory: It’s a consequence of a diminution in the sense of sacrament. It represents a move toward the notion that all these sacramental things are mere symbols. The priests and “liturgists” who engage in this nonsense do so because they really don’t think holy water is much more than a symbol. So replacing it with just another symbol or “reminder” doesn’t strike them as impious at all, but to the contrary, they think it is insightful and profound.

    They do not mean to harm anyone’s faith, or diminish their protection from evil spirits. They are sincere in wanting to make Lent more meaningful. It’s just that they aren’t totally convinced that the whole “evil spirits” thing is really much worth worrying about. They see the point of all these Catholic accoutrements as merely to inspire us, or to remind us about “the reason for the season,” or what have you. These things aren’t actually real. They take the sociologist’s view that a thing is sacred because we revere it–that is literally how the word “sacred” is defined by sociologists and “religious studies” types–rather than the genuinely religious view that we revere it because it is sacred.

    Again, the idea really isn’t all bad, if one assumes that sacramental water is just water with some words said over them. At least it shows an acknowledgement that our surroundings at church do really make a difference in how we think, believe, and pray. That’s something, at least. But it is still evidence of an anthropocentric view of religion and a Protestantized view of sacramental symbolism.

  15. MyBrokenFiat says:

    ContraMundum – that just made me both laugh and cringe. Heh.

    I’ll be honest – I’ve been blessed to never even know this practice existed until now. At least I can be on the lookout and if ever I come across such a tragedy, I can direct folks to this entry!

    As always, thanks, Fr. Z!

  16. pm125 says:

    Penance could include cleaning the font with a towel before refilling.

  17. NoTambourines says:

    They cleared out the holy water at my hometown parish, but sticking sand in it is a new one.

    It seems like people making these decisions should know where to go for information on what they ought to be doing, and internet access to documents that used to be available only in print should only make that easier. But so many of these oddities seem to have spread because 1.) people accepted on hearsay that this or that was the thing to do now, and 2.) they didn’t care or no longer thought they had to.

    How many of these things come from the pastor, and how many come from lay parish “leadership” chasing the next big thing in liturgical fashion? Ironically, some of these have stuck around long enough to be claimed as “tradition” after a few decades.

    I guess I’m a product of my upbringing. I really think the loss of the Latin Mass broke my dad’s heart. (I don’t think he’s been to Mass since my grandma’s funeral in 1997. I keep praying.) One of Dad’s axes to grind has always been the “clique of busybody laity” that has made the liturgy their plaything to tinker with. Sand in the font sounds par for the course.

    Call them the CBL. I’d rather listen to the CDW than the CBL.

  18. APX says:

    I think smmclaug is onto something. I’ve never heard of the holy water in the stoups being referred to as anything else aside from being “a reminder of our baptism.” How many people walk into a church and cross themselves with holy water out of habit with no real concept of what they’re doing? I know I have and still fall into the habit of simply going through the motions at times.

    Holy water isn’t spoken of being a sacramental or a weapon used to fight off Satan. It’s a happy feel good thing we use to make us feel good and remind us of our baptism.

  19. LisaP. says:

    Smmclaug —

    I think you’ve pegged it.
    Having grown up with no real understanding of Church traditions (much less Tradition) despite CCD classes and Catholic schooling, when I first saw these practices I thought they were an increase, rather than a decrease, in reverential thinking. I suspect many who originate the practice in their parishes think they are doing well, because their thinking is distorted by ignorance and poor formation. The distinction you make (because we revere it/because it is sacred) is an extraordinarily important one and expands into so much of what people can unconsciously find themselves doing in a relativist culture .

  20. Random Walk says:

    Here’s an odd question (preface: I was born and baptized only a couple of months before Vatican II went into effect, so no real knowledge of how things went beforehand).

    At the parish I’m just about to move out of, they kept the Holy Water, but the baptismal font (well, small pool the size of a sunken hot tub) next to it is empty, with purple sashes draped across it. Is that within Canon?

    As for the sand? Really, sand? I thought that anything holding something blessed would be held in a higher regard than that. Seems somewhat sacrilegious. I’m seriously hoping my new parish didn’t do that (as you can see, it’s literally next to the Pacific Ocean anyway, so I suspect that keeping sand *out* is a primary concern there).

  21. irishgirl says:

    @ Contra Mundum: Ooo, that’s really hitting them [priests and ‘liturgists’] where it hurts, right in the ol’ pocketbook! Bravo to what you said!
    I’ve never seen sand in the holy water fonts in any of the churches around here.
    Whoever thought of that idea surely had rocks in their heads! [pun intended!]
    @ APX: Hey, that’s a very creative song! Wonder why Father Z didn’t give you a gold star?
    [I’m trying to remember the original tune by The Drifters…one of those cool ‘doo wop’ groups of the 1950s / 1960s]

  22. I like the idea of filling them with actual holy water–that’s pretty funny!

    How about approaching the priest, with wide-eyed innocence, and try this:

    “Oh, Father, may I ask, is this sand blessed?

    “Um, erm, no…”

    “Oh. OK, and when I bless myself with it, should I first moisten my finger? Or do I leave my finger dry? Not much of the holy sand sticks to my finger when it’s dry…”

    “Um, well…”

    “Is it OK if I take some home? I’d like to bless my house with it. Is there more in the vestibule?”

    “Well, not exactly…”

    “And when I bless my house, is it all right if I sweep up the rest? That’s not sacrilegious is it? Or should I leave the holy sand on the carpet?”

    “Er, I really can’t say…”

    “You know, I shouldn’t tell you this, but Martha Heffelstein, when she takes the water, she gives it to her cat! I saw her take some of the holy sand…I wonder what he cat will do with that?”

    “Um, you know, I think I have a call to make, if you can excuse me…”

    “Oh, and Father? The Altar Society meets next week–I’m sure we’d love to have you give a talk on the tradition of blessed sand? It’s so interesting!”

    “Oh…yes, I’ll check my calendar, I…I really have to go, I’m sorry.” (%$#@!)

  23. NoTambourines says:

    One other thing, if you want to know how badly the understanding of what holy water is has slipped:

    About 2 years ago, our pastor had to ask people not to throw coins in the baptismal font like a wishing well or fountain.

    It should have gone down on the calendar as Facepalm Sunday.

  24. dominic1955 says:

    I think this particular form of liberal stupidity stems from the wholly deficient theology of blessings and sacramentals enshrined in that pathetic excuse of a Ritual called “The Book of Blessings (Wishes)” (De Benedictionibus).

    The traditional Rituale Romanum actually blessed and exorcised the water and salt for holy water. The terms of the blessing made it clear that 1)the water itself was blessed, 2)the water and salt were exorcised, 3) the resulting sacramental is a powerful tool in our spiritual arsenal.

    The new book can bless the water (depending on what form you use) and even when it doesn’t I believe a certain form of “ecclesia suplex” kicks in. Regardless, the blessing is weaker than the old form without the exorcism. Even if salt is added, it is merely blessed and not exorcised. The prayer puts more emphasis on holy water being a reminder of baptism and in some general way giving of strength.

    The underlying theology (especially if you read liberal theologians of the time) is one of a denial of “superstition”. The “old theology” was superstitious in that it actually took demons and angels seriously. It also thought of there being two realms (sacred and profane), the profane (their favorite) was insulted in that by blessing things they were removed from the profane and placed into the sacred in the service of God. To the nouvelle theologie liberals, the sacred and profane are basically one and the same.

    “Thus, why not put sand in the stoups? The whole holy water thing is just a reminder of baptism. There is no devil or demons and such to make “spiritual warfare” on, that is preconciliar nonsense. The point of blessing water is to thank God for God’s gifts and be reminded of baptism. We are educated, we are adults, we are empowered by our baptism!”-That is demonic and anything but Catholic…

    This is also seen in most of the other new liturgical books, i.e. baptismal rites. Look at the so-called “exorcisms” in the New Rite. There is no reason to have a real exorcism when the Devil and his minions are seen as silly Medieval boogeyman stories. Baptism then becomes not a matter of taking a person out of the service of the World and Satan by cleansing their souls of Original (and actual if they are not infants) Sin and giving Sanctifying Grace but merely of integrating them into the community.

    I’ve read journal articles by some of the people who came up with the new books. I do not see how it is possible that they hold the same Catholic Faith I hold.

  25. tealady24 says:

    For the love of God, I agree!

    Just another dumb thing to “do” for Lent! Just what do they think that will achieve? I really have to ponder over the fate of our beloved Church in future.

  26. dominic1955 says:

    Smmclaug has a good point as well, and we do well to remember that really our battle is with the Principalities and Powers and not so much with kindly (though severely misguided and mistaken) Fr. Funtime and his Litniks. They probably (assumed in charity) have no malicious intent behind what they do. They do not intend to do their part to destroy the belief of the Faithful in the sacramentals of the Church or in Church teaching on angels and demons. However, of course, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Evil does not usually present itself in grotesque and obvious forms.

    The actions of these people are a denial of a number of things, but what is obvious is that they put more trust in the “knowledge” of man than in God. They were enthralled by the novelties of the likes of Schillebeckx and Rahner and Bultmann and in doing so, have at least implicitly denied the Faith. They think that “modern man” is somehow so much different that all who have come before that we need to redo everything to keep up with this evolution they will gladly kowtow to Hegelianism and whatever other modern fad they think they see as a “sign of the times”.

    The “Aufklarung Catholics” of late 18th Cent. and early 19th Cent. Germany followed a similar path in kowtowing to Kantianism and rationalism in their attempt to “reform” the Church. Fortunately, for the time, their errors were denounced in no uncertain terms by Rome and local orthodox Bishops.

    If only the same could happen today with our current crop of neo-Modernists…

  27. Supertradmum says:

    Bit expensive, but the priest would get the hint. Love the facial expression here

    for the hard-core protesters of sand in the fonts….

    http://www.ultimatesoldier.net/archive/boxedsets73.htm

  28. Scarltherr says:

    I guess in my innocence, or stupidity, I always though that the slowly drying out stoups were to make way for the ‘fresh’ Holy Water after the Easter Vigil. I’ve never seen sand used this way. I’ve made a habit of keeping a bottle in my purse at all times and a bottle in my kitchen to bless all of the food I serve. I hope that’s okay.

  29. digdigby says:

    Hey, I think it is very creative – sand instead of holy water. Someone else mentioned the removal of a crucifix. I think this is going too far, however – why not just turn the crucifix upside-down as in the end of Rosemary’s Baby. By the way that indulgenced prayer before a crucifix that Father published the other day (said on Fridays during Lent) was most strengthening this morning against the ‘whisperer’.

  30. ScholaLady says:

    My personal favorite thing to do with the the sand in the stoops would be to stick in some cigarrette butts.

    Our former home parish used to remove the holy water. My husband actually did go around refilling the stoops with holy water from our stockpile. They also liked to put rocks and cacti around the altar and the steps leading up to the sanctuary, and in every corner of the church. The mentality behind this, as far as we could tell from talking to the pastor, was that people needed this to help them understand Lent. In other words, the typical parishioner is too dumb to “get” Lent unless we make it really easy and obvious for them.

  31. Quanah says:

    What really disturbs me about this issue is that priests who allow this or encourage this betray either an ignorance of the efficacy of sacramentals or simply reject them. We replace sacramentals with mere symbolism. No wonder why most Catholics today think like secular materialists rather than seeing the world with the eyes of the Church.

    @ Father K,

    I like the way you think.

  32. APX says:

    @irishgirl
    APX: Hey, that’s a very creative song! Wonder why Father Z didn’t give you a gold star?
    [I’m trying to remember the original tune by The Drifters…one of those cool ‘doo wop’ groups of the 1950s / 1960s]

    Thanks. I went for the liberal minimalistic mindset of Lent when I came up with it.
    This might help you out with the tune.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3hDmyZbH7s

  33. Father K says:

    ContraMundum

    Brilliant – civil disobedience at its best -hit them in the hip-pocket, that’s when they will listen and hopefully have a metanoia

  34. irishgirl says:

    @APX: Thanks for the link to The Drifters’ song! It’s not one of their more familiar tunes, but pretty cool nevertheless!
    Though it would be cool if our friend Zuhlio could put his spin on it….haha….

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  36. digdigby says:

    Better to put out sand out then unblessed tap-water which seems to be COMMON according to a long ago blog on this very site.

  37. rodin says:

    So glad to see your statement that holy water is a sacramental. How do we get that word to the pastors, at least to the one who was flinging holy water from an evergreen bough and bouncing it off of my head. He then reloaded with holy water and did it again much to the amusement of the congregation in view of it. I nearly lost it. I wanted so much to seize his hand and say “Father, holy water is a sacramental. Please act accordingly.”

  38. Father K says:

    Quanah

    Just the veteran of many battles – have learnt many tricks along the way: these days I prefer more undercover activities rather than head on confrontation…

  39. When this practice was prevalent in my area, I carried my own holy water during Lent. If I found sand in the fonts, I dumped the sand and replaced it with holy water. But I like Fr. K’s solution above better, so the next time I see sand, I’ll do what he suggests instead. (Fortunately, I haven’t had to fill fonts for the last couple of years or so.)

  40. Clinton R. says:

    Lent is a time to mortify the flesh, to make ourselves dead to sin, not to be dead to the Sacraments and sacramentals. When I first came to my parish, there was no Holy water during Lent. Thankfully, the Holy water has been present at all times since.

  41. Mary Jane says:

    Thankfully I’ve never seen sand in a holy water font (blessed to be at a FSSP parish) … I feel really bad for everyone who has experienced this! It’s hard enough doing battle in the world as it is; we need all the help we can get and holy water is one of those huge helps!

  42. James Joseph says:

    I almost miss being back in Worcester, Massachusetts at the Cathedral of St. Paul, where the monsignor routinely fills the fonts with sand…. at least they kept the fonts in place! Nor did they remove all of the statues. We don’t even holy water fonts where I am now. They were removed this past week. *poof!*

    No worries, I figure I can just do baptism of desire; and so, I stick my hand down where the water should be and bless myself anyway.

  43. Father K says:

    Miss Anita Moore O.P.

    The Revolution progresses, quietly and underhandedly [or botteley]…All power etc. etc..

  44. New Sister says:

    Vive la Résistance!

  45. Nicole says:

    rodin – I have a similar experience…of leaving Easter Sunday Mass soaked due to the “pine bough” used as an aspergilium.

  46. Denita says:

    @ContraMundum-LOL Great idea!
    @No Tamborines, I like the way you think,especially about the layfolk “running the show.” Because I go to Latin Mass, I really have no “parish” per se- just the Ft. Worth “community” and the collage Chapel @St. Thomas More. Anyway, I hate to talk this away about my own sex, but to me, the laywomen are worse than the laymen when it comes to “taking over” a parish. Many times I’ve wanted help in some form or other, and the parish office staff- mostly laywomen- have taken it upon themselves to act as “bodyguards” for the priest(s) or Bishop. You have to get by them first. :(

  47. benedictgal says:

    Here is the statement that our diocese made on the subject:

    The practice by which Holy Water is removed from the fonts for the entirety of the time of Lent and either kept empty or filled with ashes or sand is forbidden. The Congregation of Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments (CDW) in a letter dated March 14, 2000 (Prot. N. 569/00/L) states: “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).”

  48. From “St. Patrick’s Church of Holy Family parish in Galveston, TX.

    sand

  49. NoTambourines says:

    *shudder* Oh, that’s how they do it — chucking a bowl in. I wondered how places were doing that where the structure holding the holy water is affixed to or in the wall. That might necessitate rubrics for blessing a dedicated Shop-Vac for getting the sand out at the end of the season.

  50. NoTambourines says:

    Denita — thanks! My mother found the same thing when she tried to get involved in our hometown parish. She wasn’t part of “the clique,” and never felt welcome. I’m in a very large and growing parish and thankfully, that’s proven to be a bigger tent much more in need and welcoming of those willing and able to help.

  51. AnAmericanMother says:

    Denita, NoTambourines,
    Those obnoxious women are everywhere you go. Even St. Padre Pio had to contend with them.
    I butter them up shamelessly when necessary, but they know from prior encounters that they can’t push me too far (one of them was rude to my shy young daughter – she takes after her dad – and that is one thing that will set me on the warpath. Jesus and no quarter.)
    If I really need something, I just march right up to one of the priests and ask him. And follow up with a nice thank-you note. And don’t pester them over trifles.
    One thing I have to be careful of is that I don’t become one of those ladies. I’m a little too hard-headed and a little too oblivious to the finer shades.

  52. Charlotte Allen says:

    We used to do the no-holy-water thing in my parish. Fortunately, no sand in the fonts (isn’t it awfully hard to get out if the font isn’t movable?). Instead, the main font would be filled with tiny wooden crosses saying “Lent 2010,” “Lent 2011,” or whatever. We each were supposed to take one home as a Lenten souvenir. The crosses were nice–but I would rather have had the holy water. Plus, the steps leading to the altar were decorated with what I think was supposed to be a desert landscape: a beige canvas sheet with rocks planted on top of it, plus a loaf of bread (didn’t that attract mice?), a big water jug, and some other tatty symbolic paraphernalia. It all looked like the scenery in a high school play. Fortunately our new pastor has brought back the holy water, and the “Sheik of Araby” scenery hasn’t so far reappeared. Bless the new crop of sane younger priests!