Dumb liberal idea #3464 = Reason #583739 for Summorum Pontificum: Removing Holy Water during Lent

If there are any priests out there who remove Holy Water from the stoops in church for Lent…


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

We get the powerful theology of its use in the older Rituale Romanum 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.

The rite of blessing holy water, in the older ritual, is powerful stuff.  It sounds odd, nearly foreign to our modern ears, especially after over 30 years of being force fed ICEL pabulum.

You are a soldier and pilgrim in a dangerous world.  What is Lent for? Spiritual discipline and war, right?

So why… why… why would these dopey 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 power weapon of the spiritual life against the attacks of the devil.

Holy water is a sacramental.

It is not a toy, or something to be abstained from, like chocolate …. which is the stuff of a childish Lent.

Holy Water is not to be removed from fonts until after the Mass on Holy Thursday.

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,
Mons. Mario Marini [Later, the Secretary of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, now with God.]

I suggest 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?

Dear readers:

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

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. I carry holy water during Lent, and when I see an empty font, I fill it up. Fortunately, in the last couple of years, the practice of emptying the fonts during Lent has abated, so that this hasn’t been necessary.

  2. Centristian says:

    That’s actually a new one on me. In my forty years I’ve never seen a holy water font filled with sand during Lent. I’ve encountered empty fonts often enough at any point during the year, but that, I believe, is simply the result of inattentive sacristans.

  3. Philangelus says:

    About the sign: they say it was customary in the past. When in the past? In 2007 doesn’t really count as “in the past” for a long-term institution like the Church. Or at least it shouldn’t.

    On the other side of things, my parish priest saw me attempting to fill a Holy Water bottle with the spigot, and he said, “Oh, just take the top off the urn and plunge the whole bottle in there.” Er, oh, I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just keep using the spigot and hope for the best…? I had visions of my arm withering away up to the elbow.

  4. Hamburglar says:

    At my parish they remove the Crucifix during Lent :(

  5. wchoag says:

    Ah yes…the sacred ash trays of Lent!

    Now where is that pack of Lucky Strikes?

  6. Supertradmum says:

    What is an added insult, are rocks and twigs placed in the fonts instead of water.

  7. MarkJ says:

    I would like to suggest adding some nice prickly cactus plants to the sand… that should be enough to teach any pesky Traditionalists a lesson should they instinctively reach for the Holy Water during Lent. It would also enhance the “desert experience” for everyone…

  8. pbewig says:

    Fr Z:

    I looked at http://www.vatican.va but couldn’t find this instruction. Do you have a reference? I would like to print the web page, complete with url showing that it comes directly from the Vatican, and drop it in the sand.

    And in preparation for what I know is coming later, please also provide an url to a Vatican web page showing that only men, and not women, may have their feet washed on Holy Thursday.

    Many thanks for your help.


  9. Centristian says:

    “Ah yes…the sacred ash trays of Lent!

    Now where is that pack of Lucky Strikes?”

    Don’t you mean Camels, actually, considering that this is meant to remind us of our Lenten journey in the desert?

  10. Henry Edwards says:

    Dumb liberal idea #3464

    Surely, the count of dumb liberal ideas over the past forty years must be into the millions by now. So I assume you must have inadvertently dropped some trailing digits. Perhaps it was more like #3464158.

  11. Tim Ferguson says:

    How about a note in your weekly envelope:

    “As is my custom, there is no money in this envelope until the Holy Water returns to the stoup and orthodoxy returns to the pulpit. May the absence of money remind us of our Lenten journey in the desert as we prepare to celebrate the joy of Easter. As we await the return of my donations to the parish, may we prepare to renew our Baptismal promises and commitment to the authentic teaching of the Church. My customary donation has, instead, been forwarded to a parish which provides the sacramentals that aid our growth in holiness.”

  12. Supertradmum says:

    Tim Ferguson,

    Add the note from Mons. Mario Marini.

  13. APX says:

    MarkJ says:

    I would like to suggest adding some nice prickly cactus plants to the sand… that should be enough to teach any pesky Traditionalists a lesson should they instinctively reach for the Holy Water during Lent. It would also enhance the “desert experience” for everyone…

    Negatron. When I was little my parish put cacti plants in the Baptismal font and the holy water bowls when they replaced them with sand. All that did was encourage my older brother to pick off the spikes and poke me with them throughout Mass.

    I haven’t been to Mass during Lent for several years, so I don’t know if they replace holy water with sand at the parishes here. I guess I’ll find out soon enough, and if they do, and I can discreetly take a picture, I’ll send it to you.

  14. frjim4321 says:

    We don’t fast from the Eucharist during Lent, so it makes no sense to fast from a symbol of baptism during Lent.

    I think what’s operative here is an effort to catechize the Faithful on the relationship between the Triduum and the Easter Sacraments. It’s run a bit amuck with removed the baptismal water. It’s one think to not schedule baptisms during Lent and quite another to removed the reminder of baptism.

    We tend to not do baptisms during Lent for that reason. However if there is a legitimate reason for doing so (father on leave from active duty, etc.,) we will gladly do a baptism at a Lenten Sunday mass since there is no legislation to the contrary.

    This reminds me of the priest that INSISTED that all the catechumens be baptized at the Easter Vigil by immersion. We certainly encourage it, but we do not demand it. There is a tradition for doing otherwise, and no rule against it.

    It never works well to require more than the church actually requires.

  15. frjim4321 says:

    fat thumb typos there, yeah I know about them

  16. KevinSymonds says:

    I find the “as it was customary in the past” to be completely laughable.

    “Tradition” didn’t mean much in the 60’s-90’s, yet somehow an “alter tradition” has arisen that people are forced to obey.


    -Kevin Symonds

  17. Bryan Boyle says:

    @Tim: Like that.

    When my pastor does this half way through Lent with the thorn bush and purple cloth in the stoups (and empties out the cistern in the narthex), I just carry a bottle of holy water in with me and bless myself with a few drops from it. Sometimes, you just have to be, like the motto of Civil Air Patrol, ‘semper paratus’.

  18. Henry Belton says:

    The explanation of the sand is usually that “it’s a symbol” or that “it reminds us”…If the holy water is removed with a symbol or a reminder doesn’t that imply that the priest doing the removing doesn’t really think that the water is so holy?

  19. Brooklyn says:

    There was a church near me that use to do that. So I anonymously dropped a note in their mailbox with proof of that this is not to be done. I give the pastor credit. He did not do it the next year and has not done it since.

    Now if he would just stop the washing of everyone’s feet – men and women – on Holy Thursday! (I tried telling him, but he refused to listen to me on this one)

  20. teaguytom says:

    Dumb Liberal Idea #3865; Reason #583740 for Summorum Pontificum.
    Liberal priests who strip the sanctuary during all Lent and add desert decor to keep up with the low church Calvinists. Decor usually consists of tumbleweeds placed in front of the altar like we are worshiping the Cacti god.

  21. DetJohn says:

    I went to an Ash Monday(start of Lent in the Eastern Churches) at a Maronite Parish and the Holy Water font was dry. I don’t know their rules.

  22. Brooklyn says:

    teaguytom – I couldn’t agree more!! Today I saw a cross set up with desert decor underneath. I don’t think there were tumbleweeds on Calvary.

  23. Centristian says:

    The (webpage of the) Office of Worship of the Diocese of Steubenville offers this response to the question of whether or not it is permissible to replace Holy Water with sand during Lent:


    The practice of removing holy water from the fonts during the entire season of Lent is an innovation not present in the Roman Rite. Some see Lent as a “desert journey” in which we thirst for the baptismal water of Easter. Thus, some well-meaning clergy and lay faithful encouraged by experimental liturgical publications have removed the holy water, covered the fonts in purple, or placed sand, rocks, and cacti in the fonts during the Lenten season. I once saw an elderly woman covered in soot on the first Sunday of Lent as she ritually placed her hands in the font only to later discover the water was switched with ashes! However meaningful some see this practice, it is not in accord with the theology of Lent itself and not permitted by the Church.”

    I love that whomever it was in the Worship Office who responded to this used the occasion to take a swipe at “experimental liturgical publications”.

  24. Jerry says:

    @pbewig – While the document does not appear on the Vatican’s web site, it has been referenced in directives from several dioceses and archdioceses that are on the Internet. Perhaps these will help:

    Archdiocese of St. Louis
    Diocese of Steubenville
    Diocese of Davenport

  25. Ellen says:

    I’m 60 and I have NEVER seen this “tradition”. We don’t do it where I go to church and if we did, I’d complain. I too carry a small bottle of holy water with me – just in case.

  26. Gail F says:

    When I saw this done at a parish I was visiting, years ago, I thought it was “cool.” I thought it was Lenten and very symbolic, although I could not have said exactly what I thought it symbolized — something vague about denial and dryness and repentence. Since then I have learned a lot more about the Catholic faith and now I think it’s sad… People invent things when they do not understand what they have. It shows that people do crave symbolism, sacramentals, and ritual, and when they don’t have it they invent it. But sadly, we DO have it, and these folks either don’t know it (VERY possible) or think what we have is outdated and/or incomplete (also very possible). I like the Steubenville letter, which is kindly and acknowledges that it is often a well-meaning effort to say something theological, but makes no bones about it being wrong.

  27. wchoag says:

    Centristian says: “Don’t you mean Camels, actually, considering that this is meant to remind us of our Lenten journey in the desert?”

    No, not Camels. In these heavily Irish parts where I live the focus of Lent is ALWAYS upon the feast (some would say solemnity around here) of St. Patrick. Hence, my mention of the pack of LUCKY Strikes. ;-)

  28. irishgirl says:

    Tim Ferguson: I like your idea about the note. ‘Money talks’, as the saying goes.
    Whoever thought about putting sand in holy water fonts for Lent had to have rocks in their head! It’s soooo dumb! You tell ’em, Father Z-KNOCK IT OFF!
    As far as I know, I’ve never seen sand in any holy water fonts locally. But then again, I go to the EF Mass exclusively.
    On the other hand, I saw the draperies in our Perpetual Adoration Chapel this morning-and man, were they ever UGLY! Talk about 1970s!

  29. Rob in Maine says:

    Sand at the Hospital Chapel too. I was saddened.

  30. dad29 says:

    We were trapped in one of those parishes, so I took the ‘direct-action’ route favored by Alinsky.

    I emptied the sand onto the floor. From every single sand-fount. Every week.

    They still didn’t get the hint.

  31. Caroline says:

    Sad to say..but there’s a few churches in my area this do this…I used to think it was lovely symbolic gesture too until I started to learn more about the faith. There’s a few things around here I wonder about..That’s why I keep coming back to your site, Father.

  32. Allan S. says:

    There is also a related issue, but far more serious: Holy Water from many Parish’s often isn’t even blessed (I was once told by a Pastor “All water is already holy”). I am not certain what is actually required for normal water to be turned into sacramental Holy Water, but in general I have found that either straight tap water goes into the font (I’ve seen this – a kid fills the removeable dishes with water from the tap), or the priest simply makes a quick sign of the cross over tap water, with nothing said.

    Because I have cancer and want to drink it, I often have to very nicely see if a priest is willing to properly exorcize salt and bless water for me. To do this, I bring the sea salt and water with me, and even a copy of the Ritual. A few priests will do this, but mostly not. Then I have to partition it out because it’s so hard to replace. Is getting REAL holy water supposed to be this difficult?

  33. I once saw that someone (won’t say who) had put several cigarette butts in a holy water font that was filled with sand. Would that be a mortal or venial sin?

  34. Konichiwa says:

    At the parish I am at often, I think they’ve gotten flower arrangements that look like turkeys every year for Thanksgiving Day. I wouldn’t be surprised if one day we’ll have cacti and other desert related decor. I give the pastor some credit for resisting. Yes, he has to resist, and that’s all thanks to the “we are church” crowd. Fortunately, the fonts haven’t been filled with sand, yet.

  35. contrarian says:

    Tim Ferguson at 12:13: that made me laugh out loud.

    I’m glad I’ve never seen this practice, and I feel for those who are in parishes where this is done.

  36. pcstokell says:

    I love that whomever it was in the Worship Office who responded to this used the occasion to take a swipe at “experimental liturgical publications.”

    This oddball practice – very much present when I was in seminary in the ’90’s – was popularized by Gabe Huck, who headed Chicago’s Liturgical Training Publications before being shown the door by Cardinal George.

  37. Bryan Boyle says:

    Fr. Sirico:

    Wouldn’t want to suppose whether it’s mortal nor venial (and I’m not a theologian, nor play one on TV).

    Gets the point across, though. Subtle, without being over the top.

    Maybe if more would confront their stuck-in-the-80s ‘liturgically correct’ pastors…

  38. Philangelus says:

    A friend of mine was fighting with her parish priest, who insists he “cannot” baptize her newborn baby during Lent. He wants her to wait until after Easter to get it done, won’t hear about doing it on a feast day during Lent, just pretty much insists “that’s the way it used to be done” (no, he cannot point to when) and therefore will not baptize. So her kid will be nine weeks old by the time he’s baptized, even though the Church’s own documentation says it should be done sooner, and she’s freaking out because she had a baby brother who died of SIDS at six weeks old.

    Thank you, Father Z, for letting everyone know that Lent is not, in fact, a journey through the desert. [On the other hand, it is. It is not unrelated to the 40 years in the desert before coming across the river into the promised land.]

  39. JKnott says:

    It is interesting how fast stupid ideas in the liberal church spread like mold on old bread.
    There is a Mass I have to attend in Stamford CT occaisionally and at Thankgiving they place two goofy looking scarecrow boy and girl dolls along with cornstalks and pumpkins in front of the altar. Coming soon to your local NO NO!

  40. Flambeaux says:

    I’ve suffered through life in a diocese where this kind of insanity was the norm.

    A priest I knew told me he remembered one morning in seminary coming into chapel during Lent. The font/stoup had been filled with sand. An enterprising person had thoughtfully filled the sandpit with dinosaurs locked in mortal combat with little green army men. I cherish that memory — I never had the wherewithal to attempt that sort of rebellion.
    Now I’m blessed to have access to several parishes that don’t do this kind of nonsense. And we keep stock of Holy Water and Blessed Salt in the house courtesy of a priest we know.

    Philangelus — is there another priest or deacon nearby whom she could ask for help? a friend of the family? and, since anyone can baptize, she could always just do it herself.

  41. AnAmericanMother says:


    Love the green army men and dinosaurs!

    My own idea, should anybody ever be silly enough to try this at our parish (they certainly wouldn’t – this place is straight up by-the-book orthodox and I love it), would be to unwrap a few Tootsie Rolls, soften them a bit, and give them a little creative shaping before depositing them in the font and partially covering them with sand . . . .

    Is it a venial sin if it really ISN’T what it looks like?

  42. anilwang says:

    KevinSymonds, WRT ‘“Tradition” didn’t mean much in the 60?s-90?s, yet somehow an “alter tradition” has arisen that people are forced to obey’.

    Yes but in Protestantism this is most definitely the case. Things like “the Rapture”, “gender theology”, “open communion”, “It doesn’t matter what denomination you belong to as long as you’re Christian” are all recent innovations which are now considered part of the Protestant tradition that has always been since the time of the early Church and anyone who says otherwise is mistaken and might not even be a Christian. (“We’ve always been at war with Eastasia”)

    Unfortunately, this “history is fluid” mindset has affected many Catholic parishes too as your comment stresses.

  43. Father Bartoloma says:

    tit for tat: I’d recommend putting a pinch of sand in the collection envelope for the duration of Lent…

  44. Jenny bag of donuts says:

    Phil please strongly encourage your friend to go to some one else for baptism! She doesn’t have to wait bc of this one priest! She shouldn’t baptize her baby herself though unless there is danger of death.

    Tim, your envelope note made my day! LOL thanks.

  45. Flambeaux says:

    If the pastors of the Church deny her child the sacraments she most certainly can and should baptize the child.

    My understanding is that the Church has long taught that baptism is so important anyone can validly baptize anyone else. A bishop, priest, or deacon is necessary for the solemn form of baptism, but no necessary for the sacrament itself.

  46. Jenny bag of donuts says:

    Hi Flambeaux! Well yes, in mission areas where priests and deacons are rare, laypeople can and do frequently baptize. But in this mother’s case, I would think the next step to take is to seek baptism from another clergyman. Anyone can baptize when there is danger of death. Maybe Fr. Z. can clarify.

  47. digdigby says:

    Father Robert Sirico:
    “I once saw that someone (won’t say who) had put several cigarette butts in a holy water font that was filled with sand. Would that be a mortal or venial sin?”
    -neither, its performance art.

  48. APX says:

    No sand here, just lots of tacky desert decor.

  49. Brad says:

    The sand is actually not funny at all when we realize this is the work of the devil and he takes enormous glee in seeing us deprived of such a sacramental.

  50. Thomas S says:

    No sand in our fonts. Although there isn’t any Holy Water either. Haven’t had any of that since last year’s Swine Flu “scare.”

    Depending on the EMHC, I’m still denied Communion on the tongue, too. You know, because of all those poor souls who died from the Swine Flu outbreak that rivalled the Black Death in its destruction of human life.

    The pastor himself will give me Communion on the tongue, but somehow the word didn’t get out to his army of EMHCs. Isn’t that how it always is. The “temporary” ban is repeatedly and emphatically announced from the sanctuary, but nary a word when the ban is lifted. Now I see old men who received on the tongue since childhood, who only receive in the hand now because of some ridiculous policy that defied the Church’s norms to begin with.

  51. digdigby says:

    I’m still waiting for some clever wit to do lyrics for the old Drifters tune “Sand in My Shoes”
    Of course, the title would have to be “Sand in my Fonts”. But writing it would be too wicked for Lent.

  52. APX says:

    I’m still waiting for some clever wit to do lyrics for the old Drifters tune “Sand in My Shoes”
    Of course, the title would have to be “Sand in my Fonts”. But writing it would be too wicked for Lent.

    Tempting…very tempting…

    “Sand in My Stoops” has a nice ring to it.

  53. pelerin says:

    Someone suggested adding cactuses to the sand in the Holy water stoup. A church I attended one Sunday during Lent last year had a complete little rock garden – small stones, plants and cactuses – laid out in both their holy water stoups. They were like miniature garden centres.

  54. teomatteo says:

    No sand in our font… that is because the ‘font’ is a substantial fountain. Now that i think about it.,… is all that water in the pool and fountain blessed?

  55. EXCHIEF says:

    The sand, particularly if as some have suggested it is festooned with a beach chair and umbrella compliments the beachboy music that is so typical of churches of the post modern catholic pursuasion.

  56. Sandra_in_Severn says:

    Here in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, my parish, a parish in the Seton Vicariate, there were no Holy Water fonts, they all were empty and had purple napkins over them.

    Over the years I have seen that on Good Friday, but not on Ash Wednesday.

  57. ray from mn says:

    I was pleased today, and not surprised, that after serving two Masses that when I asked Father what I should do with the water that was used to bless the ashes and he said, “refill the holy water founts.”

  58. ejcmartin says:

    A couple of years ago a parish I frequent had the whole sand in the font thing. I wrote charitably to the priest, who was new to the parish, a made reference to the attached letter. I was pleased when I visited the parish at the beginning of Lent last year and the Holy Water remained. The PP’s comment to me was that one of the worst things he hears “but that’s the way it has always been done”.

  59. StellaMaris says:

    We moved to this area over 7 years ago. One Sunday during Lent, I reached my fingertips into the font as usual and was shocked. Sand. At first, I honestly thought someone had turned the fonts into ashtrays. Really, I did. I asked our priest why and he shared with me that little thing on the card up there. I came home, did a google search and found a similar letter like the one above. I made a copy and some comments and mailed it to the good Father. The following Sunday, Holy Water had miraculously returned.

  60. elaurier says:

    No sand in our fonts, but we did have desert decor today. And….I have to say that it was beautifully done. Beautiful aloes, agaves…here in Albuquerque NM we are in the high desert, and so often when I see bouquets in church it seems somehow unnatural, because our desert cannot support those types of plantings unless we water frequently. So we use succulents and xeriscaping to create beauty but conserve precious water resources. I get the feeling some of you may scoff, but it really was beautiful.

  61. APX says:

    digdigby says:

    I’m still waiting for some clever wit to do lyrics for the old Drifters tune “Sand in My Shoes”

    This clever wit will take you up on that. FYI, this was the most difficult parody I’ve ever done with it being so melodic. Not much room for deviation from any of the technical meter, foot, and rhythm mumbo jumbo stuff.

    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.


    ‘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


    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


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

  62. Jenny bag of donuts says:

    It’s awesome to see from a couple anecdotes that some pastors are willing to change a practice when they’re informed that it’s incorrect. What good, humble priests!

  63. MaryW says:

    Our Baptismal pool in the narthex of the Church is decorated with Burlap, various sized and colored rocks, and a large red clay pot filled with an assortment of dried twigs. BUT, at the head of this display, is a large marble font filled with holy water. Plus, holy water fonts are located at other church entrances.

  64. Dr. Sebastianna says:

    @ Allan S (who has cancer and wants really blessed Holy Water):
    Yes, it can be difficult to find Holy Water that has really been blessed. Here’s some advice. I did it, and it works: Find an FSSP priest in your area and get it from him. If there are no FSSP priests in your area, go to their national website, look up the parish closest to you (even if it’s far away), and call one of the priests. Tell him about your need for the Holy Water and ask him to mail you a bottle of it. You can give a donation, but you don’t have to. FSSP priests I have talked with have been extremely accomodating. Alternatively, find a conservative/traditional priest who isn’t FSSP. Ask around. I said to find an FSSP priest because they tend to be very sensitive and helpful in matters like these. And they help people who aren’t even in their parishes.Don’t be discouraged. You CAN find holy water… Some priests will even bless it right in front of you if you ask them. You could say that you find it spiritually meaningful to see the blessing. Praying for you.

  65. Bornacatholic says:

    Fantastic, Fr. I love your no nonsense attitude. May you be an example for other Priests.

  66. OtherMary says:

    On a similar vein…how about this…
    At my mother’s parish in PA, the pastor distributed ashes at the morning Mass, then announced that he would again have Mass in the evening for those who missed out…BUT…if that wasn’t enough, for those who couldn’t attend either…he was LEAVING THE ASHES OUT for self-service throughout the day!

  67. irishgirl says:

    OtherMary-‘Leaving the ashes out for self-service throughout the day’? Wha’????
    Oh, for heaven’s sake-this is so ridiculous!

  68. green fiddler says:

    Years ago a friend gave me some water that was blessed at Lourdes. I was told that it could be “extended” by adding some ordinary water in a smaller amount (1/3 or less of the total, I believe), with the understanding that after the water mingles, all of it is blessed. I seem to remember reading something similar about holy water, but cannot find a reference now. Could this be correct??

    Once as I was receiving the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick, the priest was pouring holy water into my hand and he spilled some onto the table. After Fr. left, it seemed wrong to dispose of that small puddle and I felt prompted to wipe it up with my hair. When my face got near the holy water, suddenly there was a striking fragrance… something unfamiliar and heavenly, not incense, but similar somehow. It was very beautiful.

    Holy water has been touched by God, through the blessing of his priest, alter Christi.
    I’m sad to read that some parishes have replaced this beautiful sacramental with sand, and that some parishes are filling the founts with water that has not been blessed at all.

  69. digdigby says:

    “Yes, it can be difficult to find Holy Water that has really been blessed.”

    I am such a naif. I am a Jewish convert to the Catholic Church (a little over a year) And (except on two occasions) only know the Extraordinary Form and the practice of Catholicism within a devout oratory. This…..is….UNTHINKABLE to me. To put out Holy Water that is NOT Holy Water i.e. NOT sacramental that your sheep think IS Holy Water is EVIL. It is not ‘disgraceful’ or ‘neglectful’ or ‘sloppy’ it is EVIL. Not only is it a lie but is it not a lie against the Holy Ghost? And the Eternal Priests of God who do such a thing or in SERIOUS danger of eternal damnation. And this is a common practice? Really, if anyone of you know of such a case you MUST act at once! Or am I crazy?

  70. Banjo pickin girl says:

    green fiddler, I had wondered sorta, what would happen if I fell out of a canoe with a bottle of holy water open. would the lake be holyized? I guess not though, there is also the matter of intent I guess as well as the number of molecules.

  71. LorrieRob says:

    I was surpised to notice this morning on my way into the 7am Mass that our font is drained of the water. The font was covered with a beautiful purple stole criss crossed over the top. Our Priest is very reverent and somewhat young(in his mid 40’s). I am sure he would not do this if aware of the reference in this article. I imagine from the comments that this must be somewhat of a common and recognized practice. I don’t believe it would be my place to raise this issue and I’m not sure it doesn’t speak to the heart if you allow it to. There is a way in which this symbolic practice speaks of penance and recognition of where we would be without God’s living water. I know that I will be looking forward to Easter and perhaps the presence of the blessed Holy water will have an even more powerful sacramental effect as I miss something that I had come to treasure. But, as your reading of Cardinal Newman’s reflection on the podcast for today points out…all fasting and penance must be done in and for Christ to have meaning. Not sure sand in the font alone would have the same effect…a little too stark I think.

    My prayers for everyone on this blog for a deep and rich lenten journey.

  72. Centristian says:

    “This…..is….UNTHINKABLE to me. To put out Holy Water that is NOT Holy Water i.e. NOT sacramental that your sheep think IS Holy Water is EVIL. It is not ‘disgraceful’ or ‘neglectful’ or ‘sloppy’ it is EVIL. Not only is it a lie but is it not a lie against the Holy Ghost? And the Eternal Priests of God who do such a thing or in SERIOUS danger of eternal damnation.”

    Really? Over holy water? I personally wonder that any sacramental can be invalidated, in the first place. Holy water is hardly necessary for salvation, in the second. It’s more a symbol than anything else. [?] What on earth is going to happen, do we suppose, to an individual who blesses himself with water that wasn’t blessed strictly according to the ritual? The same thing that happens to an individual who blesses himself with holy water blessed properly, in Latin, by the Pope, himself: nothing. Holy water isn’t transformative; it imparts nothing indelible upon one’s character or soul. It’s only a sacramental. [Only?]

    As with all things, priests ought to follow the approved ritual when blessing holy water. No argument there. But it hardly follows from that that individual Catholics should feel compelled to obsess [“obsess” ? Is this pejorative your way of belittling people who consider important both sacramentals and the rites of the Church by which they are blessed?] over whether or not the lustral water offered at their churches was blessed by a priest who crossed all his “t”s and dotted all his “i”s when he did it.

    We shouldn’t look upon sacramentals like holy water as though they were like transubstantiated wine. [WINE?] When lustral water is blessed, it doesn’t become something other than water. It’s still only just water, but blessed. [Right. It is blessed water. Read the rite in the old ritual.]

  73. digdigby says:

    “It’s more a symbol than anything else”
    The saints have always said otherwise and speak clearly of its efficiency in dealing with the demonic and cleansing us (literally) of venial sins or is that also “mostly symbolic” too.
    To present holy water as holy water when it has not been blessed in any way is a LIE. It is a lie about holy things (sacramentals) to those for whom one is supposed to be a ‘good shepherd’. Did I obsess about ‘dotting ‘i’s’ etc.? No. I have in no way exaggerated the properties of holy water though you have certainly done your best to reduce those properties to ‘mostly a symbol’. When I was a little boy and my mother and father hugged me and kissed me it wasn’t ‘love’ but it certainly was more than a ‘symbol’ of love.

  74. michesmi says:

    I had never seen Holy Water removed, “during” lent, until last year at one of the parishes in Ft. Lauderdale, FL where I lived for the past 20 years! I recently moved to Metairie, La., just outside of New Orleans, and one of the local churches I attend has removed the Holy Water(neither used sand)???!!! Now I see “where they’re coming from”!!!!!!!!!! Thanks!!!!!!!!


  75. Joseph-Mary says:

    Yes, I have experienced the sand in the baptismal pool and holy water fonts. But probably the effort for desert decor that really backfired was the display of sand and bones and there were skunk bones and they stunk!

    Yea, burlap and dead trees too….

    None of that stupidity here but the bells at the consecration are missing and that is a jarring silence when you are used to it.

  76. MJ says:

    Never seen sand in a holy water font, but I’ve heard of it happening…thankfully it would never happen at my parish (FSSP..)…

    LOL at the tootsie roll idea. :-D

  77. AnnAsher says:

    Cacti? Thorn Bushes? Tumbleweed? Ya’all are making me think the hootenanny Masses I see in some parts of Missouri aren’t so bad!

    Have seen sand tho … And there will be dancers about on Holy Thursday undoubtedly ( why do they have to dance AND dance badly?).

  78. joyrunr says:

    How about if the stoup is filled with holy water and the sand? …Wet holy sand that you can bless yourself with. This might even cause skin irritations that can be offered as part of the lenten sacrifices. It might not work as well for the desert theme though.

  79. AnAmericanMother says:


    They dance because they know they can’t get a gig anywhere else.
    They dance badly also because they know they can’t get a gig anywhere else.
    They prey on the ignorance of priests who don’t know the first thing about dancing.

    Our former Episcopal parish had a liturgical dancer – once. I actually have two certificates in dance (one in contemporary from my undergraduate school, one from the Royal Scottish Country Dancing Society) so I had a factual basis to give the rector a really, really hard time about signing on somebody outside his area of expertise without an audition. (“Would you hire a staff singer without any qualifications?” – that hits Piskies where they live because they are very music-proud and usually quite sophisticated in their musical tastes.)

    Perhaps my line of attack wasn’t completely honest or at least didn’t get to the point – but you can’t make an argument from authority in the Episcopal Church because there isn’t any. It worked, anyhow — he never invited her back . . . or anybody else either.

  80. Mary Bruno says:

    Oh, I forgot about this. We don’t have sand, but we have empty fonts. And you can’t refill them since the bowl part is removed.

    I wanted to get some Holy Water before Lent to avoid not having access to it until Easter. Or is it Palm Sunday when the congregation is sprinkled with Holy Water–no maybe it’s the Easter Vigil.

    I should share the letter with our Pastor.

  81. green fiddler says:

    Oops. Sorry, people. I’m sitting here searching the internet for an answer to my question above, and up pops Fr. Z:
    “Extending Holy Water is not a good idea.”
    I’m relatively new here and this topic was before my time, but I should have thought to search WDTPRS before asking that.
    Thanks for your patience, especially Father.

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