From a reader…
Is it liturgically correct for a priest to dip their fingers into the water pitcher and then shake them off into the chalice as a means to add water to the chalice before the consecration?
Not really. I believe the Latin says “infundit… he pours” not “he sprinkles/scatters” a little water into the wine. Yes, a meaning of infundo is “impart” and, poetically, even “cast”, but “cast” is not the commonsense meaning. In this rubric is means “pour”. I’ll admit that, with some cruets, given the elastic tendency of the water’s surface, surface tension, sometimes you have to “cast” or “flick” or “tap” some water into the chalice, but that’s still pouring. Taking water on your fingers and flicking it or dripping it in isn’t pouring.
That said, Father is clearly being careful not to put too much water into the wine, which is a good thing.
At the offertory the priest is to add a small quantity of water to the wine in the chalice. Small. There must not be the least doubt that what is in the chalice is wine. In other words, put in too much water, and you don’t have wine anymore. The addition of too much water breaks the substance of the wine.
In the manual of dogmatic theology by Tanquerey, that tonic for the soul, I found the opinion that “quinta pars aquae ad vinum corrumpendum non sufficiat … a fifth part of water isn’t enough to break [the substance of] the wine”, and thus render it invalid matter for consecration.
Bottom line, we want to have just a tiny bit of water put into the wine. Ideally, drops. And we want to make sure that they don’t simply adhere to the inside of the cup of the chalice.
This is why at the offertory careful, diligent priests will use what is nicknamed a “scruple spoon”, a tiny dipper-shaped tool with with they dip up a tiny quantity of water from the cruet to put into the wine in the chalice. The idea is that you never have to worry that, for reasons of surface tension of the water or the shape of the cruet or the unsteadiness of hand of the priest or deacon, too much water might be inadvertently added to the wine.
Priests must take care to avoid the the Ketchup Bottle Technique of Chalice Preparation™ when the water in the cruet is being stubborn. You know the poem by Richard Armour (not Ogden Nash):
Shake and shake
the catsup bottle
first none’ll come
and then a lot’ll.
Lot’ll = bad.
When that happens the priest should start over.
I’ll tell ya’ why.
Because we are Unreconstructed Ossified Manualists and we never never never fool around with the validity of matter of sacraments.
Let Scruple Spoons abound! Promote the New Evangelization!