I was made aware of this by a reader. I happily endorse one idea one priest had while I entirely repudiate a bad old cliché from another.
Castleton symbol of Lent: sand in holy water fonts
Alas, the silly season drags on.
However, before getting into that, the same article had a good idea that a different priest promoted at a different parish:
In another unusual Lenten practice, Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Watervliet has been giving out its annual Lenten coins, a token to be carried by parishioners to remind them of Lent. [like challenge coins!] (Read a previous story at www.evangelist.org.) This year’s coins are embossed with John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish, but may have eternal life.” The coins were purchased by the faith formation program. IHM also has a Lenten prayer banner on which parishioners can post the name of a person or intention they’re praying for this Lent.
Now back to the really bad idea at the other parish. In that article:
Sacred Heart parish in Castleton [Diocese of Albany] is trying an unusual [dopey] method to help Catholics prepare for Easter Sunday: filling the church’s holy water fonts with sand.
“Christ spent 40 days in the desert tempted by the devil, and we spend 40 days [during Lent] on our own desert journey,” said Rev. Thomas Krupa, pastor. “The sand reminds us of the desert.”
The idea for placing sand in the fonts was borrowed from other local priests, Father Krupa explained. Around five years ago, at a Lenten reflection he was attending, priests from the Albany Diocese spoke about how they were trying the practice.
“I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a great idea,” Father Krupa recalled. “But then I forgot about it.” [Alas.]
It goes on to mention the flu outbreak. Yeah… right.
No Holy Water. Sand. This is a REALLY BAD IDEA.
I’ve written about this quite a few times over the years, for example HERE. It’s amazing that it still crops up. Here’s the deal:
I’ll rant for a bit later, but in the meantime someone put this question to the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments. They responded. Enjoy.
The emphases are mine:
Prot. N. 569/00/L
March 14, 2000
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.
[NB] 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.]
Did you get the part where the Congregation said: “is not permitted”?
Holy water is a sacramental.
We get the powerful theology of its use in the older Roman Ritual in the prayers for exorcism of the water and salt used and then the blessing itself. 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 Novus Ordo pabulum.
Holy Water is a power weapon of the spiritual life against the attacks of the devil.
I would ask these priests:
- 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.
It is not a toy, or something to be abstained from, like chocolate or television.
So, don’t stand for this nonsense. If the Holy Water has been removed… clamor for its return!