Stupid Idea: Sand in holy water fonts during Lent. Fr. Z opines.

You would think that this stupid idea would have been eradicated by now but, no.

I am sure that in some places you readers will see that Holy Water has been removed from the stoops – at the beginning of Lent – and replaced with sand.

No Holy Water.  Sand.  This is a REALLY BAD IDEA.

If you go into a church where you see this lunatic scheme… for the love of God, do NOT bless yourself with sand.


I’ve written about this quite a few times over the years, for example HERE and HERE. It’s amazing that it still crops up. Here’s the deal:

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

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.

[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 Deinow 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!

BTW… in seminary, when the out to lunch and in part degenerate faculty did this dopey stuff to us, seminarians – even the libs – retaliated.  Some of our responses, small beach chairs of tooth picks with drink umbrellas… a golf ball… cigarette buts… some quick sprouting beans and a little water.

Just ideas.   Were someone to encounter this sandy dopiness and were they to do something like this and were they to send photos… well… I don’t know what I’d do!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Inkstain says:

    It’s been a tough day but that portion with the seminarian acts of rebellion completely changed things around

    thx Father, as always

  2. The Astronomer says:

    I respectfully submit that the priests who ‘deliberately’ continue to replace Holy water with sand would, if they were candid, would answer ‘NO’ to your first two bullet points.

  3. Tara Tremuit says:

    In a former parish, some guerilla parishioners took matters into their own hands, placing small glass bowls of holy water inside the sand; Oases, if you will, in the man-made desert of modernism. Someone else, a sardonic, less hopeful warrior, placed cigarette butts into all the sand-pits, I think just to make a point?

  4. ChesterFrank says:

    I suspect this started because holy water is supposed to be removed after the Mass of Holy Thursday, isn’t that right? I guess some might have missed that and turned something valid into something gimmicky. Correct me if I ma wrong.

  5. Fortunately, it has been some years since I have seen this nonsense in my area. In the past, when I found an empty stoup or sand, I would dump out the sand and pour in holy water that I carried around for that purpose.

    Liberal clergy used to preach about “fasting” from the Sacraments, and particularly the Eucharist. Usually it was in connection with the (self-imposed) priest shortage that resulted from Rome’s intransigence in refusing to cure the shortage by ordaining women.

  6. MrsAnchor says:

    “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?”

    Respectfully Father: Perhaps….. Precisely that, As to NOT have it.

    Hopefully I can have a sense of humor in all of this:
    In light of Akita, Fatima, Bella Dodd, Vigano, Pope Benedict XV and that the Season of the Church has not had this sort of collusion in this degree. Amoris L Chapter 8 among the Various other changes. The Abuse Summit proved to be rigged from the start. It didn’t even get off the ground when the Bishops met last year. Has anyone seen the Popes Audience Hall? There are a few noteworthy take aways… they say pictures are worth a thousand words. I think most would qualify it as one.

    This comes to mind:
    May 7th, 2018- Dutch Cardinal Willem Eijk said: authentic faith makes him think of the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s prophecy of a “final trial” for the Church before the second coming of Christ. & Observing that the bishops and, above all, the Successor of Peter fail to maintain and transmit faithfully and in unity the deposit of faith contained in Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, I cannot help but think of Article 675 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church,” he wrote.

    That article of the Catechism, which he quoted in full, warns of a trial that will “shake the faith of many believers.” It prophesies a persecution that will “unveil the ‘mystery of iniquity’ in the form of a religious deception at the price of apostasy from the the truth.
    Cardinal Caffarra said: That final battle, he said at the Rome Life Forum, “is being fulfilled today.” & Burke said: Then perhaps we have arrived at the End Times.”

    Did the Cardinals say that really?!

    Now didn’t Lucia say the family would be involved in the final battle? …. pretty interesting. Maybe we should look at the signs in the sky? Nope, the Dome of St Peter didn’t have unusual activity after Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI abdicated….
    Walks like a Duck, talks like a Duck.. It’s not a Duck?

    I hope for everyone it is the greatest Lent they’ve ever had

  7. JustaSinner says:

    Toy soldiers on a beach…Semper Fi from a former Marine.

  8. Shonkin says:

    On a related topic, it bothers me a lot that infant baptisms are no longer performed during Lent. It used to be that we were urged to get our babies baptized as soon as practical after they were born. My children were baptized at one to two weeks. (If you go back two or three centuries, when infant mortality was high, babies were generally baptised at the age of one or two days. I surmise that was the root of the tradition that the godmother held the baby over the baptismal font — the mother was commonly still bedridden at that point.)
    Okay, so catechumens wait for the Easter vigil; that makes sense. But why deny a baby Sanctifying Grace for as long as 7 or 8 weeks? That strikes me as a bad thing.

  9. Imrahil says:

    What the dear Shonkin said raises the following question:

    Imagine a hypothetical baby that was, say, born on Septuagesima Sunday and has not been baptized until Lent started (which I believe is still within the acceptable time-frame).

    And then the parish priest says: “no, I won’t baptize during Lent, and I either don’t have a vicar, or forbid them to do so”. So, it will be almost three months old until it can be baptized.

    Is this sufficient reason for
    a) letting the child be baptized by a priest (or deacon) acquaintance, duly notifying the parish priest afterwards, but not asking for permission,
    or even
    b) if there is no such priest or deacon acquaintance, baptize the child oneself, using the rite of emergency baptism, and then ask for substitution of omitted ceremonies?

    (My spontaneous answer would be: a but not b, unless concrete danger – but I’m not sure either way.)

  10. Uxixu says:

    I sent the CDW to the diocesan pastor and his response completely ignored it, talking about how it was a custom “found in many parishes today.” Also doesn’t allow baptisms during Lent except for a “special” ceremony for those with pressing need (on his approval).

  11. ChesterFrank says:

    This first Friday of Lent I noticed that the holy water font was dry. No sand, but no water either. The other tradition that doesn’t exist is Stations of the Cross at 3:00. That is a tradition I remember from long ago. Now they are in the evening. Did something else change that shouldn’t have, is there a traditional time for those stations? I pray they don’t offer the clown stations this year.

  12. Imrahil says:

    The other tradition that doesn’t exist is Stations of the Cross at 3:00. That is a tradition I remember from long ago. Now they are in the evening.

    That, on the other hand, is a good idea. Most people don’t have time at 3:00.

  13. MaryB435 says:

    A friend of mine is an elderly sister in a convent that is sadly, but understandably dying out. At 90, she is one of the YOUNGEST in her order! Years ago, the leadership of that order “left its first love”. My friend told me that in their chapel, they had begun to replace the holy water with ASHES for Lent! So sad.
    Also, about the problem of some parishes that won’t baptize babies during Lent (or Advent)…I’d go to another parish. That’s what we did. Several of our children were born during the seasons of Advent and Lent. It isn’t right to expect the babies to be deprived of Baptism!

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