Thursday, February 22, 2007

More on the Removal of Holy Water During Lent

In my previous post on Ash Wednesday and Lent, I mentioned why some parishes decide to remove the holy water during Lent. Fr. Daren Zehnle was gracious enough to inform me that I fell a little short when I said that this removal was not required. In fact, it is not allowed. The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments addressed this issue in the following manner:
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
You can also read this correspondance here. Thank you for the correction, Father!

Pax Christi,


japhy said...

Is the removal of the baptismal font itself appropriate? I would expect it is, since there aren't baptisms during Lent.

phatcatholic said...

Do you mean the holy water font, or did you really mean the baptismal font? Most baptismal fonts (as in, the font that individuals are baptized in) are too large to move. Even if one could be moved, I doubt this would be permissible (although, granted, I'm no expert on the subject).

japhy said...

I am referring to a baptismal font (of size you could fit a child in). In the parish I grew up at and the parish I attend now, this font is large, but movable, and it has been removed for Lent.

phatcatholic said...

Well, my educated guess would be that, if the holy water is not to be removed, then it seems to follow from this that the baptismal font is not to be removed either, since they are both removed by people for the same reasons and the Church sees these reasons as insufficient. Perhaps you should ask your priest or liturgical director about this.

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