Sunday, February 21, 2010

Removing Holy Water During Lent

Every thing in the liturgy has a specific and necessary meaning.

The Congregation for Divine Worship (the Vatican committee that oversees all things liturgical) issued a response in 2000 to a request for clarification on this issue. In their response, they say that removing holy water from the fonts during the season of Lent is not permitted, in particular, for two reasons:

  1. This is an issue of custom, not law, and so the liturgical laws in place do not address this recent innovation. However, this practice "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 fasting of Lent does not include fasting from sacramentals, such as the use of holy water.

The response continues: "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)."


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