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Frequently Asked Questions
regarding the

Q. 1. At our Church during Lent, the following printed statement was presented to us:

"During Lent, the environment of the church should be one of starkness. We should be reminded of the desert experience. This does not mean that deserts have to be recreated in the sanctuary. The color of the Season is purple. It is recommended that it should not be the same color used during the Advent Season. There should be a clear distinction between Advent and Lent. The holy water fonts should remain empty until after the Easter Vigil. This is done in order for the assembly to anticipate the waters of Easter. The absence of water in the font takes the assembly away from the ordinary routine and create a thirst for the life giving waters of baptisms."

My question is, is it acceptable in the Catholic Church to now remove the Holy Water from the fonts during Lent?

A. 1. In response to that question, I would like to quote a letter that a priest received from the Vatican:

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

(Copyright 2003 Adoremus: Society for the Renewal of the Sacred Liturgy.)

Q. 2. What must I do to stop this practice?

A. 2. If this practice originated in your parish, present the above letter to your Pastor in the hope of correcting the matter. If this practice was authorized by your local Bishop, you will need to contact him and politely inform him that this practice opposes the liturgical legislation that is approved by the Vatican. You may then ask him to reinstate the Holy Water in the font during Lent.

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