I was out in the suburbs this past Sunday and stopped at St. Vatsnu’s Church in Rolling Bluff Oak Terrace Vistas for Mass. I was a bit taken aback. First there was sand in the holy water fountain and then there was a glorious liturgical dance in which some nun in a diaphanous gown and a body stocking twirled up to the altar with what appeared to be a Mexican bean pot belching clouds of incense. Were these changes mandated by the Second Vatican Council?
Patience X. Austed
No, these changes were not mandated by the Second Vatican Council. They were probably mandated by a second string team of unemployed department store window decorators, or a pastor who considers himself avant garde. I have seen the bean pot incense thing and I worked in the Spanish speaking world for many years. When I see a bean pot/incense burner, I always wonder, “Who burned the beans?” As for the sand in the holy water fountain, it is absolutely forbidden. Allow me to quote:
CONGREGATION DE CULTU DIVINO ET DISCIPLINA SACRAMENTORUM
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. 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 beyond the law, 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 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, [signed]
Mons. Mario Marini
So, the practice of emptying the Holy Water font during lent is forbidden, no matter what your pastor and or liturgy committee say. They may counter with “Who the heck does Mons. Mario Marini think he is anyway?” He is the person delegated by the Pope to comment on these things. (the Pope, remember him? The cheerful Bavarian with the white beanie?) Once again the silliness and endless innovation of the modern era cause us to ask, “What the heck is going on anyway!?!”
It’s really quite simple. It started with Eve and the apple. (I can hear someone shouting even as I write “There that chauvinist goes again, blaming women for the whole mess!” It is clear that the devil had to get to the woman first, because, as any reasonable man knows, men are, in fact, the weaker sex.) Instead of explaining away the text as a creation myth like any other creation myth, why don’t we try to understand what the story tells us about the human condition? It seems that the first human beings were presented with the opportunity to be children of God. They opted instead for equality with God. Allow me to quote once again. “The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' "
"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (Gen 3:2-5)
So there it is: the Original Sin, the refusal to be children of God. It is insistence on independent adulthood. “Nobody is gonna tell me nuthin! I got my rights!” That’s why Jesus says “I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” (Mark 10:15) Let us jump ahead a few eons, to the Renaissance, famous for sculpture, music, really neat clothing and poofy hats. The motto of the Renaissance was “Man is the measure of all things.” Now let us jump ahead a few more years to Rene Descartes, who said in 1637 in his Discourse on Method, “I think therefore I am.” The Discourse on Method was the beginning of the Age of Enlightenment, which ended by enlightening people through cutting off their heads in the French Revolution of 1789. That would certainly make people a few pounds lighter.
A great advocate of enlightenment, French-style revolution and occasional head-chopping was our own Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and the owner of 267 slaves. (This, in 1822 long after he had railed against the slave trade. The man was about as consistent a thinker as a sugar-crazed 4-year old.) Thomas took the great ideas of the Enlightenment and gave us the stirring words of the Declaration, “Life, Liberty and the Purfuit, (or as we now write it “pursuit”) of Happiness!” He failed to define happiness. In his case it seemed to involve the ownership of lots of other human beings. Thus it moved from, “We will be like God” to “Man is the measure of all things,” to “My personal happiness is the measure of right and wrong.” So, the pastor of St. Vatsnu’s couldn’t give a good gosh darn for what Mons. Mario Marini in Rome has to say.
St. Paul said about our Lord Jesus. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made emptied himself taking the form of a slave, becoming in human likeness, and being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death...” (Phil.2:5-8)
It is interesting to contrast the humility of God with the arrogance of some who claim to be His servants.