Holy Week is the most intense period of spiritual warfare during Lent which in its turn is the most spiritually active season of the year.
That brings up a question:
Might parishes that do so rethink the emptying of Holy Water fonts — the baffling removal of this sacramental in many dioceses — when it is the most potent sacramental during warfare with the devil? It is as baffling as removal of the St. Michael Prayer at the end of Mass.
There are stated reasons, just as there are reasons for covering statues. It is a solemn time.
And there is Covid-19: Holy Water was discontinued during the past year to halt its spread. That’s understandable (though there are touch-free dispensers that allow for the Water).
But many parishes eliminate the sacramental every Lent, and as one blog dedicated to rubrics succinctly summed it up, “Emptying or covering Holy Water fonts during Lent is a modern innovation not found in the Church’s directives.”
Adds a blog called Prieststuff:
“Some parishes remove the Holy Water from the font during the season of Lent replacing them with sand, stones or even cacti which are symbolic of the Lenten ‘desert experience.’ Some simply cover the font with a purple cloth while others put ashes or simply leave it empty. One parish church in the U.S. provided the following reason: ‘As was customary in the past there is no Holy Water in the Church receptacles until Easter. May the sand remind us of our Lenten journey in the desert as we prepare to celebrate the joy of Easter. As we await the blessing of water at the Easter Vigil, may we prepare to renew our Baptismal promises from our hearts!’
“In reality, such innovation is praeter legem (‘outside of the law’) which means that it is not regulated by liturgical law. Although technically not illegal, such innovation is contrary to the Theology of Lent which is not just a season of penance, but also a season rich in the symbolism of water and baptism. Lent is a preparation for Baptism and for renewing our baptismal promise. The restoration of the Catechumenate and its Lenten rituals since the Second Vatican Council reemphasized the baptismal character of Lent.
“March 14, 2000
As an exorcist named Stephen Rossetti recently noted, “After years of practicing New Age spiritualities and several forms of yoga, ‘N’ now experiences much demonic oppression and obsession. Her mind and affect are darkened and foggy. We have been praying over her for some months and she is slowly getting better. Recently, she has been having demonic attacks in her stomach area. I suggested she drink some Holy Water. She did so and was happy to share with others her experience:
“‘As I felt attacked by demons in my stomach area, I drank three or four big sips of the Holy Water. The effect was almost immediate. I was flooded with a strong and very clear light from above. The light pushed all the darkness away from me for a moment, it was a physical sensation. Then I felt my mind clear and I could suddenly feel that I was more myself again. I realized that I had forgotten what that is like.
“‘The fog in my mind cleared. I got a new perspective. It seemed like my brain was functioning at normal level again. Everything seemed light, saying “bathed in light” wouldn’t be an exaggeration. A wonderful sense of peace and clarity filled my whole home. I felt very grateful and impressed that just a sip of Holy Water could be this powerful.
“Most people do not have such a profound experience using Holy Water, but her reflection is a good reminder of the importance of sacramentals, especially Holy Water. I often recall a similar quote from St. Teresa of Avila’s autobiography (chapter 31):
“’From long experience I have learned that there is nothing like Holy Water to put devils to flight and prevent them from coming back again….For my own part, whenever I take it, my soul feels a particular and most notable consolation. In fact it is quite usual for me to be conscious of a refreshment which I cannot possibly describe, resembling an inward joy which comforts my whole soul. This is not fancy, or something which has happened to me only once, it has happened again and again and I have observed it attentively….’
“These might seem to some as exaggerations, but it is good to recall some important things about Holy Water. Water is an essential of life and stimulates life; there is no water in hell. Water is an essential part of baptism and Holy Water ought to remind us of this foundational sacrament. Holy Water is a sacramental and its power comes from the authority and power that Christ gives to his Church.
“Shouldn’t we all have Holy Water readily accessible and use it often? It certainly puts devils to flight and refreshes the soul.”
[resources: spiritual warfare books]