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Online Edition - Vol. IX, No. 2: April 2003

Congregation for Divine Worship Responds on Holy Water, Kneeling

Several individuals who have contacted the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments with questions concerning the Liturgy have received official responses. Two of these, one concerning the removal of Holy Water from fonts during the entire Lenten season, and another on the vexed matter of kneeling to receive Communion, appear below. We are grateful to the recipients who sent us copies. The letters will appear in the CDW's official publication, Notitiae.

To contact the Congregation, address His Eminence Francis Cardinal Arinze, Prefect / Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments / Piazza Pio XII, 10 / 00120 Vatican City (Europe).

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Holy Water -- Kneeling

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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,
[signed]
Mons. Mario Marini
Undersecretary

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Prot. n. 47/03/L

Rome, February 26, 2003

This Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has received your letter dated December 1, 2002, related to the application of the norms approved by the Conference of Bishops of the United States of America, with the subsequent recognitio of this Congregation, as regards the question of the posture for receiving Holy Communion.

As the authority by virtue of whose recognitio the norm in question has attained the force of law, this Dicastery is competent to specify the manner in which the norm is to be understood for the sake of a proper application. Having received more than a few letters regarding this matter from different locations in the United States of America, the Congregation wishes to ensure that its position on the matter is clear.

To this end, it is perhaps useful to respond to your inquiry by repeating the content of a letter that the Congregation recently addressed to a Bishop in the United States of America from whose Diocese a number of pertinent letters had been received. The letter states: "...while this Congregation gave the recognitio to the norm desired by the Bishops' Conference of your country that people stand for Holy Communion, this was done on the condition that communicants who choose to kneel are not to be denied Holy Communion on these grounds. Indeed, the faithful should not be imposed upon nor accused of disobedience and of acting illicitly when they kneel to receive Holy Communion".

This Dicastery hopes that the citation given here will provide an adequate answer to your letter. At the same time, please be assured that the Congregation remains ready to be of assistance if you should need to contact it again.

With every prayerful good wish, I am

Sincerely yours in Christ,
[signed]
Mons. Mario Marini
Undersecretary

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