Sunday, January 13, 2008

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.

Crash and Barnacle Boy were discussing the finer points of being an altar server at dinner the other night, based on Crash's vast experience (six weeks and counting). Turns out being behind the scenes you find out more than you might want to know.

"Did you know that the water for the blessings just comes right from the tap? It's just regular water that the guy [ed: that's a direct quote, can you tell we're Roman Catholic?] blesses!" Crash declared incredulously. The Boy doesn't quite believe him. "It's true," I threw in. "The water for the baptismal font, too. The only difference for the font is that if we are baptizing a baby, we use warm tap water." "You mean I was baptized with tap water?" "Uh-huh!" I'm certain he was scandalized. I'm not quite sure what he was expecting us to use, and now I wished I'd asked. Water from the Jordan, imported in bottles? Vatican blend? A spring in the sacristy?

If I put on my sacramental theologian and catechist hats, this raises a couple of interesting questions. Should we warm the water, what sacramental message are we sending? What do my kids understand about blessings and sacramentals?


  1. So funny you should say this. I was about 9 when I was baptized (Presbyterian) and I really did think the water was from the Jordan. I remember thinking it was awfully clear for river water, and wondering how they had imported it. It was only many years later that this suddenly came back and I realized how funny it was.

    My initiation prof took this as a sign that my pastor's catechesis was amazing, but I also remember thinking that the point of being baptized was that I'd be a member of the church... so I could get offertory envelopes with my name on them (just like mom and dad!). I'm not sure the whole picture is rosy.

    (I was so disappointed when I didn't get envelopes with my name on them. Still the same little kid envelopes!)

  2. I think I should ask at dinner!

    I remember having kid envelopes, too. Those have vanished from our parish, and in their place we can now do electronic transfer. I can see why that's more efficient, but at least when my kids fight over who puts the envelope into the collection basket, there's an opening to talk about why we give, how much, etc!

  3. What a great story.

  4. Our rector actually managed to get back from Israel on his last trip with some gallon jugs of Jordan River water. (How in the world!?)

    Anyway, when he does a baptism he first pours in a few drops of Jordan water from a vial. It's very cool.

  5. Mary Beth, that is way cool!!

  6. My mom had a bottle of water from Lourdes. As a kid, I always wondered why it was different from the "run of the mill" holy water that the priests used.

  7. I asked Crash at dinner where he thought the holy water came from. He said he thought they might catch rain water, but then went on to say he hadn't really given it any thought before it.

    He's still struck by the act of blessing, though...and why that makes a difference!

  8. It's so cool that he gets the act of blessing.

    I like the spring-in-the-sacristy idea, myself...

    - Stasa

  9. sm...I'm not surprised you'd like the spring in the sacristy concept!! : )