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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Lourdes Water Loophole

Some of our readers are a little discombobulated about my statement that it's a sin to sell blessed objects.

For example, this exchange in the comments section:

Thanks for all you do -- I love your blog!
Surely it's not a sin for a church shop to sell a sacramental? It would make more sense for the priest to do a combined blessing of everything in the shop rather than have people coming up to him every five minutes to get something blessed.

Answered by:

Churches can sell sacramentals, but not blessed ones.

If you buy a rosary with a bubble of water from Lourdes in it, for instance, you are paying for the rosary, not the blessing in the water.

Which begs the question...should they be selling Lourdes water? It is not unusual to see this.

I think I can iron this out, but be prepared to have your brain squeezed.

It is a sin to sell blessed objects. God's Gifts are not for sale.
Blessings are never for sale. They are a gift from God to us through our priests.

Now, take a deep breath as we wade further into the fray.

The priest can't bless everything in the shop, because everything in the shop is being sold for a profit. The shop owner isn't there for charity, he's there to make a living.

But, if you have a blessed rosary and you sell it to me for what the rosary cost you, that's okay, because you are selling me the rosary, not the blessing. No profit has been made from the rosary, let alone the blessing.

Which is how retailers get away with 'selling' Lourdes water.

We could call it the Lourdes Water Loophole.

I've seen the Lourdes Water Loophole worked in two ways:

1. I sell you the object that just happens to contain Lourdes Water. A bottle in the shape of Mary, say, or a holy card with a bubble of Lourdes Water, or as the reader mentioned, a rosary with the bubble.

2. I give you the Lourdes Water and I suggest that you make a donation for it. I might even suggest how much the donation might be. But then I have to settle for whatever you give me, even if it's nothing.

I can guarantee you, however, that using the Lourdes Water Loophole #2 also involves another tried and true factor, Catholic Guilt. Let's face it, you, as a Catholic, are not going to let me go through all the trouble of wrangling some Lourdes Water for you and then make me take the hit for the expense. On the other hand, as long as you are covering the expense of me wrangling the Lourdes Water for you, we're not really selling Lourdes Water, we're just paying me to get it for you. Lourdes Water Loophole #1.

I'm not very happy with the idea of any Lourdes Water being sold, but....I have some. I have the holy card bubble one. It was a gift. But someone bought it for me, using Lourdes Water Loophole #1, no doubt.

Meanwhile, Father will always be happy to bless something for you, anytime. It will always be totally free. And if for some reason Father is a little cranky at the moment you approach him to bless your Lourdes Water Rosary because he is wondering how in the world he is going to pay for the furnace that needs fixing or the hole that's developing in the roof or the gutter that fell off, don't worry about it. He'll offer up his suffering at being called out of his unpleasant reverie to bless your Lourdes Water Rosary for the Poor Souls in Purgatory and you'll both be the better for it.


Marion Teague said...

Isn't it a bit odd to have a tiny dot of Lourdes water in a card or rosary? Surely the whole point of Lourdes water is to use it to sprinkle on the sick. My husband used to have jerry cans of the blessed stuff (refilled with Walsingham water when the Lourdes water ran out) and I have a drinks bottle of Lourdes water in my kitchen cupboard for emergency use, brought for me by a friend who went.
We did have a plastic Virgin Mary bottle too (with crown screw cap). I must admit there are some Catholic things that make me cringe , and that was one of them. Since he died I sort of "lost" it. Respectfully of course.

ArchAngel's Advocate said...

I think in the case of Lourdes there is a 3rd possibility: It might be water from the town of Lourdes (tap water) and not from the Grotto spring. That H2O would be sell-able. Caveat emptor!

mph said...

Thanks Sister, but I am a bit confused about the shop owner of a church shop being there to make a living. I was referring to the little shop in our church entrance that is manned by a volunteering member of the Parish that sells rosaries, little statues, books, etc. I think the money goes to the church itself, if I'm not mistaken. Ok, I'm sure Priests don't mind being asked to bless each object separately but our (now ex-) Parish Priest seemed to be run off his feet and a bit stressed with all the Parish duties and his extra-curricular activities (hymn writing/concerts/cds, etc.).