I am not opposed to a good and holy sense of humor. At Mass, though, it should have its limits. I think a good homilist can use humor to a good advantage and this is the place where humor can be useful and not sacrilegious.
Yesterday as I was driving from Augusta to Macon, I was listening to the Catholic Channel's Gus Lloyd of "Cease the Day." One of his topics was the "Asperges" of the Mass, also called the "Vidi Aquam" during the Easter Season or in the Ordinary Form of the Mass, "The Rite of Blessing and Sprinkling Holy Water."
He asked his listening audience about the aspergillum. (the wand like-stick, usually brass or silver in color, with a ball at the tip) for the sprinling of Holy Water. He wanted to know what kind of " aspergillum." was used and if anyone got wet.
Most seem to have experienced the traditional aspergillum.; others experienced whisk like broom objects sprinkling them and still others leafy branches which the celebrant held. One said that the celebrant used an actual stick with a blue sponge at the end of it in the shape and size of a soft ball. She said everyone got doused and everyone was laughing throughout the sprinkling rite.
It seem for many, the rite of sprinkling was an exercise in levity. Not for all of course and certainly not in the Extraordinary Form of the Asperges/Vidi Aquam.
Please note, those Roman Catholics who have joined the schismatic Orthodox branches of the true Church, that liturgical abuse is not limited to the Latin Rite, but also in the Orthodox Church. Unfortunately this sort of abuse has found itself in the Latin Rite's Ordinary Form, but never in the Extraordinary Form:
Rome approved in the revised and gloriously wonderful English translation of the Mass the American custom or tradition of allowing on Easter Sunday only the renewal of baptismal promises in the place of the Creed followed by the Sprinkling of the congregation with the Holy Water, normally consecrated at the Easter Vigil. This does not happen in many other countries. At the Vatican the Rite of Sprinkling takes the place of the Penitential Act and after the Sprinkling the free-standing Kyrie is not omitted but chanted prior to the Collect.
In the Ordinary Form, the Rite of Sprinkling is primarily to recall one's baptism. Blah! How sexy is that? In the Extraordinary Form and to a certain but not well taught extent in the Ordinary Form, the Rite of Sprinkling is to purify the sinner, call him to repentance and to purify the altar and ministers as well as the congregation and to exorcise all for the celebration of the Holy Mass. Now that is sexy and captures the imagination. Simply recalling the fact of one's baptism is, well, blah! It is nice, but so what. Yes we are baptized, but we need the on-going deliverance from Satan, temptation and sin which could lead to the fires of hell. We need to be purified of evil and any satanic influences, oppression or even possession!
This is the difference in the Ordinary and Extraordinary Form of the Asperges/ Vidi Aquam from Wikipedia:
The Extraordinary Form of the Mass:
Where the 1962 Missal is used, the Asperges is done before the principal Mass on Sunday. The Asperges is so called from the words intoned at the beginning of the ceremony, taken from Psalm 51, throughout the year except at Eastertide, when Vidi aquam, with Psalm 117, is intoned. It precedes every other ceremony that may take place before the Mass, such as the blessing of palms or of candles. It is performed by the celebrant priest wearing a cope of the liturgical color of the day. It is omitted when the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, though many rubricists think that the sprinkling of the altar only, not of the congregation, should then be omitted. After intoning the antiphon the priest recites the psalm Miserere or Confitemini, according to the season, sprinkling first the front and platform of the altar, then himself, next the ministers and choir, and lastly the congregation, usually walking through the main part of the church, though he need not go beyond the gate of the sanctuary or choir. The ceremony has been in use at least from the tenth century, growing out of the custom of early antiquity of blessing water for the faithful on Sundays. Its object is to prepare the congregation for the celebration of the Mass by moving them to sentiments of penance and reverence suggested by the words of the 51st psalm, or by impressing on them that they are about to assist at the sacrifice of our redemption as suggested in the psalm used at Easter time.
Both the Asperges and the Vidi aquam are structured like the Introit of the Tridentine Mass: 1st verse (which includes Alleluias in Eastertide), 2nd verse (always from the Psalms), Gloria Patri (omitted in Passiontide), and then the 1st verse again.
The Ordinary Form of the Mass:
"On Sundays, especially in Eastertide, the blessing of holy water and sprinkling with it may be carried out in memory of baptism ... If the rite is performed within Mass it takes the place of the usual penitential act at the beginning of the Mass" (Roman Missal Ordo ad faciendam et aspergendam aquam benedictam, 1)
During the Easter Vigil, Christmas, and the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, many Catholic parish Masses reserve a part of the Mass during which the Confiteor would normally be said (at the start of the Mass) to renew the Baptismal promises; this may be accompanied by the use of holy water to bless the congregation. This Renewal of Baptismal Vows, along with Asperges, is common among Lutherans and Anglicans as well. During the Funeral Mass, the casket is blessed with holy water and incense.
The priest blesses the water with one of the three prayers proposed (one of which is reserved for Eastertide). He may also bless salt and put it in the water, if local conditions or custom of the people favours doing so. Then he takes a sprinkler (called in Latin and sometimes in English an "aspersorium", and in English referred to also as an aspergil, and sprinkles himself, the ministers, and then the clergy and people, preferably walking through the church to do so.
While the sprinkling is being done, an antiphon or a hymn is sung. The Roman Missal proposes several, based on the following verses of Scripture:
- Outside of Eastertide
- During Eastertide
Often, the antiphon Asperges Me is sung, except during the Easter season and on Palm Sunday, when it is replaced by the more lengthy and florid antiphon, Vidi aquam.