Two Fonts

In Paul Turner's Blog by Paul Turner

Q: In our Church, the Altar and the Ambo are situated at a higher level than the pews, as is common in many churches. There are three steps ascending from the main floor to the altar. Our small font is located in front of the pews, next to the altar, but on the main floor. At the Easter Vigil, it has been customary for a different font to be created and placed next to the altar, on the same level. (This provides more room for those to be baptized and their sponsors and gives the assembly a better view.) This year was unusual in that we had no catechumens at the Easter Vigil. However, our sacristans and artisans still created the font and the presider still blessed the water and used it for the sprinkling rite. Since then, we have had some infant baptisms on the Sundays of Easter. My dilemma is what to do with the “extra” font after the Easter Vigil. Should it remain next to the altar for the whole Easter season? Also, if we have this extra font up on a higher level, shouldn’t we be using it for the infant baptisms, as opposed to using the “regular” smaller font? (The smaller font is not movable; it is still in the space as well.) Finally, since we had no catechumens at the Vigil, no procession with the Pascal candle to the font was necessary. So where should our Pascal candle be? It should be placed next to the Ambo during the whole Easter season, right? What about during infant baptisms? Do we move it over to the font during the baptism? Oops, one more question: Our deacon thought it would be cool to bring the oils from the Ambry and place them on a table next to the Pascal candle (and the elevated font) during an infant Baptism… and then thought it would be even more meaningful to preserve that symbolism throughout the season. So, for a few weeks, we had the extra font next to the altar, the Pascal candle situated between the font and the altar, and a table with the oils next to that (don’t forget the other font was still there too.) My liturgical sense says the duplication of symbols (and fonts) is un-necessary and confusing. What say you on this?

Thanks so much for any insight you can provide!

Blessings upon you and your ministry!!

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A: Regarding the use of the second font, one reason a parish blesses water at the Vigil when no one is baptized that night is that someone will be baptized in the font later. In your case, you could make the argument either way—baptisms could take place in the upper font with water blessed at the Vigil. Or you could return to using the regular font because that is its purpose. Like you, I tend to avoid double symbols, so I’d probably vote to remove the upper font and use the lower one. 

The paschal candle leads a lengthy procession to the font at the Vigil (Roman Missal #41). It may be lowered into the water during the blessing whether or not there are baptisms.

Roman Missal Easter Vigil #17 and #70 imply that the paschal candle remains next to the ambo or in the middle of the sanctuary throughout Easter Time. If a baptism is taking place outside of Mass during Easter Time at some distance from the sanctuary, common sense would permit moving the candle for that single usage, but then putting it back where it belongs.

Oils are to be kept in a secure space when not in use. I would not advise setting them out on display for seven weeks.