You might think being invited to a BBQ is a special treat, a chance to relax and hang out. Alas, it is not always so. I was grilling up some chicken over at the rectory with my priests, deacons, and some friends, and we had a lovely time. Then, a few days later, I get a call.
Apparently I look skilled with fire. Our parochial vicar, in the sweetest and kindest voice asks me, “Deacon, how do you suppose you dispose of stained altar linens?” As if he doesn’t know. He is too sneaky, that one.
“I usually burn them Father.”
“Oh! You can do that? Good, I left a pile by your vestments.”
“Sure thing Father, consider it done.”
So now I have this pile of old linens sitting on my home prayer altar for a month, waiting for me to get around to it. I’m a busy guy, I have Netflix to watch, sailing books to read, and games to play, so it takes me some time to getting around to this stuff.
Well, today was the day.
Now you may ask, what is the “proper” way to do this? Maybe you have a drawer full of old rosary bits, broken scapulars, or other blessed items. I bet you have been thinking there is some Canon Law as to how to dispose of these items, and since you don’t know what to do, they sit in the junk drawer version of purgatory, lonely and forgotten.
Never fear! I’ve got your back on this one.
Canon Law does tell us what not to do, but doesn’t help much with what we should do. Basically, it says blessed things should always be treated with respect, and should never be used for common use. (CIC #1171) Traditionally this has come down to “Burn it or Bury it”. I do both.
So, I had a little bonfire, and burned each corporal, purificator and other altar linens one at a time. A little gasoline to get it going, keep the water close by, and had it done in no time flat.
Interestingly, they smelled like incense as they burned. My mind kept going back to Psalm 141, “Let my prayer rise, like incense before you”. It was actually rather mediative.
Now, where to bury these ashes, I can’t just toss them after going through all this trouble. Of course, I did not plan ahead this far.
By the Mary statue of course! That will work great.
Job done. Back to reading my books.
But since I’m here, I might as well have a few blackberries, I think it’s on my diet.
Who am I kidding, I don’t diet.