Friday, August 16, 2013

The Water to be Used in Baptism

In actual practice, in cases of grave necessity the Church does tolerate a mitigated dispensation from plain water for administering Baptism. Among the gradations along a spectrum of purity, how “watery” must the water be? The Church never mandates chemical analysis; rather, she is satisfied with “the estimation of ordinary people.” As a guide for making this determination, it is certain that the following sources of water comprise valid matter:
dew (from plants or walls, etc.)
distilled (provided only foreign elements, not constituting water as such, are subtracted)
drain water
melted snow
mineral water
muddied water
adulterated water (provided the water very greatly predominates over the contaminants)
rain water
recondensed steam
sea water
spring water
sulphur water
well water

The following fluids are certainly invalid matter:
amniotic fluid
fruit juices
thick broth


The following liquids are doubtfully valid matter:
sap from trees
sap from vines
thin soup
water extracted from vegetation (e.g., flower petals)
water from dissolved salt
weak beer

Although matter that is certainly invalid can never be used for Baptism, in cases of dire extremity (i.e., danger of death) doubtfully valid matter may be employed if regular water is inaccessible. Such a baptism, however, can be performed only conditionally, and would have to be repeated later (conditionally) when ordinary water becomes available (assuming the recipient has survived). It is always best to strive to obtain pure water.

Why Matter Matters by David Lang; Our Sunday Visitor, Inc, 2002, Page 32.

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