How do I dispose of blessed items?

07-31-2016Why do Catholics do that?

If you are like me then you have a number of blessed palms from last Palm Sunday, old rosaries with missing beads, bent holy cards, and broken scapulars just laying around. What do we do with these if we want to get rid of them? Can we just throw them in the trash can? No. Items that have been blessed are sacred and cannot be treated like commonplace objects. Items that have been blessed must be disposed of by either burying them in the ground or by burning them. If you do not know if an item has been blessed it is always a good idea to burn or bury them just in case. Palms from Palm Sunday can be returned to the Church. These palms are burned are used for the Ash Wednesday ashes the following year. If you do not feel comfortable burning or burying these religious items then they can be brought to the Church and given to a priest or member of staff for proper disposal.

Any item that has been used in the liturgy must also be treated in this manner. For example, when the 3rd edition of the Roman Missal was released in 2011, the old Sacramentaries (now called Roman Missal) had to be replaced. Even if these Sacramentaries were not blessed, they were still used in liturgy and therefore were set aside for a holy work (liturgy actually means ‘work of the people’). These liturgical items must be burned or buried. Often times there is a special place in Catholic cemeteries where old liturgical books can be buried.

After a Mass, the sacred vessels are cleaned by the priest or deacon. Since the linens used in this service are saturated with the particles of the Body and Blood of Christ, they cannot be washed in a normal washing machine. They are cleaned out in a special sink called a “sacrarium”. The sacrarium does not have a drain that goes to the sewer system, but rather straight into the ground. There is a sacrarium in every Catholic Church.The sacrarium can also be used for holy water or for cleansing fingers that have touched the sacred species of the Eucharist. In places where there is not a sacrarium, the water used for washing may be put directly into the ground. The linens used at Mass including the altar cloth, purificators, chalice veils, and corporals, should be burned or buried once they are too tattered for liturgical use. This care demonstrates the Church’s profound belief in the sacredness of its worship.

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