FrMichael mentioned something very significant in his response on one of the ordination posts. Regarding the cleansing materials for the newly ordained person’s hands:
Like most of my classmates, I didn’t use the lemon when washing my hands: wanted the feel and smell of the chrism to remain.
That brought me back to my own baptism day, and an event I hadn’t thought of in many years. During my baptism, I was aware of the diagonal stream of water from high on my left forehead to near my right eyebrow. Father McCarthy and Mom came at me with a towel and my first instinct was to say, “No! Don’t wipe it away.”
Then a split-second later I thought, “No, I should obey now that I’m a Catholic Christian.” So the wiping happened.
Yet I wonder: do you think clergy and parents are too eager to wipe away the sacramental signs of water and oil? I see big bath towels at the ready after a baby is baptized. Bishops are often quite conservative in applying chrism to teens. When churches are dedicated, does the custodial staff scrub the altar and walls the next day?
Think about damp babies, greased adolescents and priests, and stains on walls. Isn’t a litttle liturgical mess a good thing?