Monday, February 11, 2013

Compendium of the 1961 Revision of the Pontificale Romanum - Part 2.1: The Dedication of a Church (1595, part 1)

The very long rite for the dedication of a church will be presented in several parts. I anticipate that some people may find things a bit confusing, since the ceremony is not only radically abbreviated in 1961, but also re-ordered in places; the combox is open, please feel free to ask questions. As mentioned before, many of the less relevant details, such as the constant removal and replacement of the bishop’s miter, will be omitted. An exhaustive (and exhausting) explanation of the ceremony in every detail can be read in Fr. Augustine Shulte’s Consecranda, available for consultation and download in various formats here.

The evening before the dedication, the relics which are to be placed in the altar are brought to a nearby chapel or sacristy, if one is available; otherwise a tent is set up for this purpose. The bishop seals them in their reliquary, after which the clergy present sing (or recite) Matins and Lauds of Several Martyrs as a votive Office in honor of the Saints. Traditionally, people would then keep watch in the place until the relics were brought into the church during the dedication ceremony.

The following morning, the bishop goes to the chapel or tent, and dresses while the cantors recite the seven Penitential Psalms, the bishop himself intoning the antiphon Ne reminiscaris with which they are normally said. The liturgical color is white. He and the ministers then approach the door of the church, where the bishop intones the first antiphon of Matins of the Holy Trinity, “Be present, one God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” It is completed by the choir.

The bishop then says the prayer Actiones nostras, after which all kneel and the Litany of the Saints is sung, as far as the invocation “Propitius esto, exaudi nos, Domine.” The rest is omitted here, since the Litany will be said again in full later on. The bishop blesses holy water, with the regular blessing found in the Rituale Romanum; he begins the Antiphon Asperges me, (as at High Mass on Sunday), and sprinkles himself and all those around him, as the schola continues the antiphon.

He then sprinkles the upper part of the exterior walls of the church, starting on the right and going around, making the form of a cross and saying continually, “In the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” (If the cemetery is next to the church, he sprinkles it as well.) The choir sings the following responsory as this is done, the second of Matins of the Dedication of a Church.
R. The house of the Lord is founded upon the height of the mountains, and exalted above all the hills, and all the nations shall come to it say, * and say, Glory to Thee, o Lord. V. And as they come, they shall come with joyfulness, carrying their sheaves. And say, Glory to Thee, o Lord.
Arriving before the doors, the bishop sings “Oremus”; the deacon sings “Flectamus genua”, and the subdeacon, after a pause, “Levate”, after which the bishop sings this prayer.
Almighty and everlasting God, who in every place of Thy dominion art wholly present, and workest all works, be present to our supplications, and be the protector of this house, of which Thou art the founder; here let no malice of the opposing power prevail, but by the work and might of the Holy Spirit, may there ever be shown to Thee here pure service, and free devotion. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.
Coming to the door, the bishop strikes it once just above the threshold with his crook, and says “Lift up your gates, O ye princes, and be ye lifted up, O eternal gates: and the King of Glory shall enter in.” A deacon stationed inside the church answers, “Who is this king of glory?”, to which the bishop alone replies, “The Lord strong and mighty: the Lord mighty in battle.” (These words are the fourth- and third-to-last verses of Psalm 23; they are later repeated after another aspersion of the walls. The final two verses of the psalm are said after a third aspersion, completing the dialogue.)
H.E. Rev. Fabian Bruskewitz, bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska, (now emeritus), blessing the external walls of the chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary, in Denton, Nebraska, March 3, 2010. Photo © 2010 F.S.S.P. - www.fssp.org.
The bishop now circles the church again, going once more to the right, sprinkling the walls of the church a second time, but near the foundations (and the cemetery, as before), continually saying “In the name of the Father etc.” As soon as he begins, the choir starts another responsory, the third of Matins of the Dedication of a Church.
R. Bless, o Lord, this house, which I have built unto Thy name. Of those who come to this place, * hear the prayers, upon the lofty throne of Thy glory. V. O Lord, if thy people be converted, and pray at Thy sanctuary. Hear the prayers upon the lofty throne of Thy glory.
Arriving before the doors, the bishop sings “Oremus”; the deacon and subdeacon answer as before, and the bishop sings this prayer.
Almighty and everlasting God, who through Thy Son, even Him that is the corner-stone, hast united two walls that come together from diverse parts, the one from the circumcision, the other from the foreskin, and two flocks of sheep under one and the same Shepherd; grant to Thy servants, through these offices of our devotion, an unbreakable bond of charity, so that they may not be separated by any division of mind, or difference of (i.e. brought about by) wrong belief, whom the one flock holdeth under the rule of the one Shepherd, within the walls of the one sheepfold which Thou keepest. Through the same Christ our Lord. R. Amen.
The ritual of striking the door and saying “Lift up your heads etc.” is repeatedly exactly as before. The bishop now circles the church again, but this time going to the left, sprinkling the walls of the church a third time, but in the middle, (and the cemetery, as before), continually saying “In the name of the Father etc.” Note that in circling the church in this order, twice to the right and once to the left, the bishop imitates the order in which the thurible is swung around the chalice during the incensation at the Offertory of the Mass.

As soon as he begins, the choir starts another responsory, the twelfth of those which are sung in October with the readings from the Books of Maccabees.
R. Thou, O Lord of all things, who wantest nothing, didst will that Thy temple should be amongst us, * keep this house unstained forever, o Lord. V. Thou didst choose, o Lord, this house, that Thy name may be invoked therein, that it may be a house of prayer and supplication for Thy people. Keep this house unstained forever, o Lord.
Arriving before the doors, the bishop sings “Oremus”; the deacon and subdeacon answer as before, and the bishop sings this prayer, also used in the blessing of a church’s corner-stone.
Almighty and merciful God, who hast given to Thy priests above others such great grace, that whatsoever is done worthily and perfectly by them in Thy name, is believed to be done by Thee; we ask Thy immense clemency, that Thou may visit what we are now about to visit, and bless all that we are about to bless; and at the entrance of our humility, by the merits of Thy Saints, may the demons be put to flight, and the Angel of peace come in. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.
Coming then to the door, the bishop strikes it a third time with his crook, and says the words of Psalm 23: “Lift up your gates, O ye princes, and be ye lifted up, O eternal gates: and the King of Glory shall enter in.” The deacon inside the church answers, “Who is this king of glory?”, to which the bishop replies, and all the clergy present with him, completing the end of the Psalm, “The Lord of hosts, He is the king of glory!”, and adding “Open, ye! Open, ye! Open, ye!” The bishop makes the sign of the Cross on the door with his crook, just above the lintel, saying, “Behold the sign of the Cross, let all phantoms (i.e. demons) flee.”

The deacon within opens the doors. As the bishop enters with the deacon and subdeacon, he says “Peace be to this house”, to which the other deacon already in the church replies, “At thy entrance”, and all the clergy answer, “Amen.” All those who must participate in the ceremony (major and minor ministers, cantors etc.) enter the church, and only they; the doors are closed and locked, and the rest of the clergy and people wait outside. As the bishop and servers process to a faldstool placed in the middle of the church, the cantors sing the following two antiphons. The first is also used at the blessing of a corner-stone; the second is sung with the Benedictus at Lauds of the Dedication of a Church.
Ant. Eternal peace from the Eternal One unto this house; the Peace everlasting, the Word of the Father, be peace unto this house; may the Holy Consoler grant peace unto this house.
Ant.
Zacheus, make haste and come down; for this day I must abide in thy house. And he made haste and came down; and received him with joy into his house. This day is salvation come from God to this house.