Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Compendium of the 1961 Revision of the Pontificale Romanum - Part 2.6: The Consecration of the Altar (1595)

After the Gregorian water has been blessed, the bishop uses it to consecrate the altar (as the rubrical heading of the Pontifical itself describes it), and then sprinkles it throughout the various parts of the church. He first proceeds to the altar, where he intones the following antiphon: “I will go in to the altar of God: to God who giveth joy to my youth.” It is continued by the schola, and repeated after each verse of psalm 42 Judica me, from which it is taken; Gloria Patri is not said at the end. Meanwhile, the bishop dips the thumb of his right hand in the Gregorian water, and with it makes a Cross in the middle of the table, saying:
Let this altar be sancti + fied, unto the honor of God almighty, and of the glorious Virgin Mary, and of all the Saints, and to the name and memory of Saint N. In the name of the + Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy + Spirit. Peace be to thee.
At the words “In the name of the Father etc.” he makes the sign of the Cross with his right hand over the cross he has made with the water. (Greek crosses, i.e. crosses with two bars of equal length, are usually cut into the mensa for this purpose.) Crosses are likewise made in the four corners, first the upper left, then the lower right, lower left, and upper right; at each one, the bishop repeats the words “Let this altar be sanctified etc.” The bishop and ministers then sing “Oremus. Flectamus genua. Levate.” followed by this prayer.
(In virtue of) that one propitiation, offered on the altar of the Cross to redeem us, and prefigured by the patriarch Jacob, when he erected a stone as a title, for sacrifice, and the vision of heaven’s gate opened above; we pour forth our prayers in supplication to Thee, o Lord, that Thou may now command the polished substance of this stone, on which the heavenly Sacrifice is to be offered, to be enriched by the abundance of Thy sanctification, who didst once write the law on tables of stone. (short conclusion)
The bishop now sprinkles the altar seven times with Gregorian water, using an aspergil made of hyssop, in the following manner. Each time, standing before the altar, he intones the antiphon: “Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed: thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow.” The choir completes the antiphon, and then sings three verses of psalm 50 Miserere, (two the last time) while the bishop goes around the altar sprinkling. Gloria Patri is not said at the end.

The choir sings the antiphon “This is the house of the Lord, strongly built; it is well founded upon a mighty rock,” the third of Lauds of the Dedication of a Church, and with it psalm 121 Laetatus sum; Gloria Patri is not said at the end of this or the following two psalms. Meanwhile, the bishop, starting from behind the main altar, proceeds to the right side of the church, and goes around it, sprinkling the walls near the bottom, and returns to the place behind the altar where he started.

The choir sings a second antiphon, the first words of psalm 67 Exsurgat Deus, “Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered: and let them that hate him flee from before his face,” and with it, the last eleven verses of the same psalm. Meanwhile, the bishop, following the same route, sprinkles the walls a second time, now in the middle, and then returns to the place behind the altar where he started.

The choir sings a third antiphon, the first words of psalm 90 Qui habitat, “He that dwelleth in the aid of the most High, shall abide under the protection of the God of Jacob,” and with it, the whole of the same psalm. Meanwhile, the bishop, starting from behind the main altar, proceeds to the left side of the church, and goes around it, sprinkling the walls higher still than in the previous circuit, and again returns to the place behind the altar where he started.

He then sprinkles the pavement of the church down the middle, from the altar to the door, and then across the church from one wall to another, while the schola sings the following antiphons and versicles.
Ant. My house will be called a house of prayer. V. I will declare thy name to my brethren: in the midst of the church will I praise thee.
Ant. I have loved, O Lord, the beauty of thy house. V. And the place where thy glory dwelleth.
Ant. This is no other than the house of God, and the gate of Heaven.
Standing in the middle of the church and facing the main altar, the bishop intones the following antiphon:
Jacob saw a ladder, the top of it touched the heavens, and Angels descending, and he said: Truly this place is holy.
The schola continues, while the bishop remains in the middle of the church, and sprinkles the water towards the four cardinal points, East, West, North, South. Turning towards the main door, the bishop and ministers then say “Oremus. Flectamus genua. Levate.” followed by this prayer. (The prayer that follows, and the preface into which it leads, are also said facing the main door of the church.)
O God, who sanctifiest the places that are dedicated to Thy name, pour forth Thy grace upon this house of prayer, that the aid of Thy mercy may be felt by all who here invoke thy name. (short conclusion) 
The bishop and ministers then say “Oremus. Flectamus genua. Levate.” again, followed by another prayer, which segues into a preface.
God of all sanctification, Sovereign almighty, whose mercy is known to be without end; o God, who embrace all things in heaven and earth together, keeping Thy mercy unto Thy people that walketh in the sight of Thy glory; hear the prayers of Thy servants, that Thy eyes may be opened upon this house day and night; and this basilica, founded for in holy mysteries to the honor of Thy holy and most victorious Cross, and in memory of Thy Saint N., do Thou dedi + cate with Thy most great clemency, illu + minate with Thy mercy, and with Thy own splendor glori + fy, and in mercy deign Thou to admit and propitiously to regard every person who shall come to adore Thee in this place. And for the sake of Thy great name, and Thy mighty hand, and Thy uplifted arm, willingly protect, mercifully hear, eternally defend and preserve all who supplicate Thee in this tabernacle; that always happy, and ever rejoicing in Thy religion, they may constantly persevere in the confession of the Holy Trinity, with Catholic Faith. (long conclusion, leading into the preface dialogue.)
the preface:
Truly it is meet and just, right and profitable to salvation, that we always and everywhere give Thee thanks, o Lord, holy Father, almighty and everlasting God. Be present to our prayers, be present to the sacraments, be present also to the pious works of Thy servants, and to us who ask for Thy mercy. Upon this Thy church, which we, though unworthy, consecrate this day under the invocation of Thy holy name, to the honor of the holy Cross, on which Thy co-eternal Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, deigned to suffer for the redemption of the world, and to the memory of Saint N., let there also descend Thy Holy Spirit, abounding in all the richness of His seven-fold grace; so that, as often as Thy holy name is invoked in this house, the prayers of those who call upon Thee may be heard by Thee, holy Lord. O blessed and holy Trinity, Who dost purify all things, clean all things, adorn all things. O blessed majesty of God, Who dost fill all things, contain all things, dispose all things. O blessed and holy hand of God, Who dost sanctify all things, bless all things, enrich all things. O God, the holy of holies, with most humble devotion Thy clemency we implore, that Thou may deign by our humble ministry, in the everlasting abundance of Thy sanctification, to puri + fy, to + bless and to conse + crate this Thy church, unto the honor of the holy and most victorious Cross, and to the memory of Thy Saint N. Here also, may the priests offer to Thee sacrifices of praise, here may Thy faithful people fulfill their vows, here may the burdens of their sins be loosed, and the fallen faithful restored. In this Thy house, therefore, we beseech Thee, o Lord, may the sick be healed, the weak strengthened, the lame cured, the lepers cleansed, the blind enlightened, and demons cast out. Here may the troubles of all the weak, by Thy favor, o Lord, be relieved, and the bonds of all sins made loose; so that all who enter this temple duly to beseech Thy beneficence, may rejoice at having obtained it, and this gift of Thy grace, which They receive, give them reason to glory in Thy everlasting mercy.
The preface ends with the long conclusion regularly said at the end of prayers, which is said in a low voice, not sung out loud.
H.E. Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz sprinkles the altar of the chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe seminary. Photo © 2010 F.S.S.P., www.fssp.org