Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Compendium of the 1961 Revision of the Pontificale Romanum - Part 4.2: The Blessing of a Cemetery (1961)

For a description of this ceremony in the Pontifical of Clement VIII, click here.
In the revised blessing of a cemetery of 1961, a single cross is set up at the far end of the cemetery, opposite the entrance, instead of the traditional five crosses. The color of the vestments worn by the bishop and major ministers is changed from white to violet. The bishop wears the mitre called “auryphrigiata” in Latin, the less ornate kind used in Advent and Lent, rather than the simple mitre with no ornamentation.

The ceremony begins with “Deus in adjutorium” and “Gloria Patri”, like the hours of the Divine Office, but without Alleluia. The opening prayer of the 1595 version is suppressed. The Litany of the Saints formerly sung immediately after it is suppressed, and with it, the proper invocations made by the bishop over the cemetery during the Litany. The blessing of holy water is done before the ceremony, rather than within it.

The bishop therefore begins immediately to sprinkle holy water around the cemetery, going from right to left, and saying nothing. As he does this, the choir sings the antiphon “Thou shalt sprinkle me, o Lord, with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed: Thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow,” and repeats it after every two verses of the Psalm 50 Miserere; at the end, Gloria Patri is not said. The antiphon is no longer intoned by the bishop. If the bishop returns to the cross before the choir has reached the end of the psalm, they cease the chant, even if they have not finished the psalm.

On returning to the cross, the bishop turns away from it and faces the cemetery (and hence also the people present,) and says the following prayer, preceded by “Dominus vobiscum.” This prayer was formerly said before the bishop incensed the third cross, the one on the right end of the cemetery.
Let us pray. Lord God, Father of eternal glory, light and honor of wisdom, keeper and force of prudence, health of the sick, strength of the mighty, consolation of the sorrowful, life of the just, glory of the humble; we humbly and earnestly entreat Thee, that Thou may deign to keep, purify and bless this cemetery of Thy servants from every sort of pollution and the snares of unclean spirits, and cease not to grant to the human bodies that come into this place everlasting purity; so that all who have received the Sacrament of Baptism, and have persevered in the Catholic Faith to the end of their lives, having passed their time in this present age, have given their bodies to rest in this cemetery, as the Angelic trumpets sound, in their souls and bodies together, may receive the eternal rewards of joy in heaven. Through Christ our Lord. R. Amen.
The words shown here in italics are omitted from the previous version; the word ‘Father’ marked in bold is changed from ‘shepherd’. The bishop no longer blesses the cemetery with his hand at the words “bless this cemetery”.

He now sprinkles holy water though the cemetery, going from the back, where the cross is, to the entrance, and then across the middle from left to right. As he does this, the choir sings the antiphon “For Thy name’s sake, o Lord, Thou shalt give me life in Thy justice,” and repeats it after every two verses of Psalm 142 Domine exaudi orationem; at the end, Gloria Patri is not said. The antiphon, which is taken from ferial Lauds of Friday in the Breviary of St. Pius X, is not intoned by the bishop. (No antiphon was sung at the corresponding point of the previous version of this blessing.) If the bishop returns to the cross before the choir has reached the end of the psalm, they cease the chant, even if they have not finished the psalm.

On returning to the cross, the bishop turns away from it and faces the cemetery again, and says the following prayer, preceded by “Dominus vobiscum.” This prayer was formerly said before the bishop incensed the first cross, the one in the middle of the cemetery.
God, Who art the creator of the whole world, and redeemer of the human race, and perfectly arrayest all creatures visible and invisible, we entreat Thee with humble voice and pure heart, that Thou may deign to sanctify, cleanse, and bless this cemetery or tomb; in which the bodies of Thy servants and handmaids must rest after the passing courses of this life; and who through Thy great mercy didst grant remission of all sins to them that trust in Thee, impart Thou in abundance perpetual consolation also to the bodies of them that rest in this cemetery, and here await the trumpet of the first Archangel.
The words shown here in italics are omitted from the previous version; the bishop no longer blesses the cemetery with his hand at the words “to cleanse, bless, and sanctify”, which are also re-ordered as noted above. The prayer ends with the long conclusion, which segues into the Preface Dialogue and the following Preface.
Truly it is fitting and just … through Christ our Lord. Who is the eternal day, the light unfailing, brightness everlasting. Who commanded His followers so to walk in the light, that they might escape from the darkness of eternal night, and happily come to the fatherland of light. Who in His assumed humanity, wept over Lazarus, by the power of His divinity restored him to life, and brought the human race, that was overwhelmed by the four-fold mass of sins. And through Him, o Lord, we humbly beseech Thee, that those who shall be buried in this cemetery, on the last day, when the trumpets of the Angels shall sound, released from the bonds of sin, and restored to eternal happiness, and numbered in the companies of the Saints, they may find Thee, who art eternal life, kindly and merciful, that they may praise Thee, the author of life, exulting with all the Saints.
The word “cemetery” is changed from “tomb” in the previous version; a few other minor adjustments are made to the Latin text which do not alter the sense. The long conclusion is sung out loud as part of the preface, where it was previously said in a low voice. The final prayer is suppressed; the blessing concludes with “Dominus vobiscum” and “Benedicamus Domino”.

To sum up, in the Pontifical of Clement VIII, the cemetery is blessed not only by the sprinkling of holy water throughout, but also by the incensation of the five crosses and the fixing of candles upon them. In the 1961 revision, the latter is entirely removed; the single cross is not incensed, nor are candles placed upon it. Along with the Litany of the Saints, five prayers are suppressed: the prayer with which the blessing began in the prior version, those said before the incensation of the second and fourth crosses, the prayer which formerly preceded the preface, and the prayer said after the incensation of the fifth cross. The seven Penitential Psalms as a group are no longer part of the blessing.

The Mass which follows the blessing is now optional, where it was formerly required. (“…juxta opportunitatem, Pontifex vel alius sacerdos Missam celebrat.”) As previously, the bishop may say the Mass himself, or he may delegate another priest to say it in his stead. The proper prayers to be added to the Mass of the day for the occasion are no longer included in the text of the Pontifical, and are now found in the 1961 edition of the Missal itself.

A new set of rubrics concerning the Mass itself is added, which says that the Introit is sung “juxta opportunitatem – according to convenience, fitness, opportunity”, as the celebrant approaches the altar. This seems to imply that it may be omitted, but is quite vague. All the prayers before the altar are to be omitted, and the Mass begins with the celebrant kissing the altar and incensing it. The Last Gospel is omitted. This same rubric is added to other ceremonies of the Pontifical, as has already been mentioned apropos of the dedication of a church.

Two pages of a Pontifical according to the Use of Paris, ca. 1410. The left side contains the rubric for the placing of the five crosses in the cemetery, and the beginning of the blessing. The music on the bottom of the left side and the whole of the right are the special invocations added to the Litany of the Saints for the blessing of a cemetery; note that the words “bless”, “sanctify” and “consecrate” are each illuminated with a gold cross when they are said for the first time.

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