Thursday, September 03, 2015

The Asperges in the Ordinary Form?

While preparing my paper for last June’s Sacra Liturgia USA conference, I made a discovery that will perhaps interest some NLM readers. In the traditional Roman Rite, the ceremony of sprinkling the clergy and people with holy water (the Asperges ceremony) takes place before the principal Mass on Sundays.1 Because this ceremony is not part of Mass, the priest wears the cope instead of the chasuble and does not wear the maniple. In the Roman Rite’s ordinary form, the ceremony may be done at any Sunday Mass (including the Saturday evening Mass “of anticipation”) and takes the place of the penitential rite; the celebrant wears the chasuble because Mass has already begun. That much I knew. But then I discovered this . . .

The relevant rubric in the 1970 Missal of Paul VI reads: “When this rite is celebrated it takes the place of the penitential rite at the beginning of Mass.”2 However, the corresponding rubric in the latest (third) typical edition of the Missal, that of 2002, reads: “If this rite is celebrated during Mass, it takes the place of the usual Penitential Act at the beginning of Mass.”3 The 2002 rubric implies that the ceremony may be done outside of Mass.

It would therefore seem permissible in the modern Roman Rite (at least, since 2002) to perform the Rite of Sprinkling — or, for that matter, even the traditional Asperges ceremony — before Sunday Mass (in which case the priest would wear either the cope or the chasuble, although preferably the cope), as would be more in keeping with tradition.4

1 The principal Mass need not be Sung or Solemn Mass.
2 “Huiusmodi ritus locum tenet actus pænitentialis initio Missæ peragendi.” Missale Romanum, Vatican typical edition of 1970, p. 889.
3 “Si ritus intra Missam peragitur, locum tenet consueti actus pænitentialis initio Missæ.” Missale Romanum, Vatican typical edition of 2002, p. 1249.
4 In 1967 the cope was suppressed in the Asperges ceremony; the chasuble is worn in its stead.

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