Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Compendium of the 1961 Revision of the Pontificale Romanum - Part 5.1: The Reconciliation of a Church and Cemetery (1595)

In the 1917 Code of Canon Law, a church or cemetery is considered to be profaned or violated if a murder, or violent and serious bloodshed, takes place within it, if it is used for impious or unclean actions, or if a non-believer or excommunicated person is buried therein, after formal sentence and condemnation. (Canon 1172) Furthermore, the actions must be certain, notorious, and must have taken place directly within the church or cemetery itself (as opposed to, for example, a road in front of them.) The same canon specifies that if a church is profaned, the cemetery next to it is not therefore considered profaned, and vice versa. The Sacraments and the Divine Office may not be celebrated in a profaned church until it has been purified by the rite known as the “reconciliation” of a church, which is placed in the Pontifical after the blessings and dedication of churches, altars and cemeteries. (These provisions are of course based on those of the pre-1917 tradition of canon law.)

If both are to be reconciled, or only the cemetery, the ceremony begins there; otherwise, it begins before the doors of the church. The bishop blesses water according to the usual formula of the Rituale Romanum, standing near a faldstool which is set up for him on a carpet in the middle of the cemetery, or at the doors of the church. He then intones 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.” The choir continues it, and then sings Psalm 50 Miserere from which it is taken, with Gloria Patri at the end, and repeats the antiphon.

Meanwhile, the bishop sprinkles holy water throughout the spaces outside the church, alternating between the walls of the church itself and the earth of the cemetery, and especially in the place where the act of profanation took place. Returning to the faldstool, he then says the following prayer, (also used in the blessing of a cornerstone and the dedication of a church.)
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.
He then says with the major ministers “Let us pray. Let us kneel. Arise” and the following prayer, a modified version of the prayer “Aufer a nobis” which is said at the beginning of the Mass.
Take away from us all our iniquities, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that we may be worthy to enter these places to purify them unto Thy holy name. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
If the cemetery is also to be reconciled, he then says with the major ministers again “Let us pray. Let us kneel. Arise” and the following prayer.
Kindly Lord, who didst will that the potter’s (figuli) field be bought as a burying place for strangers; we ask, deign Thou to remember this Thy most clement mystery. For Thou, o Lord, art our maker (figulus), Thou the field of our rest, Thou art the price of this field; Thou gavest also and did receive; Thou didst grant us to rest of the price and in the price of Thy life-giving blood. Therefore, o Lord, who art the most clement forgiver of our offenses, a most patient judge, most abundant above all things in the mercy of Thy judgment, that hidest the judgment of Thy just severity behind the mercy of Thy holy redemption, be present to harken to and effect our reconciliation; and of Thy kindness, purify and reconcile this cemetery, the resting place of Thy pilgrims who await the sojourning in the heavenly fatherland; and forbearing condemnation, raise and glorify the bodies of those who are or will be buried here from the power and compassion of Thy resurrection, to the glory of incorruption. Who art to come to judge the living and the dead, and the world in fire. R. Amen. 
The cantors now begin to sing the Litany of the Saints; the bishop enters the church with the clergy, and comes to a faldstool set before altar, where he kneels. After the invocation, “That Thou may deign to grant eternal rest to all the faithful departed”, the bishop rises, and sings the following additional invocations, making the sign of the Cross over the altar, the church and the cemetery at the places marked. (The word ‘cemetery’ is omitted if only the church is being reconciled.)
That Thou may deign to cleanse and recon + cile this church, and this altar and cemetery. R. We ask Thee, hear us.
That Thou may deign to cleanse, recon + cile and sancti + fy this church, and this altar and cemetery. R. We ask Thee, hear us.
That Thou may deign to cleanse, recon + cile, sancti + fy and conse + crate this church, and this altar and cemetery. R. We ask Thee, hear us.
The Litany being finished, the bishop rises and says with the major ministers “Let us pray. Let us kneel. Arise” and the following prayer. (This prayer is not in the Missal of St. Pius V, but is found in some medieval Missals as the collect of the Mass of the Presanctified on Good Friday. It was added to the liturgy of Good Friday in the 1955 reform of Pope Pius XII.)
O God who, by the Passion of Christ, Thy Son, our Lord, didst loosen the bonds of death, that heritage of the ancient sin unto which the whole race of later times did succeed: grant in Thy mercy that we, being conformed to Him, having born the likeness of our earthly parent of nature’s necessity, so by sanctification may bear the likeness of heavenly grace. Through the power of the same Christ our Lord, Thy son. Who liveth etc. R. Amen.
The bishop now makes the so-called Gregorian water, a special form of holy water which is mixed not only with blessed salt, but also blessed ashes and wine. The blessing is done it exactly the same way as it is done during the dedication of a church, from the three-fold “Deus, in adjutorium meum intende” to the concluding prayer, “Almighty, everlasting God, creator and preserver of the human race.” (The encomium of the water with which the blessing ends during the dedication of a church is omitted.)

The bishop then intones the antiphon, “Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered: and let them that hate him flee from before his face,” the first words of psalm 67 Exsurgat Deus. The choir continues it, and then sings the last eleven verses of the same psalm, repeating the antiphon after each verse. (The same chant is used during the dedication of a church, at the consecration of the altar.) While this is sung, the bishop goes around the church three times, sprinkling it with the Gregorian water, first on the upper part of the walls, second, on the lower part, third on the pavement, and especially in the place where act of profanation took place.

He then returns to the sanctuary of the church, and facing the altar, says the following invocation.
Dearest brethren, let us humbly beseech God, that forgiveth crimes, washeth away every pollution, God, who purified the world corrupted by original sins in the glory of His coming; that He may come to us and mightily fight against the snares of the raging devil; so that if anything be stained and corrupted in this place by his cunning, that daily longs for and pursueth man’s destruction, it may be cleansed by the mercy of heaven. For as it belongeth to him to break what is solid and perfect, so belongeth it to our Maker, to restore what is fallen, stay that which swayeth, and purge what is corrupted. Who with the Father and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, God.
This segues into the preface dialogue, and the following preface.
Truly it is fitting and just… : Whose measureless goodness, as it had no beginning, so also shall have no end. Who being full of holiness divine and natural, choose rather to restore in us what has been lost, than to smite what would otherwise perish. And if negligence polluteth anything, or wrath commit offense, or drunkenness disturb, or lust destroy, this, O Lord, Thou bearest with patience and clemency; so that Thou might purify by grace, before Thou strikest in wrath. And caring for the work Thou createst, Thou choose rather to lift up what lieth low, than to punish and condemn. We humbly beseech Thee, o Lord, that Thou may look in peace upon this Thy dwelling place, and by the infusion of heavenly grace purify Thy altar, that hath been polluted by the harm of the pursuing enemy; and having purified it, take possession thereof, and keep it hereafter that it never be stained again. Henceforth let every spiritual wickedness depart and be driven out: let the envy of the ancient serpent be destroyed, and the devil’s throng with all its deceits be driven away. Let him bear away with him the stain which he brought in, and since he is destined to eternal punishments, let him gather the seeds of his works with him, that they may perish. Let the guilt of the contamination which has now passed from this place incur no further harm, let there remain nothing which has been polluted by the fraud of the enemy, since it hath been purified by the infusion of Thy spirit. Let the pure innocence of Thy Church rise again, and the luster of innocence hitherto stained, rise again unto glory, since it hath received Thy grace: and so may the crowds of faithful peoples here assemble, and pouring forth their prayers of petition, know that they have received what they have ask for.
The long conclusion is said in a low voice.

The bishop now goes up to the altar, and intones the antiphon, “I will go in to the altar of God: to God who giveth joy to my youth.” The choir continues it, and then sings Psalm 42 Judica me from which it is taken, without Gloria Patri at the end, and repeats the antiphon. (During the dedication of a church, this is sung at the beginning of the consecration of the altar.) When it is finished, the bishop says with the major ministers “Let us pray. Let us kneel. Arise” and the following prayer. (This prayer is also said at the conclusion of the blessing of a church’s corner-stone, and during the dedication, at the conclusion of the translation of the relics.)
O God, who of Thy clemency and kindness art present in every part of Thy dominion to purify it, hear us, we beseech Thee, and grant that henceforth, the building of this place remain inviolable: and may the society of all the faithful, which Thee imploreth, merit to receive the benefit of Thy favor. (short conclusion.)
The bishop then intones the antiphon “Confirm, o God, what thou hast wrought in us, from Thy holy temple, which is in Jerusalem.” The choir continues it, and then sings the whole of Psalm 67 Exsurgat Deus from which it is taken, with Gloria Patri at the end, and repeats the antiphon. (This is also said towards the end of the dedication of a church, after the consecratory preface.) The bishop then says the following prayer.
Let us pray. O God, who didst call Thy Holy Church, gathered from all the ends of the world, through the wondrous mystery of Thy (wounded) side, the mother of all nations, and didst adorn Her by the merits of Thy holy martyrs, even Her that is represented in the diversity of peoples; bless +, o Lord, we ask Thee, helped by Thee and by the prayers of Thy Saints, both the altar, that is adorned with their relics, and the church, and sanctify the prayers of Thy faithful which they devoutly offer to Thee within it. Who with God the Father… R. Amen.
The bishop then imparts a solemn blessing to the people, and if he wishes, prepares to say Mass; otherwise, he may have another priest say it for him. In either case, the following prayers are added to the Mass of the day, under a single conclusion.
Collect O God, who said ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’, deign Thou to cleanse and sanctify this house that has been contaminated by the filth of the faithless; mercifully hear the prayers and supplications of all who cry out to Thee in this place, and kindly receive them.
Secret May this sacrifice we ask Thee, o Lord, purify this place of all uncleanliness, and render acceptable to Thee always and everywhere our supplications.
Post-communion Receiving o Lord, the gifts of the eternal salvation, we humbly beseech Thee, that this temple and cemetery, cleansed from the contamination of the faithless, may remain sanctified by Thy blessing, and our hearts, separated from all the filth of vice, be ever devoted to Thee.

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