Over the next several weeks, we’ll examine the first of the “mark II” ICEL translations from the 1980′s, the Roman ritual for Pastoral Care of the Sick, subtitled, “Rites of Anointing and Viaticum.”
As most liturgy geeks know by now, after Vatican II, all of the liturgical rites of the Church were speedily revised, and most of that was done decently enough. As the world’s bishops embraced the vernacular in the years after the council, translations were rushed into place. These are acknowledged by all as less successful from an artistic or “faithfulness” view. But they were all seen as a temporary measure–a decade or two at the most–until serious revisions could be completed, and a period of experimentation and evaluation had progressed.
As a first result of this time of assessment, the pastoral care rites were promulgated in 1982, and Roman Catholics were given until the first of January 1984 to implement fully.
There’s a good bit in the document, as we’ll see. Naturally, there is a general introduction of 41 sections. This section is to the rites of anointing and viaticum as the GIRM is to the celebration of Mass. It tells the clergy and people how to celebrate these rituals and gives a good dose of liturgical law as it applies to these rites.
Then we have Part I, Pastoral Care of the Sick, covering, in turn, an introduction (42-53), visits to the sick (54-61), visits to a sick child (62-70), and Communion of the sick in both long form and short form (71-96). You may remember we touched upon Communion to the sick here at Catholic Sensibility earlier this year as part of the series on Holy Communion and the Worship of the Eucharist outside of Mass. We’ll look at it in a bit more detail when we hit sections 71-96 later this Fall.
Anointing of the Sick, within Mass and otherwise is covered in sections 97-160.
Part II treats Pastoral Care of the Dying and includes an introduction (161-174), the celebration of Viaticum (175-211) within Mass and otherwise, the Commendation of the Dying (212-222), Prayers for the Dead (223-231), and Rites for Exceptional Circumstances (232-296).
Part III provides “readings, responses, and verses from Sacred Scripture.”
That’s the outline for what we’ll cover. Hang in there with us; these are important rites a priest uses weekly and hospital chaplains sometimes daily. Lay people participate in these as sacramental recipients and sometimes as leaders. We all get sick, almost all of us seriously so at some time in our life. Someday we all will die. These rites are intended to assist believers during those times when we are wrenched from good health and the ordinary conduct of our lives to a place where our physical bodies fail us. The Church intends that this failure does not sink hooks into our spiritual life as well. In fact, the onset of serious illness, old age, and death is an opportunity to unite ourselves more intimately with Christ and the Paschal Mystery.