At the end of yesterday’s post, I offered an outline of the Rite for Laying of a Foundation Stone, mentioning the two options provided in RCDA I, 9. In today’s post, we will review the first option:
Approach to the Construction Site
A. First Form: Procession
- Brief Introduction
RDCA I, 10 is a rubric that instructs that ”the people assemble in a suitable place, from which they will go in procession to the site.”
I, 11 instructs that the bishop has set aside miter and pastoral staff. It provides the first ritual greeting from Mass (MR1, by the way–this rite dates to 1977-78, remember), but it also permits the bishop this:
Other suitable words taken preferably from sacred Scripture may be used.
I would assume a sense of good liturgy prevails here; any “other words” would invoke the response “and with your spirit.” This is a greeting, not an introduction–yet.
I, 12 provides that the bishop “briefly” instruct the people on “their participation” and “explain … the meaning of the rite.” Remember that a homily is to follow later, so that an extended link between the Scriptures and this rite will be offered later. What would be the optimal brevity? Three sentences, more or less, I would think.
A prayer in the form of a collect is given in I, 13.
14. When the bishop has finished the prayer, he receives the miter and pastoral staff, and, should the occasion demand, the deacon says:
Let us go forth in peace.
The procession takes place in the usual way: the crossbearer leads between two servers with lighted torches; the clergy follow, then the bishop with the assisting deacons and other ministers, and lastly, the congregation. As the procession proceeds, the following antiphon is sung with Psalm 84:
My soul is yearning for the courts of the Lord (alleluia).
Another appropriate song may be sung.
Then the reading of the word of God takes place as described below in nos. 18-22.
And with that, we’ll pause for commentary …
Note the use of the miter and crozier. The staff especially is used when the bishop leads the people physically from the gathering place to the construction site.
Torches are a better choice than mere candles.
A note on the music here … Exterior processions seem to demand music with rhythm, to have a better opportunity for people unaccustomed to singing outdoors to keep together. I don’t necessarily mean instruments, but a selection that has a natural rhythm. With utilizing a psalm, I might suggest careful planning and the placement of “stationary” psalmists along the way, perhaps three or four. Singing the entire psalm is optimal. The imagery is excellent throughout, and I especially like the second half of verse 12:
The LORD withholds no good thing
from those who walk without reproach.
The rite allows for “another appropriate song,” but my own strong preference would be for the 84th psalm, whole and entire. If the procession were especially long, maybe add Psalm 100, or 127. I think I would avoid 122 or 24. I think there’s no excuse on not having a setting in the parish repertoire. At bare minimum, sing an excellent rhythmic alleluia (surely there is one of these …) and use the chanted verses of the psalm.
Tomorrow, form two. But for now, any other thoughts from you readers?