RDCA II, 48: Sprinkling Rite, Blessing Prayer

A sprinkling rite is designated for the dedication of a church after the conclusion of any form of entrance:

48. When the entrance rite is completed, the Bishop blesses the water for sprinkling the people as a sign of repentance and as a reminder of baptism and for purifying the walls and the altar of the new church. The ministers bring the vessel with water to the Bishop, who stands at the cathedra. The Bishop invites all to pray, in these or similar words:

Brothers and sisters in Christ, in this solemn rite of dedication, let us ask the Lord our God to bless this water created by his hand.

It is a sign of our repentance, a reminder of our baptism, and a symbol of the cleansing of these walls and this altar.

May the grace of God help us to remain faithful members of his Church, open to the Spirit we have received.

The ICEL 2003 text reads a little differently:

Dear brothers and sisters, as we solemnly dedicate this house, let us humbly call upon the Lord our God to bless this water, his creation, by which we shall be sprinkled as a sign of repentance and a memorial of baptism and with which the new walls and altar will be cleansed. May this same Lord support us with his grace so that, attentive to the Spirit whom we have received, we may remain faithful in his Church.

One sentence instead of three. Where before the sprinkling of the walls and altar was seen as symbolic of God’s action, in the new translation, it is brought out clearly that the sprinkling itself is the cleansing action

The text of the blessing is akin to the one used at the Easter Vigil, with a few extra allusions. Here is the 2003 prayer:

O God, through whom every creature
comes forth into the light of life,
you accompany human beings with such great love
that not only do you nourish them with fatherly care
but with the due of charity
you mercifully cleanse them of their sins
and constantly lead them back to Christ their Head.

In your plan of mercy you have established
that sinners who descend into the sacred waters
shall rise free from guilt, having died with Christ,
and be made members of Christ
and co-heirs of an eternal reward.

Sanctify + therefore with your blessing
this water you have created,
that, sprinkled on us and on the walls of this church,
it may be a sign of the saving waters,
whereby we are washed in Christ
and made the temple of your Spirit.

Grant that,
with all our brothers and sisters
who will celebrate the divine mysteries in this church,
we may come at last to the heavenly Jerusalem.

Through Christ our Lord.

Just so you know, the original Latin of this rite was not updated from the 1977/78 incarnation, unlike RCIA, funerals, and the pastoral care rites. And the Mass, of course. This English prayer is a bit more flowery, and presumably more faithful to the Latin original. Since the purpose of this series is not to analyze different configurations of ICEL, I’m confining my remarks to the general thrust of the text.

It’s a classic berakah structure infused with the actions of the Trinity. The bishop recalls the accompaniment of the Father and the tender compassion (Psalm 103 among many other passages) shown to his people. The second part suggests the Paschal Mystery as the apex of the salvation of humankind. The third calls upon the Holy Spirit. In the fourth section, the bishop makes one petition that points to two futures: those who will worship God in the new church, and the end of our pilgrimage in heaven.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in Rite of Dedication of a Church and an Altar, Rites. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to RDCA II, 48: Sprinkling Rite, Blessing Prayer

  1. I find it beautiful how the invitation to prayer and the prayer of blessing are rooted in baptism linking together repentance, cleansing, and our future hope.

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