RDCA II, 79-82: Inauguration of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel

Numbered sections 53-56 in Chapter II outline the events to take place during the Liturgy of the Word. Before the first word of scripture is uttered, the bishop has something to say:

79. The inauguration of a chapel where the blessed sacrament is to be reserved, is carried out appropriately in this way: after Communion the pyx containing the blessed sacrament is left on the table of the altar. The Bishop goes to the chair, and all pray silently for a brief period. Then the  Bishop says the following prayer after Communion:

Let us pray.

Pause for silent prayer, if this has not preceded.

through these gifts
increase the vision of your truth in our minds.

May we always worship you in your holy temple,
and rejoice in your presence with all your saints.

Grant this through Christ our Lord.


80. When the prayer is completed, the bishop returns to the altar, genuflects, and incenses the blessed sacrament. Afterward, when he has received the humeral veil, he takes the pyx, which he covers with the veil itself. Then a procession is formed in which, preceded by the crossbearer and with lighted torches and incense, the blessed sacrament is carried through the main body of the church to the chapel of reservation. As the procession proceeds, the following antiphon is sung with Psalm 147:12-20:

Praise the Lord, Jerusalem.

Another appropriate song may be sung.

81. When the procession comes to the chapel of reservation, the bishop places the pyx on the altar or in the tabernacle, the door of which remains open. Then he puts incense in the censer, kneels, and incenses the blessed sacrament. Finally, after a brief period during which all pray in silence, the deacon puts the pyx in the tabernacle or closes the door. A minister lights the lamp, which will burn perpetually before the blessed sacrament.

82. If the chapel where the blessed sacrament is reserved can be seen clearly by the congregation, the bishop immediately imparts the blessings of the Mass (cf. below, no. 84). Otherwise the procession returns to the sanctuary by the shorter route, and the bishop imparts the blessing either at the altar or at the chair.


What do you make of the terminology of “inauguration”? Also, that there is no explicit “blessing” of a tabernacle–nothing that approaches the treatment of the altar and walls of the church? Jeffery noted not much given for the blessing/inauguration of the altar. Perhaps there was the desire to keep the rite as streamlined as possible. If that was the thought, we’d have to note the repeated strong symbols used in the dedication rite: oil, water, incense, and light.

In the 2003 edition, the vessel is described as a ciborium, not a pyx. While we know pyxes come in various sizes, what do you make of the prescription for a vessel that suggests something smaller rather than a ciborium?

Your thoughts?


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Rite of Dedication of a Church and an Altar, Rites. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to RDCA II, 79-82: Inauguration of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel

  1. David Gregory says:

    I suspect the lack of specific blessing for the tabernacle goes back to the Ritual’s insistence that the act of dedicating the entire church blesses everything inside not just those specific things that are blessed, hence no particular blessing for the tabernacle. There may also be some of the blessing by contact in place.

    The reformed rites seem to place a strong emphasis on blessing by contact with the Eucharist (i.e the blessing of Chalice and Paten) and so the very presence of the Eucharist may be thought of as blessing the tabernacle.

    For comparison the Blessing of a Tabernacle from the Book of Blessings, is not much longer or elaborate. Following the general intercessions at mass, there is a short blessing (about the length of an average collect) followed by the incensing of the empty tabernacle (in the dedication ritual the entire church is incensed, so that part could be easily included). At the end of the mass there is a procession that is the same as the one described below with a proper solemn blessing.

    As to the ciborium vs. pyx, I’m not sure the use of a pyx makes much sense. A pyx is so small, that it lacks much value as a sign. Many people won’t be able to even see that the bishop is carrying it as it will be wrapped up in the veil. Interestingly in the ritual for the blessing of tabernacle the choice is given between a pyx or a ciborium.

    The only possible reason I can see for a pyx would be the make the connection between reservation of the Eucharist and it’s use for the the sick and Viaticum. Generally, the sick will receive from a Pyx and it could be that they intended to remind people that was one of the purposes of the reserved Eucharist. Indeed, the pre-Vatican II ritual for communion of the sick did assume a procession with the pyx, which is the only other example of the use of a pyx in a procession I can think of. But that theory is purely speculation on my part.

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