RDCA IV, 27-30: Requisites for the Dedication of an Altar

Part VI wraps up the introduction to the dedication of an altar. Start with a list:

27. For the celebration of the rite the following should be prepared:

  • The Roman Missal;
  • The Lectionary;
  • The Roman Pontifical;
  • the cross and the Book of the Gospels to be carried in the procession;
  • container of water to be blessed and sprinkler;
  • container with the holy chrism;
  • towels for wiping the table of the altar;
  • if needed, a waxen linen cloth or waterproof covering of the same size as the altar;
  • basin and jug of water, towels, and all that is needed for washing the bishop’s hands;
  • linen gremial; brazier for burning incense or aromatic spices;
  • or grains of incense and small candles to burn on the altar;
  • censer, incense boat and spoon;
  • chalice, corporal, purificators, and hand towel;
  • bread, wine, and water for the celebration of Mass;
  • altar cross, unless there is already a cross in the sanctuary, or the cross that is carried in the entrance procession is to be placed near the altar;
  • altar cloth, candles, and candlesticks;
  • flowers, if opportune.

Then we move to vestments:

28. For the Mass of the dedication the vestments are white or of some festive color. The following should be prepared:

  • for the bishop: alb, stole, chasuble, mitre, pastoral staff, and pallium, if the bishop has the right to wear one;
  • for the concelebrating priests: the vestments for concelebrating Mass;
  • for the deacons: albs, stoles, and dalmatics;
  • for other ministers: albs or other lawfully approved dress.

If relics are part of the festivities:

29. If relics of the saints are to be placed beneath the altar, the following should be prepared:

a) In the place from which the procession begins:

  • a reliquary containing the relics, placed between flowers and lights. But as circumstances dictate, the reliquary may be placed in a suitable part of the sanctuary before the rite begins;
  • for the deacons who will carry the relics to be deposited: albs, red stoles, if the relics are those of a martyr, or white in other cases, and, if available, dalmatics.

If the relics are carried by priests, then, in place of dalmatics, chasubles should be prepared. Relics may also be carried by other ministers, vested in albs or other lawfully approved dress.

b) In the sanctuary:

  • a small table on which the reliquary is placed during the first part of the dedication rite.

c) In the sacristy:

  • a sealant or cement to close the cover of the aperture. In addition, a stonemason should be on hand to close the depository of the relics at the proper time.

One last important piece:

30. It is fitting to observe the custom of enclosing in the reliquary a parchment on which is recorded the day, month, and year of the dedication of the altar, the name of the bishop who celebrated the rite, the titular of the church, and the names of the martyrs or saints whose relics are deposited beneath the altar.

A record of the dedication of the church is to be drawn up in duplicate and signed by the bishop, the rector of the church, and representatives of the local community; one copy is to be kept in the diocesan archives, the other in the archives of the church.

That record-keeping is more important than one might think. How many pastors and liturgists out there have actually seen these records if you weren’t involved in the building project yourself? Other thoughts?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, 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.

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