RDCA IV, 40-48: Word and Dedication

The rest of the rite for the dedication of an altar consists of the Liturgy of the Word (40-42) followed by the extended rituals of dedication and anointings. I won’t belabor the particulars until we get to the dedication prayer, which has not yet appeared in these rites. Please refer to the commentary on RDCA Chapter II, if you wish.

Prayer of Dedication and the Anointings

  • Invitation to Prayer (43)
  • Litany of the Saints and its concluding prayer (44-46)
  • Depositing of the Relics (47)
  • Prayer of Dedication (48)

This is where the chapter IV rite deviates from chapter II, giving an extended prayer. Here, I will depart from the approved rite and provide the 2003 draft translation, which will give you a sense of the text (and spare me from typing out or scanning and editing the prayer currently in use):

We glorify you, Lord, and we bless you,
for by the ineffable sacrament of your love,
you have decreed that the mystery of the altar,
with its many foreshadowings ended,
should be brought to completion in Christ.

Noah, the second father of the human race,
once the waters had receded,
erected an altar to you and offered a sacrifice,
which you, Father, renewing your covenant of love with humankind,
accepted as a fragrant offering. 

Abraham, father of our faith,
clinging with all his heart to your word,
constructed an altar,
so that by not withholding Isaac, his beloved son,
he might be pleasing to you.

Moses too, the mediator of the old Law,
built an altar, which, sprinkling with the blood of a lamb,
would mystically prefigure the altar of the cross. 

All these things, Christ has fulfilled in the paschal mystery:
for by ascending the tree of the cross as priest and victim
he gave himself over to you, Father, as a pure blessing,
by which the sins of the world might be blotted out
and a new and eternal covenant made with you. 

Therefore, Lord, we humbly pray to you:
pour forth your heavenly blessing
upon this altar, built in the house of your Church,
that is may be an altar dedicated for ever
by the sacrifice of Christ,
and stand as the Lord’s table
where your people are refreshed by the divine banquet.
Let this stone, cut and shaped, be for us a sign of Christ,
out of whose pierced side flowed blood and water
from which spring the sacraments of the Church. 

Let it be a table of feasting,
to which the guests of Christ may hasten with joy,
so that, casting on you their cares and burdens,
they main gain new vigor of spirit for the onward journey. 

Let it be a place of profound communion and peace with you,
where those who feed on the Body and Blood of your Son
may be filled with his Spirit and grow in your love. 

Let it be a source of the Church’s unity
and of harmony among its members,
so that your faithful, gathered here as one,
may drink from the spirit of mutual charity. 

Let this altar be the center of our praise and thanksgiving,
until we arrive rejoicing at the eternal dwelling place,
where we will offer you the unending sacrifice of praise
together with Christ, the high Priest and living Altar,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.


Noah, Abraham, and Moses, but not Abel.

Note the “Let” clauses. They are more insistent in the 1978 translation: make. Still, they provide important formation on what the altar is supposed to be: sign of Christ, table of feasting, place of profound communion and peace, source of unity and harmony, center of praise and thanksgiving.

Please offer more substantive commentary, if you wish. What do you see?

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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