What differentiates between a church dedication and a blessing? Today’s post will cover it. Chapter V of the RDCA addresses the rite for blessing a church. The introduction is fairly brief and we’ll cover it today. The rites themselves should take three posts and cover sections 8 through 28 of this chapter.
1. Since sacred edifices, that is, churches, are permanently set aside for the celebration of the divine mysteries, it is right for them to receive a dedication to God. This is done according to the rite in chapters two and three for dedicating a church, a rite impressive for its striking ceremonies and symbols.
Oratories, chapels, or other sacred edifices set aside only temporarily for divine worship because of special conditions, more properly receive a blessing, according to the rite described below.
Doubtless, there are situations that fall into the gray area. Ultimately, the bishop would be part of the discernment here, since you can’t have a dedication (ordinarily) without one.
For a church blessing, it is still important to form the people:
2. As to the structure of the liturgy, the choice of a titular, and the pastoral preparation of the people, what is said in the Introduction to chapter two, nos. 4-5, 7, 20, is to be followed, with the necessary modifications.
The bishop presides, or, may delegate a presbyter:
A church or an oratory is blessed by the bishop of the diocese or by a priest delegated by him.
A Sunday is preferred:
3. A church or an oratory may be blessed on any day, apart from the Easter triduum. As far as possible a day should be chosen when the people can be present in large numbers, especially a Sunday, unless pastoral considerations suggest otherwise.
I suppose a religious community might make a case for a day other than Sunday.
4. On days mentioned in the Table of Liturgical Days, nos. 1-4, the Mass is the Mass of the day; but on other days the Mass is either the Mass of the day or the Mass of the titular of the church or oratory.
5. For the rite of the blessing of a church or an oratory all things needed for the celebration of Mass are prepared. But even though it may have already been blessed or dedicated, the altar should be left bare until the beginning of the liturgy of the eucharis!. In a suitable place in the sanctuary the following also should be prepared:
- container of water to be blessed and sprinkler;
- censer, incense boat and spoon;
- The Roman Pontifical;
- 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, candlesticks, and flowers, if opportune.
6. When at the same time as the church is blessed the altar is to be consecrated, all those things should be prepared that are listed in chapter four, no. 27 and no. 29, if relics of the saints are to be deposited beneath the altar.
7. For the Mass of the blessing of a church the vestments are white or some festive color. The following should be prepared:
- for the bishop: alb, stole, chasuble, mitre, pastoral staff;
- for a priest: the vestments for celebrating Mass;
- 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.
Other comments? This seems fairly straightforward. Do you know of churches that have been blessed but should have been dedicated instead?