RDCA VI: Blessing of an Altar

If you’ve been following this rite with us, some of these considerations have already been addressed in the rites for dedicating a church (RDCA, chapter II) and the dedication of an altar (chapter IV). There is a seven-section introduction for the blessing of an altar, which gives details on the proper distinctions to be made for movable altars:

1. ‘A fixed altar is one so constructed that it is attached to the floor so that it cannot be moved; a movable altar can be transferred from place to place.’ (GIRM 298)

A fixed altar is to be dedicated according to the rite described in chapter four. A movable altar also deserves religious respect because it is a table set aside solely and permanently for the eucharistic banquet. Consequently, before a movable altar is put to use, if it is not dedicated, it should at least be blessed with the following rite. (cf. GIRM 300)

2. A movable altar may be constructed of any solid material that the traditions and culture of different regions determine to be suitable for liturgical use. (cf. GIRM 301)

3. To erect a movable altar what is laid down in the Introduction to chapter four, nos. 6-10, is to be followed, with the necessary modifications. However, it is not permissible to place the relics of saints in the base of a movable altar.

4. It is appropriate that a movable altar be blessed by the bishop of the diocese or by the priest who is rector of the church.

5. A movable altar may be blessed on any day, except Good Friday and Holy Saturday. 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.

6. In the rite of blessing a movable altar the Mass is the Mass of the day.

7. The altar should be left bare until the beginning of the liturgy of the eucharist. Hence a cross (if need be), and altar cloth, candles, and everything else necessary to prepare the altar should be on hand at a convenient place in the sanctuary.

The rubrics, texts, and ritual directions contained in the rite itself (8-13) are virtually identical to what we saw in the Blessing of a Church (Chapter V, 20-25).

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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.

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