Matters Liturgical: October 2006 Archives

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Proud parents Michael and Kerry Guidone are Benedictine Oblates of the Monastery of the Glorious Cross in Branford, Connecticut. Before the birth of little Michael Mario, Michael and Kerry asked for the Blessing of Expectant Parents; after his birth, Kerry asked for the rite of the Churching of Woman After Childbirth, a sacramental dating back to the fourth century. Essentially, the rite is an office of thanksgiving. The new mother, returning to church forty days after giving birth, is greeting at the door of the church by the priest. Holding a lighted candle in one hand and the end of the priest's stole in the other, she is led to the altar where, kneeling, she receives a special blessing and offers thanksgiving to God for the birth of her child. The text of the rite, as given by Father Weller in his Roman Ritual, follows:

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BLESSING OF A MOTHER AFTER CHILDBIRTH

1. After giving birth to a child a mother may wish to give thanks to God in church for a safe delivery, and to obtain the Church's blessing. This has long been a devout and praiseworthy practice. The priest, vested in surplice and white stole (assisted by a server who carries the aspersory), goes to the threshold of the church. The woman kneels there, holding a lighted candle.

The very fact that the priest goes to meet her and escort her into the church is in itself a mark of respect for the mother, and puts one in mind of a bishop who meets a royal personage or anyone of high rank when the latter comes to a cathedral to attend a solemn function. The rest of the rite speaks for itself; but it may be pointed out that Psalm 23, which the priest recites over the woman, is a psalm of majesty, praise, and gratitude.

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The priest sprinkles her with holy water, saying:

P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.

He then says the following antiphon and begins Psalm 23 which is alternated with the assembly. In some places the Magnificat is recited in place of Psalm 23.

Antiphon: This woman shall receive a blessing from the Lord and mercy from God, her Savior; for she is one of the people who seek the Lord.

Dignum et iustum est

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Terry Nelson at Abbey–Roads, Father Zuhlsdorf at WDPRS, and Father Jim Tucker at Dappled Things discuss with serenity and good sense current speculation on unimpeded use of the traditional Missal.

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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