From a deacon reader:
I very much enjoy your blog!
You have written much on the power and effectiveness of Holy Water blessed according to the old rite (which includes salt) [NB: I don't believe I have ever written that I think Holy Water blessed with the newer rite is not actually Holy Water. I, however, have never used newer form to "bless" Holy Water. FWIW.]
Can a Permanent Deacon use the old rite to bless Holy Water?
Or is that reserved for the Priest?
I know you have said a “Deacon is a Deacon is a Deacon” and I agree with you.
However, I do not know what rites/blessings are allowed for Deacons under the Extraordinary Form.
Where can I find this information?
This information is found at the beginning of Titulus IX entitled De benedictionibus in the Rituale Romanum. Here you will find the general rules. Rule 1 says, in Weller’s translation, “Deacons and lectors may confer only those blessings which are expressly allowed them by law, in so far as both validity and liceity are concerned.”
The old rite for blessing Holy Water speaks about the sacerdos, which means bishop or priest. It does not mean deacon. This is probably because the blessings include the exorcism of salt and of water, before they are blessed. When you tangle with the Enemy, you want the ontological character of sacramental priesthood. If a rare deacon would baptize in the older rite, he would use water that had been blessed already.
I surmise that deacons cannot bless Holy Water with the older form, even though the newer books may let them do so (De benedictionibus 1087). The reason why deacons can “bless” the water in the new book is because, so far as I can tell from a close reading of the Latin text, at no point does the celebrant actually bless the water. He talks about the blessings God could give people who use it, but the rite does not actually specify that the water be blessed. If someone can show me that I am wrong, can point to the word or gesture I am missing, I will happily be corrected.
The new, dreadful, De benedictionibus – let it be swept away and forgotten – changes the theology of blessings in a way hitherto unimagined. In a nutshell, the new, post-Conciliar book eliminates – horribile scriptu – the distinction between invocative and constitutive blessings. The “blessings” in the new book don’t really bless things in the same way that the older ritual intended to bless things. They talk in a vague way about God’s favor on those who might walk nearby or use the thing.
So, when we talk about the new laws allowing deacons to “bless” certain things, I think we have to read the text carefully and make a decision based on the intention of the blessing.