QUAERITUR: Old Rituale Romanum and “churching” of women

From a deacon:

May God Bless you for your work. I will be traveling home for
Thanksgiving break to Baptize my twin brother’s newborn son. He and
his wife are faithful, traditional Catholics. I was wondering if it is
still possible to celebrate for his wife the Churching of Women (or
the “Blessing of a Mother after Childbirth”), perhaps before the
Baptism? I’m assuming Summorum Pontificum expanded use of the older Blessings as well. But the new Book of Blessings, n. 237, says, “But the blessing after childbirth provided here is intended only for a mother who was unable to take part in the celebration of her child’s baptism.” And n.
257 indicates that there is a blessing of the mother at the end of the
Rite of Baptism, there n. 105 (but it is not quite the same). Can the
old Blessing still be done? If so, can a deacon do it?

Yes, the older Rituale Romanum can be used for the churching of women after childbirth.   Pastors may use the Rituale Romanum.

I am not sure that this can be delegated to a deacon.  The Rituale says “priest” throughout.  I think it must be done by a priest.

Furthermore, I hope that one of the results of the “gravitational pull” created by Summorum Pontificum, is that the “Book of Blessings” (a misnomer, since most of the prayers in the book don’t actually bless anything) gets pulled into a black hole and is never seen again.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. Geoffrey says:

    I hope the Book of Blessings will be revised. There are lots of wonderful “blessings” in there that aren’t in the Extraordinary Form. They just need to be… rewritten?

  2. matt1618 says:

    Thank you for answering my question Father. Because the older form of this blessing only indicates a priest, I may just use the newer form as n. 238 says that “the present order may be used by a priest, a deacon, or a lay minister (!)” I’ll just avail myself, reluctantly, of the “or similar words” clause and leave out the few words that refer to the child’s baptism having already been celebrated. I won’t make that a habit!

  3. greasemonkey says:

    I think that “prest” is used in the EF Rituale, because in illo tempore the deacons were transitional (ie all in seminary) and were not commonly found in parish work.
    I think that deacons need to start stepping up to the liturgical plate. Church that woman, that’s what I say!

  4. I think the Book of Blessings ought to be left on the shelf.

  5. GirlCanChant says:

    I think the Book of Blessings ought to be left on the shelf.

    You mean the Book of Wishes, right, Father? ;-)

    We had a churching earlier this year at my parish. It was quite beautiful.

  6. liebemama says:

    But what is the alternative to the Book of Blessings for the family home at this point in time?

  7. Trisagion says:

    As a deacon, I have had cause to ask about using rituals from the Rituale Romanum, where it stipulates a priest. His view was that the current discipline applies to the older form and so a deacon may, in most cases, be the minister (subject to the consent of the Parochus) unless the rite involves an act dependent upon a strictly priestly power. I have, accordingly used the Rituale for a number of ritual actions. I don’t think their is anything in the rite of Churching which requires sacerdotal potestas but if you are in doubt, perhaps this indicates the need to submit a dubium to the Ecclesia Dei commission.

  8. Geoffrey says:

    “I think the Book of Blessings ought to be left on the shelf.”

    I don’t think that will happen for another generation at least! There is no blessing for an Advent Wreath in the Extraordinary Form, correct? So both books should be edited!

  9. TMA says:

    It is a very powerful thing when the priest places the edge of his stole on the shoulder of the new mother to lead her into the church. Our priests use their stole for other blessings, as well, throughout the year. May deacons use the stole this way?

  10. dominic1955 says:

    There is no point in using the Book of Wishes because it includes things the Rituale doesn’t because the priest can always avail himself of the general blessing in the Rituale. Something doesn’t have to be specifically mentioned in order to be blessed.

    Actually, sometimes when blessings get to specialized they get dated really fast, like some of the things in the most recent (1950ish) Rituale that will probably never be used again because of their obsolete technology.

  11. Supertradmum says:

    The Churching of Women may be had at the Latin Mass community where I live, but only done by a priest, which is in the book. I do not understand why anyone would want to change this.

  12. kat says:

    Geoffrey said:
    “I don’t think that will happen for another generation at least! There is no blessing for an Advent Wreath in the Extraordinary Form, correct? So both books should be edited!”

    Our priest blesses the Advent wreath each year; and the manger scene at Christmas, and Our Lady’s crown at May Crowning, all using the older forms. If there’s no specific blessing, I’m sure he just uses the general one. We have blessing of religious articles every 1st Sunday of the month, for those who have things they need blessed.

    Deacons cannot give blessings, correct? I think the priest blessed me every time I was churched (which we do immediately after the Baptisms). But I don’t know if that was extra at the end, or part of the ritual. If it was part of the ritual, then a deacon could not do it, could he?

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  14. Trisagion says:

    Kat you say, ‘Deacons cannot give blessings, correct?’ Not so: incorrect. Deacons can give many blessings including those within the office and blessing solemnly with the Most Blessed Sacrament during Benediction. The condition always being ‘in the absence of a priest’. The Rituale Romanum has all kinds of blessings, including some that can be given even by those only in minor orders. With the proper delegation, deacons can even give the solemn form of the Nuptial Blessing. So I return to my earlier point: do we need to submit a dubium?

  15. kat says:

    Thanks Trisagion, that’s why I put it in question form!

  16. shane says:

    I am constantly getting told by older people about how pregnant women had to be ‘purified’ after pregnancy in pre-V2, as if they were unclean from the pregnancy and needed to be cleansed by the priest’s petititions. There seems to have been some serious misconceptions about this ritual.

  17. BLB Oregon says:

    Two questions:
    The Catholic encyclopedia citations states in part: “Only a Catholic woman who has given birth to a child in legitimate wedlock, provided she has not allowed the child to be baptized outside the Catholic Church, is entitled to it. It is not a precept, but a pious and praiseworthy custom (Rituale Romanum), dating from the early Christian ages, for a mother to present herself in the Church as soon as she is able to leave her house (St. Charles Borromeo, First Council of Milan), to render thanks to God for her happy delivery, and to obtain by means of the priestly blessing the graces necessary to bring up her child in a Christian manner.”
    1) “Entitled” seems an odd choice of words when seeking a blessing. Does that imply that a right to receive this blessing exists? If so, under what circumstances do the faithful have a right to receive blessings?
    2) Is the requirement that the woman gave birth within wedlock still in effect, or is this decided at the discretion of the priest? Considering the contemporary pressure for unmarried women to undergo abortions when they become pregnant, it would seem that the desire to be thankful for the child and ask for help in raising the child a Christian would be praiseworthy even in a mother who was not married when she conceived, provided that she is not obstinately keeping herself in a living situation that is incompatible with chastity at the time of the blessing, or something of that nature. It seems as if it might increase pressure on unmarried pregnant women to rush to marry, which does not seem appropriate.

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