8. SOLEMN BLESSING OF A SCHOOL

On a Sunday or feastday chosen by the pastor and the patron and duly announced, the celebrant and the clergy and other assistants assemble in the rectory or other suitable place, where they vest in white vestments. At the appointed time–everything being in order–they march in solemn procession to the church, singing the Litany of the Saints or other sacred hymns; and the church bells are rung. The procession proceeds in the following order: schoolchildren (with one of them carrying their banner), the choir, the subdeacon with the processional cross, the patron or his representative, the rest of the faithful, and lastly the clergy and the ministrants. Having come into church the celebrant kneels on the lowest step of the main altar and intones the “Veni Creator” in the usual way (for the music see the music supplement). If there is no church at the place, the first part of the service is held in the room of assembly and vesting.

Hymn: Veni Creator (for the text of this hymn see Veni Creator)

At the end of the hymn the celebrant chants:

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. Our Father (the rest inaudibly until:)

P: And lead us not into temptation.

All: But deliver us from evil.

P: Lord, heed my prayer.

All: And let my cry be heard by you.

P: The Lord be with you.

All: May He also be with you.

Let us pray.

God, who instructed the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, guide us by your Spirit to desire only what is good and so always to find joy in His comfort.

God, who know the secrets of man’s heart and will, from whom nothing is hidden; chasten our innermost thoughts by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, so that we may perform this blessing in a worthy manner, and thus obtain for your faithful the welfare they seek.

We beg you, Lord, let a breath of your grace prompt our undertakings and guide them along their course, so that our least prayer and work may ever begin in you and end in you; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

P: Let the little children come to me.

All: The kingdom of God belongs to such as these.

Let us pray.

Almighty everlasting God, we humbly beg you to look with favor on your children. Pour out on their hearts the grace of the Holy Spirit, that through Him they may ever be enlightened and instructed in whatever is pleasing to you, and so make progress in wisdom, age, and grace; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.

All: Who made heaven and earth.

Deacon: Let us go forth in peace.

All: In Christ’s name. Amen.

Now the celebrant goes in solemn procession to bless the school. Arriving there he stands outside before the door and chants:

P: May God’s peace be in this school.

All: And in all who assemble here.

He intones the following antiphon. The choir continues with it and the psalm verse and repeats the antiphon at the end. For the music see the music supplement.

Purify me with hyssop, * Lord, and I shall be clean of sin. Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. (Ps. 50.1) Have mercy on me, God, * in your great kindness. V. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. * As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Purify me with hyssop, Lord, and I shall be clean of sin. Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

While this is being sung he sprinkles the outer walls with holy water at least the front. After this he chants:

P: The Lord be with you.

All: May He also be with you.

Let us pray.

Almighty and merciful God, who conferred on your priests above all others so great a grace, that whatever they do worthily and exactly in your name is regarded as being done by you; we pray that in your kindness you may be present wherever we are present and may bless + whatever we bless. And at our lowly coming, through the merits of your saints, may demons flee and the angel of peace be at hand.

Holy Lord, almighty Father, through the intercession of St. Ignatius and St. Aloysius, bless + this building, bless + our coming, bless + our entering here, as you were pleased to bless the home of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; through Christ our Lord. All: Amen.

Now all enter the school. The celebrant goes into the main room and there chants:

P: May God’s peace be in this school.

All: And in all who assemble here.

Accompanied by the choir and clergy the celebrant goes up to the table which is covered with a linen cloth and on which is placed a crucifix and two lighted candles. There he chants the following:

P: Lord, heed my prayer.

All: And let my cry be heard by you.

P: The Lord be with you.

All: May He also be with you.

Let us pray.

Hear us, holy Lord and Father, almighty everlasting God, and in your goodness send your holy angel from heaven to watch over and protect all who assemble in this school, teachers and pupils, to be with them and give them comfort and encouragement; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.
Let us pray.

Lord Jesus Christ, who said to your disciples: “In whatever home you enter, greet it, saying, ‘Peace be in this home'”; let this same peace, we pray, abide in this school and in all who assemble here, teachers and pupils. Shield them, Lord, from all sickness. Inspire the teachers with knowledge, wisdom, and holy fear. Foster their pupils with your grace, so that they may grasp, retain, and put into practice the many salutary and useful lessons they are taught. May it please you, through our lowly ministry, to bless + and to sanctify + this school. Let your angels of light dwell within its walls and stand guard over the teachers and pupils; you who live and reign forever and ever.

All: Amen.

Then the celebrant again intones the antiphon of the “Asperges” as above; and while the choir sings the rest of it he walks around the room and sprinkles it with holy water. Coming back to the table he puts incense in the thurible and blesses it with the words:

Through the intercession of St. Michael the Archangel, who stands at the right of the altar of incense, and that of all the angels, be pleased, Lord, to bless + this incense and to accept it as a fragrant offering; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

After this he takes the thurible and incenses the room. During the incensation the choir sings the following antiphon and psalm verses (for the music see the music supplement):

Antiphon: May this incense blessed by you ascend to you, O Lord, and may your kindness descend upon us.

Psalm 140.2-4

Let my prayer come like incense before you; * the lifting up of my hands, like the evening sacrifice. Lord, set a watch before my mouth, * a guard at the door of my lips. Let not my heart incline to the evil * of engaging in deeds of violence. Glory be to the Father. As it was in the beginning.

After the incensation the celebrant stands before the crucifix and chants:

P: The Lord be with you.

All: May He also be with you.

Let us pray.

We beg you, O Lord, to visit this school and to drive out all wiles of the enemy. Let your holy angels dwell here and keep a peaceful watch over all who assemble here, teachers and pupils, and let your blessing be with them at all times.

Lord, bless + this school, and let there be found here health and holiness, virtue and glory. Let there prevail here a spirit of humility, goodness, mildness, gentleness, docility, fidelity and obedience to your law, and gratitude to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Let this blessing remain here for all time, and let the seven-fold gifts of the Holy Spirit come upon the teachers and pupils; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

The celebrant hangs the cross in a prominent place in the room saying as he does so:

Lord, let the sign of our salvation dominate this building, and forbid entrance here to the avenging angel; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit.

All: Amen.

Then standing before the cross he says:

Let us pray.

Almighty everlasting God, who are in full command of all places under your dominion, and without whose leave nothing occurs; shield this school from all harm, and let no evil power work havoc here. By the power of the holy cross and by the operation of the Holy Spirit may a worthy service be rendered to you in this place, and may a holy freedom abound; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.
Let us pray.

Abide with us, O Lord our God, and be a constant help to those who take refuge in your holy cross; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

Making the sign of the cross with his right hand, the celebrant blesses I the room and all who are present, saying:

May the blessing of almighty God, Father, Son, + and Holy Spirit, come on this school, on all who assemble here, teachers and pupils, and on us all, and remain forever.

All: Amen.

After this all go in solemn procession to the church, where the Mass proper to the day’s office is celebrated. During the procession the children sing hymns and the church bells are rung.