8. RITE FOR CONSECRATING A PORTABLE ALTAR

(From the new Roman Pontifical of 1962)

{The new Pontifical contains the very elaborate form for consecrating an altar when this is done simultaneously with the dedication of a church; another elaborate form when done apart from the dedication of a church; and two more forms for the consecration of a “portable altar” (altare portatile), one a solemn form and the other a simple form. This simple form, according to “Ephemerides Liturgicae” 77 (1963), fasc. V-VI, 409, is to be used, among other instances, instead of the shorter form for consecrating a portable altar granted to bishops only a few years ago; in other words, the last-mentioned is now abrogated. The first two elaborate forms are to be used, except by special indult, only when a bishop consecrates an altar. The new faculties conceded to bishops by Pope Paul VI permit them to delegate priests to consecrate portable altars (see Ephem. Lit. 78 [1964], fasc. II, 154-55). It must be clearly noted, however, as is evident in the rubrics below, that the term “portable altar” does not have its usual restricted meaning in the new Pontifical, but can mean either the entire table of an altar which is already erected in a church, or else an altar-stone which is to be inserted later in another altar. If all this seems hopelessly confusing, one had better consult the SCR for clarification.}

1. The consecration of a portable altar can be done with the solemn or simple form as indicated below. The solemn form is used when the table of an altar already erected in a church is to be solemnly consecrated: “altar portatile”; the simple form when one (or more) altarstone later to be inserted in an altar is to be consecrated “tabula.” The letters printed in italics in the rubrics below refer to the simple form.

2. The solemn consecration of a portable altar is prohibited on the same days that the consecration of a fixed altar is prohibited. But the consecration with the simple form of one or several altarstones can be done on any convenient day and at any hour.

3. The following things are prepared at the place where the consecration takes place: (a) the relics of holy martyrs and the three grains of incense that are to be sealed into the altar should be resting on a white-linen-covered table, between two lighted candles;

(b) holy chrism

(c) a vessel of blessed “gregorian” water and an aspersory; this particular water may be blessed at a more convenient time before this sacred action, by the bishop or by another priest delegated by him, using the form given in the Pontifical:

(d) a thurible with lighted charcoal and the incense-boat and spoon,

(e) towels for wiping the altar or altar-stone;

(f) mortar for sealing the sepulchre for the relics; there should also be at hand a mason, who at the proper time will assist the celebrant in sealing the sepulchre;

(g) a vessel of water for washing the celebrant’s hands, as well as particles of bread and towels;

(h) amice, alb, cincture, and a white stole and cope; a gold- embroidered mitre for a bishop; an amice, alb, and cincture for the deacon and subdeacon, as well as a white stole for the deacon, if the consecration takes place with the solemn form; if the consecration takes place with the simple form, the bishop wears the rochet, white stole, and gold-embroidered mitre; the ministers wear surplices;

(i) morever, if the consecration of a portable altar is done with the solemn form, the following are prepared: five small crosses made of fine candle-wax and grains of incense (these may be blessed before the sacred action) which are to be burned with them; several wooden spatulas for removing this burnt matter from the altar;

(j) when the consecration takes place with the simple form, the altar-stone or altar-stones should be resting on a white-linen- cover. table.

Part I

Blessing of the Altar

4. At the proper time the bishop (or the delegated priest) goes to the sacristy, where he vests with the assistance of the deacon and subdeacon in the aforementioned vestments. If a bishop presides he wears the gold-embroidered mitre and carries the crozier in his left hand.

5. Then, preceded by the acolytes with lighted torches, the cross-bearer, and the clergy, he goes with his ministers to the altar which is to be consecrated. Arriving there (a bishop removes the mitre and the crozier) he sings the following with all present making the responses (for the music see the music supplement):

6. The bishop, wearing the rochet and white stole, stands (without mitre) before the altar-stone to be consecrated, which is resting on table, and says:

Celebrant: God, come to my rescue.

All: Lord, make haste to help me.

C: Glory be to the Father, etc.

All: As it was in the beginning, etc.

{Then the bishop blesses “gregorian” water, unless it was already blessed before the sacred action by the bishop or another priest delegated by him, with the form given in the Pontifical.}

6. The bishop, having put on the mitre, walks around the altar, sprinkling it with “gregorian” water, using an aspersory made of hyssop, and without saying anything. Then, having returned the aspersory, he ascends the altar, and standing on the predella, dips his right thumb in the blessed “gregorian” water and traces five crosses on the altar-table in the manner given in the graph below. While tracing the crosses he says in each instance:

6a. The bishop, standing with the mitre on, dips his right thumb in the blessed “gregorian” water and traces five crosses on the altar-stone, in the manner given in the graph below. While tracing the crosses he says in each instance:

May this stone be hallowed; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit.

Ministers: Amen.

7. If several altars, or several altar-stones, are being consecrated at the same time, the bishop carries out the same actions and words at each of the altars, or altar-stones, successively, the same as he did at the first.

8. In the meantime the choir sings, or the ministers recite, the following antiphon and psalm (for the music see the music supplement):

C: Ant.: I will go to the altar of God, * the God of my gladness and joy.

Psalm 42

During this psalm the choir, if necessary, repeats the antiphon after every two verses:

C: Do me justice, O God, and fight my fight against a faithless people; * from the deceitful and impious man rescue me.

All: For you, O God, are my strength. Why do you keep me so far away? * Why must I go about in mourning, with the enemy oppressing me?

C: Send forth your light and your fidelity; * they shall lead me on and bring me to your holy mountain, to your dwelling-place.

All: Then will I go in to the altar of God, * the God of my gladness and joy.

C: Then will I give you thanks upon the harp, O God, my God! * Why are you so downcast, O my soul? Why do you sigh within me?

All: Hope in God, for I shall again be thanking Him, * in the presence of my Savior and my God.

The usual doxology is omitted, but the above antiphon is repeated.

The psalm is broken off as soon as the celebrant finishes the sprinkling and the above antiphon is repeated as a conclusion.

9. After this the celebrant, standing before the altar, or the altar stone (without mitre), sings the following in the ferial tone:

C: The Lord be with you.

All: May He also be with you.

Let us pray.

God, the Creator of all things visible and invisible, and the consecrator of all that is holy, be pleased to assist at the dedication of this altar of the Lord, and to pour out on it your consecratory and sanctifying power, as we, all unworthy, anoint it with holy chrism. Grant that all who approach this altar in order to pay homage to you may experience your merciful aid; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.
Part II

Burial of the Relics

10. Then the bishop or celebrant (without mitre) reverently places the relics along with the three grains of incense in the sepulchre of the altar or altar-stone. While this is done the choir, as time allows, sings the following antiphons (for the music see the music supplement), or the ministers recite them:

Antiphon 1: You have been favored with places at God’s altar, O saints of God, intercede for us to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Antiphon 2: I saw under the altar of God the souls of those who had been slain, and they cried out: “Why do you not avenge our blood?” And they received the reply from God: “Wait patiently a little longer until the number of your fellow servants is complete.”

Antiphon 3: The bodies of the saints are buried in peace, and their names shall live forevermore.

These antiphons may be repeated if necessary.

11. Meanwhile the mason makes a mortar with the “gregorian” water, which the bishop blesses, saying in a low voice:

C: The Lord be with you.

All: May He also be with you.

Let us pray.

Most High God, the keeper of all things from the highest to the lowest, who encompass all creatures in their inmost being, bless + this mortar; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

12. With the help of the mason the bishop smears the lid with mortar, puts it in place, and seals it on the sepulchre.

13. Then with hands joined the bishop sings the following in the ferial tone:

C: The Lord be with you.

All: May He also be with you.

Let us pray.

God, who fashion an everlasting dwelling-place for yourself out of the chosen saints, bestow heavenly increase on this work done in your name; and grant that we may always be aided by the merits of the saints whose relics we reverently enclose in this altar; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.
Part III

Consecration of the Altar

14. Having put on the mitre the bishop stands on the altar- predella, or before the altar-stone, and dipping his right thumb in holy chrism traces the sign of the cross on the surface of the altar, or on the altar-stone, in the manner indicated in the graph given above. He says in tracing each cross:

May this stone be sealed, hallowed, and consecrated; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit.

Ministers: Amen.

15. While this is being done the choir sings (see the music supplement), or the ministers recite:

C: Ant.: God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellow kings.

During this psalm the choir, if necessary, repeats the antiphon after every two verses:

Psalm 44

C: My heart overflows with a goodly theme; * as I sing my ode to the king, my tongue is nimble as the pen of a skillful scribe.

All: Fairer in beauty are you than the sons of men; grace is poured out upon your lips; * thus God has blessed you forever.

C: Gird your sword upon your thigh, * O mighty one!

All: In your splendor and your majesty * ride on triumphant;

C: In the cause of truth and for the sake of justice; * and may your right hand show you wondrous deeds.

All: Your arrows are sharp; peoples are subject to you; * the king’s enemies lose heart.

C: Your throne, O God, stands forever and ever; * a tempered rod is your royal scepter.

All: You love justice and hate wickedness; * therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellow kings.

C: With myrrh and aloes and cassia your robes are fragrant; from ivory palaces string music brings you joy.* The daughters of kings come to meet you;

All: The queen takes her place at your right hand * in gold of Ophir.

C: Hear, O daughter, and see; turn your ear, * forget your people and your father’s house.

All: So shall the king desire your beauty; * for he is your lord, and you must worship him.

C: And the city of Tyre is here with gifts; * the rich among the people seek your favor.

All: All glorious is the king’s daughter as she enters; * her raiment is threaded with spun gold.

C: In embroidered apparel she is borne in to the king; * behind her the virgins of her train are brought to you.

All: They are borne in with gladness and joy; * they enter the palace of the king.

C: The place of your fathers your sons shall have; * you shall make them princes through all the land.

All: I will make your name memorable * through all generations.

C: Therefore shall nations praise you * forever and ever.

The usual doxology is omitted, but the above antiphon is repeated. If the consecration is finished first the psalm is broken off and the antiphon repeated as a conclusion.

16. The bishop puts incense into the thurible and blesses it: then he incenses the altar, or the altar-stone, while the choir sings (see the music supplement), or the ministers recite, one or several of the following antiphons:

Antiphon 1: The angel came and stood at the altar of the temple, carrying a golden censer.

Antiphon 2: A great quantity of incense was given to him that he might offer it on the golden altar before the throne of the Lord.

Antiphon 3: The smoke of the incense ascended from the angel’s hand to the presence of God.

17. When the antiphons are finished the bishop (without mitre) with hands joined sings the following:

C: The Lord be with you.

All: May He also be with you.

Let us pray.

{The following (i.e., all contained within the brackets) are omitted if the consecration of the altar is done with the simple form.}

We beg you, Lord, let our prayer rise like incense in your sight, and let your Christian people be the recipients of copious favors. Let all who will devoutly offer to you bread and wine for hallowing on this altar or receive the hallowed elements in return experience your help in this life, along with remission of all sins, and finally the grace of everlasting salvation; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

Here the bishop blesses the incense that is to be burned on the altar, unless it was already blessed before the sacred action by the bishop or another priest delegated by him. with the form in the Pontifical.

18. The bishop, having put on the mitre, forms five crosses out of grains of incense on the same five spots where earlier he traced the crosses with the blessed water and the holy chrism. On each one of these he puts one of the crosses made of fine candle- was. The latter are then lighted so that they burn the incense. After this all kneel and the bishop, who is also kneeling (without mitre), intones the following antiphon which is taken up by the choir (for the music see the music supplement):

Antiphon: Come, Holy Spirit, + fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of your love.

19. After the singing all rise, and the bishop (with mitre), facing the people with hands joined, says in a loud voice:

My dear brethren, let us appeal to the mercy of God, the Father almighty, that in the solemn prayer we are about to utter during the present rite, He would sanctify this altar, which is to be dedicated to spiritual sacrifices. May He be pleased ever to bless and to hallow the offerings that will be placed on it by His servants in pledge of their devotion. May He find favor in the incense of the spirit and be ready to hear the petitions of His people.

Then turning back toward the altar and removing the mitre he adds at once:

Let us pray.

Deacon: Let us kneel.

And all, including the bishop, kneel and spend a little time in silent prayer, until the deacon says:

Arise.

Hereupon all rise, and the bishop with hands joined sings the following oration in the ferial tone:

Lord our God, we pray that your Holy Spirit may descend upon this altar, that He may sanctify thereon our and your people’s gifts, and that it may please Him to cleanse the hearts of all who partake of them. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God,

C: Forever and ever.

All: Amen.

C: The Lord be with you.

All: May He also be with you.

C: Lift up your hearts.

All: We have lifted them up to the Lord.

C: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

All: It is fitting and right to do so.

It is indeed fitting and right, worthy and salutary that we should always and everywhere give thanks to you, O Lord, holy Father, almighty everlasting God. For after the offenses that came in the wake of the first fallen man, you instituted figurative sacrifices to be offered in propitiation to you, so that the fault engendered by pride might be expiated by the gifts of a future time, for which purpose altars are consecrated and a temple is dedicated. Hence be present in your inexpressible kindness and mercy, and pour out your precious blessing on this stone, so that by your bounty all who offer sacrifice on it may receive your reward. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever.

All: Amen.

20. And the bishop immediately adds:

C: The Lord be with you.

All: May He also be with you.

Deacon: Let us bless the Lord.

All: Thanks be to God.

21. After the altar or altar-stone has been thoroughly cleansed by the clergy or the ministers, the bishop celebrates Mass on it or he commissions another priest to do so, as convenience dictates.

But if the consecration takes place with the simple form, the bishop gives the blessing and departs.