Q+A: Why are we having a Rite of Dedication of a Church and Altar now? What can we expect at the Rite?

Part I

A: Ideally, a new church will have the Rite of Dedication of a Church and Altar performed prior to any Masses being celebrated. However, in cases where this does not occur, the Rite can be performed as long as a new altar has been installed (as you cannot “re-dedicate” an altar) and there have been some sort of additions or alterations to the church (in our case, changes to the sanctuary and the previous addition of stained glass windows).

Bishop Paul will preside over the Rite, concelebrated by the Father Andrew and other priests in attendance. During the introductory rites, the Bishop will bless water and sprinkle the people and the new altar in place of the penitential rite. The Liturgy of the Word has minor variations. Bishop Paul will explain the dedication of the church and the altar in addition to the readings during his homily. In place of the intercessions, the Litany of Saints will be sung.

At this point, the dedication of the church and altar will take place. After the prayer of dedication, the altar and church will be anointed with holy chrism. “The anointing with chrism makes the altar a symbol of Christ, who, before all others, is and is called ‘The Anointed One’; for the Father anointed him with the Holy Spirit and constituted him the High Priest so that on the altar of his body he might offer the sacrifice of his life for the salvation of all. The anointing of the church signifies that it is given over entirely and perpetually to Christian worship.” In our case there will be four anointings (instead of the traditional 12), as a symbol that the church is an image of the holy city of Jerusalem.

To be continued…

Ryan Sales

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