Protestants question on Roman Ritual and Book of Blessings differences

I was wondering if there was a change in philosophy during Vatican II in relation to how the RCC does blessings. I ask because as one outside of Catholicism, yet interested in it’s theology, I have both the pre-Vat II Roman ritual and the new Book of blessings. I noticed quite a shift in substance, to the point where I found I could use most everything in the new book in a Baptist church, as they would never know where it came from, and yet would never be able to get away with using the older rites. For example, in the older blessing of Holy Water (which would never go over well in a Baptist church, but this was the first most dramatic example I could think of), there is an exorcism and then various blessings directed at the salt/water. The new one omits the exorcism and the blessings are focused at those who will use it. Most of the other liturgies for blessings felt almost “at home” for me as a Protestant. So my question is, did Catholic theology change? Or am I misinterpreting what was going on under the Roman Ritual and what is going on under the new Book of Blessings?

I’ll go ahead and apologize if I opened up a can of worms :wink:

I assume you’re looking at the English translation of the Book of Blessings? Sometimes there’s a bit of a…disconnect between the official Latin text and it’s English translation. (This is because of serious problems within the Church that are probably of little interest to non-Catholics.)

If you could find a literal English translation of the Latin somewhere, you might be surprised at the difference. :thumbsup:

Actually it is English. My Latin is bad, I can stumble through simple sentences with a dictionary, but nothing like reading the De Benedictibus. Honestly, I am interested in why the difference with America and Vatican when it comes to the translation then. If you wouldn’t mind enlightening me as to the issue, I would like to know. I always pray for the unity Christians and so all Christian issues are of interest to me, even with other denominations. Even if we’re “separated brethren” as far as I’m concerned your problems are my problems if we’re all part of the body of Christ (in my ecclesiology!).

[quote=Knight4God]I was wondering if there was a change in philosophy during Vatican II in relation to how the RCC does blessings. I ask because as one outside of Catholicism, yet interested in it’s theology, I have both the pre-Vat II Roman ritual and the new Book of blessings. I noticed quite a shift in substance, to the point where I found I could use most everything in the new book in a Baptist church, as they would never know where it came from, and yet would never be able to get away with using the older rites. For example, in the older blessing of Holy Water (which would never go over well in a Baptist church, but this was the first most dramatic example I could think of), there is an exorcism and then various blessings directed at the salt/water. The new one omits the exorcism and the blessings are focused at those who will use it. Most of the other liturgies for blessings felt almost “at home” for me as a Protestant. So my question is, did Catholic theology change? Or am I misinterpreting what was going on under the Roman Ritual and what is going on under the new Book of Blessings?

I’ll go ahead and apologize if I opened up a can of worms :wink:
[/quote]

The decree of promulgation from the Congregation for Divine Worship, 31 May 1984, reads in part that, “The celebration of blessings holds a privileged place among all the sacramentals created by the Church for the pastoral benefit of the people of God. . . . In ordering the reform of the sacramentals, Vatican II decreed that in their celebration special attention should be given to the full, conscious, and active participation of the faithful and that any elements should be eliminated in the course of time had obscured the true nature and purpose of sacramentals.”

The English translation (an ICEL work*) of the USCCB version also contains certain new blessings prepared and approved for the USA.

However, the Book takes cognizance of the offices in the Church however in a way that I do not suspect a Baptist ecclesial community would. The ability to properly exercise the ministry of blessings is regulated hierarchically. The texts of the blessings indicate when they may be given by a bishop, priest, or deacon, and when they may be given by lay members of the Christian faithful (acolytes, readers, and then other laity, such as parents for their children, etc). Some proper pastoral formation and prudence in the apostolate is required when the laity bless. Their exercise of this ministry is attached to the universal priesthood in the document. But even then some function in special liturgical ministry or particular charge in the Church is presumed.

The formularies for the conferral of a blessing by a lay person are different from those used by a cleric. Most obviously, a lay person blesses him or herself, whereas a cleric makes the sign of the cross upon the recipient or the object.

As to the case of holy water, the emphasis was returned to the purifying and regenerative aspects of Baptism by which one is incorporated into Christ and his Church. If you are inclined to go there, I recently posted remarks at forum.catholic.org/viewtopic.php?t=33155 about this.

Sacramentals cannot be detached from those who use them. Consequently, most blessings associated with things, such as articles for religious devotion, are also called upon the user.

*I am not aware that the Book of Blessings was a particular point in controversary, but certainly there were issues with translations and the Mass. The dialogue between the Vatican and English translators is something that others are better prepared to address.

[quote=Knight4God]Actually it is English. My Latin is bad, I can stumble through simple sentences with a dictionary, but nothing like reading the De Benedictibus. Honestly, I am interested in why the difference with America and Vatican when it comes to the translation then. If you wouldn’t mind enlightening me as to the issue, I would like to know. I always pray for the unity Christians and so all Christian issues are of interest to me, even with other denominations. Even if we’re “separated brethren” as far as I’m concerned your problems are my problems if we’re all part of the body of Christ (in my ecclesiology!).
[/quote]

Well, the uncharitable explanation is that for years the ICEL (International Commission on English in the Liturgy) was dominated by a bunch of tin-eared bureaucrats. And, being a committee, they acted as a committee (trying to come to “consensus” instead of creating the best possible translation) and the result is the less than edifying English of the Mass we have today. Plus, they’ve allowed certain peculiar ideologies to influence their work.

Like the poster above noted, I am not aware of controversy over the Book of Blessings translation, but there’s been much discussion about the Mass translation. And since both are produced by the ICEL, I assume the issues are similair.

For more info on ICEL and the translation problems, click here and here. Also, Archbishop Hughes has a wonderful quotation here which sums up nicely what I was trying to say above:

“The work, you may imagine, is slow and tedious. But it is important that we move beyond the hastily developed translations adopted in 1975. Those translations paraphrased much of the Latin originals and, in the process, lost some of the richness of the Roman Liturgy. Thus, variety was too often favored over consistency. Creativity sometimes trumped fidelity. Superficial contemporary expression sometimes robbed the prayer text of its depth. As a result, the truly sacred language of the Roman Liturgy and the rich doctrinal content became lost in an English rendition which was more secular and less profound. This has impacted the sense of awe and mystery which the Liturgy should always engender in participants.”

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