THE ROMAN RITUAL
PART I. GENERAL RULES FOR ADMINISTERING THE SACRAMENTS
1. The rites and ceremonies
of the sacraments prescribed in this book, based as they are on ancient
usage, the sacred canons of the Catholic Church, and on decrees of the
popes, should be regarded with due understanding and reverence, and
faithfully observed everywhere. Thus it is fitting above all to know
and consider what the Sacred Council of Trent (Sess. VII, Can. XIII)
has decreed about these rites, namely:
2. "If anyone says that the
received and approved rites of the Catholic Church, wont to be used in
the solemn administration of the sacraments, may be contemned, or
arbitrarily omitted by the ministers without sin, or be changed into
other new ones at the option of any pastor of the churches: let him be
3. Since in God's Church
nothing is holier, loftier, more beneficial, or more divine than the
sacraments instituted by Christ the Lord for the salvation of mankind,
let every pastor, in fact, every priest to whom pertains their
administration, bear uppermost in mind that he is dealing with holy
things, and that he must be prepared almost every moment to discharge
this sacred office.
4. Therefore, let him ever
be solicitous about leading a blameless, a chaste, and holy life. For
even though the sacraments cannot be sullied by the unclean nor their
effects impeded through an evil minister, yet they who administer them
while unworthy and unclean are guilty of grievous sin. Should a priest
be conscious of mortal sin (which God forbid), let him not dare to
administer the sacraments without first disposing himself through
sincere contrition. Moreover, if there is sufficient opportunity for
confession, and if time and place allow, he ought to go to confession.
5. No matter at what hour
day or night he is called upon to dispense the sacraments, let him
exercise his sacred ministry without delay, especially in urgent cases.
On this account he will take frequent occasion to advise his people
that they should call him immediately for such ministration, regardless
of the hour or any inconvenience whatsoever.
6. Before he proceeds to
exercise this office, he should if possible spend a little time in
prayer and reflection on the sacred act he is about to perform; and he
should review the ceremony and rubrics as time permits.
7. Every time he
administers the sacraments he will be vested in surplice and stole of
the proper color as the rite requires. Exception is made for the
sacrament of penance, where conditions of time, place, or custom may
8. He will be assisted by
at least one cleric, if possible, or by several as the nature of the
sacrament or circumstance of place will dictate. The latter should wear
a proper garb and also the surplice.
9. He will take care that the sacred vessels, vestments, linens, and other requisites be kept clean and in good condition.
10. As the Council of Trent
prescribes, he will use the opportunity afforded at the administration
of the sacraments to explain with diligence their power, efficacy, and
use, as well as the signification of the ceremonies, whenever this can
conveniently be done, basing the instruction on the teaching of the
holy fathers and on the Roman catechism.
11. When he dispenses any
sacrament he will pronounce attentively, distinctly, reverently, and
clearly all words pertaining to its form and administration. Likewise
he should say all other prayers with devotion, not trusting to memory
which often fails, but reciting everything from the book. And he should
perform the ceremonies and rites with such solemn demeanor that those
who assist thereat will be attentive and duly edified.
12. As he is about to
administer a sacrament, let him be intent on what he is about to do,
avoiding unnecessary conversation with another. And during the
administration itself he should endeavor to have actual or at least
virtual attention, intending to do what the Church does in the matter.
13. Especially, he should
sedulously avoid, directly or indirectly, any impression of seeking or
demanding gain from dispensing the sacraments. But let him do so
gratuitously, absolutely immune from the crime or even suspicion of
simony or avarice. If after the sacrament has been conferred the
faithful freely make an offering as an alms or in devout appreciation,
he may lawfully accept it in accordance with local custom, unless the
bishop decides otherwise. Nevertheless, it is permissible to ask or
exact such offerings or taxes which have been fixed by a provincial
council or at a meeting of the bishops of a province, and approved by
the Holy See. But a pastor should never refuse his gratuitous ministry
to those who are unable to give the stipend.
14. It is forbidden to
administer the sacraments of the Church to heretics or schismatics,
even though they may mistakenly ask for them in good faith, unless they
first renounce their errors and are reconciled to the Church.
15. The recipients of the
sacraments should be admonished on opportune occasion to assist thereat
with piety and devotion, free from levity in word or act, receiving
them with the reverence they demand.
16. The priest should
always have the Ritual with him (wherever necessary) when he dispenses
the sacraments, and should carefully observe the rites and ceremonies
prescribed in it.
17. This book, by the way,
contains only the rites of those sacraments which pertain to priests,
namely: baptism, penance, Eucharist, anointing of the sick, and
matrimony.* The rites of the two remaining sacraments, confirmation and
holy orders, since they pertain to bishops, are given in the
Pontifical. Whatever else a pastor must know, teach, or observe in
connection with the sacraments can be learned from other books,
especially the Code of Canon Law and the Roman catechism. Therefore,
the scope of this book must restrict itself mainly to the rites
pertaining to the five sacraments cited.
18. Finally, whoever is
bound to administer the sacraments should possess the necessary books
pertaining to his office, particularly those to be used as permanent
registers of the various parochial functions, as exemplified at the end
of the Ritual.
* The rite of confirmation has since been included in the Ritual.-- Trans
SECTION: Holy Baptism - Introduction
Holy Sacraments - Introduction
Rituale Romanum Index