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 anathema."

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 dictate otherwise.

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

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