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CHURCHING

A liturgical ceremony of thanksgiving by which mothers thank God for the blessing of motherhood. More appropriately the ritual is called "the blessing of a woman after childbirth," the mother incurred a legal defilement, as in ancient Judaism. The ceremony may begin at the door of a church, although it has become customary to perform the rite near the altar. Taking hold of the priest's stole, the mother is symbolically led into the church to express her gratitude. the prayer of the priest concludes with the petition that "she and her offspring may deserve to attain to the joys of eternal blessedness." In imitation of Mary at her Purification, the mother offers some gift to the church, according to her means.

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

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