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Catholic Prayer: Roman Ritual: Blessing of Water on Eve of Epiphany

Description:

(Translator's Note: Although reserved to the bishop, this blessing may be conferred by a priest who secures the faculty. The blessing of Epiphany water is of Oriental inspiration. The Eastern Church has long emphasized in its celebration of Epiphany the mystery of our Lord's baptism in the Jordan, and by analogy our baptism. Albeit the mind of the Western Church has not neglected this aspect, as the texts of the feast demonstrate, in practice Western Catholics have concentrated on the mystery of the Magi. The Latin Rite has adopted this blessing of the Orient, and officially included it in the Roman Ritual on December 6, 1890. But for many years previous, diocesan rituals, notably in Germany, had contained a blessing of Epiphany water.)

This is taken from the 1964 version of the Roman Ritual translated by Philip Weller.

Prayer:

(Approved by the Congregation of Sacred Rites, Dec. 6, 1890)

1. At the appointed time the celebrant, vested in white cope (if a bishop, the mitre is worn but removed during the prayers), and the deacon and subdeacon, vested in white dalmatic and tunic respectively, come before the altar. They are preceded by acolytes, who carry the processional cross and lighted candles (which are put in their proper place), and by the other clergy. A vessel of water and a container of salt are in readiness in the sanctuary.

First the Litany of the Saints is sung, during which time all kneel. After the invocation "That you grant eternal rest," etc. the celebrant rises and sings the following two invocations, the second in a higher key:

That you bless + this water.
R. We beg you to hear us.
That you bless + and sanctify + this water
R. We beg you to hear us.

Then the chanters continue the litany up to and including the last Lord, have mercy. After this the celebrant chants Our Father the rest inaudibly until:

P: And lead us not into temptation.
All: But deliver us from evil.

2. Then the following psalms are sung:

Psalm 28

P: Give to the Lord, you sons of God, * give to the Lord glory and praise.
All: Give to the Lord the glory due His name; * adore the Lord in holy attire.
P: The voice of the Lord is over the waters, the God of glory thunders, * The Lord, over vast waters.
All: The voice of the Lord is mighty; * the voice of the Lord is majestic.
P: The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars, * the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
All: He makes Lebanon leap like a calf * and Sarion like a young wild bull.
P: The voice of the Lord strikes fiery flames; the voice of the Lord shakes the desert, * the Lord shakes the wilderness of Cades.
All: The voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forests, * and in His temple all say, "Glory!"
P: The Lord is enthroned above the flood; * the Lord is enthroned as king forever.
All: May the Lord give strength to His people; * may the Lord bless his people with peace.
P: Glory be to the Father.
All: As it was in the beginning.

Psalm 45

P: God is our refuge and our strength, * an ever-present help in distress.
All: Therefore we fear not, though the earth be shaken and mountains plunge into the depths of the sea;
P:Though its waters rage and foam * and the mountains quake at its surging.
All: The Lord of hosts is with us; * our stronghold is the God of Jacob.
P:There is a stream whose runlets gladden the city of God, * the holy dwelling of the Most High.
All: God is in its midst; it shall not be disturbed; * God will help it at the break of dawn.
P:Though nations are in turmoil, kingdoms totter, * His voice resounds, the earth melts away;
All: The Lord of hosts is with us; * our stronghold is the God of Jacob.
P:Come, see the deeds of the Lord, * the astounding things He has wrought on earth.
All: He has stopped wars to the end of the earth; * the bow he breaks; He splinters the spears; He burns the shields with fire.
P:Desist, and confess that I am God, * exalted among the nations, exalted upon the earth.
All: The Lord of hosts is with us; * our stronghold is the God of Jacob.
P:Glory be to the Father.
All: As it was in the beginning.

Psalm 146

P:Praise the Lord, for He is good; * sing praise to our God, for He is gracious; it is fitting to praise Him.
All: The Lord rebuilds Jerusalem; * the dispersed of Israel He gathers.
P:He heals the brokenhearted * and binds up their wounds.
All: He tells the number of the stars; * He calls each by name.
P:Great is our Lord and mighty in power; * to His wisdom there is no limit.
All: The Lord sustains the lowly; * the wicked He casts to the ground.
P:Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; * sing praise with the harp to our God.
All: Who covers the heavens with clouds, * who provides rain for the earth;
P:Who makes grass sprout on the mountains * and herbs for the service of men;
All: Who gives food to the cattle, * and to the young ravens when they cry to Him.
P:He delights not in the strength of the steed, * nor is He pleased with the fleetness of men.
All: The Lord is pleased with those who fear Him, * with those who hope for His kindness.
P:Glory be to the Father.
All: As it was in the beginning.

The celebrant then chants:

Exorcism
against Satan and the apostate angels

In the name of our Lord Jesus + Christ and by His power, we cast you out, every unclean spirit, every devilish power, every assault of the infernal adversary, every legion, every diabolical group and sect; begone and stay far from the Church of God, from all who are made in the image of God and redeemed by the precious blood of the divine + Lamb. Never again dare, you cunning serpent, to deceive the human race, to persecute the Church of God, nor to strike the chosen of God and to sift them as + wheat. For it is the Most High God who commands you, + He to whom you heretofore in your great pride considered yourself equal; He who desires that all men might be saved and come to the knowledge of truth. God the Father + commands you. God the Son + commands you. God the Holy + Spirit commands you. The majesty of Christ, the eternal Word of God made flesh + commands you; He who for the salvation of our race, the race that was lost through your envy, humbled Himself and became obedient even unto death; He who built His Church upon a solid rock, and proclaimed that the gates of hell should never prevail against her, and that He would remain with her all days, even to the end of the world. The sacred mystery of the cross + commands you, as well as the power of all the mysteries of Christian faith. The exalted Virgin Mary, Mother of God + commands you, who in her lowliness crushed your proud head from the first moment of her Immaculate Conception. The faith of the holy apostles Peter and Paul and the other apostles + commands you. The blood of the martyrs and the devout intercession of all holy men and women commands you.

Therefore, accursed dragon and every diabolical legion, we adjure you by the living + God, by the true + God, by the holy + God, by the God who so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but shall have life everlasting; cease your deception of the human race and your giving them to drink of the poison of everlasting damnation; desist from harming the Church and fettering her freedom. Begone Satan, you father and teacher of lies and enemy of mankind. Give place to Christ in whom you found none of your works; give place to the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church, which Christ Himself purchased with His blood. May you be brought low under God's mighty hand. May you tremble and flee as we call upon the holy and awesome name of Jesus, before whom hell quakes, and to whom the virtues, powers, and dominations are subject; whom the cherubim and seraphim praise with unwearied voices, saying: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts!

Next the choir sings the following antiphon and canticle:

Antiphon
Today the Church is espoused to her heavenly bridegroom, for Christ washes her sins in the Jordan; the Magi hasten with gifts to the regal nuptials; and the guests are gladdened with water made wine, alleluia.

Canticle of Zachary
Luke 1.68-79

P: "Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel! * He has visited His people and brought about its redemption.
All: He has raised for us a stronghold of salvation * in the house of David His servant,
P: And redeemed the promise He had made * through the mouth of His holy prophets of old--
All: To grant salvation from our foes * and from the hand of all that hate us;
P: To deal in mercy with our fathers * and be mindful of His holy covenant,
All: Of the oath he had sworn to our father Abraham, * that He would enable us--
P: Rescued from the clutches of our foes--* to worship Him without fear,
All: In holiness and observance of the Law, * in His presence, all our days.
P: And you, my little one, will be hailed 'Prophet of the Most High'; * for the Lord's precursor you will be to prepare His ways;
All: You are to impart to His people knowledge of salvation * through forgiveness of their sins.
P: Thanks be to the merciful heart of our God! * a dawning Light from on high will visit us
All: To shine upon those who sit in darkness and in the shadowland of death, * and guide our feet into the path of peace."
P: Glory be to the Father.
All: As it was in the beginning.

Or instead of the Benedictus the Magnificat may be chosen (for the Magnificat see Blessing of Homes).
At the end of the canticle the antiphon given above is repeated. Then the celebrant sings:

P: The Lord be with you.
All: May He also be with you.

Let us pray.
God, who on this day revealed your only-begotten Son to all nations by the guidance of a star, grant that we who now know you by faith may finally behold you in your heavenly majesty; through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.

Next he blesses the water:
P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.

From here on the exorcism of salt and the prayer that follows it, the exorcism of water and the two prayers that follow it, the mixing of the salt and water and then the concluding prayer--all of these are the same as the ones used the Rite for Providing Holy Water.

1. RITE FOR PROVIDING HOLY WATER

Some minor changes have been made in this rite, such as the omission of certain words, putting salt into the water only once, and the use of the short conclusion for the orations (see Ephemerides Liturgicae 75 [1961] 426). The holy-water font is a counterpart of the baptismal font; and the sacramental use of holy water is related to the great sacrament of water, baptism. Easter is the day par excellence for baptism, and every Sunday is a little Easter. Consequently, on the Lord's day the Church blesses water to be used in the ceremony of renewal of baptism, for as often as she sprinkles us with the blessed water a sign is given us of that sacrament which once bestowed the gift of life. The rubrics direct that the water may be blessed either in the church proper or in the sacristy. For the edification of the people it might be well to perform this blessing in the sight of the people, at least occasionally. The practice of putting salt into the water comes no doubt from the incident of the miraculous cure of the poisonous well (see 4 Kings 2.19-21), where the prophet Eliseus used salt to purify the water of the well.

1. On Sundays, or whenever this blessing takes place, salt and fresh water are prepared in the church or in the sacristy. The priest, vested in surplice and purple stole, says:

P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.

2. The exorcism of salt follows:

God's creature, salt, I cast out the demon from you by the living ++ God, by the holy + God, by God who ordered you to be thrown into the water-spring by Eliseus to heal it of its barrenness. May you be a purified salt, a means of health for those who believe, a medicine for body and soul for all who make use of you. May all evil fancies of the foul fiend, his malice and cunning, be driven afar from the place where you are sprinkled. And let every unclean spirit be repulsed by Him who is coming to judge both the living and the dead and the world by fire.
All: Amen.

Let us pray.
Almighty everlasting God, we humbly appeal to your mercy and goodness to graciously bless + this creature, salt, which you have given for mankind's use. May all who use it find in it a remedy for body and mind. And may everything that it touches or sprinkles be freed from uncleanness and any influence of the evil spirit; through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.

Exorcism of the water:
God's creature, water, I cast out the demon from you in the name of God + the Father almighty, in the name of Jesus + Christ, His Son, our Lord, and in the power of the Holy + Spirit. May you be a purified water, empowered to drive afar all power of the enemy, in fact, to root out and banish the enemy himself, along with his fallen angels. We ask this through the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is coming to judge both the living and the dead and the world by fire.
All: Amen.

Let us pray.
O God, who for man's welfare established the most wonderful mysteries in the substance of water, hearken to our prayer, and pour forth your blessing + on this element now being prepared with various purifying rites. May this creature of yours, when used in your mysteries and endowed with your grace, serve to cast out demons and to banish disease. May everything that this water sprinkles in the homes and gatherings of the faithful be delivered from all that is unclean and hurtful; let no breath of contagion hover there, no taint of corruption; let all the wiles of the lurking enemy come to nothing. By the sprinkling of this water may everything opposed to the safety and peace of the occupants of these homes be banished, so that in calling on your holy name they may know the well-being they desire, and be protected from every peril; through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.

3. Now the priest pours the salt into the water in the form of a cross, saying:

May this salt and water be mixed together; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit.
All: Amen.

P: The Lord be with you.
All: And with your spirit.

Let us pray.
God, source of irresistible might and king of an invincible realm, the ever-glorious conqueror; who restrain the force of the adversary, silencing the uproar of his rage, and valiantly subduing his wickedness; in awe and humility we beg you, Lord, to regard with favor this creature thing of salt and water, to let the light of your kindness shine upon it, and to hallow it with the dew of your mercy; so that wherever it is sprinkled and your holy name is invoked, every assault of the unclean spirit may be baffled, and all dread of the serpent's venom be cast out. To us who entreat your mercy grant that the Holy Spirit may be with us wherever we may be; through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.

At the end of the blessing the priest sprinkles the people with the blessed water.

Lastly the Te Deum is sung:

Te Deum

P: We praise you, God; * we acclaim you Lord of all creation.
All: Everlasting Father, * all the world bows down before you.
P: All the angels, all the hosts of heaven, * and the myriad powers;
All: All the cherubim and seraphim call out with tireless voices:
P: Holy, holy, holy, * the Lord God of heavenly hosts!
All: The heavens and the earth are filled * with your majesty and glory.
P: Your praises are proclaimed * by the illustrious apostles;
All: And by all the prophets, * your most admirable heralds;
P: By the white-robed army * who shed their blood for you.
All: And throughout the world * holy Church attests her faith in you:
P: The heavenly Father, whose majesty is boundless; * the true and only Son, whom we adore;
All: And likewise the Holy Spirit, * sent to be our Advocate.
P: You, O Christ, * are the King of glory!
All: Only you, O Christ * are the Father's everlasting Son.
P: In taking flesh and becoming mankind's Savior, * you did not disdain the Virgin's womb.
All: In destroying by your might the sting of death, * you opened up to believers the kingdom of heaven.
P: Now you sit at God's right hand, * in the Father's glory.
All: And so we firmly believe * that you are the judge who is to come.

Kneel for the following verse:

P: We therefore implore you to save your servants * whom your precious blood redeemed.

Then stand again.

All: Add them to the number of your saints * in everlasting glory.
P: Save your faithful people, Lord; * bless all who belong to you.
All: Be their shepherd and rule over them, * and exalt them forever and ever.
P: Day by day we praise you, * and never cease to worship you.
All: We will continue to praise your holy name, * in time and in eternity.
P: In your great mercy, Lord, * keep us today from all sin.
All: Have mercy on us, O Lord, * have mercy on us.
P: May your mercy, Lord, remain with us always, * for we put our whole trust in you.
All: My hope is in you alone, O Lord; * may I never be disappointed.

Then there is added:

P: Let us bless the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
All: Let us praise and mightily exalt Him forever.
P: Lord, heed my prayer.
All: And let my cry be heard by you.
P: The Lord be with you.
All: And with your spirit.

Let us pray.
God, whose mercy is immeasurable and whose goodness is inexhaustible, we give thanks to your loving majesty for all the gifts bestowed on us. And we continue to appeal to your bounty, so that you will never abandon those whose requests you grant in this life, but will give them even greater rewards in the life to come.

God, who instructed the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, guide us by your Spirit to desire only what is good and so always to find joy in His comfort.

God, you allow no one who truest in your to be afflicted beyond measure, but give a hearing to the pleas of your fervent petitioners; thus we give you thanks for having heard our requests and prayers, and we continue to call on your loving kindness to protect us ever from all adversities; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

Prayer Source: Roman Ritual, The, Complete Edition by Philip T. Weller, S.T.D., The Bruce Publishing Company, Milwaukee, WI, 1964
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