Grave Deficiencies in the New Rite for Episcopal Consecrations? — Part II

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo

In this second part, I will reprint the Formula for the Consecration of a Bishop from the Roman Pontifical used by Pope Leo XIII, and present my own English translation of it, so you can understand what the Roman Church used to do.

Pre-Vatican II Ritual for the Conscration of Bishops

Formula of consecration from the Pontifical of Leo XIII along with English translation

Latin English
Vere dignum et justum est, aequum et salutare, nos tibi semper, et ubique gratias agere, Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, aeterne Deus, honor omnium dignitatum, quae gloriae tuae sacris famulantur ordinibus. Deus, qui Moysen famulum tuum secreti familiaris affatu, inter caetera coelestis documenta culturae, de habitu quoque indumenti sacerdotalis instituens, electum Aaron mystico amictu vestiri inter sacra jussisti, ut intelligentiae sensum de exemplis priorum caperet secutura posteritas, ne eruditio doctrinae tuae ulli deesset aetati. Cum et apud veteres reverentiam ipsa significationum species obtineret, et apud nos certiora essent experimenta rerum, quam aenigmata figurarum. Illius namque Sacerdotii anterioris habitus, nostrae mentis ornatus est, et Pontificalem gloriam non jam nobis honor commendat vestium, sed splendor animarum. Quia et illa, quae tunc carnalibus blandiebantur obtutibus, ea potius, quae in ipsis erant, intelligenda poscebant. Et idcirco huic famulo tuo, quem ad Sacerdotii ministerum elegisti, hanc, quaesumus, Domine, gratiam largiaris, ut quidquid illa velamina in fulgore auri, in nitore gemmarum, et in multimodi operis varietate signabant, hoc in ejus moribus actibusque clarescat. Comple in Sacerdote tuo ministerii tui summam, et ornamentis totius glorificationis instructum, coelestis unguenti rore sanctifica. Truly worthy and just it is, equitable and salvific, that we give Thee thanks always, and everywhere, Holy Lord, Father Omnipotent, Eternal God, the Honor of every dignity which accompanies the sacred Orders of Thy Glory. O God, Who when instituting Moses, Thy servant, by the breath of a secret familiarity, among all the other documents of heavenly worship, concerning, too, the wearing of the priestly robes, didst command the chosen Aaron to clothe himself in the midst of the sacred with a mystical amice, so that his posterity to follow might grasp a sense of understanding from the example of prior things, lest the instruction of Thy doctrine fail in any age. So that, too, the appearance itself of significations might obtain reverence among the ancients, and among us be more certain experiments of the things, which were enigmas of figures. For, indeed, the having of that anterior Priesthood is an ornament for our mind, and the honor of vestments commends the glory of the High Priesthood not only to us, but as a splendor for souls.  Because even those things, which were caressed at that time by carnal glances, required those signs to be understood more, which were in them. And on that account, to this Thy servant, whom Thou hast elected to the ministry of the Priesthood, we beseech Thee, Lord, to grant this grace, so that whatever those veils signified in the glimmer of gold, in the twinkling of gems, and in the variety of multiple works, this same might shine in his morals and acts.  Fulfill the height of Thy ministry in thy Priest, and sanctify with the dew of heavenly anointing the one instructed by the ornaments of all glorification.

The text in bold face is cited as the formula of the Sacrament, though, it can be seen, that its signification is tied up with the entire prayer of consecration.

Prior to this prayer, the Bishops consecrating imposed hands upon the one to be consecrated. And following this prayer, there is the invocation of the Holy Spirit over the one consecrated, the anointing of his head and hands with sacred chrism.

Then there followed a most powerful prayer of petition, which cannot be neglected, since it asks for nearly all the graces of which the Bishops ordained in the new Rite seem to lack.

Prayer over the newly consecrated Bishop, from the Pontifical of Leo XIII along with English translation

Latin English
Hoc, Domine, copiose in caput ejus influat, hoc in oris subjecta decurrat; hoc in totius corporis extrema descendat, ut tui Spiritus virtus et interiora ejus repleat, et exteriora circumtegat. Abundet in eo constantia fidei, puritas dilectionis, sinceritas pacis. Sint speciosi munere tuo pedes ejus ad evangelizandum pacem, ad evangelizandum bona tua. Da ei, Domine, ministerium reconciliationis in verbo, et in factis, in virtute signorum et prodigiorum. Sit sermo ejus, et praedicatio, non in persuasibilibus humanae sapientiae verbis, sed in ostensione spiritus et virtutis. Da ei, Domine, claves regni coelorum ut utatur, non glorietur potestate, quam tribuis in aedificationem, non in destructionem. Quodcumque ligaverit super terram, sit ligatum et in coelis, et quodcumque solverit super terram, sit solutum et in coelis. Quorum retinuerit peccata, retenta sint, et quorum remiserit, tu remittas. Qui maledixerit ei, sit ille maledictus, et qui benedixerit ei, benedictionibus repleatur. Sit fidelis servus, et prudens, quem constituas tu, Domine, super familiam tuam, ut det illis cibum in tempore opportuno, et exhibeat omnem hominem perfectum. Sit sollicitudine impiger, sit spiritu fervens, oderit superbiam, humilitatem ac veritatem diligat, neque eam umquam deserat, aut laudibus aut timore superatus. Non ponat lucem tenebras, nec tenebras lucem: non dicat malum bonum, nec bonum malum. Sit sapientibus et insipientibus debitor; ut fructum de profectu omnium consequatur. Tribuas ei, Domine, cathedram Episcopalem, ad regendum Ecclesiam tuam, et plebem sibi commissam. Sis ei auctoritas, sis ei potestas, sis ei firmitas. Multiplica super eum bene + dictionem et gratiam tuam: ut ad exorandam semper misericordiam tuam tuo munere idoneus et tua gratia possit esse devotus.

Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit, et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. R. Amen

Lord, let this flow copiously upon his head, and run down to what is below his mouth; let this descend unto the extremes of his body, so that the virtue of Thy Spirit also fill his interiors, and cover round about his exteriors. Let there abound in him the constanch of faith, the purity of love, the sincercity of peace.  May his feed be sightly in Thy charge to preach the Gospel of peace, to preach the Gospel of Thy gifts.  Grant to him, Lord, the ministry of reconciliation in word, and in deeds, in the virtue of signs and prodigies.  Let his speech, and preaching, be not in the persuadable words of human wisdom, but in the display of spirit and virtue. Grant to him, Lord, the keys of the kingdom of the heavens, that he may use, not glory in, the power, which Thou grant for edification, not destruction.  Whatsoever he bind on earth, let it be bound also in the heavens, and whatsoever he loosen upon earth, let it be loosed also in the heavens.  Whose sins he retains, let them be retained, and whose he remits, remit.  Let he who curses him, be cursed, and who blesses him, be filled with benedictions.  Let him be a faithful, and prudent, servant, whom Thou, Lord, has constituted over Thy family, to give them food in due season, and display him as an all perfect man.  Let him be not indolent in solicitude, let him be fervent in spirit, let him hate pride, let him love humility and truth, and never let it desert him, as one overcome by praises or fear. Let him not reckon light as darkness, nor darkness as light: let him not call evil good, nor good evil. Let him be a debtor to the wise and  foolish; so that the fruit of profiting in all follow after him.  Grant unto him, Lord, the Episcopal cathedra, to rule Thy Church, and the people commited to him.  Let him have authority, let him have power, let him have firmness.  Multiply over him Thy bene + diction and grace: so that he can be suitable to exhort Thy mercy always according to Thy charge and devout in Thy grace.

Through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who lives and reigns with Thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, throughout all the ages of ages. Amen.



CREDITS: The Featured Image is a photograph of the Episcopal Consecration of the future Pope Pius XII (Eugenio Pacelli) by Pope Benedict XV.

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