Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Churching of Women


There is a tradition associated with baptism and childbirth which is part of the traditional ritual, but has fallen out of practice, at least here in our diocese, that is called the "Churching of Women."  It is such a beautiful custom and I was able to receive it once again after our baby's baptism this past Friday!

The Ritual
(English Translation)

The woman will make arrangements with her priest (ideally, the priest should know the women of his parish and make the offer to her). At the appointed time, she will kneel in the Narthex, holding a lighted candle. The priest, wearing a white stole, will bless her with holy water, and say:

V. Our help is in the Name of the Lord.
R. Who made Heaven and Earth.
ANT. She shall receive.


Psalm 23 1

The Earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof; the world, and all they that dwell therein. For He hath founded it upon the seas; and hath prepared it upon the rivers. Who shall ascend into the mountain of the Lord: or who shall stand in His holy place? The innocent in hands and clean of heart, who hath not taken his soul in vain, nor sworn deceitfully to his neighbor. He shall receive a blessing from the Lord, and mercy from God his Savior. This is the generation of them that seek Him, of them that seek the face of the God of Jacob. Lift up your gates, O ye princes, and be ye lifted up, O eternal gates: and the King of glory shall enter in. Who is this King of glory? the Lord Who is strong and mighty: the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your gates, O ye princes, and be ye lifted up, O eternal gates: and the King of glory shall enter in. Who is this King of glory? the Lord of hosts, He is the King of glory.

Glory be to the Father.

ANT. She shall receive a blessing from the Lord, and mercy from God her Savior: for this is the generation of them that seek the Lord.


The priest places the end of his stole in the woman's hand and leads her into the church while saying:

Enter into the temple of God, adore the Son of the blessed Virgin Mary, who gave you fruitfullness of offspring.


Outside the sanctuary, the mother kneels before the Altar and prays, thanking God for her child.

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. (Now the Our Father is said silently)

V. And lead us not into temptation.
R. But deliver us from evil.
V. Save your handmaid, Lord.
R. Who hopes in Thee, my God.
V. Send her help, Lord, from the sanctuary.
R. And defend her out of Sion.
V. Let not the enemy prevail against her.
R. Nor the son of iniquity approach to hurt her.
V. O Lord, hear my prayer.
R. And let my cry come to Thee.
V. The Lord be with you.
R. And with thy spirit.
V. Let us pray.

Almighty, everlasting God, through the delivery of the blessed Virgin Mary, Thou hast turned into joy the pains of the faithful in childbirth; look mercifully upon this Thy handmaid, coming in gladness to Thy temple to offer up her thanks: and grant that after this life, by the merits and intercession of the same blessed Mary, she may merit to arrive, together with her offspring, at the joys of everlasting happiness. Through Christ our Lord.

R. Amen.

The priest sprinkles the mother with holy water in the shape of a Cross. 

The peace and blessing of God almighty, the Father + and the Son and the Holy Spirit, descend upon you and remain forever.

R. Amen.


"Churching is the woman's way of giving thanksgiving to God for the birth of her child, and predisposes her, through the priestly blessing that is a part of the ritual, to receive the graces necessary to raise her child in a manner pleasing to God." ~ Fisheaters

16 comments:

  1. This is, indeed, a graceful and beautiful ceremony of thanksgiving, and it's lovely that you were able to offer your thanks and receive these prayers and blessings.
    [Valerie]

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  2. Just beautiful Jessica. Sadly I have never heard of this. Congratulations on all of the recent Sacraments in your family. What a time of great Grace! You look wonderful!
    The pictures are awesome. My favorites are of your girls receiving our Lord for the first time. What a treasure to capture that moment.
    God bless,
    Kirsten

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  3. This is a wonderful tradition! In the Holy Orthodox church, babies and mothers are 'churched' at 40 days after birth. It's a welcoming back into the church, just as Christ was presented to the Church at 40 days. Many years to both you and your little Bud!

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  4. What a beautiful tradition. I have so enjoyed your posts on the traditional sacraments, Jessica.

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  5. Hello Jessica,

    Oh i learn many things from your blog. thanks

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  6. Beautiful. I've read about this in some of my older prayer books, but have never seen it.

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  7. Beautiful... just beautiful. ~Annita

    +JMJ+

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  8. You are so fortunate to have the availability of this! I am expecting our seventh and may ask our priest this time.

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  9. Jessica, could I beg a favor? (I promise, it isn't difficult!) I've been reading blogs on my phone a lot since I got it, and I have trouble scrolling through your posts - for some reason, when I touch the screen, it clicks on the pictures and loads a page with just that picture.

    Anyway, when I was updating my blog recently, I discovered there's a mobile template that you can enable. On the blogger dashboard, go to Settings, and then Email & Mobile. Right at the top, you can click the button to show mobile template on mobile devices.

    Thank you! :>)

    PS - I remember when you were "churched" after Rose was born! What a lovely ceremony it is, and what a wonderful, beautiful, sacramental day for your family. Congratulations!

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  10. FANTASTIC posts!! Thanks so much!! Congratulation!

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  11. Oh yes, I recently heard about this, too - learning the "meaning" behind Mary's Purification after 40 days of giving birth to a son (daughter is either 60 or 80 - I've seen both listed).

    I wonder if this practice went out of "fashion" even in the Tridentine Rite simply because people went to Mass every week, barring physical "impairment", etc. So, a mother would go to Mass as soon as she was back up and running, so to speak and the child was to be baptized. So the "40 days" wasn't "kept" and the blessing began to fade...?

    Ironically, one of my priests at the time of my second miscarriage told my husband and me about a blessing after a miscarriage from the Book of Blessings that he could give - and so we received this the Sunday I returned to Mass after recovery - I suppose, in a way, that was a "churching", too.

    Many blessings to you and the entire family!!!

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  12. Did a little digging about blessings for mothers after childbirth - came upon this site - from the Book of Blessings from the Roman Ritual 1987

    http://www.trosch.org/lit/ble/blessings7.html

    It's interesting to note that this blessing is given only if the mother was unable to attend the baby's baptism. It seems different than what you had, Jessica.

    Do you know what book your brother-in-law used for the blessing you received or could you find out from him? I'd be interested to know what he used - if it was from an old Roman Ritual predating Vatican II (I'm assuming it was). I'm curious to know exactly how it's "changed" since the Council.

    Thanks!

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  13. What a beautiful ceremony! I received this blessing with our first child and since then I have always wanted it, but never asked the new priests at our Latin Mass why they don't do it. I absolutely will for any future blessings! Congratulations and pssst...I have that veil too :-)

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  14. Thank you so much for posting this!! What a beautiful ceremony....I wish it was still widely practiced. We are due with our 2nd child soon and I am going to ask our priest if we can do this beautiful tradition!

    Congratulations on all the wonderful sacraments that your children received recently!
    God Bless

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