What is the Roman Ritual? - A Deeper Life of Grace

This article is part of my initiative: "A Deeper Life of Grace - with the aid of the Sacramentals"

The Roman Ritual is a treasure trove of blessings and actual graces from God. It contains not only the Sacraments but also the ritual for holy water, blessed salt, blessed candles, blessing of statues and images, of fields and homes, and many others.

These blessed items are powerful tools for opening our souls to the work of grace. They are vehicles for healing, spiritual warfare, aid in developing a true sorrow for sin, and generally bringing God’s presence more tangibly into our lives.

It is the key text for priests to have in order to bless the items which the faithful bring forward at Church.

The Roman Ritual sadly fell out of use after Vatican II, replaced by a modernized form of the ritual book, known as the “Book of Blessings.” After the Traditional Liturgy was brought back into the life of the Church by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007, the traditional Roman Ritual made a return as well.

More and more priests are learning about the richness and power of the blessings it contains. By comparison, far too often the modern “Book of Blessings” leaves much to be desired.

Ancient and Enduring Grace

The Roman Ritual, however, is a most ancient and traditional and powerful ritual collection for use by priests, Bishops, and religious Orders.

It was compiled in 1614 under the authority of the Holy Father, Pope Paul V, and contains “the genuine and sacred rites of the Catholic Church.” It ranks as the official and authorized ritual, when considered among the numerous existing rituals at the time of its compilation.

This collection of rituals was established as the standard by which “officiants could fulfil their priestly office unhesitantly, and with uniformity and precision.”

As the Holy Father stated, “In order that the task proceed correctly and orderly as it should, we assigned it to certain of our venerable brethren among the Cardinals, outstanding for their piety, learning, and sagacity. Aided by the counsel of scholars and through comparison with ancient as well as other available rituals…the commission of Cardinals has succeeded in compiling a ritual of desired brevity, after mature deliberation and with the help of God.”

The Roman Ritual was then presented to the universal Church as a “well-arranged assortment of accepted and approved rites of the Catholic Church,” “selected as official by the authority of the same Church.” Finally, the Holy Father stated that, “in a matter so important as this they observe inviolately whatever the Catholic Church with their ancient and approved traditions has laid down.”

Above quotations from the Apostolic Constitution of Pope Paul V, 1614.

Three Volumes – One Ritual

The Roman Ritual contains three different volumes, called:

  • Volume I – The Sacraments and Processions
  • Volume II – Christian Burial, Exorcisms, Reserved Blessings, etc.
  • Volume III – The Blessings

Volume Three is the one primarily used by priests for blessings, as it contains about 140 sacramental blessings.

Volume II is also of interest to priests as it contains many additional blessings, some of which are labeld “reserved blessings.” These blessings, however, are no longer reserved and may be done by any ordained priest.

Volume Three – The Blessings

This volume of the Ritual contains blessings for a whole host of things:

  • The blessing of persons, such as pilgrims and the sick, as well as expectant mothers.
  • The blessing of religious articles, such as a cross, rosary, pictures, statues
  • The blessing of buildings, such as Churches, buildings, schools, hospitals, homes
  • The blessing of foods, such as bread, wine, salt, beer
  • There are also blessings for cars, crops, fields, animals, and various machinery

There are also prayers against floods, infestations, storms, and plagues. Many of these are processions and are much more formal, taking place at the parish Church, and are in Volume II.

All the Volumes

As a result of the above, priests will want to study all three volumes:

  • Volume I – for, among other things*, processions for certain solemnities and important intentions
  • Volume II – for, among other things, blessings of numerous rosaries, scapulars, medals, and waters in honor of specific Saints
  • Volume III – for, among other things, about 140 beautiful sacramental blessings.

A smaller edition of the Roman Ritual is available, called the Priest’s Ritual, or the Parish Ritual, (here) (similar to, if not the same as, this one online here) which contains the items which a priest more frequently uses and which, due to its size, may be carried more easily.

The Roman Ritual is in Latin and in English.  There is a lack of clarity, for me, as to which prayers can be said in English.  The default is to say the blessing in Latin and then read the English so people know the blessing that was just placed onto the item.  Some manuals have instructions about when English may be used.   Latin is beautiful, so fear not!

Dear Lay Faithful

Please speak to your priests about the Roman Ritual and their ability to bless your religious items and other items. Please subscribe to this website (top of page) and share it with your priest. I intend, God willing, to continue to provide insights into the Roman Ritual to help guide and inspire both priests and the laity to offer and to use these wonderful gifts from God.

"The many lesser ministrations, which seem to us minute and of very secondary importance, have their value and their efficacy, which now escape our notice, but may, one day, appear as they deserve."
+Cardinal Wiseman (d. 1865)

*“among other things” – refers to a lot of other blessings and explanations and introductions which provide a theological framework beneficial to understanding and appreciating the rich blessings of the Roman Ritual.


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