Rorate Caeli

The blessing of water for the sick in honor of St. Vincent de Paul

Although July 19 falls on a Sunday this year, I would like to take this opportunity to continue the series on the neglected cycle of liturgical blessings for the whole year by reminding everyone of the custom of blessing holy water for the sick in honor of St. Vincent De Paul, whose feast falls on this day in the calendar of the classical Roman Missal. Although the blessing of "St. Vincent Water" used to be reserved to the priests of the Congregation of the Mission, Pope Paul VI lifted this reservation on September 26, 1964, thus allowing all priests to impart this blessing; there seems to be no compelling reason why tradition-minded priests should not bless this sacramental.
From the Sancta Missa website (see no. 52 of the linked webpage):
BLESSING OF WATER FOR THE SICK IN HONOR OF ST. VINCENT DE PAUL

P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.
P: Blessed be the name of the Lord.
All: Both now and forevermore.
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
P: Let us pray.

Holy Lord, almighty Father, everlasting God, who, in pouring out the grace of your blessing on the bodies of the sick, encompass your creatures with your generous love; hearken as we call on your holy name, and by the prayers of Blessed Vincent, your confessor, free your servants from illness and restore them to health, and then hasten their convalescence by your sure hand, strengthen them by your might, shield them by your power, and give them back in full vigor to your holy Church; through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.

He then immerses a medal or a reliquary of St. Vincent de Paul in the water, and holds it so until the following prayer is concluded:

Lord, bless this water, that it be a saving remedy for men; and grant that, by the prayers of Blessed Vincent, your confessor, whose relics (or medal) are (is) now immersed in it, all who will drink this water may have health in body and protection in soul; through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.

He then removes the medal or reliquary from the water, and says:

Antiphon: The poor of Sion I will sate with bread, and I will let my blessing overflow on her priests, and her saints will exult exceedingly.

P: God, you have provided in your kindness for the poor.

All: The Lord gives orders to his messengers with great authority.
P: Let us pray.
O God, who through Blessed Vincent have added to your Church a new community to serve the poor and to train the clergy; grant, we pray, that we may be imbued with the same fervor, so as to love what he loved and to carry out what he inculcated; through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.

(Note: I know that this is not the best translation, but for now it will have to do.)

6 comments:

Mark said...

An interesting series! I'd love it if more traditional parishes made these obscure blessings more common again, especially related to the liturgical calendar.

However, we must admit they are obscure and perhaps for good reason. "St Vincent De Paul Water for the Sick" is not exactly like candles on Candlemas. It is a rather esoteric combination. As such, perhaps one thing we could hope to see is a reintroduction of LOCAL Rituals. One must remember that the Rituale was one of the last books to be centralized, and most dioceses or regions had their own Rituale according to local traditions up through the 19th century.

St. Vincent Water is great, but in some places it might make more sense to have a blessing of water (or some other item) for some locally important saint that wouldnt make the cut in the Rituale Romanum, whose selection of blessings and sacramentals, what it contains and more importantly what it doesnt, sometimes strikes me as a rather eclectic and arbitrary mix. I mean...why an Electric Dynamo or Seismograph, etc

Anonymous said...

I think that it might have been better to keep these customs reserved to the orders associated with them. The customs were able to be preserved because they were entrusted to people especially devoted to those saints. It would be impossible for everyone to practice every saints' blessing, so it falls by the wayside. That's my idle speculation -- anyone think it might be an accurate assessment? Or not?

-- Bonifacius

Mark said...

"I think that it might have been better to keep these customs reserved to the orders associated with them. The customs were able to be preserved because they were entrusted to people especially devoted to those saints. It would be impossible for everyone to practice every saints' blessing, so it falls by the wayside. That's my idle speculation -- anyone think it might be an accurate assessment? Or not?"

That's basically what I was implying. St Vincent de Paul Water for the Sick makes perfect sense for the Lazarists, but as a blessing for the whole Latin Rite...seems a little obscure and arbitrary.

I dont know if legally reserving it to the congregation is necessary, but in practice that's how it will basically work out: it's probably mainly the congregation, and parishes' and dioceses' whose patron is St Vincent, who are going to use it. But why should they get to do that, when there are no special blessings for lots of patrons? Thus my point about local Rituals...

Carlos Antonio Palad said...

Without in any way negating the thoughtful points raised so far by Mark and Bonifacius (I especially like the point about local Rituals) I would like to point out the following:

1) Devotion to St. Vincent de Paul is not an obscure phenomenon, but is to be found all throughout the universal Church.

2) The Society of St. Vincent De Paul is one of the largest institutions in the Church

3) The Congregation of the Mission may not be so big, but the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul is one of the world's largest, not counting the other "Sisters of Charity" who trace their inspiration back to St. Vincent de Paul.

I think it's necessary that religious congregations and lay institutions should once more take interest in the sacramentals and devotions associated with their heavenly founders and / or patrons. I certainly hope that this blessing of water for the sick in honor of St. Vincent will be as widespread as his religious family is.

Mark said...

Even if you take that view, look at other blessings in the rituale, such as the BLESSING OF OIL IN HONOR OF ST. SERAPION, MARTYR. Formerly reserved to the Mercedarians.

Now, no offense to St Serapion, I'm sure this is a great blessing. But does it really deserve to be in the global Rituale Romanum? Considering that there is not even a specific blessing in that rituale for Saints as popular as, say, St Jude? And why just oil? I'm sure there is some historical reason. But in the context of what the Rituale DOESNT contain, but which we could imagine it containing (most of these things were just written up for some occasion, after all)...it seems a rather arbitrary collection.

Rubricarius said...

I too welcome the series but suspect some of the blessings, like the subject of this post, should really be celebrated by the appropriate order.

Others such as water at Epiphany, bonfires on the Vigil of St. John the Baptist, herbs at the Dormition and first fruits on the Nativity of the BVM would be wonderful to see more widely celebrated.