The rite for the dedication of a church and an altar is rightly considered among the most solemn liturgical services. A church is the place where the Christian community is gathered to hear the word of God, to offer intercession and praise to him, and above all to celebrate the holy mysteries, and it is the place where the holy sacrament of the eucharist is kept. Thus it stands as a special kind of image of the Church itself, which is God’s temple built from living stones. And the altar of a church, around which the holy people of God gather to take part in the Lord’s sacrifice and to be refreshed at the heavenly meal, stands as a sign of Christ himself, who is the priest, the victim, and the altar of his own sacrifice.
When the building of a new church begins, it is desirable to celebrate a rite to ask God’s blessing for the success of the work and to remind the people that the structure built of stone will be a visible sign of the living Church, God’s building that is formed of the people themselves.
The Dedication of St. Lambert Church ...will indeed be a day of rejoicing and happiness for the parish, for on this day your good people will have seen a goal realized. It will be great privilege and honor to have the pleasure of dedicating this beautiful edifice to Almighty God- Albert Cardinal Meyer, Archbishop of Chicago (1958-1965)
In accordance with liturgical tradition, this rite consists of the blessing of the site of the new church and the blessing and laying of the foundation stone. When there is to be no foundation stone because of the particular architecture of the building, the rite of the blessing of the site of the new church should still be celebrated in order to dedicate the beginning of the work of God.
In the place where the altar will be located, a wooden cross of suitable height is fixed in the ground.
Insofar as possible, the area for the erection of the church should be marked out clearly. It should be possible to walk about without difficulty.
Material source courtesy of Steve Folkers