I have been researching the ritual titled "Churching of Women". This is an old forgotten Catholic Church ritual for women after giving birth that is a special blessing just for the mother after childbirth.
In the old days, this blessing was give around 40 days after birth because women would actually have a "lying in" period where they would rest and have relatives help take care of them. This idea of having a real "postpartum lying-in" is coming back now.
So, many women would not even be able to attend the baptism of their child - the godparents would be there with the father. The mother is excused from church or attendance at Mass for around 4-6 weeks after the birth of the baby. So, when the mother came to Church for the first time - she would request the "Churching of Women" ceremony as a special blessing for her return to Mass and Sacraments, etc.
This is not the same thing as the Jewish ceremony who considered women "unclean" till they went through a cleanings ritual after birth. Our Blessed Lady did this to show her humility and in fact she is known in Ecuador as a special title: Our Lady of Good Event of the Purification (also known in USA as Our Lady of Good Success).
Anyway, the Churching of Women might be more like an "imitation" of this original Jewish ritual - but it is not the same thing.
Psalm 23 is recited for part of the ritual. Psalm 23
P: The Lord's are the earth and its fullness; *
the world and those who dwell in it.
All: For He founded it upon the seas * and
established it upon the rivers.
P: Who can ascend the mountain of the Lord?
* or who may stand in His holy place?
All: He whose hands are sinless, whose heart is
clean, who desires not what is vain, * nor
swears deceitfully to his neighbor.
P: He shall receive a blessing from the Lord, * a
reward from God, his Savior.
All: Such is the race that seeks for Him, * that
seeks the face of the God of Jacob. P: Lift up, O gates, your lintels; reach up, you
ancient portals, * that the king of glory may
All: "Who is this king of glory?" * "The Lord,
strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle."
P: Lift up, O gates, your lintels; reach up, you
ancient portals, * that the king of glory may
All: "Who is this king of glory?" * "The Lord of
hosts; He is the king of glory."
P: Glory be to the Father.
All: As it was in the beginning. Amen.
I have done some fuller research and found variations on a theme you might say - there are more than one ceremony listed online. Some have Latin and English in them - so you can read the ritual in English. The links below have some fuller information or articles about the ritual.
Basically, the mother will go to the vestibule doors and the priest will then come to let her into the Church. She maybe given a candle to hold and light during the ceremony. Then they will proceed to the altar rail (probably the Marian side) to recite the prayers from the ritual. The priest will then bless the mother with holy water at the end of the ceremony.
We suggest that mothers request the ceremony before the birth of the baby; and set up a time to do the ceremony. Note: Now days many women will go to the baptism ceremony of their babies now. I went to all my children's baptism ceremonies. One thing you can probably do is request this little "Churching ceremony" to be done either BEFORE the baptism - maybe if baptism for instance is being done after a Mass - perhaps the Churching of Women ceremony can be done for the mother BEFORE the Mass - she could arrive a little bit earlier and have it done before the Mass.
Another idea, is the Churching ceremony is done immediately after the baptism - in that case the mother does not need to go back to the vestibule door - she can kneel at the altar rail to receive the special ceremonial blessing!
I am wondering though if a mother who never received this blessing could receive it years after a birth? I would probably ask a priest - I bet a traditional one may not mind offering it. In fact, my plan is to ask a pastor or priest to do this for me. And I'll let you know my results later of a yes or no answer!
So, a mother should request this and if she has forgotten to ask before baby's birth; then she should do so immediately after the birth. By the way, the ceremony can be done sooner than 4-6 weeks - this is just a suggested time frame. Many mothers get the baby baptized sooner - so it would be appropriate to do it around the baptismal time if desired.
I hope these resources below will help you explore this more!
https://orthochristian.com/59516.html (yes, I know this is an Orthodox link - but has some info in it).
Ceremonial words: https://latinmassbaptism.com/files/Churching_of_Women_LatinEnglish.pdf
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