Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Serving Low Mass (a brief summary)

A poster in one of our comboxes has asked for a posting on how to serve the Dominican Rite Mass. For Missa Cantata and Solemn Mass, this is a very complex question. I am going to see if it would be possible to do something about making the Bonniwell Ceremonial and Altar Boy's Manual made available on the sidebar. They are both over 50 years old, so probably not under copyright protection.

Since the request came from one who knows the old Roman Rite, I am going to limit myself to what is different. So, to serve the Low Mass observe the following:

1. Genuflect with the priest on arriving at the altar and on departure only, if there is a tabernacle. Do not genuflect again during Mass, except for the Creed and Last Gospel. Domincians do not genuflect, but rather bow, when crossing before the tabernacle during Mass. Properly speaking, you should arrive carrying the Missal to deposit on the stand, and then you should light the candles (Gospel side first), but it is common for the Missal to be there already and the candles to be already lighted.

2. When the priest goes to the altar, get the cruets so that the priest can Make the Chalice. Say "Benedicite" to him before you give him the water. Kiss the priest's hand when you give him something or take it back (e.g. the cruet).

3. If you do not know the Dominican "Prayers at the Foot of the Altar," it is not a problem. The priest can use the formula from Prime when recited alone and say them by himself. You can find the proper responses in the link to the Ordinary for Low Mass link on the sidebar. Note that we do not strike our breasts at our single "mea culpa." Also, do not say "Deo gratias" after the readings: it is not done in the Dominican rite, except after the Last Gospel.

4. At the Offertory, minister the Lavabo and towel. Do not bring the wine as the chalice has already been prepared. When the priest says "Orate fratres" do not make any response. It is not in our rite.

5. When you have recited the Sanctus with the priest, go and light the "Sanctus Candle" as he begins the Canon. If there is no Sanctus Candle, you don't have to do this.

6. In some places, e.g., Australia, it is the custom, when the priest kisses the chalice after the mingling to rise, go to the altar and pick up the Pax Instrument (or lacking that the paten) and offer it to him to kiss. He will then give you the kiss of peace by saying "Pax tibi et sanctae Dei Ecclesiae." But do not do this unless the priest has told you it is the local practice.

7. Do not strike your breast at the Agnus Dei or at the Domine Non Sum Dignus.

8. After the dialogue of the Last Gospel, go immediately to snuff the candles (Epistle side first), while the priest is reading it, unless he tells you not to do this (it is not customary ni some places). When he picks up the chalice, you get the Missal (unless he tells you that it will be left on the altar).

9. In some places the old blessing in the sacristy is used: Mass concludes in the same way as the common Roman usage. In the sacristy: the server kneels and says "Benedictus Deus!", to which the priest responds blessing "Pater, et Filius et Spiritus Sanctus!" If the priest expects you to help him take off his vestments, do that first and then kneel, kiss his scapular, and say, "Benedictus Deus."

Other than that, serving Dominican Low Mass is identical to the old Roman Rite.


fr. Dominicus said...

I wonder whether it would be possible to have made a training video/dvd for the Dominican rite mass, both Low and High, just as the FSSP has done for the Roman rite. It would probably be quite expensive I suppose but I am sure that if it were to come about it would be a worthwhile means of preserving the rite. I say this because obtaining Bonniwell's cerimoniale is becoming increasingly difficult.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Dominicus,

There is actually a video usable as a training film. It can be purchased from the Rosary Center in Portland OR. A link is found on the sidebar.

If you decided to scan the Bonniwell Ceremonial and send me a copy of the PDF, I would be happy to post it on the sidebar. Ditto the Altar Boy Manual. I do not currently have a scanner here in Rome.

Boko Fittleworth said...

Is there some theology or tradition behind lighting the Gospel side candle first and extinguishing it last. I was told that the opposite was done (in the Roman Rite) because "the Gospel must have a witness."

Anonymous said...

Mr. Fittleworth,

As you probably know, many of the symbolic or "theological" explanations of ceremonies are ex post facto. This does not mean they are "wrong" but it does mean that they are somewhat ad hoc.

The usual explanation for the Dominican practice is that the Gospel side is lighted first and snuffed last because a lighted candle is an honor and the Gospel deserves the highest honor.

We also light the six candles for solemn Mass in a different order than the Roman (see the post below on the Solemn Mass). There the logic seems to be simply Gospel first lighted and last snuffed, nothing more.

I might add that some people became so upset that we did not light in the Roman order that the Easter province in the 1940s abandoned the Dominican tradition and adopted the Roman. See Bonniwell's Ceremonial.

The intolerant rubric hounds we will always have with us. Sigh.

Joshua said...


When I learnt to serve the Dominican Mass a few years back, for a friar I know, he taught me to go up to the altar after the Pax Domini, I recall, and use the purifier to pick up the paten and hold it for the priest to kiss, and then to put it back down, lay down the purifier, and return to my place. (I wasn't sure whether to genuflect before and after or not.)

Joshua said...

From the blog archive of Dominicanus (Fr Ephraem), an Australian O.P.:

'...The paten is used by the server to impart the Pax - "Pax Tibi et Ecclesia Sancta Dei." (There is considerable customary variation at this point.)...'

(It was another Aussie Friar Preacher, Fr Christopher, who taught me to serve.)

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is a local custom and specified to be done when it is such by Caeremoniale n. 941. Thre is nothing there, however about use of the purificator--but that is also probably a local custom. The Caer. indicates that the priest is the kiss the intrument (or lacking one the paten) held by the server at that point. The reference is to "ex mod. Missale." The 1933 Missal also has this rubric--BUT does not indicate any kiss, merely that he says the formula. Again "si est consuetudo"

I have never heard of this being one in the U.S. My suspicion is that this custom in Australia is Irish in origin. The Irish also seem to have almost universally used a spoon to put the water in the chalice.

Joshua said...

The Australian Province, as you know, Fr, was only erected in 1950 (which is why its coat of arms has the Ark of the Covenant, alluding to Apoc. xi, 19 as symbolic of the Assumption defined that year), and was founded from Ireland. I don't know anything of the Irish liturgical practices of old - apart from the secular clergy's - and people's - love of Low Mass said exceedingly fast.

Anonymous said...

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