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.

New on Dominican Saints and their Cults

On this the day after the traditional feast of St. Peter Martyr, O.P. (new calendar: June 4), I have the pleasure to announce two important new studies on Dominican saints and the history of devotion to them. Both are by my former doctoral student at the University of Virginia, Prof. Donald S. Prudlo, now assistant professor of ancient and medieval history at Jacksonville State University in Alabama. This first is his book, The Martyred Inquisitor: The Life and Cult of Peter of Verona (+1252), newly out from Ashgate Publishers in their series "Church, Faith and Culture in the Medieval West." It is now the standard work on St. Peter Martyr himself. This study not replaces and corrects the series of articles by Fr. Dondaine, O.P., published in 1953 and till now the only scholarly study of the saint, it also traces Peter's cult in liturgy, art, music, and sermons until the end of the middle ages, something never traced before. An example of one of the altarpiece painting dedicated to him can be seen to the above right.

Peter was born in Verona to a family tainted with Cathar dualism, but already as a student he turned strongly against that heresy. He entered the Dominican Order in Bologna and became famous for his preaching, converting Cathars and Waldensians, and strengthening the faith of Catholics. He was involved in city politics during the conflicts between factions professing support for the pope and emperor, especially at Florence, where he was involved in organizing popular resistence to the imperial faction. Prof. Prudlo's lively treatment of these street fights are among the most exciting parts of the book. In 1252 he was appointed papal inquisitor in Lombardy, an office he held for about six months, during which, Prof. Prudlo tells us, we only know of one juridicial action: a decree of clemency. Peter was hated by his heretical adverssaries and in the spring of that year a plot was hatched in Milan to have him murdered. During the Easter Octave, he was waylaid on the road outside of Como by a pair of thugs and cut down by blows to the head. He and his two socii had just finished singing the Victimae Paschali Laudes. Prof. Prudlo has reconstructed in detail the events of that last day, for which the investigation records still exist. In the middle ages, his cult rivaled that of St. Anthony of Padua, and he was known in Ireland as patron and deliverer of women in childbirth.

Peter's murderer, the hired assasin Carino of Balsamo, is the subject of Prof. Prudlo's article, ”The Assassin-Saint: The Life and Cult of Carino of Balsamo", Catholic Historical Review, 94 (2008): 1-21, just out in the January number of that journal. Carino escaped from prison in Milan where he had been arrested following the murder. For thirty or so years he wandered throughout Italy as a fugitive. Then one day he arrived at the Dominican priory in Forlì, where he asked to go to confession. As a penance, he became a lay brother, taking the name of Peter, and so he became a domestic of the monastery and died in the odor of sanctity. Soon a local cult grew up around his grave and he was venerated as a model or repentence. You can see his shrine effigy in the image. Devotion continues in Emilia and Romagna in Italy, even if the blessed Carino never made it into the official Domincian calendar.

If it was possible for Carino to become a saint, I would say Grace can save any of us.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Dominican Sacrae Theologiae Magister

I am pleased to let our readers know that there is now available, through the kindness of Mr. Philip Smith of Notre Dame University, in Latin and English, the ceremony for the creation of a Master of Sacred Theology as bestowed by the Order of Friars Preachers. The "Form for Creating a Master of Sacred Theology"may be consulted or downloaded. The rite for this ceremony has remained unchanged since 1690, with the exception of the "Profession of Faith," which is that most current. This title is an honorary one, granted by the Master of the Dominican Order, on the recommendation of his Council. Today the prerequisites are ten years of teaching at the graduate level and the publication of at least one book postively reviewed in international journals and of several articles in refereed academic journals. A friar with these qualifications may then be nominated by the prior provincial and council of his province. This academic title dates back to 1303, when Pope Benedict XI, a Dominican himself, created the rank so that the Dominican Order could independently grant the faculty to teach theology, without having the candidate approved by a university theology faculty. In the past an S.T.M. automatically sat on the council of his province and had privileged voting rights. The current publishing requirements did not exist. The political value of the privileges sometimes caused the nomination of friars for reasons other than academic excellence. The voting rights were abolished by the Dominican General Chapter of 1968, and the title today is wholly honorary. I might add that a Dominican S.T.M. never wears the regalia of the Office in liturgical functions, but only for academic exercies. The S.T.M., however, has the perpetual right to the title "very reverend." Indeed., the Dominican archbishop of Cincinnati, John T. McNicholas, was famous for refusing to use "D.D." (Doctor of Divinity) after his name he insisted on using "S.T.M." because it was the more distinguished academic title. (I thank Fr. Gerald Forgarty, S.J., for reminding me of this.)

The ceremony of installation is interesting for the symbolism employed. Normally, it is bestowed by the most recent S.T.M. of the province, who sits in the cathedra, the chair of a Master, to do so. If there is no S.T.M., the one doing the investiture does not sit in the cathedra, but stands next to it. The one to be promoted comes and kneels before him. The candidate makes a Profession of Faith according to the form currently in use. The one creating the new S.T.M. then places a ring on the ring finger of the candidate's left hand, and declares that As you have called Wisdom your friend, and your have become a lover of her beauty, you have asked that she become your spouse: Behold. God gives her to you as spouse, that she be with you always and possess your heart. An S.T.M. wears the ring on the left hand so that there is no confusion between him and a bishop, whose ring on the right hand is commonly kissed. One does not kiss the ring of an S.T.M. Traditionally, the ring of a Master may have only one stone, as in the example above. But often it has none, sometimes having merely an inscription. In the American Eastern and Western Dominican Provinces, it has been the practice to inscribe inside the ring the initials of previous the S.T.M.s of the province.

Ceremonially, the granting of the ring formally creates the candidate as a Master of Sacred Theology, although, in fact, the Master may use the title from the day on which it is granted by the Master of the Order and his Council. The one officiating then seats the candidate in the chair and announces his appointment as a Master. He places on the new Master's head the "black biretta" which is the insignia of a Master. The current practice is to use a black biretta with red-purple piping and pom-pom, as can be seen here. As the biretta of a doctor, it has four fins, not three as is the case for the biretta of a license or a clerical biretta. Originally this biretta was probably totally black and had no pom-pom or trim. An example of such a biretta may be seen at the beginning of his post, in the seventeenth-century of the Blessed Neils Stensen, convert, biologist, and bishop--who is not a Domincan as can be seen from his garb. The presider then turns to those assembled and announces: Behold the fragrance of my son is like the fragrance of a field in bloom; may the Lord cause you to increase by thousands, and may he bless you for all eternity. Amen. The new S.T.M. then rises and delivers his inaugural lecture.

Those who are in the San Franciscan Bay Area on November 15, 2008, may see this ceremony performed at 11 a.m. in the Western Dominican Province House of Studies, at St. Albert the Great Priory in Oakland.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Old Attire of Dominican Prelates

A recent posting on New Liturgical Movement. showing Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, O.P, of Vienna wearing the Dominican habit instead of the usual scarlet choir dress of a cardinal suggested this short piece on the earlier practice of Dominican and other religious order prelates and their dress. Another famous example in the United States of a prelate who continues to wear his order's religious garb is Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley of Boston, who wears his Capuchin habit but, or course, with the red zuchetto. According to John A. Nainfa, Costume of Prelates of the Catholic Church According to Roman Etiquette (Baltimore: Murphy; 1909), the "common law" of the Church in the early 1900s was that prelates from religious orders "should continue to wear the habit of their Order," although he notes that more commonly they adopted the attire of a prelate in the "colors" specific to their own order. The practice of prelatial attire in order colors was abolished in 1969 by Pope Paul VI (motu proprio Ut Sive Soliciti), and since that time many religious order prelates have reverted to the practice of simply wearing their habits or wearing the usual prelatial attire, which is also permissible.

As an example of the older practice of wearing the colors, is shown to the right, where you can see a famous painting (unfortuantely not in color), of Joseph Sadoc Alemany, O.P. (1814-1888), first archbishop of San Francisco and the co-founder, with Fr. Sadoc Francis Vilarrasa, O.P., of my Western Dominican Province. In it, you can see him wearing the white cassock and black mozzetta (trimed in white) which were used by Dominicans. His mantelletta, ferraiolo, and cappa magna would also have been also black. You can also see his pectoral cross and ring. Unfortunately his purple zuchetto is not very visible in the painting. That painting, by the way is rather famous. Archbishop Alemany always refused to sit for a portrait, so when he was about to retire and one was needed, the painter hid in a confessional of Old St. Mary’s Church (then the cathedral) and would peek out while the archbishop was preaching so as to get his likeness for the painting in progress hidden inside the box.

Here is another image of a Dominican prelate, but much older. It is Edward Fenwick, O.P. (1768-1832), of the Eastern Province, and bishop of Cincinnati. You will notice that he seems to have a hood which is white inside and that his mozzetta is plain black, with no white trim or bottons. I suspect that the life on the frontier in those days made getting the full outfit difficult. I suspect he is merely wearing a black mozzetta over his white Dominican habit (a privilege that is still enjoyed today on special occasions by the Dominican Province of Malta).

I am not going to hunt up examples of the prelates from other religious orders, but for those interested, here are some of the "colors" they wore: Augustinian Hermits, Basilians, and Vallombrosians: completely black; Benedictines: black with red trim; Silvestrines: blue; Camaldolese, Norbertines, Olivetans, Trinitarians: completely white; Cistercians and Trappists: like the Dominiicans but no white trim. Capuchin Franciscans: brown (with an otter-fur cappa magna in winter); all other Franciscans: ash gray (with vicuña fur cappa magna in winter); Carmelites brown, but with white where Domincans wear black; Those who want greater detail can consult Nainfa on line at: J. Nainfa, Costume of Prelates.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Dominican Solemn Mass: Pictures and Commentary

This series consists of a number of images of the Dominican Solemn Mass and other ceremonies taken about 1958 at Saint Albert the Great Priory in California, which is still the House of Studies of my province. These are an addition, requested by Shawn and others, to the series "The History of the Dominican Rite, 1946-1969." I will include comments and descriptions along with the photographs

This first image shows a server lighting the candles for Mass at the high altar of the priory. You will notice that the acolyte is wearing an alb, which shows that this is in preparation for a first- or second-class feast. If it were a third-class or ferial, he would be wearing a surplice. Those who know the Roman practice will notice that the order for lighting the candles is different. In the Dominican Rite we light the candles starting on the Gospel side and then going straight across. They are snuffed in the opposite direction, starting on the Epistle and then moving left. This way, the Gospel side has the first candle lighted and the last candle snuffed, symbolizing that Christ of the Gospel is always the "Light of the World." Those who have a copy of the Dominican Altar Boy's Manual published by the Eastern Province in the 1940s will notice that in that province they had adopted the Roman style of candle lighting; the traditional way shown here was followed in Europe and in the Western Province. The presence of an Easter lily shows that this is also Eastertide--there will be other indications of this later in the series.

In case you are wondering, the high altar is still there, although now rarely used. The two statues are St. Albert the Great, patron of the house (on the Gospel Side), and St. Thomas Aquinas, patron of studies (on the Epistle side). The altar cards were calligraphed and illuminated by a nun of Corpus Christi Dominican Monastery in Menlo Park, California, for, I believe, the dedication Mass of the chapel in 1954. They now hang over the vesting table in the sacristy. St. Albert's is our third "House of Studies" and opened in 1931; festivities will celebrate its 75th anniversary over the next year. The first Studium was in Monterey CA (1850-51), the next was St. Dominic's Priory in Benicia CA (1851-1930).


This picture shows the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar in a Dominican Solemn Mass at St. Albert the Great Priory in Oakland CA about 1958. The major ministers are Fabian Stan Parmisano, priest; Ambrose Toomey, deacon; and John Flannery, subdeacon. Fr. Fabian is the author of a history of the Western Province, Mission West: The History of the Western Dominican Province, 1850-1966 (Oakland: Western Province, 1995); Fr. Flannery later served as our provincial. Both are still alive and members of the Western Province.

The ministers have arrived at the altar, the deacon and subdeacon have placed the Missal and the Evangeliary on their respective cushions and returned to below the altar steps. As they were doing this, the priest recited quietly the prayer Actiones Quaesumus. The major ministers having reassembled at the step, the acolytes turn inward for the prayers. Those who know the Roman Rite will notice that in contrast (following the Sign of the Cross and the verse Confitemini Domino and response Quoniam in Saeculum), all the ministers bow at the same time and remain bowed together. The Dominican prayers are very simple reflecting their early origins. The short Confiteors follow the verse immediately and all rise after the Absolutionem. There is no striking of the breast at the single Mea Culpa, nor do the ministers cross themselves at the Absolutionem. They then recite the verse Adiutorium with its response Qui Fecit and ascend to the altar. After the priest recites the Aufer a Nobis, and kisses the altar, they form a line in back of the priest at the book and swing out to the right side of the altar for the recitation of the Officium (as we call the "Introit") and the Kyrie.

I don't have a picture of this swinging motion, but this one from a celebration in France, previously posted on N.L.M., gives an idea of what the result is like, although this is actually the swing at the Credo, which is on the Gospel side and also includes the thurifer. The reading of the Kyrie over, the ministers swing back into line behind the priest at the center, where he intones the Gloria. They swing again to the right and recite it with him. As the other ministers return to the sedilla (a single bench for all three, not three stools as in the French picture), the subdeacon and his acolyte go to the sacristy to retrieve the chalice and paten. During singing of the Gloria, these are brought to the altar in procession covered with the humeral veil, while the subdeacon's acolyte leads carrying the cruets. The subdeacon then sits with the other minsters until they return to the altar for the Dominus Vobiscum and the Collects. While sitting, acolytes cover the ministers' laps with the mappula (or "germial") to protect the vestments. You can see it on the stools in the French picture. The ministers hands go on top of it, not under it. It protects the vestments, it is not to keep their hands warm.


The following sections focuses on the Preparation of the Chalice during the intervening chants. After the Collects, the priest returns to the sedilla, and the subdeacon chants the Epistle (or Old Testament Reading at some Masses). During the Epistle, the deacon washes his hands (which in our rite is always done before handling sacred objects) and goes to the altar to remove the corporal from the burse and unfold it.

Accompanied by his acolyte, who carries the Missal, the deacon then returns to the sedilla, where he and the priest read the Epistle, intervening chants, and Gospel quietly. In the middle ages, they didn't read the Epistle and Gospel, but only the intervening chants (because the ministers would be too busy to sing them, as also the Ordinary, along with the choir). The Biblical readings properly belong to the deacon and subdeacon, so there was no reason for the priest to read them. The practice of reading them in our rite was a Romanization of the 1600s. The Roman Rite had picked up this practice under the influence of the late-medieval Low Mass, where the priest performed all the ministries himself. This gave some liturgists of that period the impression that, even at Solemn Mass, the priest should repeat all the words of the other ministers. We resisted this innovation until the 1690s, when it was imposed on us, along with yet another late-medieval Roman practice, the Last Gospel.

The Epistle ended, in this photograph, the cantors in medio chori are intoning the first of the two Eastertide Alleluias. You can also see the Dominican community in their stalls. They have their capuches down for the Alleluia; they would still be up if it were a Responsorium. The chapel looks very much the same today, except that the stalls are now triple-ranked instead of double-ranked. You can also see two of the twelve dedication candles on the wall above the stalls. Western Province friars will recognize Fr. Bede Wilks as the last cantor on the right. You can tell that this is a major feastday, perhaps a Sunday, because there are four cantors intoning the chants and singing the verses. On a second-class feast, there would be two; on a third-class or ferial, where would be only one. As the Responsorium or first Alleluia is sung, the subdeacon washes his hands and receives the humeral veil from his acolyte (it has been resting on the altar since the chalice arrived during the Gloria). He picks up and covers the chalice and paten with the veil, then both go to the sedilla for the Preparation of the Chalice. I might add that in the Missa Cantata the chalice is also prepared at this point but at the altar. As I mentioned above, the well-known practice of mixing the chalice before the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar is done only at Low Mass.

In this picture you can see the preparation of the Chalice, over which the priest, Fr. Fabian Parmisano, is presiding. He and the deacon are seated on the sedilla, the single bench for the major ministers. The priest sits closest the altar, then the deacon, and finally the subdeacon. That sedilla is still in use at St. Albert's, although now for minor ministers. The acolytes sit farther away from the altar on their own bench. Bro. John Flannery, the subdeacon, is mixing the chalice, pouring in the wine and water (just blessed by the priest). You can see Bro. Ambrose Toomey, the deacon, holding the paten covered by the pall. Just before the preparation of the chalice, he presented the host on the paten to the priest for his approval. (I once had the horrible experience of my deacon lifting the pall and showing me an empty paten--the subdeacon had forgotten to put a host on when he set up the chalice, as is his job, in sacristy before Mass!) On the laps of the priest and deacon, you can see the mappula protecting their vestments from spills. Over the subdeacon's shoulders you can see his humeral veil. When the Preparation of the Chalice is over, the subdeacon will return the chalice and paten to the altar and return to sit with the other major ministers. All heads are uncovered; unlike the Roman practice of wearing the biretta during readings and chants, our major ministers keep their capuches down during the entire Mass. By that time the final Alleluia has begun, and the minor ministers will be arriving in procession from the sacristy for the chanting of the Gospel. You will notice that all heads are uncovered; unlike the Roman practice of wearing the biretta during readings and chants, the major ministers keep our capuches down during the entire Mass. They are only up for the processions coming in and going out.


We not turn to the rituals and practices in the Dominican Rite at the proclamation of the Gospel. The first image is, I am sorry, not very good because it was scanned from a printed book illustration--William Bonniwell, Dominican Ceremonial for Mass and Benediction (Washington DC: Eastern Province, 1946)--and has been reused from a previous posting here on N.L.M. It shows, most importantly for our purposes, the Dominican way of carrying the book. This contrasts with the two-hand carry in the traditional Roman Rite and the over the head carry that seems to have become obligatory in the New Mass. The Dominican way is sober, and one could imagine a preacher carrying a precious book like this on a long journey. One may also see in this image an apparelled alb and amice, which would have been very common in the middle ages. This decoration is something that, as far as I can tell, was not used in the Western Province until it was introduced at Holy Rosary Church in Portland OR on the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of the Parish in 1995, when the Archbishop Leveda presided in choro at a Dominican Solemn Mass. A video of that Mass is available, see the link on side-bar. This image shows the deacon as he is about to leave the sacristy for Mass: with the capuche down, it would be the way he carried the book during the Gospel procession.

As the choir sang the Alleluia, the two acolytes with candles would have escorted the thurifer and the crucifer from the sacristy to the sanctuary. The only time the cross is carried at Mass in our Rite is for the two proclamations of Faith: the Gospel and the Credo. The thurifer goes to the sedilla for the blessing of the incense and then returns to the center. At the verse of the Alleluia, the procession goes to the lectern where the acolytes with candles flank the crucifer behind it and the subdeacon takes his place behind the deacon, and the thurifer behind him. The deacon here is Bro. Ambrose Toomey, as in the earlier images, with Bro. John Flannery behind him. This image is a bit dark, but you can clearly see the Pascal Candle that is placed behind the lectern in Eastertide. According to the rubrics of the Dominican liturgical books, it is also possible for the Gospel Procession to leave the sanctuary, especially if there is a monumental pulpit for proclamation of the Gospel. The rubrics emphasize that the procession should be long enough to give a sense of real movement. For this reason, historically, the sanctuaries of Dominican priory churches have always had large sanctuaries to allow this kind of movement, as well as the swings to the sides of the altar.

As is clearer in this photograph from the opposite direction, the entire formation takes the form of a cross (you cannot see the thurifer behind the subdeacon). As you can see, the ministers are facing "liturgical" north, the direction of darkness and (in the middle ages) paganism, which the light of the Gospel will enlighten. You will also notice the lectern veil, which is properly a part of very set of Dominican vestments and should match them and the mappula. It is not the Dominican practice for the subdeacon to hold the book. In back you can see the high altar (where the priest is standing for the Gospel just out of the picture) and one of the dedication candles. You will also notice that the acolytes have their inner arms higher than the outer ones because they have turned. When in procession the outer arm is higher. This is the usual way of holding the candles‑-I mention this because I received a question about it from a reader who noticed that at his Indult Parish they hold them differently.

I include here one more photograph of the proclamation of the Gospel, this from Easter Sunday in the same year. The deacon will be recognized by older Western Dominicans as Fr. Barnabas Curtin (R.I.P.). You can see the friars in the act of turning toward the lectern for the chanting of the Gospel. Even in the new rite, most Dominicans have kept the practice of turning toward the Word of God when it is proclaimed. Head bows at the Holy Names are made to the book where they are written, not to the altar, in our Rite. The vestments worn by the deacon and subdeacon are the beautiful cloth-of-gold solemn set made in Germany for the dedication of the chapel. The remains of them are now in the archives of the Province.
It was the practice in the middle ages, and in the modern period when there was no sermon, for the Priest to immediately intone the Credo when the Gospel was finished. The deacon then handed the book to the subdeacon to carry back in procession and they went escorted by the candle-bearing acolytes, thurifer and crucifer. The singing of the Credo provided "traveling music" for the long procession back to the altar. It remained the practice in the order until the last century to do this, even when there was a sermon, which was given after the Credo as in the medieval practice. During the Credo the Cross remained in the center of the sanctuary, while the acolytes and major ministers did a swing to the Gospel side to read the text quietly. Of course, they would swing back to the middle at the Et incarnatus est to kneel in the famous "flying wedge" formation: priest at the altar, behind him the two major ministers, and below them the three minor ministers, forming a perfect triangle, a symbol of the Trinity proclaimed in the Creed.

In our last photograph you can see the arrival of the Gospel book at the altar. The subdeacon, Bro. John Flannery, holds it for the priest, Fr. Fabian Parmisano to kiss, as the deacon steadies it. The subdeacon will then present it for the deacon to kiss and replace it on the altar.


The Offertory of the Dominican Rite is one of its most famous features and has strong similarities to the Sarum and several other early medieval monastic uses. In this first picture we see again that beautiful cloth-of-gold solemn set. The priest is Fr. William Lewis, O.P. (R.I.P.), in that year, 1958, prior of the House of Studies. He is assisted by the deacon, Bro. Barnabas Curtin, O.P. The subdeacon was, I understand, a student visiting from another province. The elaborate vestments and the fact that the prior is celebrant shows that this is a very high ranked feast. In fact, it is actually the Easter Vigil, as you can tell because the tabernacle door is open: there have been no reserved species since the Good Friday communion. Fr. Lewis has just turned and greeted the community with the Dominus Vobiscum and said that lonely Oremus that is the only vestige of the ancient "Prayers of the Faithful" in both our Rite and the Roman. One of the archaic aspects of the Easter Vigil is that there is no Offertory chant--the Vigil's form predates its development in the 700s.

The subdeacon has uncovered the vessels and handed them to the deacon. The deacon is here handing the priest the chalice with the paten and host on top. He says quietly to the priest Immola Deo sacrificium laudis et redde Altissimo vota tua. The priest then immediately offers up the bread and wine in a single oblation. At Low Mass, where there is no deacon to address him, the priest says instead Quid retribuam Domino pro omnibus quae retribuit mihi? Calicem salutaris accipiam et nomen Domini invocabo before making the oblation. Our single Offertory Prayer, Suscipe Sancta Trinitas, is shared by many northern uses. The priest then places the host and chalice on the corporal and puts the paten aside. There are no other prayers at this point. You can also see in this picture the thurifer waiting to present the incense, and the two acolytes, who are preparing the lavabo bowl and towel, which they will give to the deacon and subdeacon for washing the priest's hands after the incensation.

The priest here turns to the deacon to bless the incense. In this photograph we again see Fr. Parmisano and Bro. Ambrose. The thurifer holds the censer and the deacon presents a spoonful of incense. The priest blesses it silently. We do not have the well-know Roman prayer for blessing incense, so the blessing is done with a simple Sign of the Cross. That lovely Gothic censor, which was cast for the dedication of the chapel, was stolen several years ago. I carried it many times as a student back in the 1970s and 80s. It makes me sad to see it and know that it is gone. Its twin, however, is still with us, regularly in use at the 11:00 a.m. Schola Cantorum High Mass (Ordinary Use) at St. Dominic's in San Francisco.

This photograph shows the incensing of the altar after the Offertory Prayer; the priest is assisted by the deacon. Our method of incensing is simpler than the Roman. The priest makes a single Sign of the Cross over the gifts with the thurible, bows his head, and raises the thurible three times before the gifts. He makes three lifts to the Cross. He then moves to the Epistle side, making three lifts above the altar; then he returns to the middle and proceeds to the Gospel side, making three lifts. Then he moves from Gospel corner to Epistle corner, making six lifts along the way below the edge of the altar (making a bow to the Cross at the middle). The priest gives the censer back to the deacon, who incenses him with three lifts, and then hands it off to the thurifer. There is, by the way, a Dominican way of making the lifts. We never, never, never clank the chains, and the lifts are straight up and down. I like to think that this is so that the clanking noise doesn't disturb the chant. I forgot to mention earlier that we do not incense the altar at the beginning of Mass. In the Foremass, incense is for the Gospel only. Now, as the sacrifice begins, we incense the altar.

The priest washes his hands with a shorter version of the Psalm Lavabo used in the Roman Rite. He bows and recites the prayer In spiritu humilitatis, and then turns to the ministers and says Orate fratres, to which there is no reply in our Rite. He then reads the Secrets. There is no incensing of the ministers until the Preface. In this last photograph, another unclear one scanned from Fr. Bonniwell's book, you can see the ministers in position for this incensation. The priest has just begun to sing the Preface; in a moment, the deacon and subdeacon, as well as the two acolytes, will turn to the thurifer. He will incense them: deacon and subdeacon with two lifts each, and the senior and junior acolyte with one lift each. The thurifer then goes to incense each individual friar in the stalls, according to their order of religion. The provincial, if present, gets three lifts; each priest, two lifts; unordained brothers, one lift. It was, and still is, customary for the thurifer then to incense the people in parochial churches.


After the incensation of the ministers, the deacon and subdeacon read the Sanctus with the priest as the acolytes go to light the "Sanctus Candles." Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of these, which are usually on branched candlesticks flanking the altar. These candles stay lighted till communion. There are six (three on each side of the altar) on first class feasts, four on second class, and two on ordinary days. Then, as the priest bows and begins the Te Igitur, the subdeacon puts on the humeral veil and receives the paten from the deacon. He will hold it covered until the Pater Noster. This, in our Rite and in the Roman, is a vestige of the ancient practice of receiving food offerings from the congregation at the Offertory. In order to get them off the altar they were covered and the subdeacon took then away and held them at the foot of the steps. One of the invariable rules of our Rite is that we do not follow the early modern practice of separating the Sanctus and Benedictus. The chant is always executed together. This means that there will be a silent period after the consecration. Taken with the silent period during the Offertory after the chant is over and the silent period after the Lord's Prayer, these are the "three silences" of the Mass. Medieval commentators considered them symbolic of Our Lord's three days in the tomb.

During the Canon, up to the Quam oblationem, the deacon and subdeacon stand behind the priest, with the thurifer behind the subdeacon flanked by the acolytes. Thus they form a cross. At the Quam oblationem, the ministers again form the "flying wedge" and kneel, as you can see in this photograph of the Elevation of the Chalice. The triangle formed by the priest, the major ministers, and the three servers is clearly visible. The subdeacon holds the veiled paten, the thurifer has passed the censer to the deacon, who lifts the back of priest's chasuble and incenses continuously during the elevation. After the reposition of the chalice and genuflection, the priest will extend his hands moderately beyond his shoulders to form a cross, a position he will maintain until the words Hostiam puram. This is probably one of the best-known gestures in our Rite, one shared with the Norbertines and other northern liturgies. Otherwise, the priest does not extend his hands beyond the shoulders, and (unlike Roman priests) he holds them with palms facing forward not toward each other.

I have not had the opportunity to say much about choir rubrics, but this next photograph is so interesting that I need to. In it, you see a group of French friars performing "Prostration on the Forms" in the early 1950s. In the traditional Rite, the friars stood (with capuches up) from the Sanctus to the Quam oblationem, then, when the ministers knelt, they prostrated on the forms, as they are doing here, for the consecration. That they do not look up at the elevations is a sign of how ancient this act of reverence was. In fact, when the "Four Friars" did the first standardization of our liturgy in the 1230s, the elevation of the host was not practiced in most places. We first know it at Paris in 1205. It was probably added to our Rite by Humbert of Romans in the 1250s or some time before, but we didn't adopt the elevation of the chalice until the 1300s. Even then, we kept the ancient prostration as our sign of respect at the Consecration. That is, until 1963, when simple kneeling with head uncovered replaced it.

I might add that there are other archaic aspects in our Rite. For example, the only genuflections are on entering and leaving the church (when the Sacrament is reserved) and, by the priest, before and after each occasion when he touches the host or chalice after the Consecration. Ministers make a bow when they cross in front of the tabernacle during Mass, not a genuflection. So the priest only genuflects ten times in the entire Mass, other minsters only twice. Those who are used to the multiple genuflections in the traditional Roman Mass often comment on this. On the other hand, we never, never turn our backs on the tabernacle; something those in the Roman Rite do occasionally. This takes some intricate footwork, I assure you.

After the Pater Noster and the Pax Domini, comes the priest's communion. Our priest's communion rite is very simple. He has been holding the host in his left hand since the fraction during the doxology of the Libera nos. After dropping the particle into the chalice (with the commingling formula) and kissing its lip, he says the prayer Domine Iesu Christi (also in the Roman Rite) and the short formula Corpus et Sanguis Domini. He then immediatly receives communion. That is all: there is no Domine non sum dignus, no striking of the breast, and no other prayers. In fact, our priest's communion is simpler than that in the Ordinary Use of the Roman Rite. In the middle ages, when general communions in the monastery were only about ten times a year, the ceremony of the Pax was understood as a substitute for communion. We preserved this rite into the modern age, even after general communions become more common. When the priest kissed the chalice at the commingling, he turned his head to the deacon and said Pax tibi et sanctae Dei Ecclesiae. The deacon then took up the Pax Instrument (a small plaque with a holy image on the front and a handle on the back) from the altar and kissed it. He then presented it to the subdeacon to kiss with the same formula. The subdeacon then presented it to the minor ministers. Finally, the crucifer took it to the community, each of whom received it to kiss, again in order of religion, as at the incensing.

I like this picture of the friars' communion very much. It shows the prior, Fr. William Lewis, giving Easter Vigil communion to the St. Albert's community. On most days, the friars received communion at priests' daily private Masses, but on days of general communion they received it at the Sung Mass in a very impressive rite. After the singing the Agnus Dei and the Communion Verse that immediately followed it, the friars put on their cappas and filed out of the stalls. As the priest turned half way to expose the ciborium resting on the corporal, all did the "venia": a full prostration on the floor. They then, prostrate, recited together the Confiteor.

The priest gave the absolution, and took up the ciborium. Then, in order of religion, the friars came forward to receive on the altar steps. Here the acolytes hold the "communion cloth" to catch the host should it drop. Notice that, in this photograph, since it is Eastertide, the friars are not wearing their black cappas, as they otherwise would. Those friars who are priests kneel and take the host with their own hand; the unordained receive, of course, on the tongue. I believe you can just make out in this picture a medieval practice that had died out in many parts of the Order. That friar standing in back is the deacon with a chalice of unconsecrated wine. After communion each friar communicant got a sip to cleanse his mouth of particles. I have actually only seen this elaborate communion ritual once. It was at a Missa Cantata that I sang at St. Dominic's Church in San Francisco for the feast of Our Lady of the Snow three years ago. The parish Schola Cantorum under Mr. Berry sang Palestrina and Biebl, and the Dominican community assisted in choro, following all the old choir rubrics.

Well, that finishes this series. But, as I run off to pranzo with the Angelicum community here in Rome, I leave you with one last photograph: Easter Dinner in the St. Albert's refectory in 1958. Buon' appetito!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sacraments other than Mass in the Dominican Rite

I. The Sacrament of Penance (Confession)

In the wake of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, which allowed for pastoral purposes celebration not only of the Mass but of the other sacraments, I have been asked a number of times by friars whether the Dominican Rite had its own particular forms for the sacraments. This is an interesting question, and I think readers here would find it interesting.

The Dominican Rite is a monastic rite and, as such, does not have forms for Baptism, Confirmation, Orders, or Matrimony. Dominican friars, like other religious, are assumed to be adults, and they are celibates, so there is no need for Baptism, Confirmation, or Matrimony. When they become bishops they canonically cease to be members of the Order, so Dominican bishops use the Roman rituals. If a friar is serving in a parish or other place where baptisms are performed, marriages witnessed, or an emergency Confirmation of an infant must be done, they would use the Roman rituals. We do have a form of the Missa Pro Sponsis in our missals, but its readings and collects are borrowed from the Roman Rite and it is a post-Tridentine addition. It is used with the customary forms for marriage.

Aside from the Mass, two sacraments were, and are, regularly performed in monasteries: Penance (Confession) and Extreme Unction (Anointing of the Sick). So the Dominican Rite has its own forms for those sacraments and these were also used in pastoral service to non-Dominicans. Both, like the Dominican Mass, represent ritual practice of the thirteenth century rather than the fifteenth- century usages codified in the Roman Rite after the Council of Trent.

Penance According to the Dominican Rite

The major external difference between the Roman and Dominican rites of Penance is in vesture. Roman priests traditionally heard confessions in cassock and surplice wearing a purple stole. Dominicans heard (and may still hear) confessions wearing the habit (which is white) and the cappa (the black cape), without a stole. The traditional explanation of the absence of the stole is that the scapular (a white apron-like part of the habit) is considered a stole. I think this story unlikely. The lack of church vestments in our rite is probably a vestige of the early medieval practice of using vestments only during administration of Public Penance on Holy Thursday. "Private" sacramental penance was not usually administered with external formalities at the time of the foundation of the Order. The black cappa was penitential enough.

The formula of Dominican Rite Penance is different in text and form from that of the traditional Roman Rite. As not all readers may be familiar with the older Roman form, I will describe it. In the modern period, both rites began with the penitent confessing his or her sins and then proceeded to the absolutions.

The Roman "Common Absolution" began with an invocation of God's mercy (Misereatur tui) similar to the priest's prayer in the modern Penitential Rite at Mass. He then raised his right hand and prayed a two-part absolution prayer. The first part invoked God's pardon, absolution, and remission of sins in the third person; the second part, the formal absolution, is in first person and first absolved the penitent from excommunication, suspension (if in orders), and interdict, and then from sins with a single Sign of the Cross. The priest then added the prayer Passio Domini Nostri, which remains an option in the new Rite of Reconciliation.

In the Dominican form, the priest began by absolving the penitent from excommunication, suspension (if a cleric), and interdict, explicitly stating that this restored the penitent to the communion of the faithful. Putting this first reflects the ancient practice that only those in full communion can pray with the faithful or receive ecclesiastical sacraments and rites. So it begins the rite as a whole. The Dominican priest then recited the Misereatur in a form identical to that used during the Dominican Prayers at the Foot of the Altar.

In thirteenth-century practice, this Misereatur prayer probably followed a ritual now absent from the rite. It was very common for priests to help penitents make confession by using a Formula Confessionis in question and answer form: "Did you take the Lord's name in vain?" "Did you commit adultery" etc. Priests can still do this today, if the penitent seems to have trouble identifying sins; and it is often used when a penitent makes a general confession. What today is relatively uncommon, seems, from my research, to have been nearly universal in the 1200s. After confessing their sins, penitents said a Confiteor (or some other formula of contrition) to which the priest added the Misereatur prayer, which normally followed it, as at Mass.

The priest then pronounced the Absolution. The Dominican form, in comparison to the Roman, because it lacks the absolution from censures, focuses more directly on sins and judgment. This is a remarkable prayer and incorporates not only the typical thirteenth-century focus on God's mercy, but also an explicitly eschatological dimension. Here is my translation of the Dominican formula:

May Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, through his most gracious mercy, absolve you; and by his authority, through which I act, I absolve you of all your sins, so that you be absolved both here and before the tribunal of Our Lord, the same Jesus Christ, and so that you might have eternal life and live forever. In the name of the Father + and of the Son + and of the Holy + Spirit. Amen.

Here, for comparison, is the parallel prayer in the Roman Ritual:

May Our Lord Jesus Christ absolve you, and by his authority I absolve you from every bond of excommunication, suspension, and interdict, to the extent of my power and your need. Finally I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, + and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Note also the triple blessing in the Dominican form, something used in the Roman rite of Penance only by bishops. The Dominican, like the Roman, then concluded with the prayer Passio, which in the Dominican form mentions St. Dominic along with the Virgin, intentions as well as actions, and concludes with a final blessing in the name of the Trinity. Both the Dominican and Roman rituals provided shortened versions for use when penitents were many and a brief absolution for emergencies.

By analogy, in my opinion, as the use by Roman priests of older sacraments is now permitted for pastoral need, this form of absolution might be used by Dominican priests who have permission to use the Dominican Rite. I hope in another posting to discuss the Dominican form of Extreme Unction.

Those interested in seeing the whole formula in the original Latin may find it on the sidebar of this blog, "Dominican Liturgy," to the left of this post under "Domincan Rite Resources."

II. Viaticum: Communion of the Dying

As explained earlier, the rituals for the Sacraments in the Dominican Rite, our Rite is a monastic rite and presupposes the context of a religious house (which is commonly referred to by Dominicans as a "convent" even when it is a house of men) for the celebration of the sacraments. In the case of Confession and Mass, there is nothing particularly "monastic" about the rituals that make them more difficult to perform in a parochial or extra-conventual context than their parallels in the Roman Rite. This is not the case for the Dominican rituals for Viaticum and for Extreme Unction, what is called in the new Roman rite the "Anointing of the Sick." These rituals in our Rite properly require the presence of a choir of the friars and a sizable group of ministers. As the rite includes processions and music, it is not surprising that it is found in the Processionarium, which collects music for processions and other rites that are not part of Mass or Office.

In their complexity these rituals reflect those of the Italian/Roman family of liturgical books that I examined in chapter 10 of my Cities of God: the Religion of the Italian Communes, 1125-1325 (University Park PA: Penn State Univ. Press, 2005)--See link on left sidebar. Italian/Roman books of that period envision the presence of a choir and sometimes as many as seven priests. In contrast, however, the Ambrosian books of the period envision no music and could be used by a single priest. This rite also had only two anointings, not seven, just like the modern Roman rite for anointing the sick. The evidence from saints' lives, chronicles, synodalia, and other sources suggests that in the high middle ages, most lay people did not receive Extreme Unction. The rites of dying focused on Confession and Viaticum. Anointing seems to have been in great part a ritual for religious and for clerics living in community. The development of the Tridentine form of the Roman ritual in the later middle ages, which dropped the music and complex ceremonies so that a single priest could perform it, finally made it available to the laity on a wide basis. The rites I will now explain were pretty much exclusively used with in the monastery. Dominican priests engaged in pastoral work with the laity in the modern period used the Roman Ritual, with its simplified rite, when attending the dying at home or in the hospital.

The term "Last Rites" refers to a complex of three separate rituals, Confession, Communion as Viaticum, and Anointing (or in the modern order: Confession, Anointing, and Viaticum). The old and new Roman rituals include a form for administering all three ceremonies in a single ceremony. This continuous rite was, and is, commonly used. The Dominican "Last Rites," as they are preserved in our Processionale, appear as separate ceremonies. It is not assumed that they will take place in a single event. I have already discussed the Dominican form of Penance, the first rite of the "Last Rites." A sick friar or nun would have confessed, as did the laity, in a private ceremony using the forms I have previously described. When it appeared that the illness was terminal, but while the sick were still well enough to receive Communion, the next rite was final Communion (Viaticum).

When Viaticum was to be administered, the bell for Office was wrung in a special way to indicate that the brothers should assemble in the sacristy for the procession. The friars then went in procession to the tabernacle in this order: two acolytes in surplice carrying lighted processional candles, two friars without surplice holding a lantern and a bell, a friar with the holy water, a friar with cruets and lavabo bowel, friars of the community, friars with candles to escort the sacrament, umbrella or canopy bearer(s), the prior (or, if absent, a senior priest) wearing surplice with stole and humeral veil. All knelt. The prior removed the ciborium or pyx and covered it with his humeral veil. The umbrella or canopy was arranged over him and the candle-bearers around him. The procession then went to the sick room, singing the Gradual Psalms in tono directo.

On arrival at the sick room, the prior said Pax huic domui, and, after the response, intoned the Asperges, which was sung by the friars as he sprinkled the room. This ended, the verses and collect of this rite were sung. The prior then urged the sick friar to be reconciled to any present whom he had offended and to forgive any who had offended him. This done, the sick friar then recited the Confiteor in the Dominican form, with the prior pronouncing the Misereator and Absolutionem. The formula Ecce Angus Dei and Domine non sum dignus was not used as it was not a Dominican practice, although it was added to our Communion Rite at Mass in 1958, one of a number of Romanizations during the 1950s. It was not added to the Viaticum rite.

The prior then presented the Host to the sick friar and asked him: Credis quod hic sit Christus Salvátor Mundi? He responded: Credo. The prior then gave him Communion using the Dominican Viaticum formula: Corpus Dómini nostri Iesu Christi custódiat te, et perdúcat ad vitam ætérnam. The friar with the cruets washed the prior's fingers and the ablution was given to the sick friar to consume. The prior sang the collect Exaudi nos. The community then returned in procession to the sacristy, with umbrella or canopy folded, escort candles extinguished and no bell-ringing (unless there were additional Hosts to return to the tabernacle first).

The same ceremony was used in houses of nuns, with the priest chaplain as the celebrant. In contrast, ordinary Communion of the Sick, even in the monastery, used a much simpler form of the rite. A single priest came with the host preceded by a one acolyte, reciting (not singing) alternately the psalm Miserere. The question Credis was omitted and the normal Communion formula of our Rite (which omits the phrase et perducat from the Viaticum formula) was used.

Later, when the sickness became critical, it was time for Extreme Unction.

III. Extreme Unction: Anointing of the Dying

Like the Rite of Viaticum, the ritual of Extreme Unction in the Dominican Rite begins with the assembly of the community in the sacristy for the procession to the room where the sick friar is dying. The procession consists of the Holy Water bearer, two candle-bearing acolytes in surplice, a lantern bearer and a friar with a hand-cross, then comes the sacristan with the Oleum Infirmorum and a case containing six wool or cotton balls or six strips of linen. Last comes the celebrant followed by the community in order of seniority.

At the sick room the celebrant gives the greeting and sprinkles Holy Water during the singing of the Asperges, as for Viaticum. This complete, he intones the collect Domine Deus, qui per Apostolum tuum Iacobum. This prayer is also found in the old Roman ritual of Extreme Unction (with minor differences of phrasing), but in that rite it follows the Pater Noster after the anointings. As the prayer summarizes the institution of the rite in the Epistle of James, it serves as a scriptural warrant for the rite about to be preformed. In an interesting parallel the Epistle passage itself is now used at this point in the modern Roman ritual. As in Viaticum, the dying friar asks and gives pardon for offenses given or received from community members. He then recites the Confiteor to which the celebrant gives the usual absolutions. The celebrant then offers the dying friar the Cross to kiss. This is a ceremony absent from the Tridentine Roman form, although nearly universal in the high middle ages––it was probably also in the Roman ceremony before its simplification. After the veneration of the Cross, the celebrant intones the antiphon: Intret orátio mea in conspéctu tuo: inclína aurem tuam ad preces nostras, Dómine. The friars of the convent chant the Seven Penitential Psalms. The anointing itself is performed during the chanting of these psalms.

The Dominican, like the old Roman, practice, consists of seven anointings: first the five senses, then the hands and feet (which, although requiring a anointing on both extremities, were considered single anointings for formula purposes). As in the Roman ritual, priests are anoninted on the back of the hands, others on the palms. This is so as not to "repeat" the anointing on the palms that priests receive at ordination. As the celebrant finishes each anointing, an appointed friar uses a different one of the cotton balls or linen strips to clean away the Holy Oil. They will be burned after the rite and the ashes put down the sacrarium in the sacristy, practice also part of the old Roman rite. When the celebrant has finished, the sacristan washes his hands. The formulas used during for the Dominican anointings parallel the Roman ones, differing only in minor vocabulary choices or word order. In only one case is there a significant difference of meaning: the Dominican anointing of the mouth mentions the sin of taste (gustum) but not of that of speech (locutionem). This shorter form is probably the older one and focused, in parallel to the other formulas, on the corporal sense anointed alone. But the both sets of formula are so close that they certainly derive from a common ancestor.

When the community finished chanting the Penitential Psalms, the antiphon was sung again, and the Pater Noster was recited silently. After a series of verses and responses slightly shorter than the Roman use, the celebrant sings seven collects: Quaesumus Omnipotens Deus; Respice Domine; Deus qui facturae; Deus infirmitatis; Deus qui humano; Virtutum caelestium; and Domine sancte Pater. The Roman ritual has here only the three collects: Domine Deus (which opens the Dominican Rite ceremony); Respice Domine, and Domine Sancte Pater; all of which have minor verbal differences from the Dominican forms but clearly go back to a common source. The seventh collect finished, the priest imparts an absolution using a long prayer, absent from the Roman version, beginning Dominus Iesus Christus qui dixit discipulis suis. The community then leaves in procession to return to the sacristy. As with Viaticum, the same forms were used in convents of nuns when the priest chaplain administered Last Rites to a sister.

Those who know the old Roman ritual of Extreme Unction will notice that the Dominican form is shorter because it lacks a number of Roman elements: two of the three long Roman collects after the Asperges; the reading of Matthew 8: 5-10, 13; the Litany before the anointing; and the final blessing. In spite of these differences, both rites are clearly members of the same liturgical family and resemble and share prayers with the high medieval Italian/Roman forms of the rite I have studied. In practice, they differ most conspicuously in the absence of the Dominican chanted psalms and external formalities from the Roman. This difference, however, is late medieval. In the thirteenth century, Italian/Roman versions of the ceremony would still have assumed music and external formalities.

As I wrote earlier, a number of elements from the old Dominican rite of Extreme Unction, including the kissing of the Cross, were approved in the 1970s for use in the context of the new Roman Rite of Anointing of the Sick. Unfortunately, no consolidated Latin ritual, much less a translation, has ever been prepared to facilitate this, so the practice remains very uncommon. As with the form of Absolution in Confession, however, Dominicans with permission from their provincials to celebrate the traditional Dominican Rite would also be able to use this older form of the sacrament, should pastoral circumstances warrant it.

This concludes my series on the Sacraments for which the Dominican rite has its own rituals. As I wrote at the beginning of the series, when friars began to serve in parishes in the early modern period, they used the Roman ritual for baptisms and marriages; and Dominican bishops used the Roman forms for Confirmation and Holy Orders.

Dominican Rite Lent


We begin with a picture of Fr. Anthony Patalano, O.P., pastor of Holy Rosary Church in Portland OR blessing ashes before the Mass of Ash Wednesday. Father is using the simple form of the blessing of Ashes before Mass, which consists simply of the Benedictio Cinerum itself with no other ceremonies. Observant readers will notice that, as the celebrant of the day, he already wears the alb and stole (but not, of course, the maniple), and is wearing a cope pro causa solemnitatis. The veiled chalice is already on the altar since the Mass at Holy Rosary that day was a Missa Cantata and so there was no subdeacon to carry it in during the Kyrie, which is what would be done in the Dominican Solemn Mass.

Were this ceremony to being done in a large priory, there would be considerably more ceremony. The ministers would come in procession to the sanctuary in this order: acolyte without candle, subdeacon, deacon with missal, hebdomadarian (celebrant of the week), prior. The major ministers would be vested for Mass as on ferial days (alb and stole, no dalmatics) and the celebrant would not be wearing the chasuble. The prior would wear surplice and stole. On reaching the altar, the minsters would prostrate below the altar steps, and the prior would begin the antiphon Ne reminiscaris without chant; the community would then recite, also without music, the Seven Penitential Psalms. These finished, and following the recited Kyrie and silent Pater Noster, the prior recites the usual collect for these psalms. He then gives the absolution Dominus Iesus Christus, with its references to Peter's power of binding and loosing. This absolution has its roots in the bishop's prayers for the public penitents who were still enrolled on this day in the 1200s. Those who want to read more on Public Penance during Lent in that period may consult my book Cities of God, chapter 7.

This rite over, the subdeacon holds the ashes and the acolyte the holy water; the prior blesses the ashes using the usual prayer, which is sung to the melody of collects during Office. The Dominican blessing of Ashes is as follows:

Almighty and ever-living God, who have mercy on all and hate nothing which you have made, overlooking human sins because of penance, we ask you, who raise up all those struggling in need, also to bless + and sanctify these ashes, which, on account of humility and holy devotion, and to reform our failings, you have commanded to be placed on our heads, after the model of the Ninivites. And grant that, through the invocation of your name, all those who have them on their heads and beg your mercy might merit pardon of their offenses; and, as today we begin the fast of Lent, may they also, on the day of the Ressurection, with minds cleansed, merit to approach your Passover Supper, and in eternity become sharers in your glory. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

As the community sings Psalm 68 (69) under the antiphon Exaudi nos, the friars come forward two by two to the altar steps, kneel and receive ashes on the top of the head (historically on their tonsures) from the prior, who sprinkles each with Holy Water. After giving ashes to the ministers, he receives his ashes from the hebdomadarian. After a closing collect by the prior, the ministers then return to the sacristy to prepare for Mass.

The Dominican formula for ashes has an interesting variant from the Roman: Memento quia cinis es, et in cinerem revertéris. "Remember that you are ashes, and to ashes you will return." Mass then follows in the usual way.

Credit to Fr. LaSalle Halissy Hallissey, O.P, for the photo.


The Mass of the Lord's Supper (Missa In Cena Domini) in the Dominican Rite is preceded by a penitential rite in choir very similar to that before the Mass of Ash Wednesday. In this way just as the first Mass of Lent began with a penitential liturgy and the Mass of Holy Thursday of the Triduum Ante Pascha also does. After None, attended by the deacon, subdeacon, and acolytes, the prior came to the sanctuary. The ministers wore only albs, amices, and cintures, not colored vestments. The prior intoned (without music) the antiphon Ne reminiscáris and then he and the ministers prostrated themselves on the sanctuary floor, as they had on Ash Wednesday. The cantor intoned, and the choir sang the Seven Penitential Psalms. The penitential rite closed with the same prayers and collects that I described in my post on Ash Wednesday.

During this penitential rite the friars in choir took the position called "prostration on the forms." In the photograph above you can see this posture, so I will not describe it. This photo is not actually of the ceremony of Holy Thursday, as the friars would on that day be wearing their black cappas. My guess is that this is probably one of the penitential liturgies during an Ember Day outside of Lent. But the friars' posture and the postion of the three ministers would be the same. At this point the minsters have not yet prostrated. This chapel, by the way, is that of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington D.C., about the year 1909. The chapel looks very similar today except for a mural on the altar wall showing the Dominican Saints before Christ and his Blessed Mother in Heaven, a freestanding altar, and carpet in the presbytery. The old altar with its Mysteries of the Holy Rosary Retable is still there.

After return to the sacristy, the ministers returned in procession for the Mass. As was and is still the practice, no private Masses were celebrated on Holy Thursday, which was traditionally one of the days of general communion for the friars during the Solemn Mass--something I have explained in my post on the Dominican Mass. In the 1200s there were about 10 of these a year, by the 1950s the number of general communions was closer to 20. Otherwise communion was taken by brothers at the priests' private Masses in early morning.

After Holy Thursday Mass, the friars, in procession, took the Blessed Sacrament to the altar of repose. Priests when went, each accompanied by two acolytes carrying cruets of water and wine, for the stripping of all the altars in the monastery. The priests then washed of the altars (or altar stones) with water and wine. Symbolically, this recalled Christ's stripping and the preparation of his body for burial. In this photo you can see Fr. Eugene Sousa, O.P., washing the stone of the altar in the Lay Brother's Chapel at St. Albert the Great Priory in Oakland about 1958. He is assisted by Bro. Peter De Man, who holds the cruet of wine and wears an alb, rather than a surplice, as this is a major feast. During the rite of washing the priest and ministers recited the Psalm Miserere. As this ritual was not part of Mass, and considered "paraliturgical," we continued to perform it even after the general adoption of the Roman Rite in 1969. I remember as a novice ministering the wine for my novicemaster, Fr. Martin de Porres Walsh, O.P., as he washed the main altar in St. Albert's Chapel in 1977.

As was typical of medieval monastic rites and others, the Mandatum, the washing of feet was not performed publicly in the Dominican Rite. It followed the Holy Thursday main meal in the refectory. Here, in a photograph of about 1958, we can see Fr. Fabian Stanley Parmisano, O.P., washing the feet of Bro. Mathias Locket. He is assisted by his deacon, Brother Ambrose Toomey. Both wear albs, as was customary for this rite. That Fr. Fabian was performing this rite suggests that he was filling in for the normal celebrant of the Mandatum, the prior, who was then Fr. William Lewis, O.P. This was probably because Fr. Lewis was very elderly at that time and could not kneel to perform the ceremony.

I have to admit that the washing of feet in a private ceremony after the clergy's Holy Thursday dinner appeals to me more than the current practice with all the controversies it seems to generate. Christ washed his Apostles' feet, not those of the crowd. Just my personal taste, perhaps. The next installment of this series, will focus on Dominican practices of Good Friday.

I thank the Rev. Bro. Pius Pietrzyk, O.P. of the Eastern Province for the photo of D.H.S. Chapel.


Among the most famous ceremonies of Holy Week in the pre-1970 Roman Rite was the vigil service known as Tenebrae ("Shadows"). In the Dominican Rite, although it had been previously been "anticipated" and celebrated in the evening, by the late 1950s, we had restored Tenebrae to its medieval position, early morning. It consisted of Matins, with its nine psalms, and Laudes, with its four psalms, Old Testament canticle, and Gospel Canticle (the Benedictus). This made a total of 15 psalms and canticles. As the psalms of the Office were sung, a candle was snuffed for each psalm or canticle. In this picture you can see the great fifteen-candle "hearse" in use on Good Friday morning in 1958 at St. Albert the Great Priory in Oakland CA. A lay brother in cappa is snuffing the candle of the seventh psalm of Matins, which is the first psalm of the third nocturn.

The readings of the first nocturn of Tenebrae are from the Lamentations of Jeremiah and have, in our rite, a special and distinctive "funereal" chant. We also have a special, very elaborate chant for the Oratio Jeremiae, the "Prayer of Jeremiah," which was, and may still may be, sung at the service on Holy Saturday. The rituals of Tenebrae are well known to our readers, so I will restrict myself to mentioning only a few Dominican variants: we do not have a special ritual for the 15th or "Jesus" candle, it is neither left burning or hidden. We simply snuff it. And the famous "clamor" made by pounding on the choir stalls with books or other objects is not done. There was great variety in the medieval rite of Tenebrae, and our Office is typical of our Rite in its sobriety of symbols. I understand that in some places the Jesus Candle and the Clamor had been introduced into the Domincian service, but they are not in the Ceremoniale and we never had them in the Western Province. In contrast, however, we have a complex series of invocations and responses in place of the Preces on these days, which can still be used with the Liturgy of the Hours today.

The Dominican rite for Good Friday begins by the sacristan dressing the altar with a cloth and two candles. A cantor then chanted the prophecy from Hosea 6, during which the ministers entered and prostrated before the altar steps, as you can see in this photo. The priest is Fr. Blaise Shauer, O.P. (R.I.P), a well-known liturgist of the Western Province, who was substituting for the elderly prior, Fr. William Lewis, O.P. You can see that the ministers wear albs with black stoles and maniples. The choir sings the Tract from Habacuc 3, after which, the priest ascends to the altar to sing the Collect. After the subdeacon sings the lesson from Exodus 12, and the choir the Tract from Psalm 139 [140], three deacons sing the Passion from John's Gospel. Our melody for this differs from the Roman, especially for the section treating the Deposition from the Cross and Burial of Our Lord where we use the "funereal" tone of the Lamentations at Tenebrae. The Passion is followed by the Great Intercessions, which differ from those of the 1962 Roman Rite only in occasional choice of words.

Perhaps the most famous part of the Dominican Good Friday rite is the ceremony for the Veneration of the Cross. As the Intercessions end, two priests and two deacons (in alb, stole, and maniple) arrange themselves before the altar. The deacons will sing the Agios after each of the "Reproaches." The priests take up a covered cross from the altar on its Epistle side during the first Reproach and hold it up. The deacons and choir sing the antiphonally the Agios. The whole community and the ministers genuflect three times, once during each Agios. The Agios is then sung again in Latin, and the same three genuflections are made. This veneration ceremony is also repeated after both the second and third Reproaches. At each Reproach, the cross priests move the veiled cross a step closer to the center of the altar, until it is in the center at the last Agios. By the 1950s, however, in many places, this procession with the cross was restored to its original form. Beginning in the back of the choir (or parish church) the priests brought the cross up by three stages to the altar, a variant that made the procession of the cross more dramatic.

The prior or celebrant then went to up to the priests holding the still covered cross, took it, unveiled it, and turned to display it to the community. He then sang the antiphon Ecce lignum Crucis, in quo salus mundi pepéndit: veníte adorémus, during which all genuflected. As the cantor repeated the antiphon all rose. The prior then gave the cross to the two deacons who had sung the Agios, who then reclined on the steps of the altar holding it between them. The community removed their shoes and, in order of religion, came in procession, two by two, up the aisle of the choir to the cross, stopping to genuflect at the two places where the cross had been at each Agios. Finally, at the altar steps, each genuflected and prostrated on the floor to kiss the cross held by the two reclining priests. In this photo you can see the celebrant, Fr. Blaise Shauer, O.P., venerating the cross held by Fr. Eugene Sousa, O.P., one of the deacons of the cross. The other has his back to us.

This ceremony was choreographed so that each set of three pairs of friars in medio chori genuflected and moved at the same time. A series of antiphons and the hymn Crux Fidelis were sung during this rite. When the last of the friars had venerated, the prior took up the cross, mounted the altar steps, displayed it to the community and sang the antiphon Christus triumphávit, et mors mortem superávit in ætérnum. He then sang the collect Respice while holding the cross. After he had placed it in a suitable place (usually the altar), the veneration ceremony ended. I will not describe the Communion Rite of Good Friday as, after our reform of Holy Week in 1956, it was virtually identical to Pius XII's reformed Communion service.

As one commenter as already mentioned, I should note that the rite of veneration described above can be used by Dominicans with the Novus Ordo service as explained in the 1985 Proprium Ordinis Praedicatorum 2: Missale et Lectionarium. We have used this ceremony each year at our university parish in Charlottesville VA where I live. The people find it very impressive. Also, various elements of Tenebrae may also be used with the new Liturgy of the Hours as explained in the 1982 Proprium Ordinis Praedicatorum 1: Liturgia Horarum.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The "Last Gospel" in the Dominican Rite

It is not generally well know that the Dominican Rite did not adopt the use of the "Last Gospel" (John 1: 1-14) as a priestly thanksgiving at the altar after Mass until 1600s, well after its adoption in the Roman liturgy. In fact, we made this addition under pressure to conform to the Roman practice, because in most places the laity had come to expect the priest to recite John's Prologue at the end of the liturgy. The Dominicans had continued the medieval practice of having the priest recite the canticle Benedicite Omnia Opera (Dan. 3: 58-88--still found in Sunday Lauds) while returning from the altar to the sacristy as his thanksgiving. The Roman liturgy of the post-Tridentine period did include that canticle, but as part of the priest's prayers of thanksgiving after Mass. Dominican practice also adopted, as I suppose the Roman also did, the practice of replacing John's Prologue with the proper Gospel of the Sunday or of the ferial in Lent, when this was overridden by that of a saint's day or other solemnity. Sadly, that practice was dropped by our Rite in 1961, when all other "Last Gospels" were suppressed except for that of the Day Mass of Christmas, when the Gospel of the day is John's Prologue. The Last Gospel for that day is that of Epiphany, the visit of the Magi in Matthew.

There seems to have been considerable resistance among the Dominicans to this novel practice. For example, at Low Mass, Dominican rubrics, as in the 1933 Dominican Missal, specified that the server was to extinguish the candles immediately after the blessing, that is, during the reading of the Last Gospel. This silent protest caused enough comment that, in certain places such as the Eastern Dominican Province in the United States, manuals for altar boys, like that of William Bonniwell in the 1940s, told the servers to wait until the Last Gospel was over before snuffing the candles. In my own Western Province, however, older priests tell me that the practice of snuffing during the Last Gospel continued until its suppression in 1963. I might also add that at least at all the sung Masses in the Dominican Rite that I have attended, the choir and congregation began the (admittedly non-liturgical) recessional hymn immediately after the blessing, as the priest went to begin the Last Gospel.

There was another way in which the Dominican Rite registered a quiet protest against the introduction of this Roman practice. Our text of the Last Gospel was different, although only in its punctuation, not in its words. In the Roman version, the Latin reads: Omnia per ipsum facta sunt, et sine ipso factum est nihil quod factum est; in ipso vita erat. Which is "Everything was made through him, and without him was made nothing that was made; in him was life." The Dominican reads: Omnia per ipsum facta sunt: et sine ipso factum est nihil: Quod factum est in ipso vita erat. (Note the capital Q.) That is, "Everything was made through him and without him was made nothing. What was made in him was life." I distinctly remember the different position of the "full stop" pause when I first heard Dominicans like Fr. Joseph Fulton, O.P., of saintly memory in my province, saying the old Mass when I was novice. I always do it that way myself. I had immediately noted that the pause was not where I heard it as an altar boy in my secular parish back in New York.

This variant was not an accident. The Dominican punctuation and phrasing reflects the thirteenth-century break in the text as seen, for example, in the exegesis found in Thomas Aquinas' Commentary on the Gospel of John (chapter 1). Even if we had to adopt a Roman liturgical practice in the seventeenth century, we did so using the thirteenth-century version of the Gospel text! It gives me a certain pleasure to note that modern biblical critics, as shown in the critical edition of the Greek (available, e.g., at place the "full stop" period after "nothing," as the Dominican version does. A member of the Dominican Community here at the Angelicum reminded me of that today at recreation after pranzo.

The Dominicans dropped the Roman practice of reading the Last Gospel during the liturgical reforms of 1963, as I discussed in my history of the Dominican liturgy from 1946 to 1969 posted earlier on this site. So the "Last Gospel" is absent from the 1965 Dominican Missal. But, sadly, this edition also displaced the Benedicite Omnia and gave celebrants the option of reciting In Principio as a thanksgiving on the way back to the sacristy, or even of omitting it entirely.

The image included in this post is the Prologue of John from a fifteenth-century French non-Dominican manuscript: where it is included as a devotional prayer after the calendar, not as a "Last Gospel," but readers should notice that it has the Dominican variant on "Quod factum est in ipso vita erat."