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.

Canonical Status of the Dominican Rite

Questions and Answers 

I am regularly asked what the current status of the Dominican Rite is. Here is my reply.

Since the promulgation of Traditionis Custodes by Pope Francis the exact canonical status of the Dominican Rite has been unclear because it is unclear how this document exactly affected Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae. I have consulted with canonists about this, and since they inform me that this papal document is unclear canonically, I make the following suggestions, which have no authoritative status. The canonists I consulted agree that whatever canonical effect Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae had, the 1969 Rescript of Pope Paul VI giving authority to the master for the whole Order and to priors provincial for those subject to them to allow celebration of the Dominican Rite would remain in force as such privileges must be explicitly named in any abrogation. This rescript was not so mentioned in Traditionis Custodes.

So, I recommend that any Dominican priest wishing to use the Dominican Rite Mass or Office consult with his provincial and follow his directives. He should also follow, in the case of public celebrations, any directives about the 1962 Roman Rite issued by the bishop who is the local ordinary.  As for those members of the Dominican Laity (formerly called the "Third Order") or the Priestly Fraternities of St. Dominic, they should consult with the provincial promoters of those groups and follow their directions. Of course, such Dominicans should, in cases of public ceremonies, also follow the directives of the local ordinary. As I have said above, these recommendations have no binding force whatsoever on the provincials, provincial promoters, or the master of the Order. So, priests, cooperator brothers, members of the Dominican laity, and members of the Priestly Fraternities should not present them as such. All those who belong to those groups should follow the directions that they receive from those in authority over them.

 If you are interested in what the status of the Dominican Rite was before Traditionis Custodes, you may consult the below original posting:

The following Question and Answer prepared by Fr. Pius Pietrzyk, O.P., with some minor revisions and additions by Fr. Augustine Thompson, O.P., provides an overall summary of the Canonical Status of the Dominican Rite after Summorum Pontificum and Universae Ecclesiae. This legislation has, in part, succeeded the provisions of the 1969 Rescript (Prot. no. 89/69) issued for the Order by the Sacred Congregation of Rites, which gave provincials the authority to allow those subject to them to use the Dominican Rite "till now in force."

I. Background

Q: What is Universae Ecclesiae?
A: Universae Ecclesiae is an Instruction issued by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesiae Dei, issued on May 13, 2011m concerning the application of the Apostolic letter Summorum Pontificum.

Q: What is Ecclesiae Dei?
A: Ecclesia Dei is a Pontifical Commission originally established by Bl. John Paul II in 1988. It was originally given the task of "collaborating with the bishops, with the Departments of the Roman Curia and with the circles concerned, for the purpose of facilitating full ecclesial communion of priests, seminarians, religious communities or individuals until now linked in various ways to the Fraternity founded by Archbishop Lefebvre, who may wish to remain united to the Successor Peter in the Catholic Church".

Q: But didn't the Pope lift these excommunications in 2009? Does Ecclesia Dei still have a role?
A: Yes and yes. In the 2007 Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum, the Pope expanded the role of the Commission, affirming that "the same Commission, beyond the faculties which it already enjoys, with exercise the authority of the Holy See, supervising the observance and the application of these dispositions." The same Apostolic Letter of the Holy Father provided that the Commission "would have the form, the tasks and the norms which the Roman Pontiff should wish to grant it."

Q: What is Summorum Pontificum?
A: Summorum Pontificum is an Apostolic Letter issued Motu Proprio by the Holy Father on July 7, 2007. It affirmed the unity of the Roman Rite of the Church, and recognized the Missal originally promulgated by our brother Pope St. Pius V (and subsequently issued by Bl. John XXIII) as the extraordinary form of the one Roman Rite.

Q: What did Summorum Pontificum do?
A: Primarily, Summorum Pontificum granted to all priests the right to say the extraordinary form of the Mass in private (Mass celebrated without the people). It also gave stable groups of the lay faithful the right to request Mass said in the extraordinary form, and encouraged pastors and bishops to accept such requests.

Q: Why did the Pope issue Summorum Pontificum?
A: The Pope issued Summorum Pontificum for three reasons: (a) to offer to all the faithful the Roman Liturgy in the Usus Antiquior, considered as a precious treasure to be preserved; (b) effectively to guarantee and ensure the use of the forma extraordinaria for all who ask for it, given that the use of the 1962 Roman Liturgy is a faculty generously granted for the good of the faithful and therefore is to be interpreted in a sense favorable to the faithful who are its principal addressees; and (c) to promote reconciliation at the heart of the Church.

Q: Doesn't this detract from the authority of the Second Vatican Council by calling into question its liturgical reforms?
A: As Pope Benedict XVI indicated in the transmittal letter accompanying Summorum Pontificum: "This fear is unfounded. In this regard, it must first be said that the Missal published by Paul VI and then republished in two subsequent editions by John Paul II, obviously is and continues to be the normal Form - the forma ordinaria - of the Eucharistic Liturgy. The last version of the Missale Romanum prior to the Council, which was published with the authority of Pope John XXIII in 1962 and used during the Council, will now be able to be used as a forma extraordinaria of the liturgical celebration. It is not appropriate to speak of these two versions of the Roman Missal as if they were ‘two Rites'. Rather, it is a matter of a twofold use of one and the same rite."

II. Universae Ecclesiae

Q: So is Universae Ecclesiae another legislative document like Summorum Pontificum?
A: Not quite. Universae Ecclesiae is an "Instruction", not an Apostolic Letter.

Q: What is an "Instruction"?
A: Under the Code of Canon Law, "Instructions clarify the prescripts of laws and elaborate on and determine the methods to be observed in fulfilling them. They are given for the use of those whose duty it is to see that laws are executed and oblige them in the execution of the laws. Those who possess executive power legitimately issue such instructions within the limits of their competence." (CIC, Can. 34§1)

Q: Does this mean it has no legal effect?
A: The Instruction is not itself law, but clarifies and elaborates upon the law established by the Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum. It is an authoritative interpretation of the law contained in the Apostolic Letter.

Q: Why did the Ecclesia Dei Commission issue this document?
A: When he issued Summorum Pontificum in 2007, the Pope asked for bishops to send an "account of their experiences" to him in three years. This Instruction is meant to respond to some of the difficulties and concerns raised by the original Apostolic Letter.

Q: So, what does this new Instruction say?
A: In an accompanying letter, the Commission briefly summarized the Instruction: After some introductory remarks and historical type (Part I, ch. 1-8), the Instruction first makes explicit the duties of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei (Part II, nos. 9-11). Next, in accordance with Summorum Pontificum, it clarifies the rules and regulations (Part III, nn. 12-35), primarily those relating to the jurisdiction of their diocesan bishop (Nos. 13-14). Then, the Instruction discusses the rights and duties of the faithful who make up an coetus fidelium (Nos. 15-19), and how a priest may be considered qualified to celebrate the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite (sacerdos idoneus, nos. 20-23). The instruction also regulates some issues pertaining to liturgy and ecclesiastical discipline (Nos. 24-28), indicating in particular the rules governing the celebration of Confirmation and Holy Orders (Nos. 29-31), the use of Roman Breviary (n. 32), of the liturgical books of the religious orders (No. 34), the Pontificale Romanum and the Rituale Romanum (35) which were in force in 1962, and the celebration of the Sacred Triduum (33).

III. Universae Ecclesiae & the Order of Preachers

Q: Is there anything new in the document?
A: Yes. The instruction clarifies a number of issues, a few which affect the Dominican Order specifically.

Q: What does the document say that impacts Dominicans?
A: The primary impact on the Order is seen in this statement in the Instruction: "Members of Religious Orders are permitted to use their own liturgical books in force in the year 1962" (Sodalibus Ordinum Religiosorum licet uti propriis libris liturgicis anno 1962 vigentibus.)

Q: How does that affect the Dominican Order?
A: From its very beginning, the Dominican Order maintained its own liturgical customs, rooted in (but distinct from) the prevailing Roman Rite. In 1962, the Order still had its own Liturgical Books, including the Dominican Missal and Breviary.

Q: Does this mean that now any Dominican priest may say the Dominican Rite?
A: In the same way as priests of the Latin Church who desire to say Mass according to the Missal of Bl. John XXIII must be qualified (ideoneus) to say Mass in the extraordinary form, Dominican priests who wish to celebrate Mass according to the Dominican Rite must be qualified.

Q: What does it mean to be qualified?
A: The Instruction says that any priest not impeded from saying Mass under canon law is considered qualified. He should also have knowledge of the ars celebrandi of the form of the Rite he is celebrating.

Q: Doesn't a priest need to know Latin?
A: With regards to the Latin language, it is only necessary that a priest be able to pronounce the words correctly and understand their meaning. (necesse est ut sacerdos celebraturus scientia polleat ad verba recte proferenda eorumque intelligendam significationem).

Q: Does a priest need to prove he is qualified every time he says the Dominican Rite?
A: The priest is under the same obligation with regards to the extraordinary form as he is with the ordinary form. That is, in most places a visiting priest must show that he is not impeded, usually evidence by a celebret or letter of good standing.

Q: What about a priest's qualification regarding knowledge and execution of the rite, need he provide his qualification in these areas before he is permitted to say Mass?
A: With regards to knowledge and execution of the extraordinary form, a priest who presents himself to say Mass in the extraordinary form is presumed to be qualified if he has previously celebrated it. In a similar way, priests who present themselves to say the ordinary form (whether in English or Latin) are presumed qualified with regards to the execution of the rite, and need not evidence their qualification further.

Q: Don't Dominican priests need the permission of the local superior or the Provincial?
A: "The faculty to celebrate sine populo (or with the participation of only one minister) in the forma extraordinaria of the Roman Rite is given by the Motu Proprio to all priests, whether secular or religious (cf. Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, art. 2). For such celebrations therefore, priests, by provision of the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum, do not require any special permission from their Ordinaries or superiors."

Q: So what about a public Mass (Missa cum populo)?
A: A public Mass would be subject to the same regulations as any other public Mass said in a parish church or priory. Just as the pastor or prior has the right and obligation to oversee public Masses said under his jurisdiction, the same is true with regards to Mass said in the Dominican Rite.

Q: Does this mean that a Priory could decide on its own to use the Dominican Rite regularly as its conventual Mass?
A: No. Summorum Pontificum makes clear if a religious community wants to use the extraordinary form "often, habitually or permanently" as its conventual Mass, it must first receive the approval of the Major Superior (i.e., the Prior Provincial).

Q: What would prevent a group of friars from separating themselves from the conventual Mass in the ordinary form so that they could celebrate Mass in the extraordinary form instead?
A: Deliberately absenting oneself from the conventual Mass and choir is contrary to the laws and customs of the Order. Our own Constitutions make clear that the brethren are obligated to attend (and priests encouraged to concelebrate) the daily conventual Mass. "All brothers are bound to the celebration of conventual Mass and Liturgy of the Hours in choir. Everyone shall be mindful of this common obligation." (LCO 63)

Q: What about the other liturgical books of the Order, may a Dominican priest use those, too?
A: Yes. The Instruction makes clear that the permission extends to all of the liturgical books of the Order in force as of 1962.

Q: If Dominican priests are permitted to say the Dominican Rite, may they also celebrate Mass according to the Missal of Bl. John XXIII?
A: Yes. A Dominican priest may celebrate Mass according to the Missal of Bl. John XXIII, so long as he is qualified to do so.

IV. The Dominican Rite and the 1969 Rescript

Q: Didn't Dominicans already have the right to celebrate Mass in the Dominican Rite?
A: In 1969, the Dominican Rite ceased being the normal liturgical celebration of the Order, and the Order began using the Missal of Pope Paul VI (the ordinary form of the Roman Rite). In 1969, the Order received a Rescript from the Holy See granting permission for friars to continue to celebrate the Dominican Rite as it then existed.

Q: What is a Rescript?
A: According to the current Code of Canon Law (promulgated in 1983), a Rescript is: "an administrative act issued in writing by competent executive authority; of its very nature, a rescript grants a privilege, dispensation, or other favor at someone's request." (CIC can. 59 §1.)

Q: Does this mean all friars may also celebrate the Dominican Rite according to the 1965 Missal as well?
A: According to the terms of the Rescript, the permission to celebrate Mass was not given universally. It was given at the discretion of the Prior Provincial or the Master of the Order to those who requested the faculties.

Q: Did this permission extend to the liturgical books of the Order existing as of 1962?
A: No, at least not originally. In 1965, the Order issued a revised Dominican Missal. The Missal modified, mostly in minor ways, the Dominican Rite to bring it closer to the then existing version of the Roman Rite, following reforms instituted after the Second Vatican Council. The Rescript gave permission for the use of the 1965 Dominican Missal as modified by particular legislation up to 1969, the year of the promulgation of the Rescript.

Q: Does that mean that after 1969 all priests with permission to celebrate the Dominican Rite under the provisions of the Rescript were bound to use the forms of 1969?
A: Yes, but circumstances changed on July 2, 1988, when Ecclesia Dei Adflicta was issued. That document specified that priests with permission to celebrate Mass according to the old Roman Missal were to follow the rubrics of 1962. In that year, friars of the Western Province, where the Dominican Rite was commonly celebrated with permission, asked Fr. Pierre-Marie Gy, O.P., of the Dominican Liturgical Commission what rubrics should be followed. He replied that since the Roman Rite is the "mother rite" of the Dominican Rite, friars should follow its discipline. So after that date, friars with permission to celebrate the Dominican Rite could use the rubrics of 1962. But as this response did not have force of law, it is possible that some friars with permission to use the rite continued to use the 1969 rubrics, and this should not be considered a violation of the law.

Q: Does the Apostolic Constitution Summorum Pontificum abrogate the provisions of the Rescript?
A: There is nothing in the terms of Summorum Pontificum or the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae that repeal the permissions given in the 1969 Rescript. According to the Code of Canon law: "Rescripts are not revoked by a contrary law unless the law itself provides otherwise." (CIC can. 73)

Q: Which Missal is meant to be used according to the Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum and the Instruction Universae Ecclesiae?
A: Those documents indicate that the liturgical books in force as of 1962 are to be used. In the Roman Rite, this refers specifically to the Missal issued in 1962. The Dominican Order did not issue a new Missal in 1962. Rather, the version of the Missal in force that year was the Missal issued by the Master of the Order, Fr. Martin Stanislaus Gillet, O.P., in 1933 (the Missale Sacri Ordinis Praedicatorum), with all the rubrical, textual, and calendar changes approved for the Order between 1933 and 1962.

Q: Under Summorum Pontificum what changes in the Dominican Rite as found in the 1933 Missal or the 1965 Missal should be made when using those books?
A: Briefly they are as follows. In 1955, Pope Pius XII issued a major revision to the celebration of Holy Week in the Roman Rite. Shortly after this change, the Dominican Order revised its own celebration of Holy Week and that should be followed, a Holy Week Dominican Missal was published in 1960, lacking that the priest should use and adapt the 1965 Missal. Also, in 1960, Bl. John XXIII revised the universal calendar, and greatly simplified the ranking of liturgical days. The Dominican Order followed suit in 1961. Certain other smaller changes were also implemented in 1961, these are found in that year's copy of the Analecta Fratrum Praedicatorum. Therefore, according to Summorum Pontificum, the Dominican Rite should be celebrated according to the 1933 Dominican Missal, with the changes implemented by the order through 1962. Or, conversely, the Missal of 1965 might be used, but with the rubrics in force as of 1962. As, textually, the two missals are virtually identical, the major differences are the rubrics, not the text. The only major textual difference is that the Last Gospel is lacking in the 1965 Missal and must be added.

Q: So what does all this mean, practically speaking, with respect to friars who received permission under the Rescript to celebrate using the 1965 Missal as it was in use in 1969?
A: Since Fr. Gy's response did not have force of law, friars who received permission to celebrate the Dominican Rite under the 1969 Rescript using the forms of 1969, who did not change to the 1962 rubrics in 1988, might continue to do so. But it likely that there are no priests in this situation today. All other qualified Dominican Friars, however, are to celebrate the Dominican Rite as it was 1962, no additional permission being necessary. If, for some reason, a priest wanted now to celebrate the form of the rite as it was in 1969, he would need to ask permission of his provincial under the rubric with the understanding that he wished to use those rubrics.

V. Training in the Dominican Rite

Q: Are priests required to learn to say Mass in the extraordinary form (either the Missal of Bl. John XXIII or the Dominican Rite)?
A: No. But the Pope has encouraged all pastors to make Mass in the extraordinary form available to stable groups of the faithful. In addition, one of the Pope's aims in issuing Summorum Pontificum is that the two forms of the one Roman Rite would influence each other, which would seem to require knowledge of both forms.

Q: Does the Instruction say anything about training in the extraordinary form?
A: Yes. In the new Instruction, Ordinaries are strongly requested (enixe rogantur) to offer their clergy the possibility of training in the ars celebrandi of the extraordinary form.

Q: What about seminarians?
A: The strong request for training to be offered applies especially (potissimum) to Seminarians, which would include our Dominican clerical Student Brothers.

Q: But this request only applies to Bishops, right?
A: No. This strong request is made to all "Ordinaries". In canon law, "Ordinaries" include "major superiors of clerical religious institutes of pontifical right . . . who at least possess ordinary executive power." Priors Provincial in the Dominican Order are "Ordinaries" under the law, and so this request applies to our Province as well.

Q: Shouldn't we wait for guidance from a Provincial Chapter first?
A: The Eastern Dominican Province 2010 Provincial Chapter has already addressed this issue. That Chapter stated in an ordination that the Province should provide: "optional education in the celebration of the Dominican Rite of the Mass, for use in private. This is to be done without prejudice to LCO 59, II and CIC can. 902." But there is no reason why training would need such an explicit authorization. For example, in the Western Province, a for-credit class in the Dominican Rite has been offered yearly to the Dominican Students of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, with no special permission from the provincial or the council. Permission from the faculty of the studium would however be needed when such a course is to be offered for credit, as it is in the Western Province.

Q: Are there any other resources available for learning to celebrate the Dominican Rite Mass?
A: Yes, there are many useful downloads on the left side bar of Dominican Liturgy, as well as a series of videos showing how to celebrate the Dominican Rite Low Mass here.

V. Use of the Dominican Rite by Non-Friars

Q: May priest members of the Dominican Laity (i.e., priest members who were enrolled before 1968) use the Dominican liturgical books of 1962?
A: There are very few of such priest members of the Dominican Laity today.  Most priestly affiliates of the Order are members of the Priestly Fraternities of St. Dominic, which was created when the old "Third Order" become the Dominican Laity in 1968. The Dominican Laity no longer admit priest members. In 1962 priest members of the Third Order were permitted the use of the Dominican Breviary, Martyrology, and other Office books.  According to a rescript of Pius VII of 6 July 1806, they could also use the Dominican Missal when celebrating privately, but, when celebrating publicly, they could use it ONLY in a Dominican Church (" vero in Ecclesiis nostris dumtaxat."). This was the norm in force in 1962.
            So, it seems that those priests who are members of the Dominican Laity or the Priestly Confraternities of St. Dominic may use the Dominican Rite books as they were in 1962 in private recitation of Office and for Private Mass.  They cannot celebrate the Dominican Mass publicly without the permission of the pastor or prior of the the Dominican church where they want to celebrate.  And they may not celebrate public Mass in the Dominican Rite anywhere else.  Note that any priest saying any form of the Catholic Mass in any church can do so only with permission of the pastor.  And that permission need not be granted.  As the only  place where public celebration of the Dominican Rite Mass by a Fraternity member priest can happen is in a church of the Dominican friars, it would most likely be the church of the priest is a member of the local Fraternity.  So the Fraternity member priest should request permission from the prior or pastor of that church, which permission that superior is not obliged to give.

Q. What about non-ordained members of the Dominican Laity, what books are they to use?
A: Here the question concerns only the Liturgy of the Hours (Breviary). There is no explicit legislation on this, but the texts of Summorum Pontificum and Ecclesiae Universae suggest that members of the Dominican Laity may use the Office that was used by the Third Order of Penance in 1962 when reciting in private. In 1962, that office was the Dominican Rite Little Office of the Blessed Virgin, which was then recited by them in English. Generously, that might also be construed to allow them to use the Dominican Breviary as it was in 1962, either in Latin or English. After all, the Little Office was merely a concession to those unable to celebrate the full Divine Office.

Q: What about Dominican Laity celebrating the liturgy in common?
A: When celebrating in common with other members of the laity, the books in use by the chapter, normally the most recent edition of the Liturgy of the Hours, must be used.

Q: Could a chapter of the Dominican Laity decide to use exclusively the 1962 version of the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin (or the Dominican Breviary of that year) in common celebrations?
A: No. The current Rule of the Dominican Laity specifies that members are to use the Liturgy of the Hours. However, this situation might be considered analogous to a "stable group" wanting to use the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. So, if a chapter wished to use the older books in common celebration, they could consult with the Provincial Promoter, who is responsible for their spiritual life and overseer of their liturgical life, and then do as he decides.