Thursday, September 24, 2015

Incense and Thuribles in the Dominican Rite

This post was occasioned by several questions from Dominican students of my province and pictures of a recent Dominican Rite Missa Cantata in the Dominican Central Province.   So I think this summary of Dominican Thurible Etiquette is timely.

I have occasionally commented that the Dominican and Roman practices concerning incense are often quite different.  So I thought readers might appreciate an overview of traditional Dominican usage.  The beautiful Gothic thurible to the right is virtually identical to the anniversary thurible at St. Albert the Great Priory in Oakland CA, our House of Studies.

A. Occasions when Incense is Used.

1. Although properly a Solemn Mass (with deacon and subdeacon) would normally be said every day in a priory with sufficient numbers, not all Solemn Masses use incense.  Incense is used at the Gospel, Offertory, and Elevation on all Sundays and Third Class (previously Simplex) feasts and above.  It is not used on ferials or at Requiems (except at the Absolution after Mass).

2. Incense is also used at Missae Cantatae on those days.  In fact, a recognition of this practice was requested by the Order and received from the Congregation of Rites every five years up to Vatican II to settle doubts about this practice. Today incense is universally used.  Although it is not required at Missae Cantatae.

3. The altar is traditionally incensed during the Gospel Canticle of Lauds and Vespers on those days as well.

B. How the Thurifer Handles the Censer when Loading it.

Although in parishes, perhaps because of the number of available altarboys, it was and is common practice for the thurifer to be accompanied by a boat-bearer, this was not the case in the conventual Mass.  And, as the priest in our rite never handles the spoon, this required certain techniques that seem complicated but are actually very simple.The presence of a boat-bearer actually complicates the handling of incense.  This method is used (at the sedilla) in preparation for the Gospel and at the Epistle Side of the altar in preparation for the Offertory. The thurible used must be a conventional one with a cover that can be pulled up the three outside chains using a center chain.

When entering before the Gospel, the thurifer holds the chains near the disk (or the disk ring) with the little finger of the left hand; with his left forefinger and thumb he holds the boat (which must have a little pedestal base).  With his right hand he holds the chains just above the cover, holding the thurible at about waist height on his right side. This is how he always holds the thurible when it is not in use: it is never carried or held with the chain at full length, except during the singing of the Gospel, as will be explained below. As the Alleluia or Tract begins, he approaches the priest.  He lowers the thurible and, with his right hand, pulls up the center chain ring and hooks it on the ring finger of his left hand.  This will raise the thurible cover about four or five inches: more than enough to get access to the coals.  Then, with his right hand, he grasps the four chains just above the cover and raises them up so that he can grasp them with the last three fingers of his left hand.

The open thurible is now at waist height, and the thurifer's right hand is free.  With it, he opens the boat, and takes out a spoonful of incense.  He offers this to the priest, saying, "Benedicite."  The priest blesses the incense, the thurifer responding "Amen." The thurifer then puts the incense in the censor, places the spoon back in the boat, closes the boat, and takes the chains off the three fingers of the left hand, letting the chains extend completely.  He then takes the center chain ring off the left ring finger and lowers the cover of  the thurible.  He then takes the chains just above the cover with his right hand, so as to assume the position for holding or walking with the thurible.  One should note that the sliding ring around the chains, if present, is never pushed down onto the cover of the thurible.  It remains at mid-point of the chains at all times.  If it is pushed down, these movements would be hindered or impossible. This sounds complicated, but once the movements have been executed a couple of times, nothing could seem more natural.

C. Other Rules Governing the Thurible.

1. When the thurible is carried, whether there is incense lighted in it or not, it is never held with the full chain extended.  It is held or carried as explained above.  This means that the chains are in the proper position if the thurible is to be given to a major minister to hand to the priest.  If the thurifer is to hand the thurible to the priest himself, he must reverse his hands first--so that the priest will receive the thurible correctly oriented for use.  This manner of holding the censer renders it less visible and mobile, and so less distracting.  I also solves the usual awkwardness of genuflecting with the chain fully extended.

2. The thurifer never swings the censer back and forth (supposedly to keep the coals burning) as is usually done in the Roman Rite. Again, this prevents the object from distracting attention from the liturgical activities in process.

3. There is only one occasion when the thurible is held is held with the full chain extension (and again by the left hand).  This is during the chanting of the Gospel.  And, again, there is no swinging of the thurible.  This would distract attention from the Gospel.

4. When the thurifer (or priest or deacon) incenses, this is done without any swinging of the censer during the ductus.  Thus there is no chain-clanking.  The motion is straight up and down, entirely silent.  Dominican incensing is always silent: it should not distract from the music or the liturgical actions it embellishes.

5. The incensing of the deacon and subdeacon, as well as of the two acolytes, is done by the thurifer during the Preface.  The minsters face him in their positions: he gives the deacon two lifts of the censer; the subdeacon, one lift; and each acolyte, one lift, the senior acolyte first.  He then incenses each friar in choir: the provincial receives three lifts; each priest, two lifts; other friars, one lift.  Our liturgical books do not mention the incensing of the people because, as ours is a monastic rite, it is assumed they are absent.  But it is common in parishes to give each side of the congregation one lift, and the choir in the loft one life. The image to the left shows the thurifer in position for the Preface. The photo shows Fr. Joseph Fulton (RIP) celebrating Mass at St. Albert the Great Priory in the mid-1950s.  

D. Particularities in when incense is used in the Solemn Mass.

1. The thurible is NEVER carried in the entrance or exit procession. Nor is the Cross ever carried in these processions. The thurifer, boat-bearer, and crucifer do NOT participate in these processions: they sit in the sacristy (which is preferred) or sit uietly and unobtrusively in the sanctuary on the Gospel side until they have functions to perform.  For the thurifer, his first function is at the Gospel.

2. There is no incensing of the altar during the Officium (i.e. Introit) chant.

3. The priest directs the preparation of the censer for the Gospel while seated at the sedilla (the bench for the three major ministers) as explained above.  The priest never touches the spoon.  The thurifer stands throughout this ceremony.

4. The deacon incenses the Gospel book with three simple, silent, lifts of the thurible.  He then hands the incense back to the subdeacon, who hands it back to the thurifer.
Blessing of Incense at the Offertory
Position of the Thurifer after the Offertory
5. The incensing at the Offertory is simpler than in the Roman Mass. The deacon offers the incense to be blessed and then hands the priest he censer.  With it, he makes a single Sign of the Cross over the gifts. After this he raises and lowers the censer three times before the host and chalice (never lifting higher than his shoulder). If the tabernacle or Cross (or both) is present, he incenses it (them) with one set of three lifts.  If there are reliquaries, he makes a moderate bow, and from the center, without moving, he incenses as a group those on the Gospel side with two lifts, then those on the Epistle side with two lifts.  If there is only one reliquary on the altar, he incenses it with two lifts.  Making a profound bow, he then incenses with three lifts above he altar as he moves to the Epistle end, once toward each candlestick.  He lowers the censer and returns to the middle.  In the same way he incenses the top of the altar while while going to the Gospel end.  Then then returns incensing the lower part of the altar three times as he returns. He stops before the Cross to make a profound bow, then completes the three lifts of the lower part of the Epistle side. On arrival there he surrenders the thurible to the deacon.

6. The deacon incenses the priest (using three lifts), when he has finished incensing the altar at the Offertory. As he does the three lifts, the deacon lifts the front of the priest's chasuble so as to incense under it---this prevents any sparks from landing on the chasuble and damaging it. The incensing of the other ministers is done by the thurifer during the Preface, as already explained. At the left you can see the deacon (Fr. Paul Raftery) holding up the chasuble and incensing as Fr. Anthony-M. Patalano elevates the chalice during Solemn Mass at Holy Rosary Church in Portland OR in the 1990s.

The deacon incenses at the Elevation
 7. Just before the Consecration, the thurifer, who is kneeling between the acolytes at the foot of the altar, loads the censer with unblessed incense.  He then passes it up to the deacon, who incenses the Sacred Species continuously during each elevation.  He then passes it back to the thurifer who rises, genuflects and leaves for the sacristy, as he has no functions during the rest of Mass.

E. The Thurifer at the Missa Cantata

1. The thurifer sits in the sanctuary or (more properly) stays in the sacristy until the priest prepares the chalice after the Epistle.  As the priest begins to pass to the north side of the altar for the Gospel, he turns and faces the Epistle side of the altar.  This signals to the thurifer to arrive and come up the front of the altar steps to meet the priest at the center as he passes over. (See the positions of the priest and thurifer in the image of the Solemn Mass Offertory above.) He there receives the blessing of the incense for the Gospel, descends and leads the acolytes around the corner of the steps for the Gospel.

2. At the Offertory, when the priest makes a half-turn, as at the Gospel, the thurifer comes up the front of the altar steps with the censor for the priest's blessing of it before he incenses of the altar.  The thurifer then goes and stands at the Epistle side. The incensing over, the thurifer receives the censer back, incenses the priest with three lifts, and goes to the center of the sanctuary and waits.  He incenses the acolytes in order of seniority with one lift, the community (using the number of lifts explain for the solemn Mass, and possibly the people, all during the Preface, as at Solemn Mass.

3. The Thurifer then stands in the center, when the acolytes are to kneel in the canon, kneels in center of the first step as the acolytes ascend for the elevations.  He puts unblessed incense in the thurible if needed.  He then incenses the elevations continuously as the deacon would at Solemn Mass.  His work finished, he rises, genuflects and departs to the sacristy.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Dominican Rite and Chant in Toulouse

During the coming year, 2016, the Order of Preachers will be celebrating our 800th anniversary.  Throughout the world the various provinces will be sponsoring celebratory events.  One of these, that would be of interest to readers of this blog will occur in Toulouse, France.  It is:

Events of interest include:
13th-Century Dominican Chant

Lectures on Dominican Chant and Liturgy by  Marcel Pérès (throughout the year).

Office of St. Dominic in Dominican Chant (Jan. 28, 2016)

Mass of Pentecost in the Dominican Rite (May 16, 2016)

Office of St. Thomas Aquinas (Jan. 28, 2017)

Classes and Study Circles on the Chant (throughout the year.

The program (in French) and enrollment form can be downloaded in PDF format here.

On the same topic, I am pleased to announce that Saturday, Sept. 19, at 10:00 am in the Basilica of St. Mary (Minneapolis), there will be a Missa Cantata in the Dominican Rite celebrated by Fr. Dominic Holtz, O.P., professor of theology at the Angelicum University in Rome.  More information my be found here.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Recent Discoveries on the Origins of the Stabat Mater

Nuns Singing in the Bologna MS
On this feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, formerly the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin Mary, I thought it would be suitable to present to our readers a transcription of the text and music of a thirteenth-century version of the Stabat Mater, recently discovered by Prof. Cesarino Ruini in a manuscript that once belonged to a convent of Dominican Nuns in Bologna, Italy, and on which I have recently posted. A miniature of the Bologna nuns, from their manuscript, decorates this post.

The discovery of this manuscript, as explained in the article available here (in Italian), shows, by the date of the manuscript that the traditional ascription of authorship to Jacopone of Todi can no longer be sustained. The date, however, leaves open the possibility, often mentioned, that it is the work of Pope Innocent III.  Perhaps it was composed by the Dominincan nuns of Sant'Agnese in Bologna.

This version is interesting for a number of reasons. First, this is the earliest use of the text as a sequence. Until the discovery of this version, it was only known as a hymn until the late middle ages. This manuscript shows that the earliest known use of the text as a sequence was among Italian Dominican nuns in the 1200s. Next, the text includes not only a number of verbal variants, but also includes two verses absent from the commonly received version. Those who wish to examine these can download my transcription and compare the text to the received version here.

Even more interesting is the music. As pointed out to me by the Dominican nuns of Summit NJ, this ancient sequence borrows, with the exception of one stanza (cf. verses 19 and 20), the melodies of the Sequence of St. Dominic in the Dominican Rite. There are a number of minor musical variants as well. Those interested might want to compare the music to that found in the Dominican Gradual for the Mass of St. Dominic.

Through the kindness of a reader who converted the PDFs of this music into JPGs, here are images of the newly discovered 13th-Century Stabat Mater.  I am aware that these images are a bit blurry; if you click on them or download them, you will get a clearer image.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Dominican Nuns Make the New York Times!

My friends and sisters, the Dominican Nuns of Summit NJ  have just been featured in the New York Times Style Section.

I am not going to summarize the lovely article since you can read it yourself here. They have been experiencing over the past decade a surge in vocations, also described in the article.

Many readers know them for their famous soaps. Liturgically, they are well-know for their excellent hymnal, The Summit Choirbook.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Dominican Rite Sacramental Absolution Wallet Cards

I am happy to announce to Dominican Priest readers that Dominican Liturgy Publications is making available wallet-size plastic laminated cards with the Latin formula for Sacramental Absolution according to the Dominican Rite. An image of the front side of the longer Absolution card is to the right. Note that, because of the conversion needed to make the JPG image, a red cross come out as a red square.  On the actual cards that figure is a Cross. Sorry the JPG is a bit fuzzy.

There are two cards.  One has the longer four-part absolution that I described here.  The other has the "short" absolution for use when there are many confessions or when time is short, as well as the "very short form" for use when there is danger of death and a special form for use during a Jubilee. Each card is two-sided. The cards are available two ways.

If you simply want the PDFs themselves to double-side print and laminate yourself, you can download them here and here. There is no charge for these PDFs.

Or you can order the laminated cards themselves.  In that case, mail me by U.S. post a self-addressed stamped envelope and $4.00. (This is the cost of printing and lamination.) I will make the cards and mail them back to you.The address to which you mail your order is:

Fr. Augustine Thompson, O.P., Editor-in-Chief
Dominican Liturgy Publications.
5890 Birch Court
Oakland, CA  94618

Friday, July 10, 2015

Seraphicus Pater . . . Apostolicus Pater: A Devotion to Sts. Dominic and Francis

Every once in a while I get an email asking where to find the text and music of the Devotion to Saints Dominic and Francis traditionally sung during the thanksgiving after the main meal on those saints' respective feasts.  There is a old tradition of Dominicans inviting the local the Franciscans to dinner on the Feast of St. Dominic and the Franciscans inviting the local Dominicans on the Feast of St. Francis, and this chant was part of those festivities.  So this text is also known to Franciscans.

I remember hearing it back when I was a novice back in the 1970s, but could never find a copy.  A couple days ago, I was looking for a chant in the Processionarium S.O.P. and there it was in the appendix!  So I made up a version that can be downloaded here.

The text is actually an antiphon: Seraphicus Pater Franciscus et Apostolicus Pater Dominicus: ipsi nos docuerunt legem tuam, Domine.  ("Seraphic Father Francis and Apostolic Father Dominic: they taught us your law, O Lord."), sung with the Psalm 117 and a Gloria Patri.  The music is simply the Dominican Rite Psalm Tone VI.  So it is not at all hard to learn.  When the chant is sung on the Feast of St. Francis (at the Franciscan house), St. Dominic is named first.

St. Dominic's feast is coming up next month (August 4 in the traditional calendar, August 8 in the new calender), so this good time to make this chant available.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Index of Antiphons for Dominican Rite Chant Books

Dominican Sisters Chanting the Office
I am pleased to announce that we are making available on our left sidebar an Index of  the Antiphons found in the chant books of the Dominican Rite.  This index will be useful for those seeking the Dominican music for antiphons to use in the new Roman rite, as well as those who want to compare the Dominican music with Benedictine, Roman, or other Latin religious order Rites.  The closest relative to Dominican chant is that of the Premon-stratensians, both of which are derived mostly from Cistercian models.

Modern Roman-Benedictine chant books often have indices for the various chants, but the most important Dominican chant books for the Office—the Antiphonarium of 1863 (with night office), the Antiphonarium of 1933 (no night office, post-Pius X psalter), and the Matins book of 1936 (major feasts)—have never been indexed or the index is found in a separate, hard-to-find, pamphlet.  All the antiphons of these books are in our new index.  This index also includes all the antiphons found in the Dominican Processional, the Holy Week Books of 1949 and 1963, the Gradual, and the Compline book.

The links to the index are available here at Dominican Liturgy on the left sidebar under Dominican Rite Texts—Downloadable.  The text of the first version is numbered straight through; that of the second is arranged in booklet format for double-sided printing.

Note: The Dominican cloistered sisters of Prato (the community of St. Catherine de' Ricci, O.P.) are wearing white veils and no scapulars because they were and are technically members of the lay penitents ("Third Order"), not nuns ("Second Order").

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Feast of St. Peter Martyr, Milan, Italy. By Prof. Donald Prudlo.

This fine article on the celebrations honoring the Dominican St. Peter of Verona at his tomb in Milan this year was composed by my former graduate student (now associate professor of history at Jacksonville State Univ. in Alabama) will, I am sure interest our readers.  It was previously published at the New Liturgical Movement.
Peter of Verona was an early Dominican inquisitor, brutally murdered in 1252 by Cathar heretics. He had been active in public ministry for nearly 30 years in northern and central Italy, and was one of the most powerful preachers of the age; after his martyrdom, he became the fastest canonized saint in history (less than 11 months after his death). His relics are kept in the Romanesque basilica of Sant’ Eustorgio in Milan, formerly also home to the relics of the Magi, which were later looted by Barbarossa and taken to Cologne. St Peter is co-patron of the quarter and the parish, and each year, on the Sunday closest to his feast, the local church celebrates in his honor.

The Basilica of Saint Eustorgius
I was privileged this year to be present for the festivities, which demonstrated the close connection between liturgy and the Saints: an excellent example of liturgical and extra-liturgical devotion, and a witness to an ancient cult still alive and well in the Church. Saints, even those canonized with a universal cult like St. Peter Martyr, are testaments to the intersection of catholicity and particularity. When one attends the feast of a Saint, one sees evidence of the organic growth of liturgy as it took place over the centuries, all the while embedded in the continuous traditions of the broader Church. Saints are the liturgical signposts of the year, marking in their lives the radical following of Christ, in the case of martyrs, even to death. They are the lived Anamneses of the Church. The celebration of their feasts is a present reminder of the unity of their sacrifice with that of Christ, made manifest in the celebration of the Sacrifice of the Mass over and near their tombs.

Yet even while recalling the universal nature of the Church, each local saint is an incarnational presence in a particular place. Each patron saint comes with interesting local customs, that one can usually only see in a certain location, usually only once a year. Peter’s feast is no different. It is still celebrated near its date on the traditional Calendar, April 29, something which is quite common, at least in Italy. This further increases the special nature of the feast, for it is like according an extra celebration to the patronal saint, one for the locality, and one for the Universal Church. (Peter’s was removed from the universal calendar in the post-Concilar reform, but he retains a commemoration in the Dominican order on June 4, the date of one of his relic translations).

The parish had two Masses on Sunday in Peter’s honor, each with its own particular characteristics. Both were in the revised Ambrosian rite which -- while much simplified -- retains certain carryovers from the old Ambrosian Rite that Peter would have been familiar with in his lifetime. (One particularly medieval moment was when a dog started barking in the back of church during the sermon, particularly apposite for Peter when one recalls the old nursery rhyme “Hark, hark the dogs do bark, the Beggars are coming to town.”) A common point between the two forms is the burning of a paper globe high above the Gospel side of the altar in a special wrought-iron carrier borne by two angels. On the globe was the word “Credo,” which to reminds us that Peter’s was a life lived for the Creed. His story begins with him defending the Creed against his angry heretical uncle as a seven-year-old, and ends as he begins to recite “Credo in unum Deum” when he was struck dead. Peter’s life was dedicated to a radical living out of the doctrine of the Church in all his endeavors: his preaching, his pursuit of heretics, and his warm relations with religious and laity. At Sant’ Eustorgio, the globe is set afire by a triple candle. This represents the fire of Charity which, when added to doctrine, sets afire the whole of the earth; the triple candle also stands for the faith in the Trinity, which is the principle of evangelization to light the world ablaze.

The paper globe which Dr Prudlo describes above, called a “faro” in Italian, is filled with oil soaked cotton, and set alight at the beginning of the liturgy, before the Mass proper begins. This is done only for feasts of Martyrs in their own churches in the Ambrosian Rite.

The first Mass concluded with a procession into the Portinari chapel, usually behind an annoyingly expensive paywall, but open to the faithful for prayer this one day of the year. As the procession entered, the skull of Peter of Verona was displayed in a marvelous reliquary. Discovered to be incorrupt at the translation of his relics in 1253, and again in 1340, his head was removed for the veneration of the faithful. Indeed, one can still see the beard and tonsure of the Dominican, as well as the brutal head wounds that caused his death. So many of the relics one sees in Europe are such remote and sometimes unknown figures it is difficult to associate their bones with their stories. With Peter we have powerful eyewitness accounts, and a clear record of cultic preservation, a fact that brings home the actions of that fateful Sabbato in Albis over 750 years ago and recorded in famous paintings from Fra Angelico to Titian.

Once past the skull, the glorious Portinari chapel was completely opened, a masterpiece of Christian architecture, with perfect renaissance proportions and frescoes painted by Vincenzo Foppa. (One of the more interesting is the rare image of a Virgin Mary with devil horns, an apparition sent by the devil, which Peter dispels by showing it the Blessed Sacrament).

Peter Martyr Routs an Apparition of the Devil, by Vincenzo Foppa, 1462-68. According to this story, when the devil had appeared to a group of heretics, disguised as the Virgin Mary, St Peter unmasked him by showing the consecrated Host and saying “If you are truly hte Mother of GOd, kneel before your Son and worship Him!”
But the crowning glory is Giovanni da Balduccio’s glorious freestanding ark tomb, raised aloft by female statues representing the Cardinal and Theological virtues (with Obedience added, to make a total of eight). Around the ark are masterful bas reliefs of Peter’s life, interspersed with the Doctors of the Church, and all surmounted by Mary and Jesus, who are flank by Peter and Dominic. The high point was that for this one day, the Saint’s ark was returned to its original purpose: people could freely pass right through the master work, underneath the tomb, and press their heads and hands to it, just as was done in the Middle Ages.

After that, deacons were present all day to present a relic of Peter for veneration, including a prayer against headaches very popular with the Milanese. (Peter’s patronage against headaches should be evident from his iconography; he is usually pictured with a giant knife sticking out of his head). This ritual included a prayer composed by Blessed Ildefonse Schuster.
O God, who did grant to your Blessed Priest and Martyr Peter the grace to write with his blood that Symbol of the Faith which, after he had diligently learned it as a child, and then become a Preacher of your Gospel, he preached undaunted to the people against the errors of the heretics; through his prayers grant that Your Church might preach the Faith and confirm it in good works. Through Christ our Lord.
Hundreds of the faithful came through the day to venerate the head and tomb, and to kiss the relic. Such lived devotion to the Saints, so rare in majority Protestant countries, one can find alive and well in the historically Catholic areas of the world. These are the deep roots of the much maligned “cultural Catholics,” whose appreciation of the faith is often far deeper than many realize (even if greatly restricted in scope). Indeed this residual devotion is certainly a foothold in the re-evangelization of the unchurched in these areas.

In the second Mass, we were privileged to see an assembly of various representatives of the Misericordia confraternities. Many ambulance services in Italy are run privately, by volunteers of the Misericordia. These were originally founded by Peter of Verona, and have been in existence for nearly 800 years, helping the sick and wounded. Another aspect of robustly Catholic culture, these fraternities were and, to a certain extent still are, religious in nature; it was Peter’s genius to see it as effective ways for the laity not only to have improved religious observance and to do good works, but to sanctify the world, and to firm up the ranks against heresy. Representatives of the Confraternities had the honor of processing in with the relic of the skull and enthroning it for Mass.

After the Gospel, the priest blessed the short black penitential robes, the symbols of lay piety, bound by a rosary, and including a black mask, originally to preserve the anonymity of the members, who also and promise to take no pay save for a glass of water. Peter knew that doctrine and works go together, and that Mercy has been at the heart of the Church’s mission from the very beginning. The postulants, dressed in their colorful emergency attire, then made their promises to observe the constitutions, and then were helped to vest by their sponsors.

Mass concluded with a solemn blessing in the name of St. Peter, and then the faithful came up for a chance to venerate the skull relic, guided by the new members of the confraternity.

The living veneration of the saints is one of the oldest manifestations of orthodox Christianity in the world, dating from the first years of the Church. It is something we hold in common with our Eastern brothers, a genuinely traditional ecumenical principle. The Saints are like divine strikes of lightning, creations of grace scattered throughout every region and time of the Church, models of the holiness and of the possibilities of graced human nature. The revival and cultivation of their cults, pilgrimages, veneration, and prayers for their intercession, must be a vital part of any genuine renewal.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Dominican Rite Sung Mass of St. Thomas Aquinas, Univ. of Utah Newman Center

I just received some photos of the Dominican Rite Missa Cantata celebrated at St. Catherine of Siena Newman Center at the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, which I had previously announced here.  The Mass was on the traditional feast day of St. Thomas, March 7, and the celebrant and preacher were both priests of the Western Dominican Province. Note that the acolytes are wearing albs, as is prescribed in the Dominican Rite for First Class Feasts.

The celebrant of the Mass was Fr. Peter Hannah, O.P. (ordained May 31, 2014), the servers were Arron Miller, Nathaniel Binversie, and Matthew Vaughn, students of the University.  The music was lead by the cantors, Fr. Christopher Gray (associate pastor, Sts. Peter and Paul Parish, West Valley, Utah) and Mr. Luke Stager (theology teacher, Judge Memorial Catholic High School).  The preacher was Fr. Carl Schlicte, O.P., pastor and superior of the community.

Prayers at the Foot of the Altar

The Opening Collect

Incense at the Gospel

Fr. Carl Schlicte, Preacher

Genuflection during the Credo

The Elevation of the Host

Extension of the Arms during the Canon after the Consecration

Communion of the Faithful

Greeting before the Ite Missa Est

Return to the Sacristy

I thank Mr. Trevor Woods, a member of the Newman Community and a graphic designer for taking these photos.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Ash Wednesday in the Dominican Rite (Low Mass)

Blessing of Ashes, Holy Rosary, Portland OR (2014)
This coming Ash Wednesday I will be giving a talk on medieval liturgy at Whitworth University in Spokane WA.  As part of that visit, I will be celebrating the Blessing of Ashes and the Dominican Rite Low Mass of Ash Wednesday (St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, 3715 North Standard Street, Spokane, WA, 11 a.m.).  This combination caused me to think about an issue that had never occurred to me: How would one combine Blessing of Ashes and Mass according to Dominican practice in 1962.  Some of our parishes in the Western  Dominican Province have celebrated Ash Wednesday ceremonies using the Dominican Rite, but it has always been a Sung Mass and the Ashes were blessed by the prior, not the Mass celebrant.

    See image to left above where, last year, Fr. Steven Maria Lopez, O.P., Prior of Holy Rosary Priory, Portland OR, is blessing the ashes at a table on the Epistle Side.  He is assisted by servers of the parish and the celebrant, Fr. Vincent Kelber, O.P., parochial vicar.  In this ceremony, which I on which I have already written this post, the Blessing involves various chants, beginning, after the Seven Penitential Psalms, with the antiphon Ne Reminiscaris and its verses and collect, the Absolution, the blessing itself, and the imposition of ashes, during which other antiphons are chanted.  The Mass then begins with the return of the ministers who omit the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar.  The priest ascends, kisses the altar, makes the silence Sign of the Cross, and goes to read the Officium (Introit) at the book.  Those interested in the Solemn form to compare it to the Roman may consult the previously mentioned post.

    It is probably best, should ashes have already been blessed for the parish or priory, to use the ashes blessed earlier and skip the blessing.  The Dominican imposition ceremony could, of course be used.  But, should there be reason to bless new ashes at a Low Mass, a couple of problems arise when the ceremony is conducted without music by a priest alone with only one server.  Fortunately, the Missale Ordinis Praedicatorum (1965), p. 40, resolves some of the questions, but on at least one it is silent.

    First a question not related to the music, what if there is no prior (or pastor) available to bless the ashes?  In fact, the Dominican Missal assumes the presence of a Dominican community and therefore a prior or, at least, a superior.  But there is rubric that resolves this.  It reads, I translate:
  • If the solemn blessing of ashes is done separately [i.e. not connected to the Penitential Psalms], it is permitted to bless the ashes in the morning using a simple form, without the Penitential Psalms and without chant.  This form can be used even where the sacred ministers [i.e. deacon and subdeacon] and chants cannot be found.
    So, the rite would be performed perserving only those aspects of the solemn form needed for a simplified rite of blessing alone.  Here follows my suggested order of service.

1. In preparation, a covered table is placed on the Epistle side at the foot of the steps.  On it would be the container with ashes and the holy water with sprinkler.

2. The priest vests, as the prior would have, in surplice and stole (unlike the Roman, no cope is worn in our rite for this or the Asperges---although this might be done pro causa solemnitatis, but that Romanism is not my choice).  The server, carrying the Missal, leads the priest to the altar.  The customary reverence (bow or genuflection) is made.  They go to the table, where the priest faces the table and altar, and the server stands to the left side of the table facing the priest (as the deacon would in the solemn form).  The priest opens the book (servers do not do this in our rite).

3. The priest reads the blessing Omnipotens sempiterne Deus, with the server responding.  The priest then sprinkles the ashes with holy water.  Those who want to read this blessing my consult the post already mentioned.

The Celebrant Assists with Giving Ashes (Portland, 2014)
4. After bowing to the cross or tabernacle, the priest and server go to distribute ashes to the people.  If there is a priest available to impose ashes on the celebrant, this should be done first.  The priest uses the traditional Dominican formula: Meménto quia cinis es, et in cínerem revertéris ("Remember that you are ashes, and to ashes you will return").  I think it suitable that the server follow after the priest, sprinkling each recipient with holy water, as the celebrant would do when the prior distributes ashes in the solemn imposition.

5. The priest and server then return to the altar and bow.  The server drops off the holy water on the little table and takes the Missal.  Both make the customary reverence and go to the sacristy.

6. While the priest vests for Mass, the server returns, makes the customary reverence, and removes the little table with the ashes and holy water.  He then returns to the sacristy to pick up the Missal and precede the priest to the altar.  It is possible, I guess, to have the veiled chalice already on the altar, but that would really follow Solemn Mass rubrics, not those of Low Mass or even of the Missa Cantata.

    At this point an unaddressed issue arises.  At a Dominican sung Mass, the chalice is prepared between the Epistle and Gospel, by the subdeacon at Solemn Mass or by the priest himself at a Missa Cantata.  In the Low Mass of 1962, the preparation of the chalice comes before the Prayers at the Foot of the Altar.  When Mass follows the blessing of ashes, those Prayers are omitted.  In the 1965 Missal, there was no problem because, by then, the chalice preparation had been moved to the Roman position at the Offertory in all Masses.  But this was not true in 1962.  So, unless there is an older friar reading this who remembers differently, I would suggest the following be done:

7. The server, carrying the book, leads the priest, with the chalice and his amice covered capuce up, to the altar.  They make the customary reverence.  The priest ascends to the altar, uncovers the chalice, opens the corporal, and goes to the Epistle side to prepare the chalice.  The server meanwhile has placed the Missal on the stand, and retrieved the cruets.  The priest makes the chalice.  He then goes to the center and lowers his capuce.

8. The server having taken his place on the Gospel side opposite the Missal, the priest makes the silent Sign of the Cross and goes to the book to read the Officium (Introit) and Kyrie.  The Mass then continues as usual.  Note, however, that the Flectamus genua precedes the Opening Collect and that the Prayer over the Faithful is added after the Postcommunion (as on all ferials in Lent).  Since 1960, the extra collects (found in the 1933 Missal) are omitted, and the Benedicamus Domino is replaced by the Ite missa est, unless a ceremony immediately follows after Mass, which would not happen today.

    I hope that friars who have the opportunity to bless ashes and say the traditional Dominican Low Mass this Ash Wednesday find this helpful.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Christmas Masses at Holy Rosary Church, Portland OR

(Ordinary Form Roman Rite)

At this Mass the celebrant was V. Rev. Fr. Stephen Maria Lopez, O. P., Prior of Holy Rosary; concelebrating was Fr. Vincent Kelber, O.P., Pastor of Holy Rosary; the acolyte (also in damatic) was Bro. Andrew Dominic Yang, O.P., residency student. The Mass was served by young men of the parish.  The music was provided by Cantores in Ecclesia and was Haydn's Missa Brevis Sancti Joannis de Deo.

Arrival of the Bambino Gesu carried by Fr. Lopez, assisted by Fr. Kelber and Bro. Andrew Dominic
Ministers Prepare for the Gospel Procession
Incensing of the Altar
Elevation of the Chalice

(Traditional Dominican Rite)

At this Mass the celebrant was Fr. Vincent Kelber, O.P., Pastor of Holy Rosary; the deacon was Fr. Dismas Sayre, O.P., parochial vicar of Holy Rosary; the subdeacon was Bro. Andrew Dominic Yang, O.P., residency student.  Young men of the parish served the Mass.  Music was provided by Cantores in Ecclesia: Propers were from Byrd's Gradualia; the ordinary was Dominican Gregorian Mass 5, for feasts of the Blessed Virgin.

Ministers Swing to the Side for Gloria
Preparation of the Chalice During the Responsorium (Graduale)
The Deacon Chants the Gospel
Elevation of the Chalice
Genuflection during Reading of the Last Gospel

Recessional Procession