Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Trifecta

This morning I served Benediction, Low Mass, and a Dry Mass (Missa sicca): a record unlikely to be broken any time soon...

After arriving at the Pro. during adoration (it was the usual Wednesday holy hour, 8.45-9.45am), and making a confession of devotion [addo & recco! - see last post], I togged up to serve with George at Benediction; I'm no good at being thurifer, so he did that part of things. However, he's just put his back out, and so was glad to have me serve the following 10am Mass in his place.

Today in the old rite it was St Raymund of Penyafort, O.P., Conf., with commemoration of St Emerentiana, V. & M.; the principal collect alludes to the former's masterful teaching on the administration of the sacrament of Penance, no less than to his marvellous passage over the sea, travelling back to the Spanish mainland borne upon his cappa, thus escaping the lascivious court of King James of Aragon holden in the Balearic Isles. So may we by a wise use of the sacrament of repentance, conversion and forgiveness make our escape by God's grace from the wiles and snares of a miserable and darkened world!

After Mass, my morning's work (privilege, actually) was not yet over. An old priest has been struggling to re-learn to say the Trad. Mass at the behest of the Archbishop, but has found it very difficult, as was proven when he attempted a practice or "Dry" Mass after the Low Mass of Fr Rowe, once the people had departed; I acted as server. It was quite hard for him even to find his place in the Missal: a pathetic sight, in the true sense of the word. After getting as far as the Libera nos he gave up, and let Fr Rowe know (who'd been standing aside to let him fend for himself, but had nevertheless to intervene several times) that he was not going to continue trying to master the rite - sad to say, it was too much for him, but at least he realized that himself and was able to admit it.


Anonymous said...

I was going to say "what's a dry Mass", but you appear to have explained. It's a rehearsal, yes?

Joshua said...

In this case. The older term "dry Mass" or Missa sicca is nowadays used by those in the know to refer to priests (or seminarians) rehearsing how to say Mass for real.

However, strictly speaking, a "dry Mass" is actually an obsolete devotional practice, whereby a priest, even in full vestments, would stand at the altar and go through the ritual of Mass, only omitting the prayers and acts from the offertory to the communion inclusive. There were various forms of it. Sometimes it was said as an appendage to Mass, as a form of thanksgiving; other times, it was said when Mass itself could not be said, as in the afternoon or onboard ship.

Because of abuses (e.g. accepting a stipend for it, or even elevating a relic instead of the Host!), the Missa sicca fell into desuetude and obloquy. But the Carthusians still include a form of it as part of their version of the Little Office of Our Lady, which many of them still pray in the cells (as well as the full Office of the day).

Think of it as the Tridentine version of a paraliturgy! One starts with either the Confiteor, etc., or straight from the Introit, then recites the prayers and lessons and chants up until the Offertory antiphon. Some would still include the Preface, Sanctus, Lord's Prayer, etc. - omitting the Canon, of course - but the Carthusians jump straight to the Communion antiphon and finish off with the postcommunion, Last Gospel, etc. (Anciently, the rule was that if one had communicated, one said the postcommunion, but otherwise repeated the collect.)

As a form of private devotion, praying over the texts of the Mass, it can be quite fruitful even today, especially for one thinking about becoming a priest and musing about standing one day at God's altar. For instance, today being Sexagesima, trumping the 3rd class feast of St John Chrysostom, one could make one's thanksgiving after Mass by praying the texts of the Mass in his honour, from the relevant Proper and Common.

BTW, it was called "dry" because there was no wine and water used, nor bread of course.

Anonymous said...

Interesting, Joshua. Thank you.

Oh, by the way, I worked out the matins question; don't worry.

solitudinisdesiderio said...

Ave María! Thanks for post this article many years ago, but i never hear about them Missa Sicca term, until fewl weeks ago, and i pray my first Officium missae or Dry Mass some days ago. I use the 1962 latin Mass for Sancta Maria in Sabbato, of course i avoid all the parts exclusive of a ordained priest. I have read the Officium Divinum every day since the 2012, and i have vocation for the religious life since four years. I have a question, that i make to another blog how talk about the Dry mass too. I can use a Alb vestment? because is a cloth for a altar server and this kind of devotion is private, maybe i can use it. Thanks. Deus benedicat te +