Sunday, February 28, 2010

Low Mass, O.P.

Mark tells me he hasn't yet been to a Dominican Rite Mass - well, I've only attended a Dominican High Mass once (think Sarum, with lots of processions to and from the altar, apparently checking to see if there is a chalice on the altar, and, if so, what's in it), and ditto for a Dominican Rite Missa cantata (bizarrely enough, I was the sole congregant, being the guest of honour; two brothers served and sang!) but I have often heard and even served Dominican Rite Low Mass, and I personally prefer it to the Use of Rome.

For a start, at the start, the service starts swiftly: the server carries in the Missal (as may be done, but is done rarely, in the Roman Rite), and lights the candles as part of the pre-Mass ritual while the priest readies things; immediately the chalice is mixed with a minimum of fuss, and then there is a quick and short mutual Confiteor, with a matching longer Misereatur – no Psalm 42 – that leads very soon to the Introit...

A number of rituals are simpler: for instance, the Dominican priest does not kiss the altar each time he says Dominus vobiscum – nor does he go to the centre of the altar to do so, but simply turns where he is. Yet other ceremonies are more ample: for instance, when the priest kisses the altar (for he does still do so at the start and end of Mass), he first makes the sign of the Cross on it with his thumb; and before and after the Gospel, all make a large sign of the Cross upon themselves, as well as the customary three small crosses beforehand.

Similarly, the Offertory rites are simple and direct: the mixed chalice, together with the host on the paten atop it, is elevated and offered up with a prayer to the Trinity that is identical to that used in the Rite of Hereford – while in the Roman Rite, a series of very devout but longwinded prayers are used, the Use of the Friars Preachers very quickly proceeds to the Secret and the Preface, leading into the Canon.  The Dominican Orate fratres is different to the Roman – and there is no response.

As for the Canon, the Blackfriars have some interesting differences of posture: at both Memento's, the priest joins his hands throughout; he bows deeply at the Hanc igitur (instead of extending his hands over the oblations, which is a much later innovation in the Roman Mass); after the Consecration, he recites the Unde et memores with arms partly extended in the form of a cross – which seems to be a derivation from the Ambrosian Rite that spread across Europe in the middle ages; and at the Supplices te, he bows low with arms crossed (cancellatis manibus), which again was the earlier Roman posture.

I particularly like the differences at the Per ipsum: after making a number of signs of the cross with the Host above, at the lip of, and within the chalice, before it, and at its base, the priest does not then elevate both Species – instead, replacing the Host on the corporal, he bows deeply before Them.  What gracious solemnity!

A nice little ceremony still remains in use in some Dominican provinces, including here in Australia: even at Low Mass, the Pax is offered – directly after the Agnus Dei, while the priest reads the longer commixture prayer, the server rises (genuflects), approaches the altar, uses the purificator to pick up the paten (which remains under the corporal, not being used to hold the Host, the remainder of Which the priest instead retains in his left hand after the commixture until he consumes It), and holds it up to the priest to kiss, which he does, saying, Pax tibi et Ecclesiæ sanctæ Dei – then the server replaces the paten, genuflects, and returns to his  place.

The private Communion prayers are again very short, and soon enough Mass concludes in the usual manner.

(Should I mention that I have once received under both species – much to my surprise! – at a Dominican Low Mass?  The priest turned to administer the chalice to me, and it seemed rude to refuse; he explained afterward that the Council had favoured a limited extension of Communion in both kinds, and that this was a Catholic sentiment he therefore followed upon occasion, when no possibility of scandal would arise.)

Finally, while the Last Gospel is read, the server snuffs the candles (a clever one managing to do so at apposite words about light and darkness!).

I do like this rite.


Dominic Mary said...

I quite agree : a seemly and venerable Rite, the general restoration of which is much to be desired.

Sadly, the present Master of the Order is rather opposed to its use; which is why many (if not most) Provinces have not yet restored it; but there is, of course, a General Chapter (elective) this summer . . . so we shall have to wait and see if there will be any change in the position thereafter !

Mark M said...

It sounds wonderful, Josh; and thank you for this explanation...

I do hope one day to be able to go to a Dominican rite Mass, preferrably a Low Mass with a good Missal...

Mark M said...

Dominic Mary: we can but pray! ;-D