Monday, January 08, 2007

Western liturgical rites

As regular readers of the NLM know, I have a great interest in the various Western rites and uses that found a place in the history of the Church. This includes historical uses that we rarely see today (the Salisbury/Sarum, Hereford, York, etc.) but most primarily it is focused upon those liturgical rites and uses that were still used up until recent times. Rites such as those of the Dominicans, Carmelites, the Ambrosian or Mozarabic liturgical rites attached to particular Sees.

As part of my own research, I am collecting materials, both primary and secondary to this end. As well, as I mentioned recently, I intend to develop a comparative document which will show as many of these rites and uses as possible, and as in user friendly and revealing a manner as possible -- considering not only texts but also ceremonial differences. (As part of this, if I can, I also hope to add into this comparison the more ancient forms of some of these rites, prior to their becoming closer to the Roman rite, such as in the case of the Cistercians.)

A significant task to say the least, and one which will be a work in progress no doubt for years to come -- and thus likely a document I will simply have to point out as I add pieces to it.

The reason I am telling you of this again is that, as part of my own search into this, I found a very nice document which does something similiar (though not quite in the same way I am going to approach it). This document was produced by Fr. Gabriel Diaz, and is a chart which compares the Roman rite, the Mozarabic, the Ambrosian, the Carmelite, the Carthusian, the Dominican, the Bragan and finally the rite of Lyons.

The document: Synopsis Rituum

It is a handy chart and a valuable reference. It, like my own, focuses upon the Ordo Missae.

One might wonder, why pursue such a project? My thought has been that in our consideration of the liturgical question today, it is important to have a sense of the historical, legitimate liturgical diversity that reigned in the Western half of the Church (as it does in the Eastern), which is both diverse and yet very unified.

Further, this loss, as well, has been a source of great impoverishment not only for the Church, but for the sees and Orders in question. As such, it seems to me that such a liturgical treasury is something we should also seek to reclaim. (Who cannot be overjoyed to see more and more Dominicans making the effort to at least occasionally use their ancient Dominican rite? Or to witness the occasionally Sarum use liturgy? Or to know of a Carmelite Order now again using their ancient "rite of the Holy Sepulchre".)

Further, it seems to me that an understanding of legitimate liturgical diversity will significantly help in, not only an appreciation for the depth of our tradition (and tradition itself), but it will also aid in an appreciation organic development (by witnessing how various rites and uses developed in various manners), as well as in understanding the difference in character bewteen legitimate and illegitimate liturgical diversity.

(Pictures are from the Dominican Rite liturgy, as celebrated by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Vincent Ferrier)

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