Friday, August 31, 2007

History of the Dominican Liturgy: Section Two: Conciliar Adaptions, 1962-1965 [Part 1]

[Continuing with Fr. Augustine Thompson's series on the Dominican liturgy around the period of the Council and the adoption of the Roman rite, we move into the conciliar period. Fr. Thompson is now a contributor of the NLM of course, but it seems to make the most sense for me to simply continue out this series as I have been. This is the first part of this second section.]

Section Two: Conciliar Adaptions, 1962-1965
by Fr. Augustine Thompson, O.P.

With the publication of the new Breviary and the Calendar of 1962, projects to reform the liturgy began to change. With the exception of the reformed Easter Vigil, the reforms of the 1950s had been relatively minor affairs, even the calendar reforms were noticeable principally to priests, not the casual layperson at Mass. As changes increased in quality and importance during the early 1960s, expectation that major reforms were in the offing began to spread and, in liturgically conscious circles, proposals for greater simplifications became common. Friars assembled at the General Chapter of Bologna in September 1961 produced a set of petitions for communication to the Congregation of Rites. Mostly these dealt with the distinctive aspects of the Dominican Solemn Mass. Proposed changes included having the Gospel read from the pulpit facing the people, instead of toward "liturgical north" (the left wall of the nave). They asked that the unfolding of the corporal during the Epistle be abolished and that the rite for incensing the friars be simplified. For Low Mass, they petitioned that the "Prayers at the Foot of the Alter" be said in a voice loud enough for the congregation to hear. Permission was sought also to write new prefaces (the rite at this time had only 16) and for dropping the "preces" at all hours except Lauds and Vespers.[56] An extraordinary General Chapter was held the next year at Toulouse in preparation for the Second Vatican Council.[57] It passed little legislation on liturgy, but heard reports on reform of the Missal.[58]

Changes in the posture of the friars in choir during Office did not require petitions to the Congregation of Rites as changes in the rite itself did, and, as requested by the General Chapter, such new norms were promulgated at the beginning of 1963.[59] These were extensive. The complex rules for raising and lowering the capuce at Mass and Office were reduced to raising it only when sitting. Abolished as well were the repeated uncoverings of the head at the Holy Names and at various verses in the Gloria -a practice that had paralleled the tipping of the biretta by secular priests. The profound bows at the names of Mary and Dominic became head-bows, and the (admittedly late medieval) head-bow at the mention of the Precious Blood disappeared entirely; bows by the choir at the blessing of the reader were gone. The rubrics did, however, preserve the bow at the Gloria Patri during the psalms and during collects up to "qui vivit" in the doxology. Bowing for the Confiteor at Prime and Compline was replaced by kneeling, which was considered more "penitential." At Mass, the ancient system of bows and prostrations on the forms by the friars in choir was replaced by standing facing the altar, sitting, and kneeling, using the same rubrics already used by lay people at High Mass. This had the effect of introducing kneeling during the Canon and erased the need to prostrate at the consecration. The elaborate medieval use of the body in prayer, so typical of medieval Dominican devotional works like "The Nine Ways of Prayer of St. Dominic," was now gone. Finally, rubrics for conventual Low Mass were codified on the Roman model and "dialogue format" became the norm.

In the document itself, the authors spelled out the logic guiding these changes. Four principles were observed: 1. Simplification and conformity to the general practice of the Church; 2. preservation, where possible, of primitive Dominican practice; 3. greater uniformity among ceremonies; 4. greater conformity with the Roman Rite.[60] In practice, norms 1 and 4 predominated, and norm 2 seems to have had no influence on the legislation at all. In this, the new choir rubrics were a sign of what was to come: from this point forward the effects of reform were to be to erase what ever was distinctive in the Rite and conform to Roman practice. The pastoral problems of a distinct Rite in the midst of near universal Roman liturgy as well as hostility from the secular (and some Dominican) priests at Dominican "difference" would slowly be removed.

Within months, approval from the Congregation of Rites arrived for revision of the rubrics of the Mass itself.[61] This document presented the old and new rubrics in parallel columns to facilitate the change over. The reforms removed much of what seemed "different" about the Dominican Mass, at least from the point of view of the Congregation. Among the most important changes, the priest no longer had capuce up going to altar; he prepared the chalice at the Offertory, not on arriving at the altar; the practice of bowing to the Crucifix was replaced by simple head bows; the very ancient practice of saying the historically late parts of the Roman Canon with hands folded is gone, replaced by the "orans" position throughout. In addition, the rite is simplified somewhat: Gone are the prayer "Actiones Nostras" on arrival at the altar, making the cross on the altar before kissing it, holding the chasuble up against the altar when kneeling, the distinction between the deacon's and priest's hand position when reading the Gospel; and finally the double sip of the Precious Blood at the priest's communion. Also gone is the practice of coming to the center of the altar for the genuflection during the Creed. The corporal is placed in the burse at the remaking of the chalice rather than having this postponed till after the Last Gospel. Positively, coherent rubrics are finally provided for the people's communion, and the Confiteor at that point is formally suppressed.[62] Other than the approval of new saints' days, the first part of the conciliar reform of the Dominican Rite was complete.[63]

Within six months of this legislation, Pope John XXIII died, on 3 June 1963. The Council was suspended for the papal election. It chose Cardinal Giovanni Montini of Milan as pope, who took the name Paul VI. These events interrupted the reform of the Rite underway in early 1963. The new pope was known to be sympathetic to the Liturgical Renewal and far less old-fashioned in his piety than John XXIII. The momentum of liturgical change, already strong, increased. This was capped by the promulgation of the Vatican Council's Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium on December 4, 1963. Although in many ways a conservative document that called for the retention of Latin in worship (while allowing the readings in vernacular) and gave Gregorian Chant "pride of place" over all other forms of music, the document did propose simplification of rubrics and rites and revision of the Lectionary to provide for a greater selection of readings. It also called for extensive changes in the Office, in particular the replacement of the weekly psalter with a four-week one. In many ways more important in practice than the conciliar document was the motu proprio of the new Pope Paul VI, Sacram Liturgiam, issued on January 25, 1964.

Both documents were published in the Analecta in the spring of 1964.[64] On 15 March 1964, the new Master General, Fr. Aniceto Fernandez wrote to the provincials to clarify the meaning of the two documents for the Dominican liturgy.[65] In his letter he took pains to emphasize that Sacrosanctum Concilium had included the Dominican when it said that other rites legitimately recognized are to have equal right and honor" and that "it expects and wills that they be preserved in the future and in every way nourished." But, this did not exclude reforms.

The Order would have to find a way to assimilate these documents. To this end, a liturgical commission was created by the Master General on 24 June 1964.[66] Friars who lived through the period say that changes mostly were introduced as news of them appeared in the local Catholic press, much as they were made by secular clergy for the Roman Rite. Some priests acted more slowly, some anticipated future changes. Dominican liturgical experts such as Fr. William Bonniwell and Fr. Ansgar Dirks had, by this time, concluded that further attempts to preserve the Dominican liturgy and modify it to conform to the reforms affecting the Roman Rite had ceased to be worth the trouble. They urged the immediate adoption of the Roman liturgy.[67] But opinion was divided. Even before the Commission was established, the Master General had permitted the vernacular as it was used in the Roman Rite. Furthermore, Prime was suppressed and the celebration of Lauds and Vespers were to be emphasized above the other hours.

These acts marked a significant shift. Within the monastic tradition, the hours, whether major or minor, served to sanctify the day (and night) by regular breaks for prayer. The emphasis on morning and evening prayers above the other hours represented the liturgists' hypothetical "cathedral office" where these hours were supposed to have alone been celebrated for the laity and were considered sufficient to sanctify the day. Like the loss of Prime, part of the monastic office from before St. Benedict, this represents a move toward a spirituality intended for lay people and the secular clergy. A similar intent marked the Master General's decision to delegate the power to dispense from attendance at choir office to the provincials, thus making it easier to grant.[68]

These acts of the Master General prepared the friars for the publication of reforms in the Solemn Mass that were already in preparation before Pope John's death. These were published in the April-June 1964 fascicle of the Analecta.[69] Some of these changes involved the texts used at Mass and, to some extent, represent the desire to restore primitive Dominican practice. For example, the Mass propers of St. Peter Crysologus, St. Stephan, and St. Brigit in the 1933 Missal simply reproduced the Masses found in the respective commons of the Roman Missal. New Masses were now provided using Dominican propers and readings. Awkward Latin, perhaps the result of medieval copying errors, was corrected in a number of collects, and the Mass "Pro Infirmis," found in the ancient Humbert Codex, is restored.

More extensive and less of a return to ancient sources were the changes in the rubrics of Solemn Mass.[70] Among the most important of these changes: the major ministers no longer recite the propers with the priest; kissing the priest's hand is suppressed; the deacon stops raising the priest's chasuble when he turns for the Dominus Vobiscum; servers leave their candles lighted for the whole service, rather than snuffing and relighting them repeatedly (a medieval wax saving practice); and the humeral veil is now placed on the credence table, not the altar, after its last use. Most of this involved suppression of what had become, for most, fossilized remnants of medieval etiquette. Nor did these reforms change the rite in its substance, but one further change, the introduction of the new communion formula ("Corpus Christi.") and suppression of the Sign of the Cross over the communicant with the host affected every congregant going to communion. They now had to respond "Amen" before receiving. In his comments on this, Fr. Dirks reminded the friars that the petition to adopt this form, already in use in the Roman Rite, was in accord with the "participatio actuosa" called for by the Council.[71]

Pressure to conform to the Roman use continued, especially now that dialogue Mass was becoming more and more common, and Dominican priests faced the issue of celebrating Mass in secular parishes where congregations (at least to some extent) had begun to answer the priest in the (Roman) Prayers at the Foot of the Altar. To address this problem, permission was granted in late 1964 for Dominicans to use the Roman Rite Prayers at the Foot of the Altar, even in the context of the Dominican Mass, if they celebrated in secular churchesB-a permission extended, within a year, even to Masses in Dominican churches "when people are present."[72]


[56] Acta Capituli Generalis Provincialium S. Ordinis FF. Praedicatorum, Bononiae (18-24 Sept. 1961) (Rome: Curia Generalitia, 1961), n. 153-58, 165-173.

[57] Acta Capituli Generali Electivi Sacri Ordinis FF. Praedicatorum, Tolosae (22-229 Iulii, 1962) (Rome: Curia Generalitia, 1962).

[58] This originated with the commission to prepare a replacement for the 1933 Missal: Acta Capituli Generalis Electivi S. Ordinis FF. Praedicatorum, Romae (11-17 Apr. 1955) (Rome: Curia Generalitia, 1955), n. 90; whose tasks were later expanded: Acta Capituli Generalis Diffinitorum S. Ordinis FF. Praedicatorum, Calarogae (24-30 Sept. 1958) (Rome: Curia Generalitia, 1958)n. 162, to include reforming the role of the deacon at Solemn Mass.

[59] "Schema Simplificationis Caeremoniarum in Choro Servandum," ASOFP, 36 (1963-1964): 54-62 (this is the Jan-Mar. fasc. of 1963), issued in accord with n. 137 of the General Chapter of Toulouse (1962). The commentary of Fr. Ansgar Dirks is found on pp. 58-62.

[60] Ibid., p. 54 "Institutum Liturgicum proposuit schema simplificationis caeremoniarum in choro servandum, ita ut: 1. simplificationes legibus ecclesiasticis vel usui generali Ecclesiae non sint contrariae. 2. In quantum fieri possit, serventur usus nostri primitivi. 3. Augeatur cohaerentia inter caeremonias. 4. Augeatur conformitas cum usu generali Ecclesiae, id est cum Ritu romano."

[61] SCR, "Diversae Variationes in Missae Rubricis" (Prot. N. o.42-963--3 Apr. 1963), ASOFP, 36 (1963-1964): 171-180.

[62] Ibid., 178-79.

[63] The SCR approved these calendar changes: new feasts of blesseds: Bl. Peter Sanz et companions (3 June); Bl. Ignatius Delgado and companions (11 July); Bl. Joseph Melchior (27 Jul.) and B. Francis de Posadas (20 sept). St. Catherine of Siena raised to a Class I feast, Raymond of Penyafort to second class. See ASOFP, 36 (1963-1964): 296-97. Provision was also made for a Votive Mass of the Virgin and for the readings of St. Martin de Porres: ASOFP, 36 (1963-1964): 394-95 (readings on pp. 408-13

[64] ASOFP, 36 (1963-1964): 333-67.

[65] "Litterae de Sacra Liturgia," ASOFP, 36 (1963-1964): 404-05" "Sacrosanctum Concilium declarat se omnes ritus legitime agnitos aequo iure et honore habere eosque in posterum servari et omnimode foveri velle atque exoptat."

[66] Its members were Chrysostom Vijverberg (praeses), Joseph Bernal, William Bonniwell, Ansgar Dirks, Louis Gignac, Pierre-Marie Gy, Damien Govert, Leopold Jager, Paulinus Miller, Aimon Rouget, Antonino Silli, Antonin Vismans: "Commissionis de Re Liturgica Instituto," ASOFP, 36 (1963-1964): 661.

[67] Oral communications of Fr. Antoninus Wall, O.P. (ordained 1950), Fr. Samuel Parsons, O.P. (ordained 1957), and Fr. Albert Gerald Buckley, O.P. (ordained 1957), given 8-12 August 2005. All of the Western Dominican Province, U.S.A. Fr. Bonniwell describes decision that the Order should abandon the rite, and the consternation it caused Cardinal Browne at a meeting of Dominican liturgists to discuss that question during the Council: see Interview with Dominican friar Fr. William Bonniwell, O.P. (1886 1984) [Videotape],interview by Fr. Antoninus Wall, O.P., filmed by Gavin Colvert (1982), Archives of the Western Dominican Province and in personal possession of Fr. Wall.

[68] ASOFP, 36 (1963-1964): 309. To some extent the cutting down of the Office was also behind the abrogation of the reform which provided that antiphons be recited before and after every psalm: SCR letter (Prot. n. 117-960 -6 Aug. 1964), ASOFP, 36 (1963-1964): 653, although this also restored an older practice.

[69] SRC Decree (Prot. N. o.65-963--30 May 1963), SRC decree (Prot. N. o.11-964--19 Feb. 1964) p. 470-74, 477-84; with commentary by Ansgar Dirks, ibid., 474-77.

[70] Ibid., pp. 477-84.

[71] SRC rescript (Prot. N. o.11-964 -19 Feb. 1964), ASOFP, 36 (1963-1964): "Quia decretum de nova formula in sacra communionis adhibenda valet pro solo Ritu Romano, superiorbius tamen opportunum visum est, ad actuosam et fructuosam fidelium participationem fovendum, ut nova formula pro Ritu nostro acceptaretur, Reve.mus Pater Procurator Generalis a S. Sede rescriptum petiit quo decretum S.R.C. ad Ritum nostrum applicarentur."

[72] SCR decree (Prot. n. o.104-964 -24 Nov. 1964), ASOFP, 37 (1965-1966): 61; extended to Dominican Churches in SRC decree (Prot. n. o.29-965 -8 May 1965), p. 165.

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