Friday, September 07, 2007

History of the Dominican Liturgy: Section Two: Conciliar Adaptions, 1962-1965 [Part 2]

[Continuing with Fr. Augustine Thompson's series on the Dominican liturgy around the period of the Council, this concludes section two. Section 3 will follow hereafter which pertains to "Post-conciliar Accomodations: 1965-69".]

by Fr. Augustine Thompson, O.P.

The flurry of new reforms that marked the fall of 1964, inspired by changes in the Roman Rite, and resulting in a new decree dated December 30, 1964, would delay that publication of the new Missal for six months.[73] That December decree repeats and codifies the reforms requested and instituted earlier in the year and adds to them. Most changes concern the Solemn Mass. The priest no longer recites the Ordinary and Proper quietly, "he may sing with the choir." The Secret is to be sung aloud, as is the entire Per Ipsum, during which the priest merely holds up the host and chalice, omitting the complicated series of crosses found in the medieval rite. The subdeacon no longer holds the paten covered with the humeral veil during the Canon--a rite going back to antiquity when it carried the people's food offerings and had to be removed from the altar to make room. The people, or at least those who sing, now join in the Lord's Prayer. This chant had been restricted to the priest since it was placed just after the Canon by Pope Gregory the Great. It was St. Gregory's desire that by saying the Lord's Prayer, one composed by Christ, the priest might with "divine words" ratify the Roman Canon he had just prayed, which was composed by men and so made up of mere "human words." The Embolism that followed the Pater Noster was now sung aloud. These reforms have a whole different logic than those that have preceded: they are intended to reduce the number of prayers said silently (and so facilitate "participatio actuosa" by making them heard) and increase the items sung in common by all (likewise increasing "participatio"). As to Low Mass, lectors and deacons may do the readings while the priest listens and these are to be read facing the people, the Gospel from the pulpit. Again, the principle seems to be "participatio," although here those who get to do more are all clerics.

It seems to have been anticipated that this legislation would complete the reform of the Dominican Mass in preparation for the publication of the new Missal in time for Lent of 1965. But yet another round of changes, again modeled on those in the mother rite, arrived on 13 February 1965.[74] It seems that this document includes further petitions from the Liturgical Commission that had not arrived in time for the December 30 decree or had somehow been omitted from it by the Congregation of Rites. Master General Fernandez had written to request them the very day after the earlier decree arrived.[75] Unlike the last set of changes, that emphasized increased participation, these are mostly ritual simplifications, removing gestures considered repetitive and meaningless to modern sensibilities. Gone are the head bows during the Gloria and Creed, save at the name of Jesus, as are those at the Gratias Agamus of the Preface and at the doxology of the Canon. All genuflections during readings and chants, save that in the Creed, are abolished. The communion verse and post-communion collect are read at the center of the altar, not at the side. The Signs of the Cross are gone from the end of the Creed and during the Sanctus, as is the one made with the paten during the Embolism. The procession in with the cross from the sacristy during the Creed, surely one of the more impressive "Gallican" aspects of the rite, is obsolete: the processional cross will now be kept at the credence table.

The original promulgation date of the new Missal was to have been in February 1965, but the February rubrical changes delayed publication. Instead, on the 13 of that month, the Master General addressed a letter to the friars explaining the work of the Liturgical Commission, the new rubrics and reforms, and giving permission to introduce the vernacular into Masses with the laity.[76] He emphasized the importance of education in making the reforms effective and successful. The delays and slow process in reform had caused some to bridle at the process and introduce changes on their own. Fernandez wrote:

Let the friars, especially those who are young, attend with a humble and patient spirit to the mind and will of the Church legislating changes in Sacred Liturgy pertain to the Church's authority. Henceforth, let no one proceed in these matters at his own will, often with detriment, rather the liturgy and its institution are to be performed under competent authority.[77]

The new rubrics of Mass were thus to go into effect on the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, 7 March 1965, even though the new Missal was still unavailable. Concelebration in the Roman Rite went into effect on Holy Thursday, 15 April 1965. Nothing was provided for this in the drafts of the new Missal. Rather than send them back for more revisions, the Master went ahead with publication of the text in hand and instructed the Order simply to start using the Roman forms of concelebration after they went into force, leaving implementation up to local superiors.[78] In May, the Master again wrote to the provinces apologizing for further delay and promising that the Missal would appear before summer.

Although its official publication date was 28 February 1965, the new Dominican Missal did not appear until fall of that year.[79] It conforms to all the directives of the past two years, so there is no need, with one exception, to describe its contents. That exception is the appearance, following the Dominincan Mass, of the Roman Ordo from Mass from the "Te igitur" of the Canon until the dismissal.[80] It has tabs for use, is printed in full format just as the Dominican Ordo, and has all the rubrics as they stood in 1965. There is no mention of this addition in any document published in the Analecta and nothing in the prefatory materials of the Missal itself, but it is obviously meant to allow the user to celebrate the Roman Mass, doubtless at Masses with the people. All that is lacking are the opening rites and the readings. The Prayers at the Foot of the Altar were usually done from memory and readings at public Low Masses were now generally in the vernacular using readings prepared under the direction of local ordinaries, these texts were unnecessary. Almost immediately in English speaking lands at least, as vernacular readings were introduced, lay readers, initially all men, were enlisted to proclaim them, so replacing the subdeacons and clerics to whom this work had previously been restricted.[81] This Missal provided for the desire of many friars involved in pastoral work and missions to celebrate the Roman Rite -and there was nothing to pervent a Dominican community or a friar celebrating privately from doing so. In this aspect the book is a compromise and also a sign of things to come.

This last Missal of the Order was indeed a beautiful and sumptuous book. Available in deluxe burgundy Morocco leather with gilt edges, as well as handsome red cloth, it has every appearance of being a book meant for the ages. Although the neo-gothic steel-cuts that decorated the 1933 Missal are gone, the use of large classical Roman type, the wide clean margins, and a full-page color reproduction of Fra Angelico's San Marco, Florence, fresco, St. Dominic at the Foot of the Cross, flanking the Canon more than compensate. Victorian sensibilities are gone, in their place is a modern, yet timeless, elegance. Considering it, one could easily forget that the consensus of the liturgists at its publication was that the Order should adopt the Roman Rite and move on. It is a monument to the momentum involved in major publishing projects, and to the efforts of that remaining group of friars who were determined to preserve the Dominican Rite.


[73] "Normae Ritus Ordinis Dominicani Menti Constitutionis De Sacra Liturgia et Instructionis S. R. C. Aptatae." (Port. n. o.124-964--30 Dec. 1964), ASOFP, 37 (1965-1966): 55-57.

[74] SRC "De Aliis Mutationibus in Rubricis Missalis Ordinis Praedicatorum" (Prot. N. o.17-965 -13 Feb. 1965), ASOFP, 37 (1965-1966): 58-59; the textual changes involved were already approved by a rescript of 22 Jan. 1965.

[75] "Addenda Litteris Nostris Instaurationem Liturgiae Die 31 Decembris 1964 Datis," ibid., pp. 82-85.

[76] ASOFP, 37 (1965-1966): 75-85.

[77] ASOFP, 37 (1965-1966): 166: Humili tamen et patienti animo, fratres, prasertim iuvenes, attendant ad mentem et voluntatem Ecclesiae, statuentis Sacrae Liturgiae moderatio ad Ecclesiae auctoritatem pertinent; nemo proinde alius in hac re suo marte procedat, cum detrimento, saepius, ipsius Liturgiae eiusque instaurationis a competenti auctoritate peragendae..

[78] "De Concelebratione Missae," ASOFP, 37 (1965-1966): 166.

[79] Missale iuxta Ritum Ordinis Praedicatorum (Rome: S. Sabina, 1965), p. iii.

[80] Ibid., pp. 1*-15*, which follow p. 347; numbering resumes with p. 347 after p. 15*. This Roman material is an insert.

[81] The Order issued no explicit legislation on the use of lay readers. Fr. Fabian Stanley Parmisano, O.P. (oral communication of Aug. 16, 2007), a priest ordained in 1953, described the introduction of this practice in the Western Dominican Province in 1966. It was inspired by the introduction of lay readers in the Roman rite during the previous year. Women readers seem to have appeared somewhat after, but female altar servers did appear until the 1970s, considerably after the abandonment of the Rite.

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