Thursday, October 15, 2015

For the Feast of St Theresa of Avila - A Film of Mass in the Ancient Carmelite Rite

I discovered this video a while ago, and have been saving it for today’s feast of St Theresa of Avila. It is a recording of a Mass celebrated according to the Use of the Old Observance Carmelites, essentially the Use which St Theresa herself would have known. The Discalced Reform of the Order which she and St John of the Cross founded adopted the liturgical Use of Rome (as represented by the Missal and Breviary of St Pius V), but only after St Theresa’s death, and by some reports, very much against her intentions.

This recording was made at Aylesford Priory in England, where St Simon Stock was elected head of the Carmelite Order in 1245. Suppressed at the Reformation, the property was bought back by the Old Observance branch of the Order in 1949, and the house re-established. The video begins with some account of the works for the rebuilding of the compound, still ongoing at the time it was made; the Mass itself begins at the 4:00 mark.

The Mass which is celebrated here, filmed on a Sunday in September according to the narration, is a Votive Mass of the Resurrection, a custom which originated in the Use of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem during the Crusades, when that church was occupied by canons of the Latin Rite. The early Carmelites adopted that Use as their own, and maintained this custom; where the main Mass on a Sunday was normally said after Terce, the Votive Mass of the Resurrection was celebrated right after Prime, the hour of the Resurrection itself. The text of the Mass is the same as that of Easter Sunday; however, the words “hodierna die - on this day” are omitted from the Collect, and the Sequence is not sung. The Scriptural readings are given in English by the narration, unfortunately in the Knox translation; we may also note that, in keeping with a common use which is sadly still not dead, the Gradual and Alleluia are done in Psalm tone. Despite these small flaws, this remains an incredibly precious document of one of the Church’s most venerable liturgical rites. 

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