Rorate Caeli

In praise of Low Mass

Sacrifice. Silence. Like the simple seven words on Golgotha. The essence, before our very eyes: the epitome of unplanned and truly organic development - Roman order and terseness displayed forever and everywhere. 

Strengthened with all might,
according to the power of his glory,
in all patience and longsuffering with joy,
giving thanks to God the Father,
who hath made us worthy to be partakers of the lot of the saints in light:
who hath delivered us from the power of darkness,
and hath translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love,
in whom we have redemption through his blood, the remission of sins;
who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
for in him were all things created in heaven and on earth,
visible and invisible,
whether thrones, or dominations, or principalities, or powers:
all things were created by him and in him.
And he is before all, and by him all things consist.
And he is the head of the body, the Church,
who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead;
that in all things he may hold the primacy:
because in him, it hath well pleased the Father,
that all fullness should dwell.
And through him to reconcile all things unto himself,
making peace through the blood of his cross,
both as to the things that are on earth,
and the things that are in heaven.
Colossians I


Gratias said...

The low Mass grows on you. One can concentrate on the prayers, and hear St. John's final Gospel out loud. Since the TLM is quite a automotive pilgrimage for us I used to call to find out whether the Mass was Cantata or Low. No more, we just go regardless (and more frequently, twice a month). A Low EF Mass beats NO every time. The bishops should obey Summorum Pontificum so we may attend in our own parishes.

Five years ago we visited a small island in Venice close to Burano. It has only 15 inhabitants now but it has a huge 10th century Cathedral. Wife and I were praying quietly in a dark side chapel when a priest and a deacon walked in and said mass. The priest did not see us, so the Sacristan pointed us to him and walked to us two to ask whether te wanted to receive the Eucharist. We did.

Later, in the main nave, we met the same priest and introduced ourselves. "Why do you offer mass even if you think no one is there?" I naively asked. The elderly priest answered: "I offer Mass daily so my Church will remain Holy".

The Modernist Bishops that prevent us from having Low Masses should consider developing the Holiness of their Dioceses.

Anonymous said...

I love Low Masses, early on a cold winter's morning in a not quite so warm Church,where the only light is from the altar, the silence, the priest's mumbling the sacred prayers, the tinkle of the bells if there is a server, moves me beyond my own comprehension.- this is ,most certainly, my Favourite Mass....much as I love all the other types of TLMs that there are...

In great praise of LOW MASSES!


Gratias said...

Sorry. I omitted to say that this magnificent Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta is in the island of Torcello. Although the island had only 15 inhabitants five years ago, many more people lived there earlier.

Built in 638, the Bishop of Venice took relics to Torcello Island because Venice was being invaded by the Unni and Longobardi tribes. Thus, in the middle of an archipelago, Catholicism and Western Civilization survived.

The humble Mass "to keep the Church Holy" that we attended was probably held in a semicircular Battistero In front of the main nave.

It was a day to remember and be glad to be Catholic.

Anonymous said...

I too love Low Masses!!!

Anonymous said...

I too love Low Masses!!!

Anonymous said...

Reading from the last thead, the poster said that Cardinal Ratzinger attacked the Low Mass.

I found this on the Internew at CNS about what he said of the Low Mass.

In one revealing speech to Catholic traditionalists in 1998, he said bluntly that the old "low Mass," with its whispered prayers at the altar and its silent congregation, "was not what liturgy should be, which is why it was not painful for many people" when it disappeared."

On the Papa Ratzinger internet site I found this.

"Even before the Motu Proprio I had been attending a Tridentine Rite Mass regularly - I say regularly, but it's only been twice a year!!! This is in the main church of our

The Mass is always a Low Mass and I don't recommend this. The priest does mumble the Latin, which saddens me, because it's the Latin I want to hear. Much of this Mass is said silently or nearly silently by the priest. A High Mass with incense, Gregorian Chant - the whole lot, in other words, is the ideal one to attend."

LeonG said...

Ah! The Low Mass which has transported many to be with The Blessed Saviour within the sweet contemplative sounds of silent prayer. Many times have I accompanied the celebrant as he brought me the special privilege of being at his side with The Christ at the foot of The Cross, at Heaven's Very Gate, together in recollection with Our Blessed Lady and St John. What a dramatic moment to be given to Her and for Her to be given to us as Mother. If any sacramental characterised Roman Catholic spirituality most it may be discovered in the Low Mass: liturgically embodying; monastically contemplative; sacramentally holistic; a divine masterpiece. Coupled with The Sacrament of Confession The Blessed Trinity harbours us in complete safety and harmony with The Divine Will.

It is long after time when the Church returned to us the necessary privilege of attending The Low Mass on a daiy basis. How much more Godless must society become before this fundamental liturgical right is restored?

JMR said...

OT. But can someone explain to the theologically challenged why the Last Gospel and the prayer to St. Michael were removed from the NO Mass?

mcgod in Aus said...

This year I began going to a late afternoon mass - a low mass at an FSSP parish on the other side of the city in which I live/ It being late on Sunday more often than not there is no young server so I started to fill in. I haven't served mass for 45 years. Now my filling in is becomng more often than not and most important, a source of great joy and grace for me as I approach 70 yrs.

Joe said...

The Cathedral at Torcello is truly a beautiful place. How wonderful for you that you were able to hear the ancient Low Mass. When we visited a couple of years ago, there didn't seem to be any sign that Mass was offerred.

My wife and I, too, much prefer the Low Mass even to the EF High Mass. I realise how anathema it is to say that, even among TLM followers. However, we find the peace, the relative silence, and the lack of distraction (ie only one thing going on at once) to be a wonderful form of spiritual nourishment.

Romanus said...

Long live the Low Mass Society!

Jonvilas said...

I just wonder, why to contradict one and another – the High Mass (Missa Solemnis) and the Low Mass (Missa lecta)? Both are the same Holy Mass.

Gerald said...

I love the silent low masses rather than dialogue masses.


New Catholic said...

True enough, Jonvilas. But I do not recall anyone, even the ones who are more at ease in Low Mass, criticize High Mass and its variations the way poor, lowly, humble Low Mass is criticized.


Igumen Gregory said...

Personally I prefer the Low Mass celebrated in stately English or Latin but said within the hearing of all, meaning not shouted aloud but with quietness and simplicity.

Anonymous said...

I almost hate to say this, because it somehow doesn't sound quite right, but I love these mass during war photos. I've never seen this one, and really the only one I was familiar with is a priest offering mass on the hood of a jeep for american GI's in WWII I believe. I think they are so beautiful.

Joe B said...

I love them both. But the participation in a High Mass is strongly encouraged to be more singing and standing, even during much of the canon, than the low mass, which offers me the opportunity to pray the prayers of the mass intensely and internally, mixed with my own devotions in the "gaps". At times the singing in the High Mass (everyone stands while singing) means we are standing through the canon right up to the consecration itself, barely getting on our knees in time for the great miracle. I find this disconcerting, as my inclination and desire is to be on my knees as much as possible during mass, but especially during the canon. I have a powerful urge for repentance which is brought to the fore in mass. But I do dearly love the chanting and I can't pray all the beautiful prayers of the mass when I am singing, so I find that beautiful as well.

My point is that they offer satisfaction for both forms of "participation", both of which I love. But the low mass allows me to intensely pray the prayers of the mass, which does more to raise my soul to God than singing. Just me.

Kevin Ford said...

Having grown up in a rather theologically devoid and desacralized modern rural parish, I have great love for both high and low mass. However, my wife who grew up in a Charismatic Catholic family cannot stomach the low mass. She does enjoy the high mass, however. Every time we have attended a Low Mass she has complained of how she feels as though she is just a spectator. Maybe this is from a lack of "participation" on the part of the people, but I can "participate" much better at a low mass than a crazy NO Mass. It is an interesting dynamic in our family. I pine for a TLM community where we don't feel ostracized and separated from the Church. I've too often felt elitism in these communities and that keep us going to the NO on Sunday. I hope one day the TLM will find its place in every parish and then this dynamic of elitism might disappear.

Jonvilas said...

JoeB, in my humble experience, which is mainly Missa Cantata, rather than Missa Solemnis (although, this summer I was blessed to participate in several of these), there is sufficient time for kneeling and praying in your heart. I mean, the community usually kneels during the offertory, and all kneel all through the Canon and also after Agnus Dei. Maybe this is due to the fact, that the principal music performed during these Masses was Gregorian Chant. Or better to say, all Mass propers and ordinary chants were it their right places and the ones that should be performed. This was also the case with polifonic ordinary chants. Thus, for me your arguments are not quite clear.

Henry Edwards said...

Anonymous @ 22 October, 2011 09:46,

I believe have read that "revealing speech to Catholic traditionalists" that Card. Ratzinger gave in 1998, and doubt the veracity of the quote the CNS (i.e., USCCB) article alleges. Also, note that the so-called Papa Ratzinger quote you include is merely some comboxer's opinion.

My own quote would be from a visit of Card. Ratzinger to Solesmes circa 2002. Early the first morning the prior took him into a crypt where a dozen or more monks were at separate altars, saying silently their individual low (TLM) Masses, each with a single server. Said the future pontiff to the prior, "Now, this is the real Catholic Church."

I had the same feeling myself one quiet morning at the St. Francis de Sales Oratory in St. Louis, when within 10 minutes I experienced five separate elevations of the Sacred Body and Precious Blood at similar individual private Masses. The previous afternoon I had attended the "four hours of heaven" ordination of two new ICK priests by Cardinal Burke in a solemn pontifical Mass with sumptuous chant and polyphony at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis. The low Masses I mentioned were followed by the first solemn high Mass of one of the new ordinands. All of these 7 Masses within 24 hours were literally heavenly but, looking back, perhaps I treasure most the memory of those five non-quite-simultaneous low Masses in whispered silence.

In any event, let me suggest that the daily low Mass, the high Mass on Sunday, the solemn high Mass and the solemn pontifical Mass on special occasions each presents its own facet of the genius of the ancient Roman rite. I love each in its own way, and surely God does also. I believe that anyone who doesn't is missing something valuable in our patrimony.

Anonymous said...

How many people know this these days?

Trent, Sess. 22, Can. 9: If any one say that the rite of the Roman Church, according to which a part of the Canon and the words of consecration are pronounced in a low tone, is to be condemned; or, that the Mass ought to be celebrated in the vulgar tongue only... let him be anathema.

Anonymous said...

"I believe have read that "revealing speech to Catholic traditionalists" that Card. Ratzinger gave in 1998, and doubt the veracity of the quote the CNS (i.e., USCCB) article alleges."

I don't. And here is the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter web site that has the complete document of the Cardinal's speech.

And the document is signed "Joseph, Cardinal Ratzinger
Prefect, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith."

And the quote is, "On the other hand one has to admit that the celebration of the ancient liturgy was too lost in the realm of the individual and the private.

"One must admit that the communion between the priest and the faithful was lacking.

"I have great respect for our ancestors who during the Low Mass, said the prayers "during Mass" which their prayer book recommended.

"Certainly one cannot consider that as the ideal of the liturgical celebration!

"Perhaps, these reduced forms of celebration are the fundamental reason why the disappearance of the ancient liturgical books had no importance in many countries and caused no pain, There was never any contact with the liturgy itself. On the other hand, where the liturgical movement had created a certain love for the liturgy, where this movement anticipated the essential ideals of the Council -for example the prayerful participation of all at the liturgical action- there was a greater pain at the liturgical reform undertaken too much in haste and limiting itself often to externals."

Anonymous said...

What is Low Mass?

Steve said...

The Low Mass flows and pulls me right in. On weekdays there is no sermon, nothing to interrupt the flow. High Mass may be preferable to some, but not me.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully said, LeonG.
Maybe I should not be shocked to read that Ratzinger believed "no pain" would be caused when the low Mass was taken from us. What greater sorrow could a Catholic endure than this loss?

Anonymous said...

It would appear with all these diffeent forms of the Mass, High, Low, Cantata, Solemnis, and Dialogue that there was a great variety to the Faithful for different expressions. And each individual, perhaps loving all but preferring one style best suited to their spiritual needs, could be satisfied. It leads me to believe that the original 1962 Missal should have been allowed in the vernacular for those who desired that and could have been inserted into the Sunday Mass schedule and that have been it. This would have been a form of Cathechis in and of itself. People who were not too good with Latin could have attended the vernacular Mass as a training tool to learn beeter what the prayers said (although Missals were available)and then when comfortable return again to Mass in Latin, High Low, whichever, thereby holding on to our patrimony as the Latin Rite Church. This would have been the greatest benefit and a careful revision, maybe over 10 or 20 years could have taken place as Vat II wished. Perhaps a slow simplification which would have lead to the 1965 Missal, but in 1985. This would have been prudent. If anyone thinks that everyone who now attends the NO Mass are never involved in private devotions or simply daydream because of the repetative vernacular banality they are mistaken. The vernacular every week all the time does not engage the mystery or senses. IT is what has indeed become "rote".

M. A. said...

"In any event, let me suggest that the daily low Mass, the high Mass on Sunday, the solemn high Mass and the solemn pontifical Mass on special occasions each presents its own facet of the genius of the ancient Roman rite."

So true. For me, heaven on earth would be a daily, low TLM with the more solemn High Masses on Sundays and Holy Days.

People who disparage the low Mass must have little or no sense of the sacred, and perhaps no clear understanding of the theology of the re-presentation of Calvary.

I have found that at the low Mass, a soul can be most easily transported to union with Christ in contemplative, restful, very personal intimacy.

shane said...

I agree. High Mass has its own glorious charm but going to one every Sunday would be too much for me --- a bit like eating Black Forest gateau for breakfast. The meditative solitude of a Low Mass (non-dialogue) facilitates a different but no less intense form of participation.

John Nolan said...

The best way to appreciate the Missa Lecta is to serve it, preferably on your own. I started at the age of eight in 1959. Two years ago, I served it again, having not done so in nearly 45 years, in a side chapel of the London Oratory. I was a bit creaky genuflecting, but remembered everything, including the responses which I had committed to memory half a century before.

The parts that the priest says aloud should be brisk and audible, likewise the server's responses. There is a tendency where the EF has been revived to whisper everything, and for the priest to say the Last Gospel silently, which is not how I remember it. The Missa Dialogata and Missa Recitata (recommended by the SCR as far back as 1935) was late to catch on in England and in general traddies don't like you joining in the server's responses; I do, but sotto voce.

I miss the prayers at the foot of the altar, audible at low Mass but otherwise overlaid by the singing of the Introit. A telling moment comes after the priest's Confiteor when the server turns to the priest and in the name of the congregation pronounces the words:'Misereatur tui omnipotens Deus, et dimissis peccatis tuis, perducat te ad vitam aeternam.'

Anonymous said...

Low mass is the medicine that my soul craves to combat the ugliness of this world. I am totally addicted. I come away from high mass feeling like I did not connect with God as much as I do during the low. I fail to see how anyone could disparage it if they truly understood it.

Henry Edwards said...

It is important to realize that by saying "the prayers 'during Mass' which their prayer book recommended" Cardinal Ratzinger evidently was referring to the practice of essentially ignoring the action at the altar and praying privately various separate devotions that were indeed recommended by some prayer books and manuals of an earlier era. Rather than uniting oneself with the prayers of the priest by actually praying the Mass (rather than merely praying at Mass) as recommended by Pius X.

Likely many who are fond of the daily low Mass will agree that this manner of participation is not “the ideal of the liturgical celebration”—especially not for the Sunday parish Mass, even if at one time it was probably the norm for most Catholics.

So understanding what Cardinal Ratzinger meant in context is why I doubt the veracity of any anonymous quote in a context where he is purported to condemn the low Mass as such.

Anonymous said...

"And here is the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter web site that has the complete document of the Cardinal's speech."

The Cardinal's address from 1988 is 100 percent authentic. He believes strongly in offering Mass, if you will, to the hilt.

In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI exhorted the Church to recognize that "the ars celebrandi is the best way to ensure their (the Faithful's) actuosa participatio."

His Holiness went on to teach that "in the ars celebrandi, liturgical song has a pre-eminent place."

Anonymous said...

My wife, who converted to Catholicism from a pentecostal/charismatic background, was initially hostile to the Latin mass generally and the low mass particularly.

Now, she loves the Latin mass, the low mass particularly. We generally have to attend the NO with awful music and bad homilies. The awfulness of the noise makes us pine for the quiet simplicity of a low mass.

Henry Edwards said...

Perhaps the liturgical apples and oranges need to be kept separate.

Presumably most agree with Pope Benedict “in offering Mass, if you will, to the hilt”, with “liturgical song having a pre-eminent place”, as in his own televised Masses on Sundays and special occasions. Although his daily private chapel Masses may be more “low” in character.

However, at least in my own recent experience, low Mass is primarily a weekday phenomenon, it having been years since I have seen a low Mass on a Sunday. The principal Sunday Mass (there being only one Sunday Mass in most TLM communities today) would normally be a high Mass, and my preference is to assist most Sundays at a Missa Cantata in the more solemn form with incense, torchbearers, etc. Surely, it is the rare ordinary TLM parish that has a daily high Mass—nor have I seen anyone recommend this--although there might be cathedrals where this would be practical.

kgbman said...

I remember my first Low Mass: 6:30 pm on a cold winter's night in a bad neighborhood a half hour's drive from home. I had been baptized and confirmed only a few months previously and I was already growing disenchanted with the Novus Ordo and all of its trappings. That Low Mass was like a revelation to me. The silence, the reverence, the ancient prayers... this is how my ancestors worshipped. This was the Mass that had nourished the spiritual lives of all the saints.

I walked out of there happier than I'd been in a long time. Although I had entered the door of Holy Mother Church, it wasn't until that moment that I finally felt I had finally arrived. When I'm feeling depressed about the state of the Church today, it usually starts because I keep asking "Why? Why would our shepherds take this away from us? Why do so many still work so hard to keep it from us?"

Anonymous said...

I loved your post LeonG!


Br. Gabriel Thomas, OP said...

While I enjoy a well celebrated Low Mass we should never forget that it began as a liturgical abuse that eventually became regularized. Ideally each Mass would have been a Missa Cantata and the principle Mass would have been a Solemn High Mass.

Anonymous said...

As a former altar boy, I can tell you that the so-called Low Mass has the same prayers contained in it as the so-called High Mass. If you pay attention to the Missal, you should be able to follow the Low Mass with the priest and the beauty of the prayers is that they are directed to God not us. In fact, the High Mass was formerly the ordinary way of celebrating Mass but, obviously, cannot be that way today because of time constraints and other factors such as shortage of clergy, organists and servers. In summary, be glad you have Holy Mass - be it high or low.


Anonymous said...

"I love Low Masses, early on a cold winter's morning in a not quite so warm Church,where the only light is from the altar, the silence, the priest's mumbling the sacred prayers, the tinkle of the bells if there is a server, moves me beyond my own comprehension.- this is ,most certainly, my Favourite Mass....much as I love all the other types of TLMs that there are..."

Barbara, precisely. Nothing like a low Mass at the crack of dawn in the middle of the winter!

The novus ordo has turned me off to any type of "active participation" for the rest of my life, which is why I absolutely abhor the "dialogue Mass".


New Catholic said...

Brother, we published your comment because you are a brother. But your assertion that Low Mass "began as a liturgical abuse" is incorrect or, to say the very least, problematic due to an anachronistic view of matters, regardless of what some liturgical historians might say. In fact, we know just how much evil wrongful or tendentious opinions by liturgical historians wrought to our Western Rites, and we live with their consequences.

Anyway, how would your proposal of "each Mass a Missa Cantata" even have worked in practice, for instance, in a Dominican Convent with numerous Priests?... It would seem that multiple daily Low Masses were part of the lives of the Friars Preachers from the very beginning.


Anonymous said...

"While I enjoy a well celebrated Low Mass we should never forget that it began as a liturgical abuse that eventually became regularized. "

Oh dear! Does this mean that Clown Masses may become regularized one day?


Joe B said...

Jonvilas, at the High Mass I attend they do not kneel through most of the canon because they are standing to sing the Sanctus. They barely finish for the consecration.

The music and singing are truly beautiful, and almost everybody sings. It is so beautiful that I think most of those who don't truly appreciate the High Mass would love it if they came to this one, but the singing character of this group of faithful takes up so much time in the mass that there simply isn't time to pray the prayers of the mass with devotion if you sing with them. Each chant is slow and beautiful. Yes, all the graces are there by chanting those few chants, I just have a preference for praying all the prayers and the low mass allows me to do that uninterruptedly.

I'm picking up on a thread here that priests seem to have a need to hear or see active participation by the faithful. I must say I don't understand this. I have found almost everybody that attends a TLM regularly participates pretty well with quiet reverence. Maybe we're all too conditioned to noise nowadays. I don't know.

At any rate, I have come to very much love the beautiful chants of the High Mass here. It's not inferior, just a different character.

Adfero said...

Jmr: OT. But can someone explain to the theologically challenged why the Last Gospel and the prayer to St. Michael were removed from the NO Mass?

Regarding the Last Gospel, it is said for the conversion of Jews. Now, one can only assume why it's no longer said ...

Anonymous said...

The Low Mass is not the full expression of the Church's litugical theology. It started out as an exception, and the result has been the radical misunderstanding of music, and even liturgy, which begat the Novus Ordo. The fathers of the litugical movement were keenly aware that something had been lost when low mass became the norm. Is the low mass prayerful? Yes. But is it ideal? No.

Consider, when we prefer a liturgy which is less perfect to one which is more perfect, say pontifical high mass, it is objectively disordered. What many people have said in the comments could be equally applied to our experiences of the Novus Ordo, which may have led us into prayer, and deep realization of the sacrifice present. The appeal to feeling is not sufficient, nor we would we who claim to uphold the tradition ever allow that kind of thinking to justify a similar inversion of higher and lower.

That many prefer low mass, or find it easier to pray means a couple of things. Either the mass needs reform, or we as Catholics need to learn how to pray High Mass.

-Luke Togni

New Catholic said...

Dear Luke Togni, this is just SO TIRESOME... Is it really thought that our readers need this condescending lecture or have never read or heard similar words?... This was and is in praise of Low Mass - it is not a criticism of anything else. People DO have different sensibilities, and there must be something in Low Mass that appeals so much to the Western (or Western-inspired) mind: and that is just fine.

In fact, Pope Pius XII, after acknowledging the great dignity of High Mass, dealt precisely with the dangers of this condescending attitude (which would lead to so much harm in the following decades) in Mediator Dei:

"Many of the faithful are unable to use the Roman missal even though it is written in the vernacular; nor are all capable of understanding correctly the liturgical rites and formulas. So varied and diverse are men's talents and characters that it is impossible for all to be moved and attracted to the same extent by community prayers, hymns and liturgical services. Moreover, the needs and inclinations of all are not the same, nor are they always constant in the same individual. Who, then, would say, on account of such a prejudice, that all these Christians cannot participate in the Mass nor share its fruits? On the contrary, they can adopt some other method which proves easier for certain people; for instance, they can lovingly meditate on the mysteries of Jesus Christ or perform other exercises of piety or recite prayers which, though they differ from the sacred rites, are still essentially in harmony with them."

And it is hardly surprising that, in our world with so many stimuli (including musical stimuli) and distractions, so many find solace in Low Mass.


Lee Lovelock-Jemmott said...

NC is SPOT ON. Silence is louder than words sometimes and in this society of CRASH BANG WALLOP, some people need silence and tranquillity to align themselves once again with The LORD and his creation least they fall out completely and become delirious and beholden of the Devil himself !

shane said...

The "fathers of the liturgical movement" are MUCH more culpable for creating the mess we are in than the Low Mass is.

New Catholic said...

Dear Mr. Togni,

I may not have been clear, sorry: this post is not a forum to present what one believes to be the "deficiencies" of the Low Mass/"Private" Mass or to defend its "exceptionality". You will find plenty of room for this elsewhere, including every Catholic bookstore and library... We have "adult Catholics" here, people who, if they prefer the Low Mass, do so with full knowledge of how to take part in all forms of the High Mass and who do not need to be taught continuously by their "betters" how they are supposed to participate actively, but may still feel drawn to Low Mass. We just wish to say to these brothers and sisters: it is fine to feel this way, do not feel "liturgically guilty" for loving Low Mass so much...


F.G.S.A. said...

High Mass and Low Mass: the same Sacrifice. One 'festal', the other 'contemplative'-but no opposition here. The great danger is liturgical minimalism.

Br. Gabriel Thomas, OP said...


Thank you for respecting the Religious Consecration that I and others enjoy. It is not often that such a mercy is given in the online world. I greatly appreciate your consideration.

My purpose is not to disparage the Low Mass. Rather, it is my hope that it is loved in a proper proportion to the manner in which the Holy Mass ought ideally be celebrated. I do, however, stand by my assertion. However, as you said elsewhere, a debate on this point is not the purpose of this post. I'm happy to justify my point in a more fitting place at a more fitting time (if it arrises: no special consideration needed).

The history of my own Order is very complex. In the early years the priests would celebrate whatever Rite or Use was common to the region in which they worked. The Dominican Rite was created by the Order so that we could all pray together when we physically came together. If memory serves, however, in the early years of the Order there was no expectation that a priest would necessarily celebrate a daily or even a weekly Mass. It seems that this was a later development. There are, interestingly enough, instances where we find particular brothers like Aquinas who did so (he was said to say his own Mass and assist at two others daily).

Of course, this changed over time (just like the rest of the Latin Church) and so it became part of the tradition that each priest would celebrate his own private Mass and then assist, or attend in choir at the Conventual Mass. Unfortunately, I'm not familiar with the dates that this became normalized in the Order. Yet, this expectation was always mitigated by our law of dispensation for the sake of the Holy Preaching (A Dominican can be dispensed from nearly anything in the Constitutions: except for a time when he could not be dispensed from Compline). An accurate history of this liturgical development still needs to be done, pace Bonniwell. So, while it did become part of the tradition it does not seem that it was intentionally part of the Dominican (as Dominican) tradition. Rather, it became part of the tradition because that was the direction in which the Latin Church went and we, likewise, adopted.

But, this is all off topic, but since you asked I thought it good to summarize the understanding that I have of the way in which the Low Mass developed in the Dominican tradition. Recall that while the Liturgy was always very important to us, it seems from reading the Vitae Fratrum (our earliest history), that Dominicans became priests so that they could Preach and hear Confessions (which was a novelty at the time) and not primarily to celebrate Mass. Our mandate is not primarily the "care of souls" but is the "salvation of souls" which is a shift in focus toward the evangelizing mission of the Church. In other words, our job was always to bring them in, the Secular Priest's job was to keep them in. But, even this is contended among the brothers. We still have a lot of work to do in order to understand many of these historical points with precision.

My apologies if I derailed the intended purpose of post.

(an error occurred while posting this, if I duplicate it please feel free to delete a redundant post)

New Catholic said...

Dear Brother,

Thank you for your kindness. I must say one of the things that inspired me for this post was the immense honor of recently having served a Low Mass according to Missale Praedicatorum.

We would be very open if you or a Father or Brother of your community would wish to send us a small text that we could post on the history of the Low Mass among the Friars Preachers so we could have a specific thread on the matter.

Thank you once again, and pray for me.


Joe B said...

OK, might as well ask. If, as is generally stated, the difference between a Low and High Mass is primarily the sung parts, and if, as is commonly stated, the Low Mass came along late, what did they call the masses before that where there was simply no such support available? Surely there were such places and conditions. Missionary travel, priestly travel in general, priests in prison, quiet masses due to persecutions, retired priest's private masses, the first masses of the Apostles (including the Last Supper) and those of the very early church - what were they if not "Low", even if the name were not applied at the time?

Anonymous said...

"The silence, the reverence, the ancient prayers... this is how my ancestors worshipped."

That wasn't how they worshipped century upon century in the Latin Church.

As Michael Davies (R.I.P.) wrote in A Short History of the
Roman Mass"

"The simplicity of the Low Mass could give rise to the impression that it is the primitive form.

"Nothing could be further from the truth.

"It is, in fact, a late abridgment."

The Low Mass is a liturgical novelty, foreign to the Universal Church's understanding of Liturgy.

That is why the Low Mass mentality of many Western Catholics is foreign to Eastern Catholics.

Traditional Latin Catholics present themselves as liturgical purists.

But many are two-faced when it comes to their refusal to admit that they accept liturgical deformation in regard to Low Mass.

The reality is that Low Mass was born a liturgical novelty and is, as Josef Cardinal Ratzinger declared in 1988, not ideal liturgy.

M. A. said...

"what were they if not "Low", even if the name were not applied at the time?"

Well, according to some here, they would be called an "abuse".

I don't believe it for one minute.

Long-Skirts said...

NC said:

"We just wish to say to these brothers and sisters: it is fine to feel this way, do not feel "liturgically guilty" for loving Low Mass so much..."

I could never have gotten through all our Thanksgiving Days without the Low Mass!


With prayer I start the Thanking Day
At dawn I kneel Te Deum pray.
I dress for Mass then wake a son
He'll serve the priest a chosen one.

A hushed low Mass right after Matins
Our Lord above all sons' gold patens.
He'll lay upon my wicked tongue
I pray forgive amidst among -

Where in the pew with head bowed low
I give Him thanks 'till time to go
Back to the world with sin so murky
But now I've strength... stuff that turkey!!

Aged parent said...

I remember hearing once that a famous author has said "The only thing more beautiful than a Choir-Sung High Mass is a Low Mass".

It's that awful, soul-piercing silence which is so wonderful about it. A deep and profound silence. Where you can really adore the Presence in the quietude of a lovely Church.

We used to have that wondrous silence at our Low Masses until a traditional order of priests was installed here in the church we attend in Milwaukee. This Order demanded non-stop organ playing THROUGHOUT the Low Mass with the one exception of the few moments of the Consecration. This is not an exaggeration: it is literally non-stop, so we no longer have any silence during the Low Mass. It has been a severe trial, let me tell you. Unfortunately, too, we now have a rather dreadful choir so even the once-gorgeous High Mass can be a bit of a chore as well.

Oh well, at least we have the Mass...and ear plugs.

New Catholic said...

How did the new-new-English-translation came into this discussion?!

As then Prime-Minister Thatcher famously said, "No, no, no!"