On 21 January at 4 pm in the Lateran Basilica, Pope Francis will preside over the closing Mass of the Order of Preachers’ 800th Anniversary, an important event which should not only direct our thoughts toward the Order’s history but nourish us for the future as well. Since every Eucharist is the celebration of the Church – in this case particularly one of the Dominican Family – it is good to prepare well for such an event so that we may truly celebrate together, in the fullest sense of the word, remembering that the liturgy is not only about who the celebrant is or who gets to sing in the choir, but rather that it engages and expresses the entire Church with the richness of diverse roles and vocations! Let me thus explain some particularities of this unique celebration.
Before Mass we will pray the Rosary, a prayer so important in our Dominican tradition. It will be led in five different languages by fra Bruno Cadore, the Master of the Order. Obviously, our Dominican Family speaks more than five languages and is composed of more than five cultures, so the response parts will be recited in Latin in order to better express the universality of our heritage and the unity of the Dominican prayer. Before each mystery there will be a short choral piece to help us enter into meditation. At the end of the Rosary we will chant to St Dominic: Imple Pater quod dixisti - believing that he intercedes for us, as he promised on his deathbed and has fulfilled for almost 800 years.
As a preparation for Mass - the ineffable mystery of God’s dwelling among us - we would like to spend few moments following the Rosary in intentional silence, to recollect our busy minds and make ourselves disposed to God’s own action through the liturgy.
Each Eucharist is an image of the entire Church, which means also of the Order of Preachers in the richness of its different forms of life, with Dominican bishops, former Masters of the Order, and representatives of the Dominican Family from all over the world. Although Mass will be celebrated mostly in Italian, in order to emphasize both unity and diversity of the Dominican prayer we will sing in different languages compositions coming from our traditions, both old and new. Let us start our preparations with the easiest parts.
For Communion we will use Adoro Te devote, a well-known hymn written by St Thomas Aquinas. The mass settings, however, are contemporary arrangements.
The Closing Mass of the Jubilee: Preparations - Part 2
As part of our preparations for the Closing Mass of the Jubilee, let me propose a perspective to our January 21 liturgical celebration. Properly speaking, even though we are incorporating into it some Dominican traditions which have nourished us for centuries, it will still be a Pontifical Mass.
The first element of the Dominican tradition is the prayers and readings of the Mass. We will use the Votive Mass to Saint Dominic, composed around his canonization in 1234. These texts are among the oldest testimonies of the Dominican liturgy, dating even before its unification in 1256 which would shape Dominican way of prayer for centuries.
During the Eucharist we will sing a selection of new compositions in three official languages of the Order. As the entrance chant we will use “Mon Dieu, ma Misericorde”, remembering Saint Dominic’s prayer under the cross: “Lord, what will happen with the sinners?” Compelled by the same zeal we are encouraged to bring our loved ones and the difficulties in our lives, and unite them with the sacrifice of the cross. For offertory we will sing “El Pan de San Sixto” which takes us into the refectory of the first Roman foundation, recalling the miracles of Saint Dominic when he multiplied bread for his hungry brothers. For communion, filled with joy and gratitude, we will sing “Thanks Be to You, O Lord!” At the end of our celebration we will sing two well-known antiphons: “Salve Regina” to Our Lady and “O lumen Ecclesiae” to Saint Dominic, asking for their intercession.
There will be two other noteworthy moments. The first is the “Our Father” (“Pater noster”) sung in Latin and the second is the Prayer of the Faithful which should reflect the universality of the Order and express our common intentions in the best possible way. The desire of praying together, instead of separately, is also part of our Dominican spirituality and tradition, as we are reminded by the Rule of St. Augustine: “the main purpose (...) is to live harmoniously (...), intent upon God in oneness of mind and heart”. Thus there will be seven intercessions. Each of them will be briefly introduced in Latin giving everybody an opportunity to pray in unity. Then the intercessions will be further elaborated in the vernacular. We will conclude each of them by chanting together “Kyrie eleison”.
In conclusion, let me explain why the location of our closing Mass is the Lateran Basilica. It is not because the Vatican is not adequate. The Lateran Basilthe is the present day remains of the Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome and in the times of Saint Dominic was the place where the popes lived. On this our special day, gathered by Jesus again, together with Pope Francis we want to contemplate the roots of our Dominican identity anew. To put it in a different way, before “contemplata aliis tradere” first we must “contemplari”.
Because the Eucharist is an image of the Church, and also of the Dominican Family in the richness of its different forms of life, please do not forget to wear you habit and cappa or your solemn vestments. It is our feast! Please use the main entrance to the basilica which will open at 2:30pm.
Dominik Jurczak OP
(31 December 2016)