Traditional Dominican liturgy to be celebrated in DC

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Fr. Austin Dominic Litke, O.P., celebrates a Missa Cantata in honor of St. Thomas Aquinas according to the traditional Dominican Rite at Saint Vincent Ferrer Church on March 7, 2012 in New York City.

U.S. Dominican priests are slated to celebrate a Mass according to the unique traditional Dominican Rite in Washington, D.C. this Sept. 27.

The Mass will take place at the main chapel of the Priory of the Immaculate Conception at the Dominican House of Studies near the Catholic University of America.

The 7:15 p.m. liturgy is open to the public and will be celebrated as a Missa Cantata, a High Sung Mass.

“The Dominican Order has long maintained its own liturgical rite, mostly unchanged since its adoption in the middle ages,” Fr. Pius Pietrzyk, O.P. said Aug. 29 on the website of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph.

“With the Missal of Pope Paul VI, the Order largely set aside its own liturgical rite in favor of the new Roman Rite, although retaining the right to celebrate it.”

Fr. Pietrzyk said that Pope Benedict XVI's instructions on the liturgy have now given “broad permission” to all Dominican priests to celebrate the Dominican Rite “as it existed before the Second Vatican Council.”

The Dominican priest said that after the release of the Missal of Pope Paul VI, the Dominican Order “largely set aside its own liturgical rite in favor of the new Roman Rite.”

The Liturgical Commission of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph has created a website on the Dominican liturgy. The old rite, it said, shows “relative sobriety and simplicity” and has “unique beauty and theological depth.”

“This liturgy was not developed for the sake of being exceptional or exclusive, but rather to express the spirit and respond to the needs of an Order of Preachers,” the website said, using the formal name for the Dominicans.

The website said that the liturgy “beautifully expresses the distinctive charism of the primitive Dominican Order” and is largely unchanged since 1256. The site presents the ancient liturgy not as a rival to the ordinary form of the Mass, but rather as “a supplement to enrich our liturgical life with the treasures of our tradition, consistent with the express wishes of the Second Vatican Council.”

In 2012 Dominicans in the U.S. have celebrated at least two other Masses according to the traditional rite.

On March 7 at New York City’s St. Vincent Ferrer Church priests celebrated a Missa Cantata in honor of St. Thomas Aquinas. The Mass was sung by a schola of Dominican friars. Fr. Austin Dominic Litke, O.P. celebrated the Mass while the homilist was Fr. James Dominic Brent, O.P., an assistant professor of philosophy at the Catholic university of America.

On Aug. 4, which was observed as the Feast of St. Dominic before the Second Vatican Council, Fr. Pietrzyk celebrated the Sung High Mass according to the Dominican Rite at St. Patrick’s Church in Columbus, Ohio.

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