Dominican Rite: Introduction
The liturgy occupies an important, nay, even an essential place in the scheme of Dominican life. This is only what we should expect to find in an Order whose Founder was a Canon Regular of Osma. For the Canons Regular were officially charged with the due maintenance and solemn celebration of the liturgy. During a period of eight or nine years our holy Father took part in the choral worship of God that was offered up in the cathedral of Osma; and it is not difficult to imagine how the memory of those years of melodious praise of God in the Courts of the Most High would remain with him in after-life as a sweet comfort and a strong inspiration. When, therefore, he came to found his Order he decided to make the liturgy one of the means to be used for saving of souls; and this not only because he knew and loved it, but also because he realised how much the teaching and preaching of the brethren depended for their effectiveness on the unending stream of prayer that ascended daily from the choir stalls of each Dominican home.
As we know that in the life-time of S. Dominic the liturgy celebrated with solemnity at S. Romain in Toulouse and S. Sisto and S. Sabina in Rome, it is but natural to suppose that when he dispersed the Friars Preachers throughout Europe he would bid them remain faithful to the liturgical usages with which they were familiar. On reaching destinations, however, practical difficulties would arise in the carrying out of this duty. They would find local liturgical customs in the different dioceses in which they settled. And when we remember that even in the time of S. Dominic the Order was scattered through eight countries, the conclusion is forced upon us that no small number of local practices would have been encountered. In those days the liturgy was a more fluid thing than it is in our own time. Many of the principal dioceses, such as Lyons, Paris, Rouen, Toledo, Trier, Cologne, Salisbury and York were famous for their variations of the Roman rite. So in the natural order of things variations of form or ceremonial would creep into the Dominican offices. Such a happening would not create any local difficulty; but when for reasons of study, teaching, preaching, or attendance at General Chapters, the fathers were compelled to travel to, or reside in another province, the local customs would cause confusion. Continue reading