Saturday, March 10, 2012

Mass in the Dominican Rite.

My apologies to any readers who may have been troubled by my silence over the past week: Saint Joseph's University has been on spring break, giving me the chance to get away from Philadelphia for a few restful and restorative days in New York. Now I'm back on Hawk Hill, preparing to meet my students again on Monday and to begin the second half of the semester.

My time in New York included a rare opportunity to experience the Dominican Rite, the unique liturgical tradition of the Order of Preachers. The Dominicans adopted their own particular missal and breviary in the thirteenth century, retaining both until just after the Second Vatican Council. Little seen since the 1960s, the Dominican Rite is starting to make something of a comeback, with occasional - and sometimes even weekly - public celebrations in various places.

This past Wednesday at the Church of St. Vincent Ferrer in Manhattan, the Friars of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph celebrated a Missa Cantata in the Dominican Rite to mark the traditional date of the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas. One scholar described Wednesday's Mass as "the first Dominican Rite Sung Mass to be publicly celebrated in the Eastern Dominican Province in at least 40 years," so I can now say that I have witnessed Dominican history in the making. One of my photos from the Mass is seen above, but you can find many better ones in the Eastern Dominicans' album on Flickr.

I can't resist offering two fun facts to round out this post: 1) St. Vincent's has at least one notable Jesuit connection, in that Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin used to celebrate Mass regularly at an altar in the church while living and working nearby in the 1950s. (The Teilhard connection is recalled by a plaque inside St. Vincent's, though I didn't see it.) 2) St. Vincent's most famous parishioner is probably artist Andy Warhol, who worshipped there daily despite being a lifelong Greek Catholic. Warhol remained reticent about his personal piety and religious heritage while he was alive, but both have attracted notice since his death, as witnessed by books like The Religious Art of Andy Warhol and Andy Warhol's Religious and Ethnic Roots: The Carpatho-Rusyn Influence on His Art.

From Thomas Aquinas to Andy Warhol in one post - not bad, I think. I can't promise to maintain as much variety after classes start up again on Monday, but I'll keep posting as I'm able. AMDG.


At 3/11/2012 5:20 AM, Blogger Fr. Pius, OP said...

Fr. Teilhard used to say Mass at the altar in the Sacristy. There is indeed a plaque commemorating the event. My understanding is that while the Jesuit residence was under some repair, Fr. Teilhard lived elsewhere, and our Sacristy altar provided a convenient place for him to say Mass.

At 3/11/2012 2:10 PM, Blogger Joseph Koczera, S.J. said...

Father Pius,

Thank you for the information - I hope to see the plaque (and the altar) on a future visit.

You're correct about the circumstances. For several months in 1954 and 1955, the Jesuit residence where Fr. Teilhard lived (at 83rd and Park) was being renovated and much of the community was displaced. Most went to other Jesuit residences in New York, but Fr. Teilhard and another French Jesuit, Fr. Emmanuel de Breuvery, were given permission to reside at the Lotos Club on East 66th Street so that they could be closer to the places where they worked (Teilhard at the Wenner-Gren Foundation on East 71st Street, de Breuvery at the United Nations). Perhaps Father de Breuvery said Mass at St. Vincent's during the same period?

At 3/13/2012 3:32 AM, Blogger Fr. Pius, OP said...

I am not sure about the other priest--his name is not on the plaque. I would imagine that the current pastor would be more than happy to let you say Mass at that altar. Just call and ask before you plan to visit New York again. Just don't tell all the Jesuits--our Dominican hospitality to Jesuits only goes so far!

I met two of your younger confreres this summer in Florence (at the cloister in San Marco, of all places). Although, maybe they were not from the Chicago Province. One at least had just been ordained, and they were traveling back from WYD in Barcelona.

At 3/15/2012 4:36 PM, Blogger Joseph Koczera, S.J. said...

Thank you, Father Pius - I am not yet ordained, but someday I hope I will be able to say Mass at that very altar!

At 3/25/2012 9:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

St. Thomas, Teilhard and Andy Warhol in one column--welcome to New York!

At 3/25/2012 9:46 PM, Blogger Joseph Koczera, S.J. said...


St. Thomas, Teilhard and Andy Warhol in one column--welcome to New York!

Well, coincidental combos like that offer an example of why I loved living in New York for three years, and why I'd be very happy to move back!


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