From a reader…
Father, what are your thoughts about Dry Masses or Missa Sicca? I found a Carthusian Breviary that there is an appendix for it, as well as Michael Lofton of Church Militant derived from it as well for the use of lay Catholics.
This is a devotion that mimics Mass but without a consecration or even elements of bread and wine. The rest texts of the Mass are read through even with gestures – some things omitted that are proper to the priest. The “dry Mass” seems to have developed in the Middle Ages as a devotional practice, especially among Carthusians. The monks would say a “dry Mass” after the conventual Mass. There would be some substitutions, such as at the Postcommunion (since there wasn’t Communion). The references to and elements of sacrifice were omitted.
This may still be a practice among the Carthusians, but I’m not sure.
Also, in seminaries sometimes the term “dry Mass” is used to describe the practice “Masses” of men in formation. This was and is more important for men learning to say the Extraordinary Form, of course. It takes 5-10 minutes to learn to say the Novus Ordo, especially in the vernacular, and perhaps 8-11 minutes with use of the language to learn to say it in Latin. The older, traditional form takes more effort, coaching, practice even for those who served it for a time. Mind you, it’s not rocket science. Lot’s of less than genius priests said Mass well, after all. Every priest can and should learn it, lest they remain ignorant of their Rite.
What do I think of the Missa sicca? I strikes me as a little odd and probably not a very good thing for most lay people to attempt, lest they over time run the risk of adding elements that would simulate the celebration of Mass to the point that they committed a sin and incurred a censure. It would also be harmful were such an activity result in lessening desire to attend true Mass.
That said, review of and meditation on the texts of Holy Mass, Ordinary and Proper, is a very good idea. I especially like the idea of lay people reviewing the texts of Sunday Mass until midweek and then switching to the texts of the next Sunday’s Mass… adapting for greater Feasts which may intervene.
As I have often written:
We are our rites!
Hence, if we spend time in our rites we – hopefully – are more who we are. Spending time with, resting in as it were, the texts of Mass can’t be wrong. I can imagine people mentally going through the whole of the Mass in their heads, visualizing it, trying to hear it. That would take some discipline. I do this occasionally as an exercise in preparation for – quod Deus avertat – a time I can imagine in which priests would be hunted, incarcerated, impeded. Perhaps priests would do well to memorize the Ordinary along with at least one Proper and then review from time to time.
In sum, such a devotion could be a fruitful exercise for those who are prevented from attending Holy Mass… or attending a Mass that isn’t riddled with abuses and idiocies from the pulpit.
A related activity might be that of boys “playing Mass”. It is not a sin for children to “play Mass”. As a matter of fact, I think it’s great… for boys.
The moderation queue is ON.