Sunday, July 14, 2013

July 14: Obit V.B. Humbert de Romans, 5th Master General of the Order

Today, in the 1962 Dominican Rite Calendar, at Pretiosa we make a commemoration of the 5th Master General of the Order, Humbert de Romans.

No single person, in the history of the Dominican Order, is so closely linked to the Dominican Rite of Mass and Office as the 5th Master General, Humbert of Romans.  Though all of the Masters General, after out Holy Father St. Dominic, had a hand in completing the project of securing a universal Mass and Office for the Order, it was during Humbert's Master Generalship that the liturgical books were formally accepted and the project brought to completion.

Very little is actually recorded about the process of adopting and revising the various editions of the Missal and Breviary, and what changes were sought by whom.  In his book on the history of the Dominican Liturgy, Fr. William Bonniwell, O.P., notes that "Not only are we hampered by a dearth of liturgical books, but even the historians and authors of that period seem to have entered into a conspiracy of silence regarding the history of the rite, so that we have only the scantiest materials with which to reconstruct the first two-score years of Dominican liturgical history (pp. 18-19).  He gives, as a possible reason for this silence, "the disturbance which the question [of the universal liturgical books] had caused the Order for over a quarter of a century."

During these days of liturgical banality, in which our Order has abandoned the very Rite of Mass and Office that it once so fiercely defended, may the prayers of the holy and blessed 5th Master General obtain for us a return to our glorious liturgical patrimony.