Saturday, January 4, 2014

Liturgical Meditations For The Entire (Dominican) Year

I recently came into the possession of some old Dominican Third Order pamphlets, primarily from the 1950's and 1960's.  One of them was a pamphlet entitled "Perfection in the Workplace".  It is a summary of the proceedings of a national conference of Dominican Tertiaries which took place in Chicago in 1956.  In the appendix, there is a list of books that were recommended for Tertiaries.  A copy of this list can be found on the right hand sidebar under "Tertiary Reading List".

It is an impressive list of books, some of which I have, and others that I have heard of, and many that I had never heard of ("The Spiritual Doctrine of Dom Marmion" by M.M. Philipon...a Dominican Friar?).  Among the books listed was a two (2) volume set called "Liturgical Meditations for the Entire Year" by the Sisters of St. Dominic of Adrian, Michigan.  I have long sought for a "Dominican" version of "The Liturgical Year" by Dom Prosper Gueranger, O.S.B., something that would go through the entire Dominican liturgical year with meditations and commentary on the Dominican Rite of Mass and Office.  Seeing how devoted the Dominicans have always been to the choral celebration of their particular rite of Mass and Office, I was surprised that I had never found anything.  So, throwing caution to the wind, I purchased a copy via ABE Books.

To my great surprise, the two (2) volume set is indeed a meditation on the Dominican liturgical calendar.  The 1st edition was published in 1949, and the second edition (which is the one I have) in 1961.  What is most pleasing is that the 1961 does not conform to the 1961 Dominican calendar revision, rather it retains that of the 1952 Dominican calendar.  So the meditations include all of the Dominican blesseds that were removed from the calendar with the 1961 revision.
Rosary Chapel at the Motherhouse in Adrian, MI

For each day of the Proper of the Seasons, and the Proper of the Saints, there are three (3) short meditations.  Each one incorporates elements of the Mass or Dominican Office of that day.  In addition, they include quotations from the Summa of St. Thomas, the ritual of reception and profession for Dominican religious, and other sources.  For ferial days, the meditations take up other themes such as the "Blessed Mother", "Religious Perfection", Prayer.  In addition, there are meditations on uniquely Dominican topics such as "The Constitutions of the Dominican Order".  In the days leading up to Easter and Christmas, they have novena's of meditations.

Each meditation is short, taking approximately a minute to read.  But they are rich in Dominican spirituality, and bear witness to the level of spiritual perfection towards which these good nuns were progressing.  My only complaint about the book, if you can call it that, is that B. Herder, the publisher, did not include an index in either volume.  It would have been nice to be able to look up various topics or saints in a convenient index.

I highly recommend this set to anyone who is interested in short meditations on the traditional Dominican liturgical year.  I was able to procure a mint copy of the set for $20.00 (US).  You can find more copies available here at ABE Books or here at Amazon.

Some sample pages can be downloaded here: