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Carthusian Rite

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The Carthusian Rite

"In comparing to the Roman rite, the Carthusian rite is characterized by its simplicity and sobriety in terms of external forms, which favors the union of soul with God, by visible and sensible expressions."

It is a rather curious fact in liturgical history that the Carthusians have preserved the ancient rite more faithfully than the Lyonnais themselves. The liturgical revolution mentioned as having taken place in the eighteenth century was not felt by the Carthusians. This Order, founded in 1084 by St. Bruno, in the mountains of the Chartreuse, had taken the liturgical uses of Grenoble, Vienne, but specially those of Lyon. Its founder, who at first had followed the Rule of St. Benedict, kept some of its practices. These different usages were codified at various periods in the Constitutions which have been preserved, and of which the most complete are the "Statuta Antiqua." The prayer "Pone, Domine, custodiam ori meo," and another, "De latere Domini," recited at Mass, are derived from the rite of Lyon. On certain Feasts three Lessons at the Pre-Mass have been retained. The wine is poured into the chalice at the beginning of Mass, as in the Dominican rite. The oblations of bread and wine (after they have been offered) are covered with the Corporal, as was the custom before the use of the "Palla" had been introduced. "Domine, Jesu Christe" is the only one of the three prayers said before the Communion; those present in choir remain standing during both Consecration and Communion; the Mass terminates with "Ite, Missa est." Before the fourteenth century the Mass of the Dead had a different text from the "Requiem." Some Benedictine uses have been preserved in the Breviary; while others seem to have been derived from the rite of Lyon. For a long time the Carthusian calendar remained the same as the old Roman one; it was only after a very long period that Feasts instituted after the thirteenth century were admitted, and then not without difficulty. In the sixteenth century some reforms were brought about, either as to the correction of the ancient books, or as to bringing them into line with the new rules.

The Mass of the Western Rite
Carthusian Rite
by Dom Fernand Cabrol

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