Tomorrow night, the postulants will receive the habit of the Order. The Church will be closed after the 5:30 Mass.
The Dominican Order’s more notable houses are in Bologna and Paris. There are many stories of how the Order founded certain customs from these two houses. Bologna is where Holy Father Dominic’s remains are housed; Paris is where Thomas Aquinas had taught and gained much of his notoriety.
One such story tells how the Compline Salve procession began.
Every Sunday night at our House of Studies in Oakland, we participate in Compline (Night Prayer), ending with a procession to a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary while chanting the Salve Regina, and a procession to a statue of Holy Father Dominic while singing the O Lumen. Second only to the Sunday Mass, Sunday Compline is, by every means, the prettiest liturgies at the Priory of St. Albert the Great. (Here is Brother Cody’s thoughts on the topic.)
Of course, St Dominic’s has Sunday Compline at 8:30 before the 9:00pm Mass. This liturgy is pretty as well, and not a bad substitute at all.
But how did the Compline procession come about? It’s not the in the rubrics. It’s something that the Order just started doing one day. As appropriate as it is to serenade the Mother of Preachers, it is not necessary, as such….
According to the second Master of the Order, Blessed Jordan of Saxony, the Master of Lies harassed the nascent band of Preachers in the priories of Bologna and Paris. He writes, “As superiors bore witness, he threatened one with a burning furnace which seemed to about to fall upon him, he would suddenly embrace another under the guise of a woman, to this one he appeared like an ass with horns, to another he offered fiery serpents, others he abused with scurrilous words, so much so that at last some of the brethren had to keep guard while the rest slept: some lost their reason, others were horribly tormented.” (Lives of the Brethren, Chapter VI)
So the superiors, begging for the prayers of the Mother of Mercy, instituted a Salve procession as one of the last acts of the day, with proper prayers attached. Within a matter of time, so the testimonies state, the brothers regained their reason, sanity and balanced way of life.
In fact, as time went on, men and women who had befriended the friars would tell stories of their own experiences. Some had testified that they had seen a vision of the Mother of God bowing to the friars as they chanted “O sweet Virgin Mary”. Another testifies that when the friars would chant, “Turn then, O gracious advocate”, she would prostrate in front of the Son of God on our behalf.
Most likely, there are similar stories from the Carmelites, Franciscans or other Orders. But no matter.
The point is that there is a Dominican mode of how we participate in the Liturgy of the Hours, and the Compline procession is one of many. (In fact, the nuns at Corpus Christi process every night, but that is mostly because the nuns are holier than the friars. Obviously.) One of these days, I guess, we ought to investigate others.
Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!