Lately, one my most treasured “hours” during the week is from 11:30 to around 12:05 at St. Gertrude parish in Cincinnati’s Madeira neighborhood.

It’s the mid-day Mass, celebrated/said by the Dominican priests who serve the parish, and it’s sublime.

The priests and novices chant much of it in the vernacular, especially on Tuesdays during the “Community Mass,” and worshipers get to hear one of the Order of Preachers … preach.

Today, it was Fr. Basil Cole, OP, holding forth brilliantly on the martyrdom of St. “Lorenzo” Ruiz and his (Dominican) companions. “They had the choice of being sawed in half or hanged upside-down, slit, and bled to death over seven or eight days. … Yet they sang like they were at a wedding feast.”

Since he began his pontificate, Pope Benedict has been celebrating Mass using the “Benedictine Altar Arrangement“: prominent altar crucifix facing the celebrant, flanked by six equally prominent candles, three per side. St. Gertrude’s modified “Dominican-Benedictine Altar Arrangement” features an altar crucifix and six candles, only a bit smaller — each 18″ high or less. (It didn’t strike your host as appropriate to snap a photo.) One doesn’t get the sense the scaled-down arrangement comes from reticence or shame so much as modesty and practicality; the shorter crucifix and candles are probably what they had on hand.

Good for the Dominicans, for taking their cues from the Holy Father, and doing it without drawing attention to themselves. Would that more parishes did.

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