For nearly 1,300 years, the Mass varied only slightly from diocese to diocese. All the essential and fundamental characteristics of the Mass remained constant, while small divergences in certain prayers and rubrics existed according to culture and custom.
To cultivate unity, some religious orders sought to harmonize the “rubrics” (that is, the rules for properly saying the Mass or Divine Office) within their communities. Each variation of the Mass (as followed by certain orders) became known by the name of the order which celebrated it. Other orders adopted previously-existing rites; for example, the Carmelites adopted a Mass rite with roots in the Holy Land.
The Carmelite Rite harkens back to the 12th century. At that time, several religious orders had founded communities in the Holy Land. They brought with them the Latin Rite universal to the western Church. Inspired by the sacredness and spirituality of the Holy Land, they gradually introduced subtle changes reflecting Our Lord’s Passion and burial. The modified form of the Mass became known as the Rite of the Holy Sepulchre.
Over time, as some orders left the Holy Land or died out, this special liturgy fell into disuse and was in danger of being lost altogether—but the Carmelites came to the rescue. They adopted it as their own and have preserved it for hundreds of years.
One of the reasons why they celebrate the rite is because it connects them to their Marian roots. The elements introduced to the Mass by this special rite reflect the Blessed Mother’s presence at Our Lord’s Passion. The Carmelites express a sense of union with Mary in a unique way, as if they are viewing the Sacrifice of the Mass through her eyes.
The religious orders’ Masses may have varied a little, but everyone prayed the same beloved Latin prayers. Oremus: A Treasury of Latin Prayers presents these timeless prayers of the Universal Church side by side with their beautiful English translations. With this perfect introduction into the Latin experience, you can become familiar with the exact words prayed by countless saints. Get your copy today!