Lay Women in Liturgy Questions
  • JesJes
    Posts: 419
    Okay so in the past you've heard me ask a few questions like, can women sing one of the parts in the easter gospel, you've heard me ask if women can sing the lessons at tenebrae and here is another "can women do this" question.

    I preface this with the following:
    I am not a femmo, I am not interested in taking the priesthood from men, I'm not interested in the lay running of a parish. I'm simply in a pickle because some men around (for whatever reason) are simply unable or unwilling to step up to the mark when it comes to leading any sung prayers in any liturgy.

    Here is my question. EF vespers at the end of a pilgrimage. Can a woman lead this? Does it have to be lead by a priest? If a priest has to celebrate mass in another church during the public recitation of sung vespers in another church can a lay woman step up to the mark in absence of religious availability or male volunteers? Obviously not in the sanctuary. Probably just from a front pew. Is this scandalous?
  • Jes,

    Define "lead". Can a woman take the position of Officiant at some part of the Vespers? I would imagine that in communities of women religious such a thing happens with regularity, but that's by design not by crisis management.

    At CMAA gatherings, sometimes a woman fills the position of Precentrix, I think, whether such things are kosher or not.

    Is it bad planning that allows the situation you describe to take place?
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,181
    The hebdomadary can be anyone, in either EF or OF, though often the position is given to the highest-ranking cleric, which in a parish would be the pastor, curate, or deacon; in a convent, the abbess/prioress would be given the honour. If a layman (male or female) leads the Office everything is the same except the greeting Dominus vobiscum, &c., is omitted, and the blessing is changed, also there is no incense and no ceremonial. The Office is the prayer of the Church, everyone can participate, anyone can lead, but all according to law -- and there is no law preventing a group of laymen chanting the Office in the parish church without a cleric.
  • so... we go from "Jube, domine, benedicere"
    to "Jube domne, benedicere"
    to... what ?

    (domina? is there such a word as domna?)
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,181
    Jube, Domine,... as in individual recitation. Jube, domne,... is only used when the officiant is a priest or bishop.
  • yes, Salieri, and when the individual is female?
  • so... we go from "Jube, domine, benedicere"
    to "Jube domne, benedicere"
    to... what ?

    (domina? is there such a word as domna?)


    Salieri is right, but in principle, anyway, gender not not change for women unless the ritual books specifically provide, even if this results in "incorrectly" gendered terms. Thus, women must say "Domine, non sum dignus" (if they make that response at all; there is no reason they should), but on the other hand when a woman dies the priest prays for "anima famulae tuae" in place of "anima famuli tui."
  • HERE is an example of a Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Benziger, 1915) in which the rubrics assume that it is being prayed by women; and it gives "domne".

    NB: (just so no one reading this discussion is confused) the greeting Dominus vobiscum is not merely omitted, rather it is replaced by the vs. Domine exaudi.

    However, it is true that that with '62 rubrics, if the vs. Domine exaudi has just been said (e.g. as part of the ferial preces, or the verses after the Litany of the Saints, etc.), it is not repeated. Which if you take this literally, means that you would in some cases sing the vs. Domine exaudi in one tone, before the prayer, as the final of a series of verses, but after the prayer you would then sing it in another tone, since here, after the prayer, it would be in place of the Dominus vobiscum, and would have to be sung in the same tone as the prayer.

    Isn't that odd?

    But I digress.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen tomjaw
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,181
    In choral recitation with a priest as officiant use "domne" (note lowercase), as one is addressing the priest directly.

    In individual recitation or choral recitation with a layman (male or female) or non-priest religious as officiant use "Domine" (note capital), as one is addressing the Lord.

    I suppose if one were Episcopalian and using the Latin Roman Office with a female priest, one would use "domina", or some variant thereof, because you are directly addressing the priest, but, obviously, that is not licit for Roman Catholics.
  • Salieri,

    THIS rubric has it otherwise:

    V. Iube, domne, benedicere.

    Hic versus dicitur ante quamlibet benedictionem.
    Extra chorum, quando ab uno tantum recitatur Officium, ante singulas lectiones Matutini atque ad lectionem brevem Primae et Completorii, dicitur: Iube, Domine, benedicere; et subiungitur congruens benedictio. Ab Episcopo autem, ultimam Matutini lectionem cantaturo, item dicitur: Iube, Domine, benedicere: et respondetur a choro: Amen.


  • A woman could not lead the public recitation of Vespers in a church in the EF from the sanctuary, as it's not permitted to enter the sanctuary during public liturgy unless one is properly vested in clerical garb (ie: Cassock and Surplice), and women are not permitted to dress as clerics, especially in the EF.
  • JesJes
    Posts: 419
    I can't even find where Iube Domine sits in the divinum officium vespers page. It doesn't look like it's sung or said. From there.
    Is it for people that haven't said any other office for the day like an inviatory thing?

    As for sanctuary cassock and surplice hahahaha no that's not what I mean by leading... I mean there is no priest and the priest would normally sing those bits and so I'm going to be singing it because no men are stepping up to do it.

    It's not bad planning it's actually a neighboring parish requires the priest and in the political climate you do what you're told if you do the TLM.

    So what do nuns do? They I would assume would sing office in their chapel all the time! I'm literally just standing at the front pew (no where near the sanctuary.) and singing the bits like the longer prayers or to conclude the prayer the "V" bits. I'm also doing the Antiphons.
    It will be the first public recitation of EF vespers and myself and one other are the only ones who have been to this sort of thing before. So yes "no incense or ceremonial." Just public recitation using the pews of a church.

    And where does this Jube Domine or Iube Domine or jube domne fit please?
  • AFAIK Jube, domne only occurs in Matins and Compline.
    Thanked by 1Jes
  • JesJes
    Posts: 419
    thank you!
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,181
    It's only at Matins and Compline, so nothing you need to worry about -- that was a side discussion.

    Just do Vespers as usual, omitting Dominus vobiscum and it's response whenever it occurs.
    Thanked by 1Jes
  • JesJes
    Posts: 419
    THANK YOU!!! I was so panicky!
  • JesJes
    Posts: 419
    I think I mustered up a Deacon in the end! Woot!
  • mustard?
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,279
    Col. Mustard in the library with the marble bust.
    Thanked by 1eft94530

  • marble burst.
  • JesJes
    Posts: 419
    Alas deacon a no show... men are so good and standing me up in singing situations. If I pretended I couldn't sight read, I wonder...
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 7,871
    "Mozart was a bust...

    He said he was a happily married man, but his wife was not... she went all the way to the floor."

    VB
    Thanked by 1JL
  • Jes, very interesting questions.

    Here is my question. EF vespers at the end of a pilgrimage. Can a woman lead this? Does it have to be lead by a priest? My opinion would be yes (it can be led by a lay woman), but with caveats. If the officiant is a lay person of either sex, then I would think that the vespers would be a pious exercise but not liturgical.

    If a priest has to celebrate Mass in another church during the public recitation of sung vespers... can a lay woman step up to the mark in absence of religious availability or male volunteers? Obviously not in the sanctuary. Probably just from a front pew. Is this scandalous? If intending this to be a pious exercise, without being in the sanctuary or vested, I wouldn't think that it would be scandalous or untoward for a lay woman to lead.
    Thanked by 1Jes
  • JesJes
    Posts: 419
    Thanks, @Incardination we ended up doing this outside near Our Lady's grotto so definitely a pious exercise and not a liturgy phew!

    New laywoman question:

    Can a woman sing the lessons at a carols service before midnight Christmas mass in the EF? Or would it be better to find a man to do this? Or failing that could do OF carols service with EF mass which is then thankfully lead by a priest? OR I have a group of local sisters who would sing the lessons for me but only OF?

    I ask because I don't want to break any rules.

    Also just a dumb person question. Was driving along and spotted a church I'd never been to before and went in to pray and there was a woman distributing communion as part of some random "service." Did I just see something illegal? The people all appeared to be saying Catholic prayers but not mass prayers and most actually received on the tongue so I assumed nobody was out there trying to desecrate the Eucharist but I wonder what was up?
  • Just a clarification on "pious exercise" vs. "liturgy"... the location does not determine whether the event in question is liturgical or not, but the character of the hebdom. Priests and religious recite the Office in a wide variety of locations - those recitations are part of the body of the Liturgy of the Church because they are ministers authorized to pray on behalf of the Church. If the Office is prayed publicly by lay people, regardless of whether in a church or not, it would be a pious exercise but non-liturgical.

    The closest approximation that I'm aware of in the EF to a Lessons and Carols service would be Christmas Matins. There are nine lessons in Christmas Matins. When we last sang Matins, the priest (versed in the rubrics) indicated that the final three lessons must always be sung by clerics / religious, although I'm not aware of such a rubric. The other lessons (the six in the first two nocturns) are certainly available to be sung by laity. (We had clerics sing the first three lessons as well, and we split the remaining three lessons among laity.)

    Although in general it would be better to have a layman, vested in cassock and surplice, sing the lesson from the center of the sanctuary, I am not aware of a prohibition against a lay woman singing the lesson from outside the sanctuary, unvested.

    If you are simply singing "carols" and "lessons" before an EF Mass, presumably there is no liturgical function and therefore no prohibition. Or as you mention, you could do an OF L&C service.
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,537
    the lessons at a carols service before midnight Christmas mass in the EF?


    Like Incard, I suspect that this is a (not really kosher) transmogrification of an OF thing. I've been to a lot of EF Midnight Masses and have had music-direction responsibilities thereat, both for Diocesan and (French) Order priests. Closest thing to L&C I saw was the Order priest placing the Child in the creche and saying a prayer.

    However, we never did Matins, so that's always a legitimate possibility.

    As to your second question, you may have stumbled upon a "smells-and-bells" Episcopalian communion service.
    Thanked by 1Incardination
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,561
    Jes, I don't know if you remember this thread, but in spite of the Council of Trent looking askance there is historical precedent for sword-wielding women being considered liturgically male from a legalistic angel. ;-)
  • VilyanorVilyanor
    Posts: 329
    I'd like to see the canons or authoritative documents that say that the Divine Office celebrated without a Cleric is not a liturgy.
    Thanked by 1GerardH
  • Perhaps not from a canon, but certainly in numerous books on the Liturgy and also exemplified by the encyclical Mediator Dei (Pope Pius XII, November 20th, 1947): Part III-A. The Divine Office, section 142:


    142. The divine office is the prayer of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, offered to God in the name and on behalf of all Christians, when recited by priests and other ministers of the Church and by religious who are deputed by the Church for this.


    Not an equivalency, but something in the vein... if I recite the prayers of Mass - all the prayers, following all the rubrics, using all the correct particulars - can it be said that I have "celebrated" Mass? No. A deacon in the seminary practices celebrating by offering what is commonly called a "dry Mass" - i.e. one which is non-liturgical and certainly non sacrificial in nature because the deacon - despite being ordained to the diaconate - lacks the character of the priesthood that enables him to offer Mass (among other things). My praying the prayers, the deacon running through the dry Mass - these presumably are pious exercises (depending on intention and reverence), but certainly not liturgical.
  • On the one hand Fortescue, in 1917, asserts 'The celebrant is always a priest'. OTOH Fortescue emphasises that 'the stole is not worn' (except at the Office for the Dead). Since the stole is the mark of holy orders, that suggests orders were NOT neccessary. Does the mention of 'religious', which I understand to include women, not suggest that, by 1947, this 'prayer of the Mystical Body' is liturgical whenever offered by communities vowed to it.
  • AF, I think we are saying essentially the same thing based on your last sentence...

    The reference from Fortescue refers to the sung or solemn form of the Office. The original statement was broader in context. ANY priest, seminarian, consecrated religious, etc., who RECITES the Office privately is offering the Liturgy of the Church, not merely praying a private prayer. Conversely, laity, reciting the Divine Office on their own initiative whether as a group or individually, are performing a pious exercise, not celebrating the Liturgy, since they lack standing as authorized ministers.

    I believe Fortescue, in referencing that "the celebrant is always a priest" is talking about the normal diocesan form. He is not referring to religious communities of nuns, for example, nor to extraordinary circumstances where a seminarian in major orders might fill in as hebdom.

    I'm not quite sure I entirely agree with the statement "the stole is the mark of Holy Orders" at least in this context... the minor orders and major order both imprint a partial character of "Holy Orders" on the soul. Even a priest has just a partial character - it is not until one is consecrated bishop that one truly has the full character of the priesthood.

    I think more correctly, the statement would be that the stole is a mark of the office, generally worn in a liturgical context. A subdeacon is ordained to major orders, but it is the deacon that is first distinguished by wearing the stole. Deacons, priests, and bishops all wear the stole differently to indicate their different offices.

    However, whether or not the stole is worn for a particular liturgy is rubrical in nature. I believe that the stole is worn if the Blessed Sacrament is exposed, or if Benediction follows vespers, for example. This doesn't reflect on the nature of the hebdom per se.

    Your final statement sums up the original point. The Office is liturgical when offered by a minister (cleric or religious) duly authorized. Laity wouldn't fit that description.
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,417
    If Fortescue were to be interpreted literally, it would mean the vast numbers of nuns/sisters who prayed the office conventually were not praying liturgically. In which case, the meaning of "liturgical" becomes rather twee.

    By the same token, the absence of cleric is not what renders something a mere pious exercise.

    Thanked by 1Vilyanor
  • Fortescue is describing ceremonies, not writing about what constitutes "liturgy". A liturgy does, in fact, depend on the nature of the celebrant. This doesn't preclude laity from participating, just from offering. There are certain offices that can be performed by lay people - even, for example, as a stand-in for sub-diaconate minister at a Solemn High Mass.

    That is not the same as suggesting that laity can offer the Liturgy on their own.
  • The rubrics post-VII are much clearer on the involvement of laity. In particular
    General Instruction LOTH 258. When there is no priest or deacon, the person who presides is only one among equals; he does not enter the sanctuary, nor does he greet or bless the people
    But it is still not clear whether it would or would not be liturgy. (I do not think the use of he in the translation is intended to be gender specific)
  • Liam
    Posts: 3,417
    If it were not a liturgy, there would be no instruction for it in the GILOTH....
  • I am afraid we must agree to disagree. :)
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 7,279
    Thank you, Incardination, for the quote from Mediator Dei. I get the impression that the Church's position on this disciplinary question has altered with the issuance of the GILOTH, which does seem to include voluntary lay celebration of the LOTH as part of "the Church's office".
    [27.] Gatherings of the laity - for prayer, apostolic work or any other reason - are encouraged to fulfill the Church's office [ut Ecclesiae officium expleant] by celebrating part of the Liturgy of the Hours.
  • As the original question was geared toward EF Vespers, one supposes that the original answer is correct in that context and that the change would apply to the OF LOTH. There are corresponding rubrical changes such as the need for an altar stone in the EF which seem no longer necessary in the OF that I believe are similar.

    If one celebrates the EF, follow the rubrics and disciplines of the EF, not a blend of OF and EF.
    Thanked by 2a_f_hawkins chonak
  • VilyanorVilyanor
    Posts: 329
    But the nature of a prayer is still going to be formally the same in either Form, the things you are talking about are material.
  • Women eligible for membership.


    image
  • Noel,

    I'm afraid I'm not following your point. That women were eligible for membership in a musical society doesn't really address their specific role in an EF liturgical context (OP), nor the discussion about the need for appropriate ministers to lead an EF liturgy in order for it to be more than a pious exercise (the devolution of the OP).

    Can you elucidate a bit further?
  • It does not, but it does recognize their value in the creation of music and musicians for these liturgical events.

    And then there is this:
    I'd like to see the canons or authoritative documents that say that the Divine Office celebrated without a Cleric is not a liturgy.


    Did Nuns have to spend time in purgatory for not having a Cleric?


  • "Appropriate ministers" does not necessarily equate to "a cleric". Part of the earlier discussion (perhaps missed) was that religious (male or female) are "authorized ministers" in the EF.

    Priests and religious recite the Office in a wide variety of locations - those recitations are part of the body of the Liturgy of the Church because they are ministers authorized to pray on behalf of the Church.
    (emphasis added). Religious comprehensively includes male and female. I wouldn't think I would have to specify that.

    The reference to Mediator Dei isn't an attempt to denigrate the role of women in music, any more than I read the OP to be an attempt to advocate liberal feminism. She was asking a legitimate question, and my answer included options for women leading vespers in the EF or singing lessons in the EF (the follow-on question). The quote from Mediator Dei applies to all laity, regardless of whether women or men. It isn't that laity can't have an active role in the liturgy, just whether or not they are authorized ministers in the EF to offer the liturgy entirely on their own.

    I have a strong respect for women in a liturgical choir - just ask my choir members.
    Thanked by 1noel jones, aago
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,537
    I have a strong respect for women in a liturgical choir


    That's merely self-preservation at work. (Wise-guy emoji here)