Keeping the Votive Mass Alive in the Holy Land

A lot of readers have been asking for more information about the planned liturgies for the upcoming Holy Land Ash Wednesday Pilgrimage with Fr. Z.  My response is short: "It's a surprise, you will have to join the tour.  It is a Latin Mass tour.  There will be lots of Masses at the holy sites."  On a serious note to readers, the exact Mass schedule has yet to be announced.  Masses will be taken from the Missale Votivum Pro Sanctuariis Terrae Sanctae.  We have done this for previous traditional tours in the past and we know of no other group that does the same.

Votive Masses in the Holy Land are celebrated at designated altars to commemorate a special person or occasion -- they are a tremendous font of grace and flowering of the liturgical arts.  Each Mass at every location is unique, with prayers approved over the centuries by the Holy See and prayed by countless Latin pilgrims.  To give you an idea of the variety of Masses, I include a quick sample: in Nazareth we pray the Missa de Annuntiatione Beatae Mariae Virginis, in Bethlehem we pray the Missa de Octava Nativitatis Domini Nostri Iesu Christi, on Mt. Calvary we pray the Missa Votiva de Passione Domini, in the chapel of the Resurrection at the Holy Sepulchre is prayed the Missa Ut in Die Paschatis.

At Shepherds' Field in Bethlehem the Christmas Mass is prayed every day of the year by pilgrim groups, seen here in the original caves where the shepherds found shelter.  Another interesting Mass is the Mass of the Angels that Announced the Birth of Christ.    

I include a link to the PDF version with the entire missal, printed in 1898, courtesy of the tour director and chant schola director, Christopher Suen of Vancovuer (he received it from Dom Benedict Andersen, the sub-prior at Silverstream Priory in Ireland).  By the way, we are looking for more competent singers to join the tour schola!  Be in touch if interested.  This is a small group tour with limited seating.  For more information on the tour, please contact Orbis Catholic Travel, LLC.  

                                 An altar in Jerusalem, seen at the Austro-Hungarian Hospice.  

Votive Masses in the Holy Land account for the simultaneity of the past and present in the spiritual experience of the pilgrim, sometimes depicted in literature and art.  This can be seen, in some ways, in medieval literature such as the Second Shepherd's Play, when angels suddenly appear to ordinary, contemporary shepherds who are alive and living in the current experience of the audience while Christ is born in an English manger in the here and now.  In other words, the site and experience come alive and take on a whole new meaning in the experience of the faithful.  In the liturgy, as in meditation, the past is seen as present because its meaning is present.  Although the past is long since gone on a timeline, past events from the life of Our Blessed Lord come alive and are spiritually present now.  Pilgrims follow in the footsteps of the Magi, going west to the stable in Bethlehem, falling on their knees rapt in adoration before the real presence of Him Who is, born of a virgin, made incarnate and therefore in the world, to redeem the world in the here and now.  I encourage readers: this is your chance -- don't miss out! 

An example of the Votive Mass celebrated where Christ preached the Sermon on the Mount.  

                                                           Photos: OC-Travel

When in the greater sanctuaries in the Holy Land, Votive Masses proper to the place may be said on any day of the year except on feasts of the I-class, including of course the Nativity of Our Lord, His Epiphany, Easter, Pentecost, Corpus Christi, the Assumption of Our Lady, and all of Holy Week.

The Gloria and Credo are said at the Masses that require them, and no commemorations are made. 

The greater sanctuaries include the Basilica of the Annunciation, the Crypt in Bethlehem, the Holy Cenacle, the place of the Agony in Gethsemane, the Church of the Flagellation, Mount Calvary, the Sepulchre of Our Lady in the Valley of Josaphat, the place by the foot of the Cross where Our Lady stood, the Primacy of Peter on the Sea of Galilee, and the place of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist.

When in the other lesser sanctuaries of the Holy Land, Votive Masses proper to the place may be said on any day of the year except on feasts of the I- and II-class, Sundays of the I- and II-class, the Vigils of the Nativity and Pentecost, Ash Wednesday, all of Holy Week, the Octaves of Easter and Pentecost, and Corpus Christi.  At these Masses, the Gloria may be said at the Masses that require it, no Credo is said, and no commemorations are made.

EDITOR UPDATE: A tentative example of the Mass schedule courtesy of the tour director, Mr. Christopher Suen...

Thu 20 Feb: Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee, Mass of the Arrival of Pilgrims in the Holy Land

Fri 21 Feb: Basilica of the Annunciation, Mass of the Annunciation

Sat 22 Feb: Mount of Beatitudes, Mass of the Sermon on the Mount

Sun 23 Feb: Primacy of Peter on the Sea of Galilee, Mass of St. Peter where Christ appeared to the Apostles after the Resurrection 

Mon 24 Feb: Mount Carmel, Mass of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel 

Tue 25 Feb: Shepherds’ Fields in Bethlehem, Mass of Christmas at Dawn (fitting, with the Gospel mentioning the shepherds -- the same Mass that is said as a Votive Mass of the Nativity in the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem)

Wed 26 Feb: Garden of Gethsemane, Mass of the Agony in the Garden, Ash Wednesday

Thu 27 Feb: Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Mass of the Resurrection

Fri 28 Feb: Jericho, Mass of the Temptation of Christ on the Mountain  

Sat 29 Feb: Hotel in Jerusalem, Mass of the Departure of Pilgrims from the Holy Land

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