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“Recordare, Domine” Votive Mass in the Time of Pestilence

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RecorRecordare Domine Votive Mass in the Time of Pestilencedare Domine Votive Mass in the Time of Pestilence

Some of the richest treasures of the traditional Roman Liturgy are the Votive Masses near the back of the St. Andrew’s Missal (1945 Edition). These devotions were systematically and purposely stripped out of the church’s life, as Fr. John Zuhlsdorf noted, to weaken our Catholic identity and to make us more susceptible to the winds of the world with its shifting fads and mores.

The votive masses were an easy target for the radical reformers, and because many faithful are now frozen at 1962 as per Summorum Pontificum, so you might hear ‘Recordare domine’ Mass only in an independent chapel that might refuse the Missal of 1962.

‘ Recordare domine’ Mass was created at the behest of Clement VI (1291-1352) at Avignon during his Black Death-spanning pontificate.

Recordare, Domine

Recordare, Domine, testamenti tui
et dic angelo percutienti:
Cesset jam manus tua, ut non desoletur terra.
Quiescat Domine jam ira tua a populo tuo,
et a Civitate Sancta tua,
ut non desoletur terra.
Remember, O Lord, Thy testament,
and say to the avenging angel:
Let Thy hand be stayed, that the earth be not made desolate.
Let Thine anger now rest from Thy people
and from Thy Holy City,
that the earth be not made desolate.

In the mid-fourteenth century the Black Death inflicted one of the most devastating losses of life in human history. This was met by exercises of collective piety such as the singing of psalms and the celebration of special votive masses, which encouraged social cohesion in the face of the tragedy.

“The connection between the ‘Recordare Domine’ Mass and the late medieval experience of disease, and possibly even the Black Death itself, has been recognized by scholars for over a century.

In 1900 Jules Viard printed the Propers as he found them in two manuscripts in the Bibliotheque de Lille, labeling the Mass a special creation of the papacy instituted to petition Heaven for deliverance from the scourge of the Black Death. Viard based this both on the texts of the various elements of the Mass and on the strength of its heading rubric, which reads that this is a: Mass for the avoidance of death, which the lord Pope Clement VI made and ordained in consultation with the lord cardinals in the year of Our Lord 1348, and he granted to those who heard and said it 260 days of indulgence. And all those hearing the aforementioned Mass should bear a burning candle for the 5 following days; and those shall not be harmed by sudden death. This is proven in Avignon and surrounding regions, and occurred in the year of Our Lord 1348.” Ref: Stability and change in the composition of a ‘Plague Mass’ in the wake of the Black Death.

The intentions of the ‘Recordare domine’ Mass for ‘Deliverance from death in time of pestilence’ are being offered by the Traditional Catholic chapels for the victims of the coronavirus and for the Churches around the world, who suspended most of their activities because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Regardless of the origin of this virus (whether natural or man-made), we believe that Almighty God has sent this virus as a chastisement upon us.

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