|Title page from the Llyfr Gweddi, 1899|
Having said that, Fr Ryan often spoke to me about the 'old Mass' ('yr hen Offeren', as he would say), his eyes lighting up as he remembered the beauty of a ritual he feared had all but been lost to the Church. I remember one little pilgrimage we both made to Holywell, during which this holy man urged me to try and get to an old Mass. Although I am sure he wanted to celebrate the traditional Mass for me, and I definitely wanted to experience it, sadly Fr John Ryan became ill and died before this ever happened. After Fr Ryan's death, I gave up trying to get to an old Rite Mass for many years, until being able to attend my first one during a visit to London in 2005.
In the years before experiencing the traditional Mass for the first time, the desire to be attached to the older form of the Roman Rite never left me -- despite the many attempts of my 'progressive' acquaintances to put me off. A few open-minded Welsh-speaking Catholic friends came my way, though - including Fr David Jones, who would, like Fr Ryan, speak of the beauty of the older form ('yr hen ddull'). Thankfully, he is now able to freely offer the traditional Mass in and around his hermitage in Ireland, and occasionally visits Wales, too. Also, whilst studying theology at Bangor University, some of my old lecturers, including the highly respected Evangelical historian of the Church, Professor R Tudur Jones, encouraged me to explore the depth of the treasury that belongs to the Catholic faith -- such as those rites and rituals that sustained her since the earliest times.
One day, whilst pottering about in the university's Main Arts' Library, I came across several old -- mainly nineteenth century -- Welsh Catholic prayer books. One of them was called Llyfr Gweddi, yn Cynnwys yr Offeren yn Lladin a Chymraeg; Ynghyd a Defosiynau Ereill [sic] yr Eglwys Gatholig yng Nghymru ("A Prayer Book, Containing the Mass in Latin and Welsh; Together with other Devotions belonging to the Catholic Church in Wales"). Coming across this dusty book was truly a great find, a treasure in that gloomy room, imbued, as it was, was a rather severe sense of non-conformist Protestantism!
|The Roman Canon from the Llyfr Gweddi|
Llyfr Gweddi was published by Cymdeithas Sant Teilo (The St Teilo Society - established to promote the Catholic faith through the medium of Welsh) in 1899, and was mainly the work of the inspirational Fr John Jones of Caernarfon -- a parish that boasts several Welsh-speaking members to this day (it also hosts the only Welsh language Catholic school in the world!). The book contains a forward by the then Bishops of Newport and Menevia, and it was granted its Imprimatur by another Welshman (of sorts), Cardinal Herbert Vaughan, the third Archbishop of Westminster. Llyfr Gweddi is over 300 pages long, and is full of excellent and accessible Welsh translations (placed next to the original Latin versions) of Catholic prayers and other devotions.
Anyway, just as a way of highlighting how comprehensive Llyfr Gweddi is, here is a sample of what the book contains - taken from its contents page (in the original Welsh, this list would appear in alphabetical order): -
Prayers for various occasions (including: For the Harvest; For Peace; For the Pope; For the Sick; For Princes and Christian Governments; For Unbelievers; For Heretics and Schismatics; For the Whole World; For the gaining of a Plenary Indulgence; General prayers; Prayers before Mass; Prayers for the Queen [Victoria, at the time!]; Prayers for after the Te Deum);
Teaching on Confession
Teachings and Devotions regarding the Blessed Sacrament
Administering Baptism in an Emergency
Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament
The Canticle of Zechariah (The Benedictus)
Bona Mors (For a Happy Death)
Calendar of the Movable Feasts of the Church and the Principal Saints' Days of Wales (from 1899 - 1921)
The Hymn of St Thomas Aquinas to the Blessed Sacrament (Adoro te devote)
The Rite of Confirmation
Prayers before Confession
Prayers after Confession
Devotions before the Blessed Sacrament
|Sunday Vespers from the Llyfr Gweddi|
The Churching of Women (Thanksgiving after Childbirth)
The Days of Fast and Abstinence
Hymns (including, amongst several others: Adeste Fideles; Ave, Maris Stella; Alma Redemtoris Mater; ... Mary, Queen of the May; To St Winifred; ... O Salutaris Hostia; Pange Lingua; Regina Coeli; Stabat Mater; Tantum Ergo; ... Te Deum; Veni Creator Spiritus; ...)
The Stations of the Cross
Prayers for those in Danger of Death
The Pater Noster
The Angelic Salutation
The Apostles' Creed
The Gloria Patri
Acts of Faith, Hope, Love, Contrition
Prayers before receiving Holy Communion
Prayers for after receiving Holy Communion
Prayers for when Absolution is refused
Holy Days of Obligation and other Feasts
Examination of Conscience (Longer and Shorter forms)
Teaching on Indulgences
Conditions for gaining an Indulgence
Teachings on Penance
|Prayer of St Thomas Aquinas before the|
Blessed Sacrament from the Llyfr Gweddi
The Canticle of Mary (The Magnificat)
The Month of Mary
Meditation before the Blessed Sacrament
The Holy Mass [the complete Order of Mass]
Devotions to be used by those assisting at Mass
The Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Sacraments (The Rites of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Matrimony)
The Seven Penitential Psalms
Various Psalms (including: Laudate Dominum, omnes gentes; Sicut Cervus; etc)
Psalms and Canticles of Adoration, Praise, and Thanksgiving
The Psalter of Jesus
The Final Commendation
|Devotions during Mass from the Llyfr Gweddi|
As Welsh is my mother tongue (I did not speak English until I went to school), it might even be more profitable for me to use the devotions intended for Mass in the Llyfr Gweddi than those found in the wonderful old Treasury of the Sacred Heart (which I sometimes use). One of the great things about 'yr hen ddull' (the old rite), compared with 'y ddull newydd' (the new rite), is the way it lends itself to a deeper and far more profound form of 'active participation' by the laity, especially when they decide to mediate in an interior manner, uniting simple prayers and acts of love to those hushed (or sung) ones being offered by the priest....
Introibo ad altare Dei...
Af i mewn at allor Duw...
I will go in unto the altar of God...