The spire of Blessed Sacrament church is clearly visible from I-5. We booked it up the Interstate (having just come out of watching The Dark Knight at the IMax at Seattle Center. Woot!) and arrived a few minutes before 7:00 pm. The streets around the church were completely full, and it took several minutes to find parking and hoof it up to the imposing neo-Gothic facade. The Kyrie had just started and the church was absolutely packed. People were still streaming in. I am horrible at estimating crowds, but I wouldn't be surprised if the number were somewhere between 500 and 1000. Lots and lots of young people too. We stood at the back, towards the right.
The Mass was absolutely beautiful -- stunning polyphony (performed by the accomplished Tudor Choir), beautifully chanted propers, and, when occasion permitted, the congregation joining in the et cum spiritu tuo with gusto. (Of course, there was precious little for the congregation to say really.) The homilist was Fr. Michael Sweeney OP (who co-founded the Catherine of Siena Institute), who had a simple but profound reflection on what it means to be light for the world. Communion was received kneeling, on the Communion rail. The programs were all gone by the time we got there, so I couldn't really follow along with the various prayers, but I am familiar enough with the contours of the old Mass to have some sense what was going on. Besides, the presider's chanted Latin was impeccable.
I must say it was really strange to experience a silent (sorry, inaudible) canon. After the Sanctus, everyone knelt, and the liturgy continued in silence (except for the bells at the elevation) until the final Per omnia saecula saeculorum ... I am not entirely sure about the development of this tradition, and it certainly gives a sense of the (literally) unspeakable mystery that is at the heart of the Mass. In the East, I believe, large parts of the anaphora are recited by the priest alone. However, in the Melkite liturgies I'm familiar with, the words of institution are chanted out loud, and, of course, the people respond throughout the liturgy in various ways. I really am a creature of the Novus Ordo, I guess! (Ad orientem however? Yeah!)
Am also not sure if the Last Gospel was omitted, or recited silently by the priest. After the final prayer and blessing, the choir chanted a motet and the celebrants processed out. I was looking forward to the Last Gospel actually!
Fr. Michael Sweeney OP preaching
Anyway, it was a beautiful celebration and I feel fortunate to have been able to attend (thanks for the invite, Mark!). The video is from the Agnus Dei. A bit grainy, because I had to reduce quality so it wasn't too humungous an upload. Enjoy the photos. Links at the foot of the post.
PDF of the flier advertising the special 100th anniversary Mass.
Several posts by Fr. Augustine Thompson OP at The New Liturgical Movement blog on the history of the Dominican Liturgy.
Wikipedia on the Dominican Rite.