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A History Of The Mass And Its Ceremonies In The Eastern And Western Church -Rev John O'Brien A.M.

The respect manifested by the Orientals even for the unconsecrated bread, to say nothing of the Holy Eucharist itself, is worthy of all admiration. And to begin with the Copts, of whom we have been speaking: So very particular are they about the sacrificial bread that they deem it profane to purchase the grain used in making it with any other money than that which has been set aside for church purposes. The wheat, too, when made into flour, must always be kept in the church, where is also the oven in which the breads are baked. During the process of making these breads a constant chanting of psalms is kept up by the clerics to whom the work is entrusted, and the whole thing is looked upon as a sacred duty (Pococke, Travels in Egypt). Their discipline requires that the bread be new, fresh, and pure; in fact, according to their canons, that of yesterday’s making could not be used in saying Mass to-day, but newly-made bread must be offered—i.e., bread made the same morning that Mass is said. On no account must this be made by a female. A violation of this rule would subject the offender to excommunication. “It is meet,” says one of their constitutionary laws, “that the Eucharistic bread should be baked nowhere else but in the oven of the church. Let not a female knead it or bake it. He who acts contrary to this, let him be anathema” (Renaudot, Liturg. Oriental. Coll., i. p. 172).

The Syrian bread, called Xatha, is made of the finest and purest flour, and is tempered with water, oil of olives, salt, and leaven. They defend the use of oil in making it by saying that it is merely employed in order that the paste may not adhere to the hands. The entire operation is carried on within the church by a priest or deacon; it is wholly forbidden to entrust its preparation to any one not in sacred orders (ibid.; and Lamy, De Fide Syrorum et Discip. in re Eucharistiæ). One of the Syrian canons on this head runs as follows: “Let the priest or deacon who prepares the bread of oblation take care to have the mould clean, and to have a vessel for the purpose of straining the water and oil; he must be careful not to let it be handled by a lay person. Besides this, he must have his loins girt, shoes on his feet, be turned towards the east, and have his face veiled with an amice. Psalms must accompany this ministry” (Lamy, ibid.)

The discipline of the Armenians also requires that the bread be made by the sacred ministers. Their bread is unleavened, like ours.








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