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

UNTIL about the beginning of the thirteenth century the custom of having several priests unite in offering the same Mass was very prevalent on the more solemn festivals of the year. The priests who lent their aid on such occasions were said to concelebratethat is, to perform one joint action with the regular celebrant of the Mass; and no matter how great their number was, no one ever supposed that more than a single Sacrifice was offered (Bona, Rer. Liturg., p. 246). Touching this peculiar custom Pope Innocent III., in his fourth book on the Mass, chap. 25., writes as follows: “The cardinal priests have been accustomed to stand around the Roman Pontiff and celebrate together with him; and when the Sacrifice is ended they receive Communion at his hands, signifying thereby that the Apostles who sat at table with our Lord received the Eucharist from him; and in their celebrating together it is shown that the Apostles on that occasion learned the rite by which this Sacrifice should be offered.”

This custom of concelebrating must have gone into desuetude in the early part of the thirteenth century, for Durandus, who flourished in A.D. 1260, speaks of it as a thing already passed away. The only vestige of it that now remains in the Latin Church is to be found in the Mass of the ordination of a priest and the consecration of a bishop. In the former case the candidate, or ordinandus, as he is called, takes up the Mass with the bishop ordaining at the Offertory, and goes on with him to the end, reciting everything aloud, even the form of consecration of the Host and Chalice; in the latter case the bishop-elect takes up the Mass at the very beginning with the bishop consecrating, and follows him in everything to the end, except that he does not turn with him at any time to the people when saying “Pax vobis,” “Dominus vobiscum,” or “Orate fratres.” At the Communion he receives part of the Host used by the consecrating bishop; and with him, also, part of the Precious Blood, from the same chalice.

Regarding this Mass of concelebration many curious questions are asked; but as it would be entirely beyond our purpose to delay in discussing them, we shall give only the most important to our readers. This is, Whether the consecration of the bread or wine is to be ascribed to the bishop ordaining or to the ordinandus, in case the latter should have pronounced the entire form first? Some theologians formerly held that, in order to avoid all scruple on this head, the newly-ordained priest ought to recite the words of consecration historically (historico modo), and have no personal intention of effecting transubstantiation at all. According to others, it mattered nothing whether the ordinandus pronounced the form before the bishop or not; consecration was in every case to be ascribed to the latter. The third opinion is the one accepted to-day—viz., that although the newly-ordained priest may through haste have pronounced the sacred words of institution before the bishop ordaining, still the whole thing must be considered as one joint moral action, in virtue of which consecration is effected only when all parties have pronounced the entire form. This is supported by Pope Innocent III. among others, and by the great doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas (see Pontificale Romanum, by Catalanus, newly edited by Mühlbauer, fascic. i. p. 167).

All are at one in saying that the newly-ordained priest really offers a true sacrifice on this occasion, and that hence he must have the intention of consecrating the same bread and wine with the bishop (Benedict XIV., sect. 2, No. 142; Bouvry, ii. 493, q. 4).








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