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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 word Offertory—from the Latin offerre, to offer—is now used in two special senses, the first, meaning the prayer called in the Missal the Offertorium, which the priest reads immediately after the Creed; the second, all that takes place at the altar from the end of this prayer to the end of the oblation of the bread and wine.

In the early ages of the Church it was customary for the people to present here bread and wine for the use of the altar, oil for the sanctuary-lamp, incense for Solemn High Mass, and ears of corn and clusters of grapes as the first-fruits of the land (Bona, p. 332). By the third of the Apostolic Canons, nothing but what was required for the Holy Sacrifice could be placed on the altar; all the other offerings were usually received on a side-table prepared for the purpose, and called in ancient books, and yet so styled by the Greeks, the Gazophilacium. The Council of Trullo; in the year 692, forbade the offering of milk and honey. The Council of Carthage, in 397, allowed these commodities to be offered once a year—viz., at Easter—because it was customary at that time especially to give milk and honey to the newly baptized; a custom which is yet almost universally observed in the East. In presenting these gifts the people usually gave in their names also, in order that they might be recorded among those for whom the priest made a special memento; and it served, too, for determining who it was that intended going to Holy Communion on that occasion, for, as a general rule, all who presented offerings approached the Blessed Eucharist (ibid., p. 333).

This ancient custom is yet kept up in many European churches, at Lyons especially; and vestiges of it may be seen in the Masses of ordination, where the elect to orders present wax candles at this place to the ordaining bishop;: also in the Mass of the consecration of a bishop-elect, where the newly-appointed offers two lighted candles, two loaves of bread, and two ornamented small barrels of wine. According to Kozma (p. 186), this ancient custom continued, with little interruption, up to the thirteenth century, when it gave place to that in vogue to-day of receiving the people’s offerings in the pews throughout the church.








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