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

It will always remain a wonder to us why the blessing of the water here has occasioned so much anxious enquiry, and given rise to an almost interminable amount of discussion, when the reason is so close at hand. It is blessed here simply because it cannot be found by itself afterwards. The wine is not blessed until immediately before the consecration—that is, when the priest makes the sign of the cross over it at the word “benedixit.” It is at this part of the Mass that the bread also receives its special blessing, and not at the Offertory. Formerly the water was not blessed at this place—and is not even now in Masses for the dead—but was let fall into the chalice in the form of a cross, a custom which we see yet in vogue with the Carthusians. The Carmelites and Dominicans place the wine and the water in the chalice at the beginning of Mass; the Carthusians put the wine in at that time, too, but not the water until the Offertory. The reason usually alleged for putting the wine and water into the chalice at this early stage is that sufficient time may be given for the water to be converted into the substance of the wine before consecration takes place. A rubric to this effect thus reads in the Dominican Missal: “Tantam quantitatem aquæ distillet in calicem, quæ facillime tota possit in vinum converti”—“He drops as much water into the chalice as may very easily be converted, in its entirety, into the substance of the wine.” Few questions gave rise to more spirited argumentation in the middle ages, especially towards the latter part, than that which respected the mingling of the water with the wine, as here alluded to; some holding that the water was immediately taken up by the wine and made part of its own substance, while others maintained that the water always remained as it was, even after consecration, and was not transubstantiated at all, as the wine was. Pope Innocent III. discusses the question at full length in his treatise on the Mass, but abstains from giving any definite decision in the matter. According to St. Thomas Aquinas (par. 3., quest, 74, art. 8) and St. Bonaventure (dis. ii. par. 2, art. 1, q. 3), the water is not converted immediately into the Body and Blood of our Lord in this case, but mediately only—that is, it is first converted into wine, and then both, as one entire body, are transubstantiated. All the Thomists and Scotists alike held this.

Local Customs.—The priests of the Ambrosian Rite, in pouring the water into the chalice, say: “Out of the side of Christ there flowed blood and water at the same time. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” The priests of Lyons Cathedral say: “From the side of our Lord Jesus Christ there issued blood and water at the time of his Passion; this is a mystery of the Blessed Trinity. John the Evangelist saw it and bore witness of the fact, and we know that his testimony is true. In the Mozarabic Rite the formula is: “From the side of our Lord Jesus Christ blood and water are said to have flowed; and, therefore, we mix them, in order that the merciful God may vouchsafe to sanctify both for the salvation of our souls.”








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