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

In all the missals of the present day a picture representing our Lord crucified, and gazed at in sorrowful contemplation by the three Marys—viz., Mary of Cleophas, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the Mother of God—is inserted, in order to recall vividly to the mind of the priest that, at this most solemn part of the Mass, he should be wholly intent on his crucified Redeemer. That the practice of inserting a picture here is very ancient may be seen from several early manuscripts, and almost every liturgist of note refers to it. Honorius of Autun, who flourished towards the beginning of the twelfth century, thus writes of it: “Hic in libris crucifixum ideo depingitur quia per illud passio Christi oculis cordis ingeritur” (Gemma Animœ, cap. 103, “De Canone”)—that is, Here a crucifix is painted in the missals, in order that by it the Passion of Christ may be fixed in the eyes of the heart. Pope Innocent III. also alludes to the practice, and dwells particularly on the striking coincidence that the very first prayer of the Canon begins with one of the ancient representations of the cross—viz., the letter T. In many early missals this letter was beautifully illuminated and made very large, in order that the eye of the priest might rest upon it, and, in doing so, that he might remember the mysterious Thau of the prophet Ezechiel, which was ordered to be made on the foreheads of the men “that sigh and mourn for all the abominations that are committed in the midst.” In Leofric’s Missal, of Anglo-Saxon times, this letter is splendidly illuminated in gold, and so very long that it nearly stretches the whole length of the page. In a folio vellum copy of the Salisbury Missal, which was written towards the middle of the fourteenth century, the letter is go drawn out as to hold within it an illuminated picture of Abraham about to sacrifice his only son, Isaac (Church of Our Fathers, i. p. 103).

In many churches the custom prevailed of kissing the picture at the beginning of the Canon, when the priest came to that part, and at Milan, where the Ambrosian Rite is kept up, the custom is in vogue of washing the hands here.

TE IGITUR”

While reciting the opening words of this prayer the priest is profoundly inclined, with hands resting upon the altar; but when he comes to the words, “these gifts, these presents, these holy and unspotted sacrifices,” he becomes erect and makes three crosses over the oblation. The crosses made at this place now more strongly than ever remind us that we are fast approaching that solemn moment at which He who wrought our salvation on the cross of Calvary will be present on our altar. The reader who wishes to see their various mystic interpretations will do well to consult Durandus (Rationale Divin., p. 241). The literal meaning of these three crosses is, according to De Vert (Explic. Rub. Miss., tome iii. p. 1, rub. 122), founded on a very ancient custom yet in vogue with the members of the Carthusian Order—viz., of making two equal divisions of the Hosts used for Communion, and placing one on each side of the large Host. When the breads were so arranged the priest would make a separate cross over each portion and over the large Host placed in the centre, thus forming three crosses in all. Although this custom went into desuetude soon after its introduction, De Vert still maintains that the three crosses have been retained as a vestige of it.

There was great diversity of usage in former times about the number of crosses made here, as may be seen from some of the ancient sacramentaries. In the Gallican there was but one cross prescribed. In the Gelasian there were as many as five, and these, it is supposed, in memory of the Five Wounds. So great was the diversity of practice in this matter that St. Boniface, the Apostle of Germany, wrote for advice upon the subject to Pope Zachary (741 to 752), and received a response to the effect that wherever a cross was required to be made it would be marked for him in the Canon. According to Romsee, whenever there is but one cross it signifies the unity of the Divine Essence; when two are made, the duality of natures in our Divine Lord is signified; three crosses are typical of the Blessed Trinity, and five of the Five Wounds (iv. p. 180).

In the first prayer of the Canon the priest prays for the Universal Church at large, and for its visible head upon earth, the Supreme Pontiff, by name; then for the bishop of the diocese in which he is celebrating; and, finally, for all the orthodox upholders of the Catholic Faith. In mentioning the reigning Pope he gives him the first part of his official title, without adding anything else to particularize him—thus, “Pius,” “Gregory,” “Leo,” or whatever else the name be—and makes a slight bow to the missal as he pronounces it, out of reverence for the name of the Vicar of Christ. The bishop of the diocese is mentioned in the same way, but without any bow of the head. In case the diocese should be ruled by a bishop administrator or coadjutor while the real bishop, through some indisposition, is unable to attend to it, the name of the indisposed bishop must, nevertheless, be inserted, and not that of the administrator or coadjutor. When a bishop himself says Mass, instead of saying, “and our bishop, N.,” he says, “and I, thy unworthy servant,” without expressing his name. When the Holy Father celebrates he says, “I, thy unworthy servant, whom thou hast wished should preside over thy flock.” If the Mass be celebrated at Rome no bishop’s name is mentioned after the Pope’s, for there is no other bishop of Rome but the Holy Father himself. What has been said here of bishops, of course, applies also to archbishops, patriarchs, and cardinals, no matter of what grade. The members of religious orders are not permitted to insert here the name of their superior, but must, like secular priests, add that of the bishop of the diocese.

Pro omnibus orthodoxis”—

For all the orthodox.”

Since there are two expressions in the latter part of this first prayer which mean one and the same thing, many writers have supposed that by the word orthodox are here meant all those who are outside the visible unity of the Church by schism only; according to which the present Greek Church with its offshoot, that of the Russian Empire, would be included. The reader need hardly be told that any given Church may be schismatic without being heretical at the same time. The one neither means nor necessarily implies the other. The one may, theologically speaking, be sound in the faith; the other never can be. A heretic, from the very derivation of the word (αἱρέω), is one who constitutes himself a judge and chooses his faith upon the strength of his own private authority. A schismatic, strictly speaking, is one who separates or cuts himself off (σχίζω) from the outward unity of the Church by refusing assent to some point of discipline, or authority to the chief pastor. Now, although the so-called Greek Church has been schismatic since the ninth century, with little exception, still it has never by any formal act been declared heretical by the Holy See; and until the Holy See passes judgment upon it and pronounces it heretical no private authority has a right to do so. Some think, therefore, that it is no distortion of the meaning of this prayer to suppose that it refers to, or at least includes, schismatics when it speaks of the orthodox, for, as they say, a person may be orthodox—that is, sound in the faith—and still be outside the visible unity of the Church. The principal objection to this interpretation is, that the Church is not accustomed to share the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with those who are wilfully out of her Communion. (See the Catholic World for the months of March and April, 1877; articles, “The Russian Chancellor” and “Natalie Narischkin.”)








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