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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 Host is broken in memory of what our Lord himself did at the Last Supper and on those occasions afterwards which are recorded in Holy Scriptures; but as regards the triple division, all we can say is that in ancient times there was much diversity of practice in this respect. Some broke it into three portions; some into four; and some, like those who follow the Mozarabic Rite, into nine. According to the ancient Roman Rite, it was first broken into three portions, one of which was cast into the chalice; another was reserved for communicating the celebrant, deacon, and subdeacon; and the third was kept for the sick. This custom was in vogue in the majority of churches, and a vestige of it is yet retained in Papal High Mass, where the Holy Father drops one part of the Host into the Precious Blood, communicates himself from another part, and the deacon and subdeacon from the third. The like, too, may be seen in the consecration of a bishop (Romsee, p. 273).

According to Durandus, the three crosses made over the chalice here with the small particle are intended to commemorate the three days that the blessed Body of our Lord remained in the sepulchre; and the casting in of this particle afterwards to unite with the Precious Blood forcibly recalls to mind the union of our Lord’s Soul and Body after his resurrection.

We have said that the Mozarabics break the Host into nine parts. The first division made is into two equal portions; then a subdivision is made by which one portion is broken into four parts and the other into five, thus making nine in all, which are then arranged on the paten in the form of a cross, and a name given to each commemorative of the principal events in our Lord’s life: thus, 1st, the Incarnation; 2d, the Nativity; 3d, the Circumcision; 4th, the Epiphany; 5th, the Passion; 6th, Christ’s Death; 7th, his Resurrection; 8th, the Glory of Christ in heaven; 9th, the Kingdom of Christ. From Easter to Pentecost, and also on the Feast of Corpus Christi, while the priest of this rite holds the part called the “Kingdom of Christ” in his hand over the chalice, he says three times aloud, “The Lion of the tribe of Juda, the root of David, has conquered”; to which the choir responds, “Thou who sittest upon the cherubim, root of David, alleluia.”

Division of the Host in the Oriental Church.—The Greeks divide the Host into four parts, one of which the priest casts into the chalice; another he receives himself; a third he puts aside and distributes among the communicants; and the fourth part he reserves for the sick. According to the Liturgy of St. Chrysostom, the rubrics touching this ceremony are worded as follows:

RUBRIC: The deacon then girds his Orarion [stole] crosswise and goes into the holy Bema, and standing on the right hand (the priest grasping the holy Bread), saith:

Deacon: “Sir, break the Holy Bread.”

RUBRIC: And the priest, dividing it into four parts with care and reverence, saith:

Priest: “The Lamb of God is broken and distributed; he that is broken and not divided in sunder; ever eaten and never consumed, but sanctifying those who receive him.”

Before the particle is cast into the chalice by the Greeks the sign of the cross is first made with it, and it is then allowed to fall in with the words, “the fulness of the chalice of faith of the Holy Ghost,” to which the deacon responds, “Amen.”

In the Liturgy of St. James the particle is cast into the chalice with the words, “The union of the most Holy Body and Precious Blood of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ.” The Copts first divide the Host when pronouncing the word fregit—“he broke”just before they pronounce the exact words of institution, and make subdivisions of it afterwards a little before communion. The Nestorians divide it into three parts, using both hands, and saying during the ceremony, “We now approach in the true faith of thy name, O Lord! and through thy compassion we break, and through thy mercy we sign, the Body and Blood of our Lifegiver, the Lord Jesus Christ; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost”; and when putting the particle in the chalice, “May the Precious Blood be signed with the life-giving Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.” From all this we see how much the practice of the Eastern Church resembles our own in all that concerns the Holy Eucharist.








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