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

Up to the twelfth century Holy Communion was administered to the faithful under both kinds, as we see from numerous testimonies (Kozma, p. 236; Romsee, p. 311). After this time it began to be restricted to the celebrant, but the restriction did not become a universal law of the Church until the Council of Constance, in A.D. 1414, declared it such. We shall see what prompted this declaration.

It is worth observing that whenever any of the Church’s adversaries taught as a matter of dogma what she herself only considered a matter of discipline, to confound their impiety she either dropped the practice altogether or strenuously exerted herself in an entirely opposite direction. The Ebionites, for example, held that the Holy Eucharist could be confected with no other kind of bread but unleavened, or azymes; to confound these the Church allowed for some time the use of leavened bread also. The Armenians maintained that it was wholly unlawful to mix even the smallest drop of water with the wine used for consecration; the Church said that it was not so, and that, rather than grant dispensation in this respect to this people, she would suffer the entire body of them to separate from her communion; still, she looked upon the observance as entirely disciplinary. The arch-heretic Luther said that those Masses at which only the priest himself communicated were idolatrous and should be abolished at once. The Church, on the other hand, approved of them, and granted full faculties to the priests of those days to celebrate them at pleasure. This brings us to the question under consideration. John Huss held such fanatical views about the necessity of Communion under both kinds that the whole land was disturbed by his teaching. According to him, the Church could not dispense with the obligation of receiving both species, for Communion under one kind was no Communion at all, and that all who received in that way were damned. Huss was supported in these views by his disciples, Jerome of Prague, Jacobellus of Misnia, and Peter of Dresden. To confound these heretics, and for other very wise reasons, the Council of Constance, assembled in A.D. 1414, declared that Communion under one species was as true a participation of the Body and Blood of the Lord, in virtue of what theologians called concomitance, as if both species were received; and that all who held differently were to be anathematized as heretics. A decree was then issued by said council abrogating Communion under the species of wine; and from this dates our present discipline in this respect (Kozma, p. 236). But the practice of receiving under both kinds, even after this decree, was enjoyed, as a particular favor of the Holy See, by certain persons and in a few particular places. It was granted, for instance, 1st, to the kings of France on the day of their coronation, and also at the point of death; 2d, it was allowed to the deacon and subdeacon of Papal High Mass; 3d, the deacon and subdeacon of the Monastery of St. Dionysius, near Paris, communicated under both kinds on Sundays and festivals, as did also the monks of Cluny (Romsee, p. 306).

Four principal reasons, not including the heresy of John Huss and his followers, induced the Church to abandon Communion under the species of wine: 1st, the great danger the Precious Blood was exposed to in communicating so many; 2d, the scarcity of wine in certain regions, and the difficulty in procuring genuine wine in northern climates; 3d, the nausea that this species creates in some people; 4th, the great difficulty of reserving the Holy Eucharist under this kind in warm climates, where the tendency to acidify is very great.








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