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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 Pyx is a small box, generally of gold or silver, in which the Blessed Sacrament is carried to the sick. In shape it exactly resembles the case of a watch, and seldom or never exceeds the latter in size. When carried on the person of the priest it is enclosed in a silken purse, to which a string is attached for fastening it around the neck. In Catholic countries, instead of the Pyx, the ciborium is carried in procession, and a ringing of bells is kept up all the time as a warning to the people that our Lord is passing by on his mission to the sick.

Out of respect for the Blessed Sacrament the priest is required to walk with a slow, dignified pace on these occasions, and this must characterize his movements whether he go on foot or horseback. Some of the very best authorities maintain that a priest should not run or make any undue haste on such occasions, even though he were quite certain that by not doing so the sick person would be dead before he had reached him (De Herdt, Sacr. Liturg., iii. 234).

A solemn silence is also enjoined; and no salutes or reverences must be paid to any one on the way.

When the distance is short, walking is considered the most respectful way of travelling; when long, a carriage or horse may be employed; but care must be taken to move slowly in every case.

Propriety also requires—in fact, the rubric directly prescribes it—that the Pyx be fastened round the neck and secured somewhere on the breast, but never enclosed in the pocket; and all the time that the priest holds it on his person, while a Particle is in it, he must not sit down unless in case of real necessity.

Oriental Usage.—Unless the person be very dangerously ill the Oriental priests will not carry the Blessed Sacrament outside of church, but will require the sick person to be conveyed thither and communicated there. When communicated out of church it is always, at least with the majority of the Orientals, the rule to administer only under one kind—viz., that of bread (Denzinger, 93 et passim).

The demonstrations made in the East before the Blessed Sacrament, when going to the sick, are very great. A solemn recitation of psalms and pious hymns is kept up all the time, and deacons and acolytes head the procession with torches and incense. No one of the party must ever dare to sit down; and the most solemn decorum must be observed by all until the journey has been completed.

With the Syrian Jacobites it is strictly forbidden to put the Blessed Sacrament in one’s pocket when conveying it to the sick. It must be carried in a purse fastened around the neck; and should the journey be made on horseback, on no account must this purse be fastened to the saddle, or convoyed in any other way but on the person of the priest (ibid. 92). That this is also the rule observed by the Copts we see from Renaudot (Commentarius ad Liturg. Copt., 270.)








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