Images de page
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors]

by their sacraments, sacrifices, and public offices;
hence they are all celebrated in that common lan-

guage.

Again-Their Clergy and Laity are frequently under the necessity of travelling from one country to another, and this common language enables them to offer up and attend at the Holy Sacrifice, in whatever place they may be, with the same benefit as if they were in the land of their nativity; and though they should not be acquainted with an individual in the place, nor understand one word of the language of the country, the Clergyman or the Layman finds himself amongst brethren to whom he may adminis ter, or from whom he may receive sacraments, and with whom he can join in the adoration of his God. and whose belief is identically the same as his own. on every point of faith.

By preserving this common language also, the Clergy of those various lands, however remote o dissimilar in habits and tongues, can communicate with each other. Their Bishops hold intercourse between themselves and that See which is their comon centre; and thus be certain of the continuance and existence of the true faith, and hold the com

munion of saints.

These and many other advantages, are the resultof the Liturgy being in the Latin tongue; and the publication of such a work as the present, and which is to be found in every Catholic country, together with the frequent explanations of the Pastors, to which they are obliged by the Council of Trent, are sufficient to remedy the only inconvenience which would be apprehended-by making those who do not understand the Latin language acquainted with the meaning of what is said in that tongue.

Some of the service is read in a loud voice, and more of it in a low inaudible manner, which is a custom older than even Christianity, tending to impress upon the mind, that some things are clearly known

and distinctly understood, and that other things are now hidden from us for the trial of our obedience and faith. The Jewish people did not hear the prayers which their Priest used when he offered incense, and on various other occasions, they prayed abroad in the court, whilst he offered in the Sanctuary, at the altar. Again-Let it be remembered, that the Mass is not a naked form of prayer, by using which we merely entreat God's mercy; it is a sacrifice in which the flesh and blood of Christ are produced, and offered up on our behalf, and according to the devotion with which we attend, we may expect the favour of the Most High. All this may be done in a low voice, as well as in an audible tone.

It is customary before Mass to sprinkle the congregation with Holy Water, or on entering the Church each individual may sprinkle himself from a vessel which contains this water. This ceremony is to remind us of the necessity of entering with purity of heart, having washed away the iniquities and distrac tions of the world. In the court, before the entrance of many of the ancient churches, there was a fountain, in which the persons about to attend washed their hands or feet, to denote the purity of heart they should possess. It is an emblematic ceremony, calculated to excite our devotion, and fix our attention. The water is blessed, as according to the Apostle St. Paul-every creature may be sanctified by the Word of God and by prayer-(1 Tim. iv. 5.) The manner of blessing it is by first blessing salt, which in imitation of the prophet Eliseus, when he healed the waters of Jericho, is cast into the water in the figure of a Cross, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. The proper prayer having been said over the water, and then the Priest entreats the mercy and protection of God upon those who shall sprinkle themselves or their houses therewith, that they may be guarded against the incursions of the evil spirits, and enabled to serve God. If the Clergyman

xxvii

sprinkles it he repeats the Antiphon from the 50th
Psalm-"Thou, O Lord, shalt sprinkle me, and I
shall be cleansed; thou shalt wash me, and I shall be
made whiter than snow." Then the entire or a few
verses of the same psalm: Have mercy on me, O
Lord, &c. After which he repeats the Doxology,
e. Glory be to the Father, &c. and then the Anti-
phon again.

This, in allusion to the sprinkling of the waters of
lustration amongst the Jews, as related in the 19th
chapter of the book of Numbers, by which their un-

cleanness was removed.

The preparations for the Sacrifice having been
made, we now come to the examination of the ser-
vice; for the purpose of knowing accurately the
ceremonies of which we must look a little to the
ancient mode of constructing Christian Churches.
The Sanctuary was an inclosure at the eastern end
of the Church, which was an oblong building; and

this Sanctuary
or Chancel was elevated above the
rest of the Church, so that all the faithful might be

able to see the Clergyman who officiated therein. The Altar was elevated on a platform within this Chancel, so that the principal Clergyman who officiated thereat might be more distinctly observed. On the south side of this Chancel was the door of entrance from the Sacristy or private room of the Clergymen. On the north side was the Bishop's seat, raised higher than the rest, and generally covered with a canopy. In front of the chancel was an enclosed and elevated place, called the Ambo, from which sometimes the Epistle and Gospel were announced, and the sermon or instruction given, and in which the minor clergy and singers sat. times the Pulpit for the Preacher was more elevated, and at the side of the church opposite the Bishop's seat. At the western end of the large space, called the Nave, were folding doors or a curtain, which separated from the nave a smaller division, called the

3

At other

Nartha, or Porch, and to the front of which was at inclosure or court, surrounded by cloisters, under a piazza or colonade.

The church was attended by three descriptions of persons those who were admitted to its communion: penitent faithful under a temporary exclusion, and hearers, who came for instruction, but were not yet baptized. The court and cloisters were occupied by the penitents; the Vestibule or Porch, by the hearers, and the first class occupied the nave.

The Mass was also a service of two parts; that of the Catechumens, and the mysteries of the faithful with the intervening instruction. The first part ended with the Gospel. The second part began after the Creed. The Penitents, hearers and Catechumens, or persons under instruction for Baptism, attended at the first part, heard the sermon, and then were excluded: and the faithful only were allowed to remain for the mysteries, with the nature of which they only were made acquainted.

After the assembly had met, and the aspersion had taken place, the choristers sung an antiphon taken from one of the Psalms, and appropriate to the festival which was celebrated. This antiphon is gener ally that verse of the Psalm which is most expressive of the mystery or fact commemorated on that day. Sometimes the antiphon is taken from one of the other sacred books, and the psalm was always sung, with the doxology, and the antiphon as is always done, repeated. This was done as the bishop or principal clergyman entered the door from the vestry to the chancel; hence it was called ad introitum, or at the entrance, and is now known by the name of "The introit." If the psalm was very long, only a few verges were sung, and hence at present the custom is to sing only the antiphon, the first verse, or two verses of the psalm, then the doxology, Glory be to the Father," &c. and then repeat the antiphon. For instance, the first mass on Christinas day com

[ocr errors]

mences with the following antiphon from the 2d
Psalm. "The Lord hath said to me; thou art my
Son, this day have I begotten thee." The first verse
is then read, and after the doxology the antiphon re-
peated. But it would be a good practice in the
course of the day to read the entire psalm, and re-
flect upon the manner in which the prophecy therein
contained has been fulfilled.
the church in its selection, and were the faithful to
This is the object of
practice this pious custom as she wishes, they would
be greatly improved in the knowledge of religion, for
thus in the course of the year does the church bring
in review before them, the great mysteries of re-
demption in their succession, and the great examples
of her saints for their instruction in virtue.

During the repetition or chaunting of the introit, the clergyman who presided, came to the foot of the altar, and commenced, as usual with the first christians, on almost every occasion, by signing himself with the figure of the cross, and invoking the blessing of the Holy Trinity-and then repeating the 62d psalm, judica, with its antiphon before and after, to express his fervent desire of approaching the altar of he bowed down in a posture of humility, confessing God. Then entreating the assistance of the Lord, to God, to the angels and saints of heaven, and to his fellow-creatures on earth, that he was an unworthy sinner, and entreating the prayers of those heavenly spirits, and of his fellow-mortals to God, on his behalf. The other clergy and people then prayed that God may be merciful to him, and then made their acknowledgement to him, begging his prayers on his confidence in God, and went up to the altar, the After praying for them he expressed deacon and subdeacon lifting up his trabæa or chasuble at the sides, so as to leave his hands free: at present though the chasuble be open, they retain the old custom, and hold it at each side. Having arrived at the altar he kissed it through respect, repeating in a low

their behalf.

« PrécédentContinuer »