Images de page

cludes by the words which clearly prove those merits to be the foundation on which we rest all our hope by those words, "Through the same Christ, our Lord, Amen."

But why, it is said, need we ask to have our sacrifice received, if that sacrifice be Christ, who must necessarily be acceptable? Because we are not necessarily acceptable, and thę object is to apply to us the benefit of this offering, by granting to us those dispositions which will qualify us to profit by that which in itself is excellent.

This prayer was originally said, only on the festivals of saints, and special mention then was made of that saint whose festival was celebrated, but during the latter 700 or 800 years the special name has been omitted, and the general form used as now. Many of the ancient Missals style it the prayer of St. Ambrose, we however, have no better evidence to attribute its formation to him.

[ocr errors]

The celebrant then having kissed the altar through respect, turns round to request the faithful to pray with him, saying Orate fratres, &c "Brethren pray," &c.-the answer to which is giv en in the name of the people by the attendant praying Suscipiat, &c. " May the Lord receive," &c. The celebrant pronounces only the first words in an audible voice; and repeats the remainder in a perfectly under tone, to teach the faithful that silent or internal prayer, together with meditation on the divine mysteries is what best befits the solemn occasion which now presents itself; and this invitation is given to rouse them from any distractions which might have occupied their thoughts, as well as to excite them to greater attention to the solemn mysteries and in order to cut off all occasion of distraction from the celebrant, no person is allowed to come so near as to be under his observation, except when it is necessary to attend him. Nor does he turn round towards the people from this moment un«


til after the conclusion of the Sacrifice; but as Moses held his hands lifted and apart in prayer upon the mountain, in order that Israel might overcome Amalec. He now holds them in the same manner whilst the faithful endeavour to overcome that enemy who impedes their progress to the true land of our inheritance: nor does he change them from this position except when any special act is to be done, which requires their use and on a few other occasions which shall be noticed.

The mode of invitation to prayer at this place, and its answer have varied very considerably, but the substance has always been the same. the Ancient Missals, the words which the priest In many of says now in a loud voice, viz. Orate fratres, is all that was marked, whilst others entered more fully into the explanation of the object of the prayer. In the Liturgy of St. Chrysostom, the celebrant and Deacon mutually said. scend upon you," and in the Liturgy of St. James, May the Holy Ghost dethe celebrant continued his prayer at the altar, and just before the preface the assistants prayed as in the Liturgy of St. Chrysostom. In others the celebrant gave the invitation, and the people prayed without giving a special answer; but the present order has been generally established in the Latin Church dur

ing 800 or 900 years.

[ocr errors]

The prayer exhibits the progress of charity and the communion of the faithful: after seeking the praise and glory of the Lord, we then desire our own benefit, and then that of the whole church; showing that we must first love God above all things, even above ourselves, then loving ourselves, and our brethren as ourselves for the love of God.

The celebrant then reads the prayer or prayers called the secret or secrets, the number of which Corresponds to the number of Collects. This prayer

* Exod. xvii.

has been differently called, sometimes Super oblata "over the oblations." This needs no explanation, for now the oblations were on the altar. This is found in the Sacramentary of St. Gregory, and in that of Pope St. Gelasius. They are more generally called Secreta or Secrets. Some authors say that this name was given because they were said in a low voice; however, we have seen all the prayers since the offertory, and find that with the exception of the preface, and the Lord's prayer, all the other prayers to the end of the Canon are said in a low voice. The compiler of this essay is therefore more inclined to the opinion of the great Bishop of Meaux* that this prayer was called Secreta, because it was said over the part of the offerings of the people, which was to be consecrated after the Secretio or separation had been made. This explanation appears the more natural as being at the same time founded upon a fact, and having the very same meaning as super oblata the other title of the prayer.

During the repetition of the secret prayers the celebrant is supposed to have so thoroughly imbibed the spirit of devotion, that he no longer can contain it within, and he therefore concludes them by repeating or singing the latter words per omnia Secula Seculorum, "World without end" aloud; the choir answers "Amen." The next salutation is that of Dominus vobiscum which has been already explained. Then Sursum Corda "Lift up your hearts" to which he is answered Habemus ad Dominum « We have lifted them up to the Lord." Then the celebrant says or sings, Gratias agamus Domino Des nostro, "Let us give thanks to the Lord our God." And is answered, Dignum et justum est. "It is meet and just," after which he says or sings the preface, which is so called, because it immediately precedes

the canon of the Mass.

*Bossuet Explicat De la Messe, parag. ü

Formerly, in some churches, immediately after the Orate fratres the Sanctuary was enclosed in curtains, and the celebrant was not seen, hence it was useless for him to turn towards the faithful in saluting them during the Canon, or immediately preceding it: but even where there where no curtains, as at present we have none, the solemn occupation of the celebrant prevents his turning round. The most ancient liturgies contain this invitation to lift up our hearts to the Lord, and it is so general through all the first writers and early documents, as to be evidently of Apostolic introduction. It is found in the constitutions by Clement Lib. 8. c. 17. St. Cyprian. fer. 6. de orat. Dom. Cyril of Jerusalem. Cat Myst 5. divers places in St. John Chrysostom and St. Augustine, &c. The invitation to give thanks to the Lord our God is equally ancient, and the preface is found in every Liturgy which has been


The Greeks have only one preface, but the Latins tival of the great mysteries or of any distinguished have had a vast number, almost every principal fesSaint, having a proper preface: but about the year 1050, they were reduced to ten, and all the others abolished. Those retained, are the same that were enumerated as fully sanctioned by the church, about to the Bishops of Germany and France. They are the year 580, by Pope Pelagius II, in his answer the common preface, and those of Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, the Trinity, the Apostles, and the Cross. Pope Urban II, in the year 1095, approved of that of the blessed Virgin in the Councils of Plaisance and Clermont. Though the decree be not found in the Acts of the Councils, it is quoted by Gratian 50 years after. Those form at present the body of prefaces of the

Roman Missal.

Nothing can be more

who aspires to a heavenly country, to lift up his

appropriate than for man


heart and seek for it. His thoughts and his desires should be in heaven, for where his treasure is, there also should his heart be; he desires to join with the angels in glory, then should he also join with them here below in praising their great Creator. And nothing can surely be more just, nor more necessary than that we who have received all things from his bounty, and who have so often experienced his mercy, should give him thanks therefor; but at no moment should our gratitude be more strong, nor our feelings more lively, than when we contemplate the son of God slain for our transgressions, and now expect him upon the altar to be under the sacra mental veils, at once our victim, and our sustenance.

Our praises are given to God, through our Lord Jesus Christ; and in giving them, we behold him, surrounded as it were by the whole heavenly court, from the most humble angel, to the most ardent seraph, who rapt in the fire of love, burns in extacy and blazes in glory near the throne. And they rest not day and night, saying HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, and giving glory and honour and benediction to him that sitteth on the throne. In the fervour of the moment, the celebrant invites his flock to join with them in the sacred canticle, and the choir and people unite in their jubilee of exultation.

In saying those words, Holy, &c. the celebrant joins his hands, and bows down his head, in humble adoration, whilst he repeats to the Lord God of Sabaoth, the heavens and the earth are full of his glory: Hosanna in the highest; blessed is he who cometh in the name of the Lord;" and he makes the sign of the cross, to exhibit the source of blessing to fallen man, and repeats "Hosanna in the highest."

This hymn is found in all the most ancient Liturgies.† St. Gregory of Nyssa, in his address to the Catechumens, urging them to accelerate their prepa

"Apoc. iv, 8. See Le Brun, part iv, parag. 4.

« PrécédentContinuer »