Images de page
PDF
ePub

St. Am

St.

ing out the hand upon which he was to receive his king, and how he should at the same time bow down in adoration before the sacred chalice. brose treating of that passage of the 98th Psalm, adore the footstool of his feet, says that it is the earth which is that footstool; from that earth the flesh of Christ originally came, "this" he says in the mysteries, and it was this which the apostles "we adore adored in the Lord Jesus, as we said above." Augustine mentions it in his explanation of that verse of the 21st Psalm, and all the rich ones of the people have eaten and adored, where he speaks of their coming to the Eucharist and eating that which they have adored; and again in his commentary on the 98th Psalm he explains the passage as St. Ambrose did, but much more fully and amongst other expressions he has the following No person eats that flesh unless he have first adored it." In the ancient work on the Ecclesiastical Hierarchy attributed to Denis the Areopagyte we find a prayer of adoration addressed to Christ in the sacrament, Origens in an address to the faithful about to communicate, tells them to humble themselves before their Lord as the homily to the people of Antioch, calls upon them to St. John Chrysostom in his 61st adore the sacrament, and to receive it. In his liturgy the Rubric states after the consecration, the priest, adores, then the deacon adores, and then the people adore, the deacon calling upon them to give their attention, the priest then makes the holy elevation.||

centurion did.

But this elevation, in the Greek church,was generhave it now, at the instant of consecration. The cereally made just before the communion, and not, as we mony, as described by the ancient books and rituals, was very striking. It has been before observed, that at the beginning of the Canon, the sanctuary was clo

* Lib. 3 de Spir. Sanc. Ep. 120 ad. Honor c. 27. Cap. 3, par. 3. § Hom. 5 in divers. De la Hogue.

Tract de Euch. p. 147.

sed, and curtains drawn round it; now the curtains were drawn aside, the gates flew open, and the cele brant presented the holy sacrament to the adoration of the faithful, before the communicants approached. In some places they knelt, in others they only bowed the head; and in some places a custom, even to this day, prevails, that soldiers only present their arms. St. John Chrysostom, in his 3d Homily to the people of Ephesus, says, that they should look upon the opening of the gates of the sanctuary as the opening of the gates of heaven; and with the eyes of faith to behold present Christ and his angels. And in his 61st, to the people of Antioch, "Behold the table of the King; angels are his attendants. The King is there; if your garments be clean, adore him, and receive the com munion." St. Germanus, of Constantinople, in the middle of the 8th century, states,* that the elevation of the adorable body represents the elevation on the cross, and also the resurrection from the dead; and that when with this holy sacrament the sign of the cross is thrice made over the patten, it is in ho nour of the Trinity.

It was the custom for the deacon then to call out immediately after the elevation,+ "Holy things for holy persons;" and the people answered, "There is but one holy, one Jesus Christ, who is in the glory of his Father." "This," says, Simon of Thessalonica, commenting on it, "is the fulfilment of that prophecy of St. Paul, that every knee shall bend at the name of Jesus, and every tongue confess, that the Lord Jesus is in the glory of the Father."

Amalarius mentions their remaining on their knees in adoration in the Latin church until the Lord's Prayer; just before which, formerly the only elevation of the host which was made took place.But after the errors of Berengarius, the piety of the

* Lib. 1. Rer. Eccl. + Euchol. Græc. p. 81.
Lib. 8. c. 22, & 23.

faithful introduced stronger evidence of their faith, and the first person who introduced the elevation, as it is now practised in the Latin church, immediately after the consecration, is thought to be Hildebert, Bishop of Mans, and subsequently, about the year 1130, Archbishop of Tours in France. Many religious orders, which existed early in the twelfth century, had the custom then; and that also of ringing the bell at the elevation. Yvo of Chartres, who died in 1115, complimend Maud, queen of England, for the present which she made to the church of our lady of Chartres, of bells to ring at the consecration; but the custom was not yet general, for it was only in 1215 that a general statute was made, by order of Citeaux, to have the bell rung during the consecration; in 1188, Eudes, bishop of Paris, ordered the host to be elevated at the consecration; and soon after, William, Bishop of Paris, made a statute to ring the bells. The custom was introduced into Germany in 1203, by Guy, the cardinal legate, and about the same period we have a statute of the bishop of Coventry, in England, upon the subject. Thus the custom was caused by the error of Berengarius, in order to evince by more precise external observances, the belief which was always held.

The true victim being now upon the altar, we have no longer bread and wine to contemplate, but the body and blood of Christ under their appearance; and we must keep this in mind in considering the prayers which follow. In the first prayer the celebrant makes the sign of the cross over the victim, when he calls it "a pure host, an holy host, an unspotted host, the holy bread of eternal life, and chalice of everlasting salvation." But it is no longer to bless them, for the Author of every blessing is there. The sign is made to remind us, first, that we have present the victim who immolated himself for us upon the cross; next that every blessing must be derived from that immolation, and then to com

memorate his death, and obtain its application to our souls. We here "his servants" at the altar, and "his holy people," who attend with devotion, thus fulfil the injunction of Christ, to do this in commemoration of him; for we commemorate the passion, resurrection, and ascension of our blessed Lord Jesus Christ, and "offer to his most excellent majesty this host, pure, holy, and unspotted, which has been now produced from those gifts and bounties which he has bestowed upon us."

The celebrant proceeds to entreat that the Lord would "vouchsafe to look with a propitious and serene countenance" upon our oblation, which now consists of the body and blood of Christ, and which must of its own nature be acceptable, and needs not our entreaty to gain favour in heaven; and ourselves and our prayers, which are not so perfect, and may therefore be objects of displeasure in his sight, in consequence of our crimes, and the imperfection of our acts, even when we undertake to do the work of the Holy Ghost. In the fear, therefore, which accompanies this doubt, we make the request, and to animate our hope, we call to mind some of our fellow-mortals, whose dispositions did render them ob jects of celestial favour. We hence are emboldened to ask that he would "accept" us and our offering, "as he was graciously pleased to accept the gifts of his just servant Abel," who by faith offered to God a sacrifice exceeding that of Cain, by which he obtain ed a testimony that he was just. "And the sacrifice of our Patriarch Abraham," who by faith, when he was tried, offered Isaac; and he that received the promises, offered up his only begotten son. (To whom it was said, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.) Accounting that God is able to raise up even from the dead. Whereupon also he received him for a parable. "And that which his high priest Melchisedech offered to him a holy sacrifice and unspotted victim."

Heb. xi. 4. + Ib xi. 17.

Here now the christian beholds himself united in faith and sacrifice with the venerable sages of antiquity, for Abel knew that redemption should be effected in blood,* and without the shedding of blood there is no remission; therefore he took not of the fruits of the earth, but of the firstlings of his flock, and offered his sacrifice in the hope of future atonement, and only through the merits of Christ, the shedding of whose blood was figured therein, was it acceptable. Abraham who had learned mysteries in the land of vision, darted his eye through the shadowy vista of ages, Rejoicing that he might see the day of the Saviour: he saw it and was glad. His paternal heart yearned within him, when after the holocaust, he embraced the living Isaac upon the mountain; Isaac, his dearly beloved, who carried upon his back, the wood upon which he was to be immolated, and yet lived after the oblation; and whilst the tear of gratitude and devotion swelled in the eye, or moistened the furrow of his aged cheek, the venerable father of the faithful could scarcely repress his feelings at beholding the figure of Christ immolated and living, sacrificed and not consumed. Melchisedech was king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed kim, king of justice, and king of peace, without father, without mother, without genealogy; having neither beginning of days nor end of life; but likened unto the Son of God continueth a priest for ever, greater than Abraham. (Of Melchisedech St. Paul had much to say, and hard to be intelligibly uttered, because they to whom he wrote had become weak to hear. This Melchisedech offered sacrifice in bread and wine. Here then we have the atonement by blood, in Abel, the victim immolated and living in Isaac; and under

*Heb. ix, 22.
+ John viii. 56.
sim.

Heb. v. 4.

Heb. vii. pas

« PrécédentContinuer »