« ElőzőTovább »
nstructions for Hearing Mass.
WHAT THE MASS IS, AND FOR WHAT END IT IS TO BE
From the beginning of the world the servants of God were always accustomed to offer sacrifice to Him, by way of acknowledging his sovereignty, and paying their homage to Him; and in all ancient religions, true or false, this worship of sacrifice was always looked upon as a most solemn act of religion, due to the Deity which was worshipped.
In the law of nature, and in the law of Moses, there was a great variety of sacrifices : some bloody, in which the victim was slain ; others unbloody. Some were called holocausts, or whole burnt-offerings, in which the whole host or victim was consumed in fire upon God's altar, for his honour and glory; others were called sin-offerings, which were offered for sins; others were offerings of thanksgivings; others were pacific or peace-offerings, which were offered for obtaining favours of God, — the word 'peace' in the Scripture style signifying all manner of good and prosperity.
All these sacrifices of the law of nature, and of the law of Moses, were of themselves but weak and needy elements, and only figures of a sacrifice to come, viz. that of Jesus Christ : in consideration of which sacrifice only, and of the faith of the offerers, by which they believed in the Redeemer to come, those ancient sacrifices were then accepted by the divine Majesty, when they were accompanied with the inward sacrifice of the heart : but not for any intrinsic worth or dignity of the things offered; for no other blood but the blood of Christ could wash away sins. Hence, in the 39th Psalm, spoken in the person of Christ to his father, — we read : • Sacrifice and oblation Thou didst not desire, but a body
Thou hast prepared for me” (so St. Paul reads it, Heb. x.5). “ Burnt-offering and sin-offering Thou didst not require ; then said I, Behold, I come.” All which gives us to understand, that by reason of the insufficiency of the sacrifices of the old law, Christ himself would come to be our sacrifice, and would offer up his own body and blood for us.
Accordingly our Saviour Jesus Christ, at the time appointed by his Father, having taken flesh for us, was pleased to offer himself a sacrifice for us, dying upon the cross for the sins of the whole world. By this one offering we were completely redeemed, inasmuch as our ransom was paid, and all mercy, grace, and salvation, were purchased for us. Neither can there now be any need of his dying any more, or purchasing any other graces for us than those for which He has already paid the price of his blood.
Nevertheless, for the daily application of this one eternal redemption to our souls, and that the mercy, grace, and salvation which He has purchased for us may be actually communicated to us; He not only continually appears in our behalf in the sanctuary of heaven, there representing and offering to his Father his death and passion for us; but has also instituted the blessed Eucharist, the night before his passion, in which He has bequeathed us his body and blood, under the sacramental veils, not only to be received by us as a sacrament, for the food and nourishment of our souls, but also to be offered and presented by his ministers to his Father (mystically broken and shed) as a sacrifice: not by way of a new death, but by way of a standing memorial of his death ; a daily celebrating and representing his death to God, and an applying to our souls the fruits of it.
This eucharistic sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ, daily offered under the forms of bread and wine, in remembrance of his passion, is what we call the Mass. This is the solemn liturgy of the Catholic Church. This is that pure offering which is made to God in every place among the Gentiles, according to the prophecy of Malachi (i. 10, 11). By this Christ is a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech (Psal. cix.), whose sacrifice was bread and wine (Gen. xv.).
This sacrifice of the Mass is the same in substance with that which Christ offered for us upon the cross; because both the victim offered, and the priest, or principal offerer, is the same Jesus Christ. The difference is only in the manner of
the offering; because upon the cross our Saviour offered himself in such a manner, as really to shed his blood, and die for us; whereas now He does not really shed his blood, nor die any more. And therefore this is called an unbloody sacrifice; and that of the cross a bloody sacrifice.
By reason of this near alliance which this sacrifice of the Mass has with the sacrifice of the cross, it completely answers all the different ends of sacrifice, and that in a manner infinitely more perfect than any of the ancient sacrifices. Christ is here both priest and victim, representing in person, and offering up his death and passion to his Father.
This sacrifice of the Mass is offered up to God, in the Catholic Church, first, as a daily remembrance of the passion of Christ : “Do this for a commemoration of me" (S. Luke xxii.). Secondly, as a most solemn worship of the divine Majesty. Thirdly, as a most acceptable thanksgiving to God; from whence it has the name of Eucharist. Fourthly, as a most powerful means to move God to shew mercy to us in the forgiveness of our sins ; for which reason we call it propitiatory. And, lastly, as a most effectual way to obtain of God all that we want, coming to Him, as we here do, with Christ and through Christ.
For these ends, both priest and people ought to offer up the sacrifice of the Mass : the priest, as Christ's minister, and in his person; and the people, by the hands of the priest; and both the one and the other, by the hands of the great High Priest Jesus Christ. And with this offering of Christ's, both the one and the other ought to make a total offering of themselves also by his hands, and in union with him.
ON THE MANNER OF HEARING OR ASSISTING AT MASS. THERE are various methods of profitably hearing or assisting at Mass. One method is, to follow the Priest in the Ordinary of the Mass as contained in the Missal ; joining with him, as far as the laity may, in the very words of the service, and uniting our intention with him in what he does as Priest for the people. To enable all persons, even those who do not understand Latin, to follow the service, translations of the Ordinary and Canon of the Mass have been made into almost all languages, and circulated by authority. Another method of assisting at Mass is to accompany the Priest through the different parts of the service with appropriate devotions, similar to those he is using, and directed to the same general ends, uniting our intention with his, but not using or not confining ourselves to the words of the Ordinary. A form of devotion for this purpose, compiled from the most common and approved methods, is given in the present volume. A third method is to apply the service to the purpose of meditation on the life or passion of our Lord, or on any other subject. A specimen of such meditation has also been given.
With a view, however, to assist at Mass profitably in any of these ways, it is necessary that we should make ourselves well acquainted with the nature and scope of this most sublime of all services. We should make ourselves familiar with it in all its parts,—with the ceremonies and movements which indicate them, and the devotions appropriate for each. For this purpose, we cannot do better than study with attention the service itself, with the rubrics which direct and in some degree explain the ceremonies. For this purpose, in the present edition of the Ordinary of the Mass, the rubrical directions have been given very fully.
It will add very greatly to our interest in the Mass, as well as to the profit to be derived from it, if we endeavour, as much as possible, to enter into the special character and bearing of the service as it is applied by the Church to the different seasons or days of the year. By means of the variable parts of the service,—the Introit, the Collect, the Epistle and Gospel, the Offertory, the Secreta, the Communion and Post-Communion,—the greatest possible variety, and the most touching effect, is given to the service for different seasons and days; and they who do not avail themselves of it, lose a very great advantage and an exquisite pleasure. It is manifest that very different feelings should predominate in our minds, and very different ideas be present to them, at Lent and Easter, Advent and Whitsuntide. The Church, by means of the variable parts of the service, directs the mind to the proper subject of contemplation, and throws a wonderful light upon it by its quotations and adaptations of Scripture. All, therefore, who have leisure and opportunity should study beforehand the service for the day, and thus prepare themselves for joining intelligently, and with the greatest profit, in the public Mass.
For the same purpose also (not to mention here its other great advantages), we should endeavour to make ourselves acquainted with the history of those saints whose names are in the calendar, and who are commemorated at Mass on the days of their festival. The service on these days holds up these saints as examples for our imitation : we should therefore acquaint ourselves with their characters, the trials through which they passed, the good works they performed, and the virtues for which they were most remarkable.
It may be useful to give here a short sketch of the Mass service, and explanation of its different parts, as an introduction to the study of larger works, and for the sake of those who may not have time or opportunity for more extensive reading. *
A BRIEF EXPLANATION OF THE MASS.
The Mass may be divided into six parts.
I. The general preparation which is made at the foot of the altar, before the Priest ascends the steps, by the general confession of Priest and people.
II. Another and more particular preparation for the sacrifice, by acts of praise, faith, and instruction. This part begins at the Introit, and includes the Epistle, Gospel, and Creed.
III. The preparation and sanctification of the bread and wine for the use of the sacrifice. This part includes from the Offertory to the Preface or Canon.
IV. The Canon of the Mass, or main action of the sacrifice ; including all from the Preface to the beginning of the Lord's Prayer.
V. The Communion, or sacramental part of the Mass,
* Mr. Oakeley's new work, " The Office and Ceremonies of the Mass explained,” will be found very useful. There are also others by Glover, Challoner, &c.