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which includes the Pater-noster, the Communion itself, and the ablutions.
VI. The public thanksgiving after Communion, from the prayer called the Communion to the end.
At the beginning of the Mass, the Priest, having placed the chalice and paten on the altar, covered with the pall, and having prepared the book, returns to the foot of the altarsteps, and standing there repeats alternately with the clerks the 42d Psalm, Judica me, Deus, &c. (Judge me, O God, &c.). You may either repeat this Psalm with him, or use any other prayer, by way of general preparation for the service.
Then follows the Confiteor, or general confession, which is made as in the presence of God and the whole court of heaven, by the Priest and people alternately, with mutual prayers for the pardon and forgiveness of their sins. The Priest then alone prays for pardon and absolution ; and he and all the people sign themselves with the sign of the cross, from the forehead to the breast. You may either repeat the Confiteor, or make use of any other form of confession of your sins.
After the Confiteor, a few versicles are read by the Priest and clerks. And then the Priest ascends the steps to the altar, which he kisses, saying meanwhile the prayers Aufer a nobis, &c. (Take away from us, &c. &c.), and Oramus te, Domine (We beseech Thee, O Lord). You may say with him these simple and beautiful prayers.
Then he goes to the side of the altar on his right hand, on which the book is placed, and which is called the Epistle side, and reads the Introit, which consists of one or two verses from the Psalms, or other part of Scripture, expressive of humility or confidence, prayer or praise, which is one of the notes of the appropriate feeling for the service of the day. You may either join in this, or use a similar prayer of your own. After the Introit, the Priest returns to the middle of the altar, repeating alternately with the clerks the Kyrie eleison, which are short and earnest cries for mercy to each Person of the Blessed Trinity,—than which nothing can be more affecting, or appropriate for all.
Then he says the Gloria in excelsis, which is a hymn of praise to God, than which none more simple or sublime can be found. You should therefore join in this with all the affection of your heart. At High Mass, after the Priest has said the Gloria, the choir sings it, and the service pauses until
it is concluded, during which time the Priest and congregation remain in devout contemplation. In Masses for the dead, and during the penitential seasons of Advent and Lent, this joyful hymn is not said or sung, except on high festivals occurring within those seasons.
After the Gloria, the Priest salutes the people with Domi. nus vobiscum (The Lord be with you); and they answer, Et cum spiritu tuo (And with thy spirit).
Then he goes to the book and reads the Collect or Collects for the day, concluding the first and last with Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum, &c. (Through Jesus Christ our Lord). The Collects are short prayers for some special grace or blessing for the Church, appropriate to the season or day. You should join in these if possible, or at least unite your intention with that of the Priest by saying a fervent Amen.
After this follows the Epistle, which (as well as the Gospel) is a short portion of Seripture, selected by the Church for meditation and instruction, and adapted to the seasons and days. These generally harmonise with the Introit and Offertory, and form the most important parts of the variable portions of the Mass. If we cannot follow them, we must endeavour to make some suitable meditation or prayer while they are being read.
At the close of the Epistle, the book is removed to the other side of the altar, which is called the Gospel side; the Priest meantime saying the Gradual at the middle of the altar. The Gradual consists of some verses of Scripture, which vary to suit the seasons and service. They are so called because they used to be said on the steps of the pulpits. On four occasions, after the Gradual, is said a hymn, which is called a Sequence, or Prose ; viz. at Easter, Pentecost, Corpus Christi, and in Masses for the dead.
At the reading of the Gospel, all stand up in token of reverence for the word of Christ, and to express a readiness to obey his commands. The Priest, having first saluted the people with Dominus vobiscum, makes the sign of the cross with his thumb on the Gospel, saying, Initium vel sequentia, &c. (The beginning, or continuation of the Gospel according to, &c.), and then signs himself on the forehead, lips, and breast, the people all doing the same. This signifies the desire of all to profess the Gospel openly, to confess it by word of mouth, and to keep it in their hearts; and the clerk says, Gloria tibi, Domine (Glory be to Thee, O Lord). The Gospel being
finished, the clerk says, Laus tibi, Christe (Praise be to Thee, O Christ).
After the Gospel, usually follows the sermon, when there is one, but sometimes it is deferred until Mass is finished. The proper time is after the Gospel; and the sermon is frequently on some subject taken from or connected with the Gospel or Epistle of the day. When the sermon is finished, the Priest returns to the middle of the altar, and, all the people standing up, says the Nicene Creed. This is a solemn profession of our faith, and cannot be said too often, or meditated upon too much. At the words, Homo factus est (Was made man), all kneel down in reverence of the Incarnation ; and the head is bowed at the sacred Name of Jesus, both here and at other times when it is solemnly mentioned. At High Mass, the Priests sit and the service pauses while the choir sings the Credo, during which time we may meditate on some of its mysteries, appropriate to the season.
Here ends the introductory part of the Mass; the mind having been prepared, by these various acts of confession, praise, instruction, and profession of faith, for the more solemn part of the service which is to follow, viz. the Sacrifice, Previous, however, to the Canon or main action of the Mass, the sacrifice itself, comes the solemn oblation and blessing of the matter of the sacrifice, the bread and the wine. This part of the service begins with
The Offertory, which is a verse or sentence of Scripture, varying with the season or day. It was called the Offertory because it was the custom for the people to offer at this time bread and wine for the sacrifice. Afterwards the offering was made in money, collected from the people, which is still done, or ought to be done. There can be no more appropriate time to make offerings of our substance to God for the Church and for the poor, than when about to commemorate his love in offering himself a sacrifice upon the cross for us. Having said the Offertory, the Priest spreads upon the altar the cloth called the corporal, so called because it touches the body (corpus) of our Lord. He then takes the paten (from patena, a plate), with the Host (from hostia, a victim, because it is to become the body of Him who was offered as a victim for us) upon it, he elevates it in both his hands, and offers it to God, saying the prayer, Suscipe, sancte Pater (Receive, O holy Father). Having said this prayer, he takes the chalice and goes to the Epistle side of the altar, where the clerk waits with
wine and water. He first pours the wine into the chalice, and then takes a small quantity of water in a spoon, which he mixes with the wine, having first made the sign of the cross over the water, and saying the prayer, Deus, qui humanæ subatantie (O God, who in creating human nature, &c.). Water is mixed with the wine, from a tradition that our blessed Lord used wine mixed with water at the Last Supper; and also to typify the water which flowed with the blood from our Lord's pierced side.
Then returning to the middle of the altar, he elevates and offers up the wine, saying the prayer, Offerimus tibi, Domine (We offer unto thee, O Lord, &c.). Then bowing down, he prays that the sacrifice about to be offered may be acceptable to the Lord.
The matter of the sacrifice is now prepared and dedicated to God; but as a further act of preparation, and to shew the extreme purity with which the sacrifice ought to be approached, the Priest goes again to the Epistle side of the altar, and being supplied with water by the clerk, washes and wipes the tips of his fingers, saying the psalm, Lavabo inter innocentes (I will wash my hands, &c.).
Then returning again to the middle of the altar, he bows down and says the prayer, Suscipe, sancta Trinitas (Receive, O holy Trinity), praying the holy Trinity to accept the sacrifice in remembrance of the passion of Christ, and in honour of the saints. And then turning to the people, he begs them to pray for the same end, which they do in the prayer that follows.
Then turning to the book, he reads the Secreta. It is so called because said secretly, that is, inaudibly, by the Priest. It is a short prayer, corresponding to the Collect for the day, At the end of it he says aloud, Per omnia sæcula seculorum (World without end); and then Sursum corda and the other versicles which follow, concluding with the Preface. The Preface is so called because it is the immediate introduction to the Canon, or most holy part of the Mass. It is a very ancient and most beautiful hymn, concluding with the Sanctus, or Holy, holy, holy, which is called the seraphic hymn. When the Priest commences the Sanctus, he lowers his voice and bows down profoundly, and the bell is rung, to summon all to increased attention and solemnity of feeling, as the time approaches for the awful sacrifice. Join in the hymn, and prepare yourself, with all humility and intensity of devotion, for what is to follow in the next part of the Mass, which is THE CANON.
The Canon means the rule or order which must be followed in offering the sacrifice, and which cannot be changed. It commences by calling upon God to bless and sanctify the gifts offered to Him in sacrifice on behalf of the Church, and of all the faithful, and for persons in particular.
Both here and in the preceding Offertory prayers, the mystical sacrifice of the altar is anticipated, and considered in some sense to commence from the time of the offering of the bread and wine; and they are therefore called that which they are presently to become, the “ immaculate host,” the “ chalice of salvation,” the “unspotted sacrifice.”
After having prayed in particular for those he wishes to pray for, and for the congregation present, he mentions the names of the blessed Virgin Mary, the twelve apostles, and of twelve celebrated martyrs of Rome, in token of our communion with the saints in heaven, for their honour, and for obtaining their intercession. Our devotions at this time should consist in uniting our intention with that of the Priest, and praying for all whom we wish to remember before God. At the prayer, Hanc igitur (We therefore beseech thee, &c.), the Priest spreads his hands over the oblation, and the bell rings again, because it is the beginning of the consecration prayers, and the bread and wine will now in a few moments become the body and blood of Christ. At this time the most profound stillness is observed, while the Priest repeats the words of Christ at the Last Supper, which is the act of consecration and the moment of transubstantiation. After having consecrated each kind, he kneels, adores, and then elevates it, and the bell is rung thrice at each elevation. Our devotion at this time should be that of the most profound adoration, in body and soul, of the most awful and august presence of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, under the sacramental veils. No words are necessary here; but if words be needed, the Ave verum corpus (Hail, true body, &c.), or Adoro te devote, &c. (I adore thee devoutly, 0 hidden Deity, &c.) may be said.
After the consecration, the Priest says three short prayers : the first, offering again to God that pure and holy Host, or victim, who is now truly on the altar; the second, beseeching Him to accept it, as He was pleased to accept the ancient sacrifices of Abel, Abraham, and Melchisedech, which were all typical of this ; and the third, that this sacrifice on the altar