صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

here below, at one Altar; but the unity of the Sacrifice, which was every where offered was, like the unity of the Church herself, expressed by the mutual transmission, between the various Bishops, of the sacred species that had been consecrated by them; and these, each one put into the chalice from which they received the precious Blood. St. Ireneus,1 who lived in the 2nd Century, tells us that the supreme Hierarch, the Pontiff of Rome, used to send these sacred gifts, not only to Churches in the West, but even into Asia, as emblems of the unity existing between the Churches there, and the Church, the Mistress and Mother of all others. So, too, when the number of the Faithful became so great as to induce the Church to allow individual Priests to celebrate alone the holy Mysteries, the Priests of the town where a Bishop resided, never thought of exercising this isolated function, until they had received, from the Bishop, a fragment of the bread he had consecrated, and which they mingled with their own Sacrifice. It was the fermentum, the sacred leaven of catholic Communion.

As an appropriate conclusion to the above subject, we append the following beautiful liturgical formula, taken from the Apostolic Constitutions? a writing, which, as we now have it in its entirety, has been admitted by critics as a work of the 3rd Century.

THANKSGIVING FOR THE MYSTERIES.

We give thanks unto thee, O Gratias agimus tibi, Pater

Father, for the life thou hast noster, pro vita quam

manifested unto us by thy Son manifestasti nobis per Je

Jesus; by whom, thou hast sum Filiumtuum; per quem

both created all things, and turn. omnia creasti, tum

providest for all; whom thou universis provides; quem

1 Ap. Euseb. Sut. Eccles. lib. v. cap. 14. z Lib. vii. cap. 25.

et misisti, ut ad salutem nostram homo fieret; quem etiam permisisti pati et mori; quem et resuscitans glorificare voluisti, et sedere fecisti ad dexteram tuam; per quem et promisisti nobis resurrectionem mortuorum.

Tu, Domine omnipotens, Deus seterne : quemadmodum hoc erat dispersum, et quum fuit congregatum, faetus est unus panis, ita congrega Ecclesiam tuam a finibus terrse in regnum tuum.

Adhuo gratias agimus, Pater noster, pro pretioso sanguine Jesu Christi effuso nostra causa; et pro pretioso corpore : cujus et hsec antitypa celebramus, quum ipse nobis constituent mortem illius annuntiare : per ipsum enim tibi gloria in ssecula.

Amen.

also sendedst, that, for our salvation, he might be made Man; whom thou also perB|ittedst to suffer and to die; whom also, raising him up again, thou willedst to glorify, and niadest him to sit at thy right hand; by whom also thou didst promise us the resurrection of the'dead.

O almighty Lord, eternal God! as this (element), which was once disunited, being united, hath become one Bread, so do thou assemble together thy Church, from the ends of the earth, into thy kingdom.

We also give thanks to thee, our Father, for the precious Blood of Jesus Christ, which was shed for our sake; and for his precious Body; ofwhich we are now celebrating the antitypes (the Mysteries); for he himself did appoint that we should announce his death; for, by him, is glory (given) to thee for ever.

Amen.

WEDNESDAY

AFTER TRINITY SUNDAY.

"we have not, as yet, reached the Feast of the divine Memorial; not until the morrow, shall we have it in all its splendour. But, this evening, at first Vespers, the Church will begin her acclamations to the Eternal Priest; and, although the Sovereign Pontiffs have not ordained that a Vigil, properly so called, shall precede the Feast of Corpus Christi, yet have they granted indulgences1 to a voluntary fast practised on this its eve. Let us now resume the history of the Church's worship of the great mystery. We have already seen how the unity of the Church is based upon the Eucharist. Our Lord Jesus Christ, in that Sacrament, is the corner-stone, upon which rises, in the harmony of its several parts, the temple of living stones, built to the glory of God.2 Jesus is the High Priest, ordained for men, himself being Man,3 that he may present to God the homage of his Brethren, by offering to his and their Father, a Sacrifice in the name of all. And, although this homage of regenerate mankind,—this Sacrifice, which is the highest expression of that homage,—owes its whole worth to the infinite dignity of him who is the Head of the Church,—yet, the Sacrifice is only complete, when there is the union of the Members with the Head. The Head must have the Body. The Church is, as the Apostle tells us, the fulness, the completion, of Him who is filed in all j1 the Church perfects the Sacrifice, as an integral portion of the Victim who is offered upon the Altar. What is true of the Church, is true, likewise, of each one of us, who are Members of Christ; and we are really his Members, provided we be united, in the great Action of the Sacrifice, by that intimate union which makes one Body of many Members.

1 Two hundred days, for the fast, or for any other good work substituted for the same, at the discretion of the Confessor. 8 Eph. ii. 21. 3 Heb. v. 1.

Herein consists tbe social influence of the Eucharist. The human family had been broken up by sin; it . regains its lost unity by the Blood of the Lamb; and the original intention, which God had in creating the world, is fulfilled. After all other beings, there came forth, out of nothing, the creature man; he was to give a voice of praise to the whole of creation; for, his own twofold nature, material and spiritual, made him the compendium of all other creatures. When he was restored by redemption, he regained his position in the glorious choir of beings. The Eucharist, the Thanksgiving, the praise by excellence, is the sweet produce of the human race. The Eucharist,— that grand hymn of divine Wisdom sung to the King of ages,—ascends from this earth of ours, blending the two harmonies into one: the ineffable harmony of the eternal Canticle,—that is, the Word in the Father's bosom,—and the harmony of the new Canticle, which is repeated by the choir of creatures, to the glory of their Creator.

The Ages of Faith lived on this grand truth; they thoroughly understood the priceless worth of the gift bestowed by the Man-God upon his Church. Appreciating the honour thence accruing to our earth, they felt themselves bound to respond to it, in the name of all creatures, by giving to the celebration of the sacred Mystery everything that ritual could impart of grandeur and solemnity. The Liturgy, for the Christians of those times, was exactly what is implied by the word: it was the public function, the social act, by excellence; and, as such, it claimed every sort of external pomp; and the presence of the whole people round the Altar was looked upon as a matter of course. As to the lawfulness of what are called Private Masses, it would be easy to prove, by most authentic facts of history, that what the Catholic Church teaches regarding them, was her teaching from the very commencement; and yet, practically, and as a general rule, the richness of ceremonial, the enthusiasm of sacred chant, the magnificence of sacred rites, were, for a long period, regarded as inseparable from the offering up of the Holy Sacrifice.

1 Eph. i. 22, 23.

The solemnities of divine service as celebrated in any Catholic Cathedral, on the greatest Feast in the Year, is but a feeble image of the magnificent forms of the ancient Liturgies, such as we described them yesterday. The Church herself, whose desires for what is most perfect never vary, ever evinces a marked predilection for the remnants she has been able to keep up of her ancient forms of worship; but, as far as the generality of her people is concerned, there can be no doubt of the existence of a growing feeling of indifference for the external pomp wherewith the holy Sacrifice is so deservedly accompanied; whatever demonstrations of Christian piety still exist, are directed elsewhere. The cultas of the divine presence in the Eucharist as developed in these our own times, is certainly a blow to the heresy which denies that Presence; it is, too, a joy to every Catholic who loves God; but, care must be taken, le9t a movement, which is so profitable to individual souls, and so redounding to the glory of the holy Sacrament, should be turned, by the craft of the enemy, against the Eucharist itself. Now, this might easily be the

« السابقةمتابعة »