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“that besmear my face, by dragging the Body and " Blood of my Spouse into the great uncleanness of “the impurity of their living, and the great filth of “ their fornications and adulteries; and by buying and 6. selling holy things, defiling them, as a child would “.be, were he put down in mire before swine. ... “ The wounds of Christ my Spouse are contami“nated.' ... Princes and a headlong people will “rush upon you, O Priests! They will cast you “ furth, and put you to flight, and will take your “ riches away from you. ... They will say: “ Let us cast out from the Church these adulterers, “and extortioners, and men that are full of all ". wickedness!' And in doing this, they will have “it, that they do a service unto God, because they 6 say, that it is by you that the Church is de"fied. :.. . By God's permission, many nations 6. will i, in to rage against you in their judgments, “ and movy people will devise vain things concern“ing you, for they will count as nought your priestly “ office and your consecration. Kings of the earth “will assist these in your overthrow, and they will “thirst after the earthly things (you possess); and " the Princes in whose dominions you live, shall make “a convention in this one plan,—that they may drive “you out of their territories, because you, by your “most wicked deeds, have driven away the innocent “ Lamb from your midst. And I heard a voice from “heaven, saying: “This image is the Church !"
What a fearful description of the evils brought upon the Church in the 12th Century! What a prophecy of its far off results! These miseries were in keeping with the way in which the august Mystery of the Altar was treated. It has always been so. The disorders of the sanctuary necessarily brought about relaxation in the people. They grew wearied
of receiving the heavenly food from hands that were, but too often, unworthy ones. The guests at the banquet of divine Wisdom became rare, so rare, indeed, that, in the year 1215, a General Council, the 4th of Lateran, passed the well-known law, which obliges, under the severest penalties, the Faithful of both sexes to receive Communion at least once in the Year. The evil became so great, that the legislation of Councils and the genius of Innocent the Third, the last of the great Popes of the Middle Ages, would not have sufficed to arrest it, had not God given to his Church the two Saints, Dominic and Francis : they reclaimed the Priesthood, and, for a time, brought back the people to the practice of Christian piety. But, the ancient forms of the Liturgy had perished during the interval of the crisis.
The oblation in common, which supposed that all communicated in the divine Victim, had given place to private foundations, and to honoraries or stipendium; in themselves, they were quite lawful, but they had been so considerably increased by the introduction of the mendicant Orders, that a change in the Liturgy was the consequence, Private Masses, for special intentions, were multiplied, in order to satisfy obligations which had been contracted with individual donors; and, by a necessary consequence, the imposing rite of concelebration, maintained in Rome till the 13th Century, entirely disappeared in the Western Church. The Sacrifice of the Mass was no longer brought before the Faithful with the majestic ceremonial which, in former times, had secured to it a preponderance over the whole religion and life of the Christian people. The holy Eucharist soon began to be given out of the time of Mass, and for reasons which were not always serious ones. More than one scholastic theologian encouraged the practice. If this scholastic had not true learning on his side, he had his sharp definitions and categorical divisions ;
posing 1113th Century Sacrifice of the the majestic
and Communion seemed to become, in the minds of some men, a something distinct by itself in the institution of the Eucharist. This was a forerunner of what we so often find practised in our own times :-Communions made isolatedly and furtively on principle, that is, in accordance with an ideal of spirituality, which has a dread of a crowd, and a repugnance to the excitement of the Church's ceremonies !
The notion, then, of the Sacrifice, which includes the chief motive of the Presence of the Incarnate Word in the Eucharist, was no longer brought before the people with the emphatic pre-eminence of former ages. As a counter result of this, the truth of this Presence of our God, under the eucharistic species, gained an ascendancy over the soul in a more exclusive, and, therefore, in a more impressive and direct way. It was at this period, that, out of a spirit of holy fear, and from a feeling of respect, a feeling which can never be too great, -several ancient usages began to be discontinued. Usages which were established, at first, with a view the better to realise or express the application of the Sacrifice, were afterwards suppressed, as exposing the sacred species to involuntary irreverence. It was thus that the custom of giving the chalice to the laity, and communion to infants, fell into desuetude.
An immense ritual change then was brought about. The Church accepted it, although she was aware of its being, in more than one point, a degeneracy as compared with former ages. The time had come, when the grand social forms of the Liturgy, requiring, as they did, the strong union of Christian nations for the basis, would be but unrealities. The jealous mistrust of States against the Church, —that is, against the power which was the sole bond of mutual union between the several nations,—was ever on the increase, and only waited for an occasion to break
out into open hostility. Diplomacy became a system of rupture between one country and another, just as the Church had been the framer and maintainer of their union.
If the evil from within was thus great, still greater were the dangers to which the Faithful were exposed by the onslaughts of heresy. And yet, it is precisely in such a time as this, that is most manifested the superhuman prudence of the Church. In defence of that which is the essential element of her existence here below,-in defence, that is of Faith,—she formed a rampart out of the very ruins caused by the liturgical revolution she had been compelled to accept; she sanctioned with her authority what was worthy of sanction, and thereby controlled the movement. She took advantage of the increase of devotion to the Real Presence, which the movement had excited; she gave a fresh direction to her Liturgy, by substituting à ceaseless expression of the dogma, for the less precise, though not less complete, and far grander, forms of the earlier period. It was a reply to heresy, all the stronger, because of its being more direct. We have already seen how, in consequence of the covert attacks of false doctrine, there was an evident reason felt, in the 13th Century, for instituting a special Feast in honour of the Eucharist, as the Mystery of Faith. That reason became sheer necessity, at the approach, foreseen by God alone, of the bold triumph of the sacramentarian heresy. It was necessary to forestall the attack; and, by so doing, to render the coming assault less hurtful to the christian world, and less injurious to that Lord, who is present in the Sacrament of his love. The means for efficaciously realising these two ends was, the development of exterior devotion to the Real Presence; the Church would thus proclaim her unshaken faith in the dogma, and the adorable Sacra
ment would receive, by the renewed fervour of faithful souls, a compensation for the indifference and insults of others.
Established throughout the world by the authority of the Roman Pontiffs, the Feast of Corpus Christi was, therefore, both in itself and in its developments, as we were observing yesterday, the commencement of a new phase in the Catholic worship of the holy Eucharist. Once the Feast was instituted, there followed Processions, Benedictions, Forty-Hours, Expositions, Watchings in adoration ; each of which was an additional affirmation of the Church's belief in the Real Presence; the piety of her children was re-enkindled; and to that Lord who, for our sakes, dwells under the sacramental species, there was offered that tribute of homage which is so justly his due.
O Holy Church, our Mother, thou Bride of the Son of God, those times are past when thou couldst produce on this earth, a likeness to the heavenly Jerusalem. Free to follow the inspirations of thy heart as Bride, our ancestors witnessed thy arranging the great Sacrifice with the gorgeous ceremonial, which gave them an insight into the grandeurs of the mystery they saw thus celebrated. That royal magnificence of ritual would be too much for such times as these we live in. The nations of the earth have let themselves be misled : for the glory they once enjoyed, when thou gavest them unity with each other through the unity of the sacred Mysteries, is now exchanged for the dishonour and misery of alliance with the old enemy. Whilst thou, with nothing to fear, and strong in the consciousness of thy rights and thy influence for good, wast beautifying, in peace, the garden of thy Spouse; whilst thou wast rejoicing in the sweet fragrance of that garden, and in the fruits of the mystic vine ; a strange noise was