« ZurückWeiter »
suffered Abraham and his family to participate the sacria fice, so did Jesus Christ, says St. Cyprian ep 63 ad Cecilian, who is a Priest of the high God, offer sacrifice in bread and wine, i. e. his own body and blood, and distribute it to his own, the night before he went to suffer. Knowing, as S. John declares, c. xiii. that his hour was come, that he should pass out of this world to his Father, who had given him all things into his hands, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. And certainly nothing less than infinite power and infinite love were requisite to change bread and wine into his own body and blood, and thus by anticipation to shed his blood mystically before his death, as we read in the greek text: This is my body which is given for you.
This is the chalice of the new testament in my lilood which is shed for you. Thus did he exercise his sacerdotal powers, which he did not take to himself, says St. Paul, Heb. v. 5, but received of his Father, to be a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedeck, and as his priesthood is eternal, he will continue for ever to offer this sacrifice and will have no successor. He will ever remain on our altars the Priest and the Victim, the offerer and the thing offered. But, that this sacrifice may be visible, he established the apostles and their successors for bis ministers, to whom he gave the
power of doing what himself had just done : do this for a commemorntion of me. They have done it, and will continue to do it in his name throughout the world, and to shew that this sacrifice is never to end, we are commanded to participate it, and thus to shew the death of the Lord until he come.-The faithful should be taught that Jesus Christ in separately changing the bread into his body, and the wine into his blood, represents his blood as mystically spilled for us, and that he as really offers up his body in the mass, together with his Church, to his eternal Father, as he did on the altar of the cross. It is the same high Priest, the same God, the same victim, the same sacrifice, the only difference is in the manner of offering. On mount Calvary Christ was only offered; on our altars, he is both offered and received. We have an altar, whereof they have no power to eat, who serve the Jewish tabernacle. Heb. 13. 10. He also offers himself in the mass like at his resurrection, because he offers his body in its immortal
and glorified state; and like at his ascension, because he ascends from our altars on earth, to the sublime altar in heaven, where he for ever sitteth on the right hand of God. Heb. 10. 12. Here then we have the reunion of all the different mysteries, and continuation of Christ's sacrifice on the cross, and what David with his prophetic spirit long before celebrated ps. 110. 4, in giving food to them that fear him, he hath made a remembrance of his wonderful works.
Religion can present nothing so excellent to her clie ents as the Blessed Eucharist. The virtue.of all her other sacraments are a preparation for this, says St. Thomas, 3. p. q. 73, art. 3. The faithful find in this holy table the perfection and consummation of a spiritual life, as they feed upon God himself. It may be said that the sacrifice of the mass changes our temples into heaven. The Lamb of God is here immolated and adored, as represented by St. John, Rev. 7, 17, in the midst of the celestial Sanctuary ; for the blessed spirits, knowing what passes upon our altars, come down and attend with that awe and trembling, which the most profound respect inspires. St. Chrysostom b. 6. on the priesthood mentions well authenticated facts of this truth; and St. Gregory in his dial. b. h. c. 58 asks :
can any one of the faithful deny, that at the voice of “the Priest during the sacrifice, the heavens open, and “choirs of angels attend at the mysteries of Jesus " Christ: that the highest with the lowest, celestial with “ terrestrial creatures, visible with invisible are united." Our occupation then is the same with that of the Saints in heaven. We adore the holy victim immolated in the hands of the Priests; and the Saints adore in heaven the same victim, the Lamb without spot, represented standing, and as it were slain, to signify both his immolated and glorious state. Rev. v. 6.
All the prayers and all the merits of the Saints ascend as sweet incense before the throne of God from the hands of the angel. Rev. 8.3, 4. The essential prayers and ceremonies of the mass come to us from Jesus Christ. and ceremonies, such as were adapted to the circumstances of time and place, were added by the Apostles and other apostolic men. During the heat of persecution these though short and few, were of strict observance : Let all things be done according to order. I
Cor. 14, 40. St. Justin who lived soon after the Apóstles, anno 140, in his second apology, gives us to understand that the officiating Priest continued his prayers during the offering as long as circumstances would permit; and St. Cyprian in his book on the unity of the Church, informs us that there were stated prayers, which could neither be changed nor omitted. But it was not till the Church enjoyed profound peace at the commencement of the 4th century, that stately Temples were erected, and divine service performed with all the variety of prayers and ceremonies. The liturgies, which the Greek Church uses at this day, are called after St. Basil and St. Chrysostom, who composed them; as that of Milan was called the liturgy of St. Ambrose. Although the Church of Rome has ever delighted in uniformity, she has at different times thought it expedient to adopt whatever there was good and edifying in the practice of private Churches, and has inserted such additions into the ordinary of the mass, which, since the 13th century, has been the same as at this day, and which merits the praises it has so uniformly received from- all catholic Churches.-Not the prayers only, but the ceremonies which have been established with a view to promote edification, instruction and attention, should be carefully explained. The scriptures teach that Almighty God attaches particular graces to them. The prayer of Moses with his hands elevated towards heaven was a religious ceremony, to which God attached the victory of the Jews. Exod. 17, 11.-Great preparation is necessary to attend with fruit at these divine mysteries ; for, if we are to prepare our souls for prayer, Eccl. 18. 23, what prayer can be more excellent, than that which renders Jesus Christ present on our altars, and makes us partakers of his adorable sacrifice? The 1st disposition , is a good life. So live, say the holy Fathers, that you may be permitted to approach each day to the sacred banquet. The 2d is a strong desire to approach the altar of God, as the source of all consolation. The Israelites were happy to approach their altars, which had no other merit, than as figurative of ours. difficulty Christians should pray with the Prophet Jonas in the midst of the raging ocean ; I shall lehold thy holy temple. Jonas 2. 11. Their faith should keep them attached to the sacrifice of our redemption, as St. Au
gustine says of his mother St. Monica, who never failed assisting daily at the altar, where she knew the holy victim was distributed. Conf. b. 9. 12. 13.-The 3d preparation is to bewail our unworthiness and to enter into the dispositions of the Publican, who was afraid to lift up his eyes as he entered the temple. Nothing is more respectable than the house of God; and if it were said of the tabernacle of the old law: treml le before my sanctuary, what respect ought not our temples to inspire, where the sacrifice of heaven and earth, the blood of a God-man is offered ? Formerly a deacon used to proclaim in the words of St. John, Rev. 22. 15; without are dogs and sorcerers and unchast and mur. derers, and servers of idols and every one that loveth and maketh a lie. The last preparation is to offer ourselves with Jesus Christ and his catholic Church.. We should ask of God, that like holocausts, which the fire purifies and consumes, the divine fire may consume all that is terrestrial and carnal in us, all that cannot be offered with Jesus Christ, that not only our souls, but our bodies, which are both to be offered, may both be purified by this divine fire, and that we may be able to say with St. Paul, since we have a high-Priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heurt, in fulness of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with the cleansing waters of baptism. Heb. 10. 21. 22.-But altho' we may not find ourselves in these happy dispositions, which all Christians should desire, still let us hope in the mercies of God, and go with confidence to the foot of the altar, the true source of grace. For we have not a high-Priest who cannot have compassion on our infirmities; but one tempted in all things like as we are, without sin. Let us go therefore with confidence to the throne of grace,
grace in seasonable aid. Heb. 4. 15, 16. While the Priest is vesting, say the following prayer. ROSTRATE in spirit at the foot of thy holy altar,
dore thee, O Almighty God. I firmly believe that the Mass, at which I am going to assist, is the sacrifice of the body and blood of Jesus Christ thy son. Grant 1 may assist thereat with the attention, respect, and awe due to such august mysteries ; and that by the merits of
the victim there offered for me, I myself may become an agreeable sacrifice to thee, who livest and reignest with the same Son and Holy Ghost, one God world without end. Amen. The Priest, at the foot of the altar, makes the sign of
the Cross, und says, N the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the
Holy Ghost. Amen Pr. I will go up to the al. Pr. Introibo ad altare Dei. tar of God.
P. To God, who rejoic- P. Ad Deum, qui lætifieth my youth.
cat juventutem meam.
Psalm xlii. E thou, O God, Pr. UDICA me, Deus, my judge, and
et discerne cau. distinguish my cause from sam meam de gente non the nation that is not holy: sanctâ : Ab homine iniquo From the unjust and deceit- et doloso erue me. ful man do thou deliver me.
P. Since thou, O God, P. Quia tu es Deus fortiart my strength, why bast tudo mea, quare me reputhou cast me off ? And why listi ? Et quare tristis incedo I go sorrowful, while the do, dum affligit me inimi- . enemy afflicteth me.
cus? Pr! Send forth thy light,
Pr. Emitte lucem tuam, and fulfil thy promise t;
et veritatem tuam; ipsa me they have led me on; and deduxerunt et adduxerunt brought me to thy holy in montem sanctum tuum, mount, and into thy taber- et in tabernacula tua. nacles. P. And I will go up to
P. Et introibo ad altare the altar of God, to God Dei, ad Deum qui lætificat. who rejoiceth my youth. juventutem meam.
Pr. I will praise thee on Pr. Confitebor tibi in eithe harp, O God, my God; tharâ, Deus, Deus meus ; why art thou sorrowful, O quare tristis es anima mea, my soul, and why dost et quare conturbas me? thou disturb me?
+ Lit. Thy truth. This word truth, in the psalms particularly, is always taken for the certain accomplishment, or fulfilling of a promise.