« PoprzedniaDalej »
and therefore seeks, even now, the effects of the redemption by Christ, who is to be the victim, ultimately produced, and principally offered, and through whose merits only forgiveness of sins, and life everlasting, are attainable. But in the oblation of the chalice, the expressions are more confined yet, though the words are such as would be fully true, without any further reference; it is clear that our salvation, and that of the whole world, can be obtained only through the blood of the Redeemer.
When the priest bows down, saying the next prayer, Accept us, &c.; in the name of the people, he offers them up as a sacrifice, praying that they may be received; he bows to denote the humility which should fill every heart; and he expresses it in his prayer; for, a troubled spirit is a sacrifice to God, and a contrite and humble heart, he will not despise. (Psalm 1. 17.) Such an oblation is always pleasing to the Lord; therefore they who assist at Mass, should endeavour to be truly bowed down in humility, and to avoid being puffed up, ambitious, liable to anger, thinking evil, or rejoicing in iniquity; for if they be criminal in those respects, (1 Cor. xiii. 4, &c.) though they should know all mysteries, and have all knowledge and faith, so as to remove mountains, and distribute all their goods to feed the poo1, and deliver their bodies to be burned, it profiteth nothing. (1 Cor. xiii. 2 and 3.) The correction of the heart, is the great object of reli. gion; and the sacrifice of ourselves, which the Lora requires, is the abandonment of those bad disposi- , cions, which are so interwoven with our nature, that ile Saviour found it necessary to inform us, that if iny man will come after him, he must deny himself, and jake up his cross and follow (Matt. xvi. 24.) that Christ who offered himself as a sacrifice for mankind.
The next prayer is made to the Holy Ghost, in a special manner, for the third divine person of the blessed Trinity is generally designated as the Sanc‘ifier; for reasons with which every Christian must
be acquainted. He is specially invoked here, as his intervention is, in the order of Providence, requisite to produce the effect sought for; and when he is invoked to bless this sacrifice, the celebrant makes the sign of the cross over the oblation, to show his faith, in every good gift and divine being obtained through the merits of our divine Saviour, who was crucified for lis. Short and simple as this prayer is, the mind is overwhelmed and lost in the conternplation of its consequences. First it exhibits to us the bread and wine to be consumed, as an holocaust.*. For in sacrifices of holocaust, or whole burnt offerings, the victim was entirely consumed by fire, to the honour of the Deity: so here the substance of the bread and wine is destroyed, not by material, but mystic fire, by him who on the day of Pentecost descended in the form of tongues of fire upon the Apostles. This sacred fire consumes the substance but preserves the appearances, in order to be the veils which conceal from mortal eyes the divine victim who, in the beginning, offered himself as the substitute for those ancient observances. For it was impossible that with the blood of oxen and goats, sins should be taken away. Wherefore, when he cometh inio the world, he saith : Sacrifice and oblation thou Wouldst not : but a body thou hast fitted to me : Holocausts and for sin did not please thee. Then, said I, behold, I come : In the head of the book it is written of ne, that I should do thy will. (Hebrews x. 4, &c.) By the sword of the word, and the fire of the spirit, this mystic oblation takes place; but the destruction
of this first substance is not the great sacrifice of the · Mass; for the bread and wine are destroyed only to
buake room for the great victim to be principally offered; and the production of which, whether for the original sacrifice on Calvary, or its repetition on
* See Opuscules de Bossuet, T. i. p. 130. + See the secret prayu pur Easter Friday, in Whitsunweek.
our altars, has always been attributed to this sacred Spirit.
Thus in the Gospel of St. Luke, we read * The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the most high shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy One which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God. (i. 35) And in the Apostles' creed. And in Jesus Christ His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Ghost. And in the Liturgy of St. Basil, which is that principally in use in the East a prayer is used that the bread may become the real body, and the wine the real blood of Jesus Christ, by the Holy Ghost who changes this bread and this wine. And St. Isidore of Pelusium a disciple of St. John Chrysostom, who also compiled a Liturgy in very general use in the East, says, That the Holy Ghost is truly God, and after other reasons adds, and because at the mystic table, it is he who makes common bread the real body in which the Son of God made himself incarnate ; (Lib. 1. Ep. 10.9,) and he afterwards* says the same of the wine changed into the blood. The same is found in almost every ancient Liturgy, as testified by St. Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem, who lived in the middle of the preceding century, and after having given his testimony in these few words, ☆ " Thus that which the Holy Ghost touches is changed, and sanctified. In the ancient Gothic Missal which was used in many parts of Africa and other portions of the Western Church, the following prayer is found. I “ O Lord may the Holy Ghost thy co-eternal co-operator descend upon this sacrifice, to the end that the fruits of the earth which we present unto thee may be changed into thy body, and what this chalice contains into thy blood.”
Wherefore we may now clearly perceive the great object of this assembly of Christians from the days
* Ep. 2. 13. † Cat. Myst. v. † Miss. Got. xii.
of the Apostles to the present, to be, for the praise of the Lord; for the instructions to be derived from the lessons of the old law, and of the new, as delivered by those persons whose commission therefore is derived from Jesus Christ through the Apostles. For the profession of their belief in the doctrines of the Church; for the oblation of themselves, that dying to the world, they may live with Christ, and for the offering of bread and wine to be changed by the power of the Holy Ghost, and the institution of the Redeemer, and the Ministry of the Clergyman into the body and blood of Jesus Christ, that they may thus (1 Cor. xi. 26,) make a commemoration of him shewing forth the death of the Lord until his second coming, and receiving by the oblation of this victim, the application of the fruits of redemption to their souls. Whilst in addition to this, they who prove and try themselves, may by eating Christ, also live by him. (John vi. 58.) In the contemplation of such a scene the soul breaks from her prison, and flies, not over an imaginary land of vision, but traversing the regions of the East, col. lects the facts of ages, and brings into one point, the sacrifice of Abel, and that of Melchisedec, its application by the royal Psalmist, that lamb of Egypt, the institution of the Eucharistic oblation, and the sufferings of Calvary, exhibiting thus to the intellect the best subjects for reflection and to the affections, the inost powerful excitements to piety and devotion.
At such a moment as this ine soul is prepared for prayer, and the incense which is its emblem is fina’ly introduced, as well to spread its perfumes round the holy place as to waft its odour to the heavens. It is blessed ur der the intercession of the Archangel Michael standing at the right hand side of the Altar of incense, and of all the elect, &c.*' Some ancient Missals have it Gabriel, instead of Michael, and this would appear to be more critically correct, for clearly
* Sacram. S. Greg. Miss. du Tillet and de Sees.
the prayer appears to be an allusion to the first chap ter of St. Luke where, verse 11, the Angel appears on the right hand side of the altar of incense, and verse 19, he states that he is Gabriel. Others state that it alludes to the 8th chapter of the Apocalypse verse iii. &c. And another ingel came and stood before the altar, having a golden censer ; and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer of the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar, which is before the throne of God. And the smoke of the incense of the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God from the hand of the Angel. They state this angel to be Mi. chael, the prince of the heavenly host, and state the prayer to be addressed to God, by the intercession of his Archangel and the heavenly host to cause our prayers to be equally acceptable to the Most High, and our incense to ascend with equal favour in his presence as that mentioned in the Apocalypse.
The celebrant washes the extremities of his fingers at the epistle side, repeating the portion of the xxvi. Psalm, which commences at the 6th verse, I will wash, &c. The custom is very ancient; it is done for a double object, natural and mystic. The first, because the hands having now been used in the offering and incensing might have contracted some slight soil should be cleansed, particularly the extremities of those fingers which are to touch the holy Sacrament; the second, to shew that the person offering this holy Sacrifice, should be free from even the smallest stain of sin, or spiritual filth. St. Denis the Areopagite in his work on the Eccles. Hiear. chapter 10, mentions this washing of the fingers in the following words: “ The Pontiff accompanied by the venerable order of Priests, washing his hands; for he that is washed (as the Scriptures testisy) needs no other washing than that of his extremities, or tops of the fingers, by which indeed the greatest cleanliness is produced," c. And again, “ It is right that they who approach to this most pure sacrifice, should be