« PoprzedniaDalej »
Sundays. The Greeks, some centuries later on, concluded from this Canon, that the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice was incompatible with fasting; and we learn from the Controversy they had, in the 9th century, with the Legate Humbert,2 that the Mass of the Presanctified, (which has no other authority to rest on save a Canon of the famous Council in Trullo, held in 1692,) was justified by the Greeks on this absurd plea, that the Communion of the Body and Blood of our Lord broke the Lenten Fast.
The Greeks celebrate this rite in the evening, after Vespers, and the Priest alone communicates, as is done now in the Roman Liturgy on Good Friday. But for many centuries, they have made an exception for the Annunciation; they interrupt the Lenten fast on this Feast, they celebrate Mass, and the Faithful are allowed to receive Holy Communion.
The Canon of the Council of Laodicea was probably never received in the Western Church. If the suspension of the Holy Sacrifice during Lent was ever practised in Rome, it was only on the Thursdays; and even that custom was abandoned in the 8th century, as we learn from Anastasius the Librarian, who tells us that Pope St. Gregory the Second, desiring to complete the Roman Sacramentary, added Masses for the Thursdays of the first five weeks of Lent. It is difficult to assign the reason of this interruption of the Mass on Thursdays in the Roman Church, or of the like custom observed by the Church of Milan on the Fridays of Lent. The explanations we have found in different authors are not satisfactory. As far as Milan is concerned, we are inclined to think, that not satisfied with the mere adoption of the Roman usage of not celebrating
1 Labbe, Concil., tom. i.
2 Contra Nicetam., tom. iv. 3 Can. 52. Labbe, Concil., tom. vi. 4 Anastas. In Gregorio II.
Mass on Good Friday, the Ambrosian Church extended the rite to all the Fridays of Lent.
After thus briefly alluding to these details, we must close our present Chapter by a few words on the holy rites, which are now observed, during Lent, in our Western Churches. We have explained several of these in our "Septuagesima." The suspension of the Alleluia; the purple vestments; the laying aside the deacon's Dalmatic, and the subdeacon's Tunic; the omission of the two joyful canticles, the Gloria in excelsis, and the Te Deum; the substitution of the mournful Tract for the Alleluia-verse in the Mass; the Benedicamus Domino instead of the Ite Missa est; the additional Prayer said over the people after the Post-communion Collects on Ferial Days; the saying the Vesper Office before mid-day, excepting on the Sundays;— all these are familiar to our readers. We have only now to mention, in addition, the genuflections prescribed for the conclusion of all the Hours of the Divine Office on Ferias, and the rubric which requires the Choir to kneel, on those same Days, during the Canon of the Mass.
There were other ceremonies peculiar to the season of Lent, which were observed in the Churches of the West, but which have now, for many centuries, fallen into general disuse; we say general, because they are still partially kept up in some places. Of these rites, the most imposing was that of putting up a large veil between the Choir and the Altar, so that neither clergy nor people could look upon the Holy Mysteries celebrated within the Sanctuary. This veil-which was called the Curtain, and, generally speaking, was of a purple colour-was a symbol of the penance to which the sinner ought to subject himself, in order to merit the sight of that
1 See their explanation in the volume for Septuagesima, page 10.
Divine Majesty, before whose face he had committed so many outrages. It signified, moreover, the humiliations endured by our Redeemer, who was a stumbling-block to the proud Synagogue. But, as a veil that is suddenly drawn aside, these humiliations were to give way, and be changed into the glories of the Resurrection. Among other places where this rite is still observed, we may mention the Metropolitan Church of Paris, Notre Dame.
It was the custom also, in many Churches, to veil the Crucifix and the Statues of the Saints as soon as Lent began in order to excite the Faithful to a livelier sense of penance, they were deprived of the consolation which the sight of these holy Images always brings to the soul. But this custom, which is still retained in some places, was less general than the more expressive one used in the Roman Church, and which we shall explain in our next volume,—we mean the veiling the Crucifix and Statues only in Passion Time.
We learn from the Ceremonials of the Middle Ages, that, during Lent, and particularly on the Wednesdays and Fridays, processions used frequently to be made from one Church to another. In Monasteries, these Processions were made in the Cloister, and barefooted.2 This custom was suggested by the practice of Rome, where there is a Station for every day of Lent, and which, for many centuries, began by a procession to the Stational Church.
Lastly, the Church has always been in the habit of adding to her prayers during the Season of Lent. Her present discipline is, that, on Ferias, in Cathedral and Collegiate Churches, (which are not exempted by a custom to the contrary,) the following additions are to be made to the Canonical Hours: on Mondays,
1 Honorius of Autun. Gemma animæ. Lib. iii. cap. lxvi. 2 Martène. De antiquis Ecclesiæ ritibus. Tom. iii. cap. xviii.
the Office of the Dead; on Wednesdays, the Gradual Psalms; and on Fridays, the Penitential Psalms. In some Churches, during the Middle-Ages, the whole Psaltery was added each week of Lent to the usual Office.1
1 Martène. De antiquis Ecclesiæ ritibus. Tom. iii. cap. xviii.
CHAPTER THE THIRD.
PRACTICE DURING LENT.
AFTER having spent the three weeks of Septuagesima in meditating upon our spiritual infirmities, and upon the wounds caused in us by sin,-we should be ready to enter upon the penitential season, which the Church has now begun. We have now a clearer knowledge of the justice and holiness of God, and of the dangers that await an impenitent soul; and, that our repentance might be earnest and lasting, we have bade farewell to the vain joys and baubles of the world. Our pride has been humbled by the prophecy, that these bodies would soon be like the ashes that wrote the memento of death upon our foreheads.
During these Forty Days of penance, which seem so long to our poor nature, we shall not be deprived of the company of our Jesus. He seemed to have withdrawn from us during those weeks of Septuagesima, when everything spoke to us of his maledictions upon sinful man;-but this absence has done us good. It has taught us how to tremble at the voice of God's anger. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;1 we have found it to be so ;— the spirit of penance is now active within us, because we have feared.
And now, let us look at the divine object that is before us. It is our Emmanuel; the same Jesus, but not under the form of the sweet Babe whom we adored in his Crib. He is grown to the fulness of the age of man, and wears the semblance of a Sinner,
1 Ps. cx. 10.