Monday, March 30, 2009

Explanation of the Mass:Part X

Taking up again this explanation, we now come to the Pater Noster. Formerly, it was sung only by the celebrant, but now the faithful may take part if they desire. It is right and proper that we should here bring our petitions to the Father, while the Son, our Advocate, Intercessor, and Mediator with the Father lies in a mystical way upon the Cross of the Altar, presenting that same sacrifice which reconciled us with the Father.
S.Cyril of Jerusalem explains this prayer in his Catechetical Lectures, given to catechumens in the early church. It can be read here. (Numbers 11-18) The Lord's prayer, as it is called, most perfectly prepares us for communion. For at no other moment is the Lord closest to us than when he is present within our very bodies in the Most Blessed Sacrament. It is at this moment, during communion, that we ought to offer him our petitions and prayers, for the Lord's prayer contains in it every proper sentiment of prayer and everything neccesarry to our salvation. St.Chysostom says of it: "He who prays not as Christ has taught is not Christ's disciple, and the Father does not easily hear the prayer which the Son hath not dictated."Afterward, the priest prays a beautiful prayer for us, the Libera Nos. It mentions in detail the evils that we ask to be delivered from, saying:
"Libera nos, quaesumus, Domine, ab omnibus malis, da propitius pacem in diebus nostris, ut, ope misericordiae tuae adiuti, et a peccato simus semper liberi, et ab omni perturbatione securi: expectantes beatam spem et adventum Salvatoris nostri Iesu Christi."

"Deliver us, O lord, we beseech you, from every evil, and graciously grant to us peace in our days. That aided by the work of your mercy, we might be ever delivered from sin, and safe from all distress, as we await the Blessed hope, and the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ."

After which, the choir and people sing the doxology of the prayer,
"Quia tuum est regnas et potestas, et gloria in saecula."
"For yours is the kindom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever."

By these words, we joing our doxoloy of praise and offerring to that of the priest, which he concluded with the per ipsum. But as the pettition to be delivered from evil was followed by the libera nos, so also is the pettion for peace followed by it's own prayer. Indeed, we confess not ounly our dependance on God, but as well the blessed hope to which all the church looks foreward to. That last part is a quotation of scripture, S.Paul's letter to Titus, 2:13The priest now sings:

"Dómine Iesu Christe, qui dixísti Apóstolis tuis: Pacem relínquo vobis, pacem meam do vobis: ne respícias peccáta nostra, sed fidem Ecclésiæ tuæ; eámque secúndum voluntátem tuam pacificáre et coadunáre digneris.
Qui vivis et regnas in saecula, saeculorum."

"O Lord Jesus Christ, who said to your Apostles: Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you: Regard not our sins but the faith of your Church, and deign to give her peace and unityin accordance with your will.
Who live and reign forever and ever."

And we sing :
Aye, let it be so. Thus we pray for the peace, unity, and exaltation of the Church from her enemies, always prowling about seeking how they may persecute, oppress, and revile her. We pray this while her divine spouse, who S.Paul says gave himself up to buy her and make her clean and immaculate, lies on the altar. Surely, If he gave himself up in sacrifice before for her, he will doubtless help her as he offers again that same sacrifice. Our Lord promised to give us a special peace, that of his divine comfort and consolation (S.John 14:27) Which is now realised in the reception of the sacrament of the Blessed Eucharist.

On solemn occasions, the priest will bid us to offer peace to one another. St.Cyril says of the peace: "there is a certain law delivered unto us by the Church; for in all holy congregations we often salute one another in this manner."We should endeavor now not to share the peace with those we know only, but with strangers and those that we do not know, to show that the peace of God is for all men. More especially, Our Lord bid us in the gospel to make peace with our enemies before completing our sacrifice.( S.Matthew 5:24) If we have not done this already, chiefly by sacramental confession, we should stop now and forgive, or at least try to forgive all who have hurt us, because we have prayed in the Pater to be reconciled with God only as much as we will be reconciled with each other. This prayer may be a blessing or curse depending on how bold we are to follow the gospel.

The organist gives a note and the choir begins a new canticle: Agnis Dei.

Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us;
Agnus Dei, qui tolis peccata mundi, misere nobis;

Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us;
Agnus Dei, qui tolis peccata mundi, misere nobis;

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.
Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world,grant us peace.

The church entreats Our Lord to have mercy on us. Why else is it if not in reparation for the innumerable insults, blasphemies, and offenses he receives in this sacrament of his goodness? We entreat him twice: for the improper communions made by priests and those made by laity.Lastly we ask again for that peae which the world could not give. And is it not fitting that we should invoke him now for peace? Under the old covenant, a Lamb without blemish and bread of the finest wheat was offered in the sacrifice of a Peace Offering. Now in the new covenant, Jesus offered himself once for our peace, and now under the veil of the sacramental species, he makes it present for us. This appallation of the title 'Lamb' to Christ is totally proper. For Lambs symbolise innocency, of which Christ was most innocent, being without sin. They symbolise purity, of which Christ was most pure, being God himself.They symbolise obedience and meekness, which as Christ was most innocent, "Being obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Phillipians 2:8) He, who as a mute lamb voluntarily suffered his passion (Isaiah 53) He is the mystic Lamb, once slain, now glorified, to whom heaven, earth, and all creation rightly cry
"Worthy is the Lamb that was slain!" At the end, we pray for peace, and this too is appropriate. For the lamb that was slain came to give us peace, not only peace in our earthly life, but peace of the soul. And at the consummation of the world, he will bring to us the peace which our First Parents lost by turning away from God. (Rev. 17:14, 22:3-6)

While we sing, the ritual action of the mass continues. The priest genuflects and taking the host in both hands, breaks it into two halves. This symbolizes for a final time the passion and death of Jesus. Christ Our Lord in instituting the blessed Eucharist told us that is was his body, broken and beaten on the cross that was present. But not his passion alone, but even his body ressurected, for it is the same body that was made known to the apostles in the breaking of the bread after his ressurection. Indeed, the Breaking of the Bread was one of the earliest known names for the mass. Now the priest also breaks a small praticle off the right side of the host, symbolyzing the wound made in his right side by the soldier's lance. he makes the sign of the cross over the chalice with it saying:

May this mingling of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, avail us who receive it unto everlasting life. Amen.

Haec commixtio, Corporis et Sanguinis Domini nostri Jesu Christi, fiat accipientibus nobis in vitam aeternam. Amen

And this commixture symbolizes for us the ressurection of Christ. For a body separated from it's blood does not live, but a body with it's blood does live. The Body and Blood of Christ, once separated from each other in death are now joined in life. This being done, the priest prepares himself to receive communion saying two prayers whose origins go back to a ninth century missal found in Amiens Cathedral:

O Lord Jesu Christ, Son of the living God, who by the will of the Father, and the cooperation of the Holy Ghost, hast through thy death given life unto the world: deliver me by this thy most sacred Body and Blood from all mine iniquities and from every evil: and make me ever to cleave unto thy commandments, and suffer me never to be separated from thee: Who with the same God the Father and the Holy Ghost livest and reignest God, world without end. Amen.

Domine Jesu Christe, Fili Dei vivi, qui ex voluntate Patris, cooperante Spiritu Sancto, per mortem tuam mundum vivificasti: lebera me per hoc sacrosanctum Corpus et Sanguinem tuum ab omnibus iniquitatibus meis, et universis malis: et fac me tuis semper inhaerere mandatis, et a te numquam separari permittas. Qui cum eodem Deo Parte et Spiritu Sancto vivis et regnas Deus in saecula saeculorum. Amen.


Let the partaking of thy Body, O Lord Jesu Christ, which I, unworthy presume to receive, turn not to my judgment and condemnation: but of thy goodness let it avail unto me for protection of soul and body, that I may receive thy healing: Who livest and reignest with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost God, throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Perceptio Corporis tui, Domine Jesu Christe, quod ego indinus sumere praesumo, non mihi proveniat in judicium et condemnationen; sed pro tua pietate prosit mihi ad tutamentum mentis et corporis, et ad medelam percipiendam. Qui vivis et regnas cum Deo Patre in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.

These should preferrably be our own sentiments before reeiving communion. These prayers are given to us as a model whereby we may taake our own private prayers before communion. I give here for you a prayer based on these that I often say before communion:

O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, who according to the will of the Father and with the cooperation of the Holy Spirit hast by Thy death given life unto the world, I adore and revere this Thy holy Body which was given over and this Thy holy Blood which was poured forth for the many unto the remission of sins. O merciful Lord, I beg of Thy mercy that through the power of this sacrament Thou willst make me one of that many.

Through faith and love make me feel the power of these sacraments so I may experience their saving power. Absolve and free from all sin and punishment of sin Thy servants, Thy handmaidens, myself, those who I have promised or am obliged to pray for, and so too those who themselves hope or beg to be helped by my prayers with Thee. Make our Church rejoice in Thy constant protection and consolation. Thou who with God the Father.... Amen.

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