« AnteriorContinuar »
resent the blood of Jesus Christ shed upon the cross. 23. The priest says Memento for the faithful that are in purgatory. This prayer is in allusion to that which our Lord made for his enemies ; but this allusion would be forced and unnatural,
unless the devotees looked upon themselves as his enemies. 24. The priest then raises his voice, smiting his breast, begs God's blessing on himself and congregation, for the sake of such saints as he enumerates, and implores the divine Majesty for a place in paradise, to imitate the thief upon the cross. 25. The priest elevates the host and cup, and says the per omnia, then the Lord's prayer. The sign of the cross, which he makes on the host, the chalice, and the altar, is to represent to God that bleeding sacrifice which his Son offered up to him of himself; then the devout Christian becomes the child of God, and all this is an allusion to the Virgin Mary's being bid to look on St. John as her son. 26. After the Lord's prayer the priest says a private one to God, to procure his peace by the mediation of the Virgin Mary and the saints, then puts the sacred host upon the paten, and breaks it, to represent Jesus Christ giving up the ghost._27. The priest puts a little bit of the host into the chalice. The true Christian is now with an eye of faith to behold Jesus Christ descending into Limbo, i. e. hell. 28. Then the priest says, and the people sing, Agnus Dei, &c. thrice over, and the priest 'smites his breast. This action is an allusion to those who, having seen our Lord's sufferings, returned home smiting their breasts. 29. After the Agnus Dei is sung, the priest says a private prayer for the peace of the church. He then kisses the altar, and the instrument of peace called the paxis, which being received at his hands by the deacon, it is handed about to the people to be kissed, and passed from each other with these words, peace be with you ; and whilst the paxis is kissing, the priest prepares himself for the cominunion by two other prayers, when he adores the host, and then says, with a low voice, I will eat of the celestial bread; and smiting bis breast, says, I am not worthy that thou shouldest enter into my house, three times, after eating of the bread. He uncovers the chalice, repeating verse i. of the 115th psalm, according to the Vulgate. When the priest has received the communion, he administers it to the people. The application of these ceremonies is to the death and burial of Jesus Christ, and his descent into hell. 30. After this, the priest putting the wine into the chalice, in order to take what is called the ablution, repeats a short prayer; then he causes wine and water to be poured out for the second ablution, accompanied with another short prayer, and then salutes the congregation. These ablutions allegorically represent the washing and embalming the body of Jesus Christ, &c. 31. The priest sings the post communion or prayer for a good effect of the sacrament then received, expressed by the glorious resurrection of the regenerate Christians, and is to be looked upon as the representation of our Lord's resurrection. .32 The priest, turning to the people, says, Dominus vobis. cum, salutes the congregation, as the ambassador of Christ, with the message of peace. 33. The priest reads the beginning of St. John's gospel, and particularly of Jesus's appearing to his mother and disciples, and uses some short prayers. 34. The priest dismisses the people with these words, Ite missa est, de part, the mass is concluded, to which they answer, God be thanked. This, they say, points to the ascension of Jesus Christ, where he receives the eternal reward of that sacrifice, both as priest and victim. 35. The people receive the benediction of the priest or bishop, if he is present, to represent the blessings promised and poured down upon the apostles by the Holy Ghost.
This benediction must be given after kissing, with eyes erected to heaven, and arms stretched out, and then gently brought back to the stomach, that the hands may join in an affectionate manner for the congregation of the faithful.
The extension of the arms and the joining of the hands are both mystical, and shew the charity with which the priest calls his spiritual brethren to God.
When he pronounces the benediction he must lean in an engaging posture towards the altar.
The general division of masses is into high and low. High Mass, called also the Grand Mass, is that sung by the choristers, and celebrated with the assistance of a deacon and a sub-deacon. Low Mass, wherein the prayers are barely rehearsed, without any singing, and performed without much ceremony, or the assistance of a deacon and a sub-deacon.The music on these occasions is generally as full and as rich as possible.
As to ordinary masses, there are some which are said for the Christian's soul ; for releasing it from purgatory, or mitigating its punishment there. A sufficient sum must be left to the parish priest for that purpose.
There are also Private Masses, for the restoration to health, for travellers, and for returning thanks to Almighty God for particular mercies; these are called Votive Masses.
The mass used at sea is called the Dry Mass, because on those occasions the cup is omitted, lest the motion of the vessel should occasion any of the consecrated wine, which is the blood of God, to be spilled.
There are other sorts of solemn masses, as the collegiate, the pontifical, those celebrated before the pope, cardinals, or bishops, at Christmas, Pession-week, &c.
When high mass is performed episcopally, or by a bishop, it is attended with still greater ceremony and magnificence. As soon as the bishop is observed to come in sight, the bells are rung ; that is of course, where bells are used, which is not very common. On his setting his foot within the church doors the organs begin to play ; the master of the ceremonies gives the sprinkle to the head-canon, who presents it, after he has kissed both that and the prelate's hand. His lordship sprinkles him.
self, and then the canons with it, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost ; and then goes and says a prayer before the altar, on which stands the holy sacrament, at a desk prepared for that particular purpose, and does the same at the high altar, from whence he withdraws into the vestry, and there puts on his peculiar ornaments in the following order :
The sub-deacon goes to a little closet contiguous to the altar, and takes from thence the episcopal sandals and stockings, which he elevates and presents to the bishop. Then the deacon kneels down, and pulls off his lordship's shoes and stockings, in the midst of seven or eight acolites and readers, the former being generally young persons, whose business it is to wait on the pope, or serve in churches,
as in this instance. The word itself simply signifies followers. These are all dressed in their respective babits, and with the deacons, all upon their knees, spread the prelate's robes.
Two of the acolites, or accolythi, after that they have washed their hands, take the sacred habiliments, hold them up, and give them to the two deacon-assistants, to put upon the bishop as soon as he has washed his hands. The deacon salutes the bishop, takes off his upper garment, and puts on his amice, the cross whereof he devoutly kisses. Then they give him the albe, the girdle, the cross, for his breast ; the stole, and pluvial. Upon receiving each of these the bishop kisses the cross, thereby to testify his veneration of that sacred emblem. The dea. cons and assistants likewise kiss the holy vestments. As soon as the bishop is seated, they put his
mitre on, and a priest presents him with the pastoral ring. The deacon gives him his right glove, and the sub-deacon his left, which each of them kiss, as also the hand they have the honour to serve in all these circumstances,
Prayers intended to return God thanks for the sanctification of his church by the Holy Ghost, are ejaculated, and adapted to each individual piece of the episcopal robes. The devotion of this ceremony is also supported and confirmed by the singing the office of the tierce. These several robes, &c. have also each a mystical or spiritual signification; as the stole describes the yoke of the gospel ; the taking off of the shoes alludes to Moses putting off his shoes. The pluvial was formerly used by_travellers, to represent the miseries of this life, &c. &c.
The bishop being thus dressed in all his habiliments, his clergy range themselves round about him. Two deacons, who are canons, place themselves on each side of him, both in their dalmaticus ; and after them a deacon and sub-deacon. Then the incense-bearer, with the censer, and a priest, with the navel, out of which the bishop takes the incense, puts it into the censer, and gives it his benediction. After this he kisses the cross, which is upon the vestry altar ; and then goes in procession to the other altar, where he is to celebrate the mass. The incense-bearer walks at the head of the procession ; two wax-candle-bearers, with lighted tapers in their hands, march
next on each side of him who bears the cross. All the clergs follow them. The sub-deacon, who is to sing the epistle, carries before his breast the New Testament shut, with the bishop's maniple in it. A deacon and priest march just before the bishop ; his lordship carrying his shepherd's crook in his left hand, to dispense his blessings on those good Christians he passes in his way.
The bishop being advanced to the altar, bows himself once to the clergy and then advances on the first step of the altar ; delivers his crook to the sub-deacon, the deacon taking off the mitre. Then the prelate and clergy all bow before the cross on the altar; after which the clergy withdraw, except two priest's assistants, one on his right hand and the other on his left, with the incense-bearer, the sub-deacon, the two deacon's assistants ; and thus the ceremony of the mass-service begins, the choir singing the Introit.
Want of room prevents a further description of the ceremonies attending mass in the various forms in which that great service, or sacrifice, is performed; or an amusing account of the solemn mass, as celebrated by the Pope himself, might be given; a ceremony abounding with uhusual pomp and magnificence.
It would be equally amusing to describe the peculiar cere. monies attending high-mass at Christmas, when his boliness officiates ; but this cannot be done : space is only left to notice some other topics of interest and importance connected with this venerable and singular community of Christians.
The procession of the host on Good Friday in Catholic countries is peculiarly, solemn; though not so grand and imposing as on some occasions.
At Courtray, a town in the Austrian Netherlands, it was, and it is believed still is, the practice on Good Fridays, to have a grand procession to what they call Mount Calvary, when a poor man is hired to represent the suffering Saviour, and in that capacity receives no small portion of thumps and blows. It was also, once the custom at Brussels to have a public representation of the crucifixion ; but I am inclined to believe, that the advancement of knowledge has taught the agents to lay aside that absurd custom. And it should be observed, once for all, that these, and such like practices, have nothing to do with the ceremonies of the church properly speaking. In all Catholic countries, however, to this day, the practice of processionwalking, on numerous occasions, particular on what is called corpus christi, is very prevalent.
The prone, or homily, ought not to be overlooked. Under this word prone, we are to include the instruction which is given to the people relative to what is necessary to salvation; the prayers of the church in a peculiar manner for the faithful, the publication of festivals, fasts, banns of matrimony, holy orders, and other things concerning the discipline of the church. The prone follows the gospel in the performance of divine service. It is performed with great ceremony and pomp:
It will be expected that some notice should be taken of the use of beads, the rosary, &c.
The Roman Catholics tell us that the beads, (which are a number of small beads strung loosely on a piece of thread or silk) is a devotion, consisting of a certain number of Paternosters and Ave Marias, directed for the obtaining of the blessings of God through the prayers and intercession of our Lady, that is, the Virgin Mary. Those persons who use beads in their devotions are generally found amongst the more ignorant and poor of the congregation : they shift or move a bead every time they have said a hail Mary, or a Lord's Prayer; and in the service of the beads, they usually say ten hail Maries for one Lord's Prayer.
By the rosary is meant a method of saying or telling the beads, so as to meditate on the incarnation, passion, and resurrection of Christ ; and it is divided into three parts ; each part consisting of five mysteries, to be contemplated during the repetition of five decades, or tens, upon the beads. The five first are called the joyful mysteries ; namely, the annunciation, the visitation, the nativity of Christ, and his representation in the temple ; the purification of the blessed Virgin ; and Christ's being found in the temple in the midst of the doetors, &c. The next five are called the dolorous and sorrowful mysteries, having a relation to the passion of Christ ; as his agony in the garden; his being crowned with thorns; his carrying his cross ; his being scourged at the pillar; bis crucifixion and death. Then come five glorious mysteries, namely, the resurrection of Christ; his ascension ; coining of the Holy Ghost; assumption of the blessed Virgin, &c. and the eternal glory of the saints in heaven. This is, altogether, called the service of the rosary.
It is the opinion of the Roman Catholics, that MIRACLES have not ceased in the church ; and some very recent instances have been solemnly stated, by the present learned Dr. Milner, an English Catholic prelate of great antiquarian and theological repute ; but as those miracles are not admitted by all Catholics, they will not here be described. There are many very enlightened and truly liberal priests, who do not give credence to every thing that is related of this kind ; although their general orthodoxy cannot be reasonably disputed.
The consecration of crosses, bells, vestments, vessels, &c. must all be passed over, with barely mentioning that such are the practices of this ancient church; as that of churches, ohurch-yards, bells, and regimental colours, is prevalent among the reforined.
The same observation will apply to the sign of the cross ; though that ceremony is much more frequently used by Catholics than by Protestants.