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The Liturgy of the Word (3)

Posted by Father Joe on September 2, 2006

The following notes are largely derived from a thorough reading of Rev. Josef A. Jungmann, S.J.’s classic work, The Mass of the Roman Rite.

The Profession of Faith

Rev. Jungmann notes that Timotheus, the Patriarch of Constantinople (511-517 AD), “tainted with Monophysitism,” tried to shame his orthodox predecessors by commanding its recitation at every Mass (Jungmann, p. 297). This soon became the rule in the East. In Spain it emerged when King Reccared and the Visigoths renounced Arianism (589 AD). In this instance, it was viewed as a preparation for the faithful reception of Holy Communion. Somewhat in retaliation against the Adoptionist heresy in Spain, the French began to implement the Creed two centuries later. Charlemagne received permission from Pope Leo III to have it sung after the Gospel, with the possible deletion of the controversial Filioque clause. [Note: This debate centered around the addition in the West, not immediately received, that the Holy Spirit is generated from the Father and “the Son”. This is still a matter of some friction between East and West. Eastern hardliners would question its theology; more moderate critics recognize the core issue of authority.]

When the emperor Henry II came to Rome in 1014 he was surprised that at Rome the Credo was lacking in the Mass. The Roman clerics explained to him that the Roman Church had never been disturbed by error and therefore had no reason to profess the Credo so often. However the pope, Benedict VIII, gave in to the emperor’s opportunings. Still an instruction must have issued from Rome, restricting the Credo to Sundays and to those feasts of which mention is made in the symbo1. (Jungmann, p. 298).

General Intercessions

Following the Creed, there is the Prayer of the Faithful (intercessions) which petitions the Father in Christ’s name to answer certain general needs. These include matters like the preservation and growth of the universal Church, the just and equitable workings of nations, the consolation of the suffering and sick, and the salvation of the deceased. In the revised Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults, there has been the restoration of the rite of dismissal for catechumens at this point in the liturgy. However, it has been made optional. One should not underestimate the power of the Eucharistic activity (even apart from communion) to feed non-Catholics and inquirers spiritually and to bring them to conversion. Another problem that I see is that the separation from the second half of the liturgy is randomly required. On one hand, those preparing for membership in our faith are asked to leave. Other non-Catholics or fallen away Christians are invited to pray with us. How can it be both ways? At one time, long ago, there was a diaconal cry of dismissal in certain Italian churches:

  • If anyone is a catechumen, let him leave!
  • If anyone is a heretic, let, him leave!
  • If anyone is a Jew, let him leave!
  • If anyone is a pagan, let him leave!
  • If anyone is an Arian, let him leave!
  • Let anyone who has no business here leave!

     (Jungmann, p. 304)

If anyone was left in doubt, the last command took care of that, too. Well, at least they were consistent.

Returning to the subject of the general prayer of the Church, Saint Justin makes note of it after the bishop’s homily, “…w all stand up and recite prayers” (Jungmann, p. 304). In third and fourth century Egypt, it is similarly remarked upon. It is noted as after the readings. Hippolytus, Cyprian, and later, Augustine, make reference to it. With the same structure as today restored, there was first the invitation to prayer (by the priest presider), then the recited petition (perhaps by the deacon), and the people’s response, “Lord have mercy” or some similar invocation. Afterwards, the celebrant said another prayer. By the end of the fourth century, all but the response and closing prayer were taken over by the deacon. The final prayer (Secret?) was all that remained of this structure until the Missal of Paul VI. It has been argued that the intercessions in the Roman Canon were part of the reason why they were lost in this location. Another would have been the Kyrie-litany that began to develop at the beginning of the liturgy. However, because of context, they represent a different kind of prayer.


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The Liturgy of the Word (2)

Posted by Father Joe on August 28, 2006

The following notes are largely derived from a thorough reading of Rev. Josef A. Jungmann, S.J.’s classic work, The Mass of the Roman Rite.

The Gospel

The final reading has always been the Gospels. The life of Christ took center stage to everything else in the Liturgy of the Word. The Gospel book alone was allowed on the altar with the Blessed Sacrament, a custom still seen in many of our churches and as a rule in the Greek Church.

From the earliest times, the Gospel was enhanced in being proclaimed only by a deacon or priest. The only exception for this in the early Church was that the Roman emperor in full regalia delivered the Gospel on Christmas Eve. The procession of the deacon became more formal and in the first Roman Ordo, it was stated:

. . . the deacon kisses the feet of the pope, who pronounces over him these words: “The Lord be in thy heart and on thy lips.” Then he goes to the altar where the Gospel book has been lying since the beginning of the service (having been placed there ceremoniously by a deacon, accompanied by an acolyte). He kisses it and picks it up. As he betakes himself to the ambo, he is accompanied by two acolytes with torches, and by two subdeacons, one of whom carries a censer. (Jungmann, pp. 284-285).

Subtract the feet kissing business and rename the subdeacons and one has a ceremonial not unlike what is done on occasions of high pomp in our time. The two burning candles are not only a respect to the proclaimed Gospel, but to the book itself. Saint Jerome testifies to this custom. After the proclamation of the Gospel and its final announcement, the people respond, “Glory be to you, Lord.” Another sign of honor would be that from ancient times it has been the tradition to listen to the Gospel while standing. At the end of the Gospel the book is kissed by the deacon or priest. This is a partial restoration, since at one time other attending priests, bishops, and even kings would share the honor. Kissing the book, the celebrant or deacon whispers, “May the words of the gospel wipe away our sins.” (In the former rite this was not open to the deacon.) Such formulations have existed since 1000 AD. “And traces of the original meaning of reverent and grateful greeting are to be seen in a formula from that early period: ‘Hail, words of the Gospel, which fill the whole world'” (Jungmann, p.287).

As for the incensing of the book, this is chronicled as far back as the eleventh century. In the ninth century, we discover the faithful signing themselves with the gesture of the cross upon their foreheads after the greeting.

Then we hear of another custom, the deacon and all those present imprinting the cross on forehead and breast after the words Sequentia sancti evangelii. About the eleventh century mention is made of forehead, mouth and breast, and since that time also of the signing of the book. At the end of the Gospel it was the custom for all those present to sign themselves with the cross once more. The original idea of this signing of oneself is probably indicated in the scriptural text frequently cited in this connection, the quotation about the wicked enemy who is anxious to take the seed of the word of God away from the hearts of the hearers. (Jungmann, pp. 287-288).

It is a form of blessing oneself. It also externalizes our allegiance to the Gospel. We are not ashamed of it.

Probably it was in this sense that the signing of the forehead grew into a triple signing of forehead, lips and breast, and in addition, the signing of the book. The meaning is this: For the word which Christ brought and which is set down in this book we are willing to stand up with a mind that is open; we are ready to confess it with our mouth; and above all we are determined to safeguard it faithfully in our hearts. (Jungmann, p. 288).

Speaking of blessing, before the recitation of the Gospel, the deacon begs the celebrant for his blessing. The celebrant prays that the deacon will have the Lord in his heart and upon his lips. This practice is also many centuries old. Scripturally, it can be traced to the prophet Isaiah, when his lips were touched with glowing coal from an angel’s hand. He was empowered to speak God’s word, a word that first had to live in his heart.

The Homily

The homily is the next constitutive part of the liturgy, despite the argumentation of certain critics that it was merely an “interpolation” in the progress of the liturgy. Its roots are clearly pre-Christian in nature. It could be found in the synagogue service. Indeed, in Acts 13:15, Paul and Barnabas were commanded by the synagogue leaders of Antioch in Pisidia to offer some words: “Brothers, if you have any exhortation to address to the people, please speak up.” From the early Church we have volumes of homilies written by Origen, Hippolytus of Rome, Jerome, and Chrysostom. If the bishop was present, he would offer some words after the readings and then priests who were present might preach. It had been the Eastern custom to allow each of the priests at a liturgy to preach, finishing with the bishop. After the fall of Arius (who devalued Christ’s divinity), preaching was forbidden in places like Alexandria and North Africa. This prohibition remained in effect until the time of Saint Augustine, who himself only preached when preaching had ceased at the liturgy. This did not mean the various bishops did not preach in their towns. However, there was some silence, with the concern that no words might be better than the wrong words. “In fact under Pope Celestine a letter of disapproval was sent out from Rome to the bishops of Provence where a contrary custom was in vogue. Sozomen made it known that in his day, as he thought, no preaching whatsoever was done in Rome” (Jungmann, p. 289). However, the homiletic collections of Leo the Great and of Gregory the Great prove that not all was silence. From the Middle Ages on, there was a widespread return to preaching God’s Word.

Even in recent times, there have been ordained some permanent deacons without permission to preach. Priests, usually those who have fallen into some kind of doctrinal error, have been known to have their faculties for preaching removed by the bishop. Without this, they cannot lawfully preach in the Church. Consequently, it is obvious that bishops have had jurisdiction of this area from the very beginning. In Christian antiquity many priests had neither the ability nor the learning to preach. Of course, there were exceptions made to this general rule. The Council of Vaison in 529 AD ruled that in Gaul the priests could preach, and if prevented to do so by sickness, the deacons could read homilies from the Fathers. The homily was just that, an application of the Word to the congregation’s lives. The fact that the homilist had to have acquired orders tended to re-emphasize the hierarchal reality of the Church. Although the pattern today is that the preacher stands and that the congregation sits, initially it was the other way around. St. Augustine thought that this was a strain upon the listeners and preferred the counter-custom.

Only the clerics were provided quite generally with seats in those early days. The faithful helped themselves with canes on which to lean. Only in modern times did the laity obtain pews, perhaps copying the Protestant churches. (Jungmann, p. 292).

The Profession of Faith

On Sundays and particular feasts, the Creed follows the homily. Although it is recited by the community today using the plural, “we,” the original Latin text is similar to the Apostles’ Creed in that it is in the style of an individual profession. [The new ICEL translation will restore the first-person-singular to the text.] First appearing as the profession of 150 fathers at the Council of Chalcedon (451 AD), it became the symbol of faith, summing up what was additionally taught by the councils of Nicea (325 AD) and Constantinople (381 AD). In the former it countered the heresy of Arius against Christ’s divinity (alluding directly to John 1:3), in the latter it reaffirmed the divinity of the Holy Spirit.

We can track this draft even a little distance back into the fourth century. We discover it, almost complete, about 374 in Ephiphanius, and, in a slightly simpler form, about 350 in Cyril of Jerusalem, who explained it to his candidates for Baptism. We may therefore see in this basic text of the Niceno-Constantinopolitanum the ancient baptismal symbol of Jerusalem. (Jungmann, p. 293).

Its use as a baptismal formula is probably the reason why its most traditional formulations are always in the singular “I” as opposed to our present custom in English translation.

The Creed falls into three sections, our common belief in God the Creator, in our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the fruits of salvation. It tends to follow the Trinitarian formula. With the command to baptize (Matthew 28:19), we are called to a perfect unity in the Lord (Ephesians 4:4). The stress on the “oneness” in baptism and in the Church is representative of this view. With this in mind, it is no wonder that the Creed began to enter the Mass (starting in the East) as early as the sixth century. As a rule it was spoken by the people or by their representative.

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The Liturgy of the Word (1)

Posted by Father Joe on August 27, 2006

The following notes are largely derived from a thorough reading of Rev. Josef A. Jungmann, S.J.’s classic work, The Mass of the Roman Rite.

A Sacred Dialogue

The Word of God is proclaimed, not only to instruct us in the way of the Gospel, but to immediately prepare us for the sacrament of the New Covenant, the Eucharist. It evolved from a service of readings that stood alone to one that draws the people into the very mystery it announces. The prayers which directly follow the readings might be viewed as a direct consequence of receiving the Word into our hearts; it calls for a response. This we do with the General Intercessions and even in the Prayers of Preparation. God has spoken to us and now we respond. In the Eucharist, God again communicates with us and in communion we will answer his call to share his life. The Mass is not a one-way communication but a sacred dialogue.

A Schema of the Liturgy of the Word

  1. First Reading: Usually Old Testament
  2. Responsorial Psalm
  3. Second Reading: Usually an N.T. Epistle
  4. Alleluia &/or Verse
  5. Gospel
  6. Homily
  7. Profession of Faith (Creed)
  8. Prayer of the Faithful

From Synagogue to Early Church

Rooted in the synagogue service is the service of readings. As a religion rooted in revelation, the Sacred Books were read in the synagogues. On the Sabbath and other appointed days, the community gathered to hear two passages, one from the “Law” and the other from the “Prophets”. The reading from the “Torah” (Law) was continued from one meeting to the other. When the series was completed, it was started all over again. Multiple readers, usually seven, were chosen for this privilege. A passage from the Prophets was normally chosen at will and concluded the service. Added to this was a homily. “According to the New Testament accounts (Luke 4:16-20; Acts 12:15 f.) this followed the prophetic reading, but the customary arrangement appears to have been to insert the homily after the first reading, which was the more important one” (Jungmann, p. 259).

In the early Church, Saint Justin testified that Sunday readings in Christian services were followed by a homily offered by the presiding celebrant and by a congregational prayer. It is presumed that the singing of psalms also goes back to the synagogue service. “The Apostolic Constitutions of the fourth century makes mention of a singer’s psalming the hymns of David after the first of the two readings, and the people responding to it” (Jungmann, p. 260). Some two hundred years prior to this, Tertullian makes a passing reference to the use of psalms after the readings.

Although there has been some variation in the historical selection of texts, the Gospel is always the final reading. Further, Saint Paul himself urges a preferential treatment to be given to the New Testament (1 Thessalonians 5:27; Colossians 4: 16). The present lectionary returns to the practice of the early Roman liturgy in having three Sunday readings, one from the Old Testament, the next from the New, and the final one, from the Gospel. During special seasonal feasts, the readings that retell something of salvation history are offered. The Scriptures, especially the New Testament, need to be alive for us:

But we would misunderstand the position of even the New Testament texts and accounts in their liturgical associations if we were to take them solely as primitive accounts of the time of their origin, as mere witnesses of things past, from which we gain no other edification than we might gain from the rest of the testimonials of Christian living. For the words of the Apostles and the accounts of the Evangelists are given new meaning by being proclaimed anew by the Church to this assembly of Christian men. They must be regarded entirely in the perspective of the present, for they are themselves bearers of the grace-laden message which God gives to men through His Church. The word of God in Holy Writ sounds with renewed vigor, waking in the congregation the consciousness of the foundation on which it is built, the spiritual world in which it lives and the home to which its path is directed. It has a message for this very hour, to arouse the congregation to find a Christian solution for the problems which face each of us today. (Jungmann, pp. 262-263)

As in the synagogue service, the early Church also practiced “lectio continua,” picking up at the following service where they had left off in a previous one. The commentaries of the Church fathers are demonstrative of this fact since they were originally nothing other than collections ofhomilies. Of course, major feasts and seasons would interrupt this progression, just as they do today. Ever conscious of the Church’s duty to make more available certain passages, there are even cases where a pericope is formed by omitting certain intervening portions of a text. This practice was quite common in the ancient Gallican liturgical texts. This had the tendency to harminize the accounts in the Gospels.

The Lector & Readings

The lector announces the title of the passage. An introductory word is also sometimes shifted to the beginning of the selection, like “Brothers” as in Paul’s letters. The Gospel is introduced with the announcement, “The Lord be with you,” to which the people respond. Then its source is likewise announced. The call to attention is in the hope that the congregation will comprehend the readings.

It is curious to note that in the fourth century, the lectors in the West ( Rome) were predominantly boys. In many locales they lived in special communities and were seen as “the foremost seed-beds for promotion to the higher degrees of spiritual office” (Jungmann, p. 268). The innocence of youth was perceived as best suited to rendering an unobscured proclamation of the Word. The office of lector later became a stepping stone to priesthood. Although it still retains something of this characteristic, it is now a lay ministry (for men). Most lectors (readers) are never officially installed, thus opening up this ministry to women.

As early as the third century, the lector (or proclaimer for the Gospel) was to move to an elevated place. Later this was transformed into an ambo, pulpit, or lectern. As in many liturgies today, it was also where the cantor offered the responsorial song. Frequently, the preaching was also done from this spot. These elements have been restored in the revised liturgy.

At the end of the Old Testament or Epistle (Acts also) there is the assertion: “The Word of the Lord.” The appropriate people’s response is “Thanks be to God.” Traced through the ancient liturgy of North Africa and into the Arabian, it arises in the Roman ritual in the eighth century as an act of assent or approval. The message has been heard and understood.

Responsorial Psalm

The chanting or singing of psalms between readings dominated in the liturgy until the fourth century. Having the people respond with an unchanging verse to a trained cantor is once again the most acceptable pattern. “But responsory itself was to some extent inherent in the very text of the psalms. It was a legacy which the synagogue inherited from the services of the Temple. And thence it passed to the primitive Church where it is found in full practice” (Jungmann, p. 275). Instead of a verse, the custom of repeating “Alleluia” between psalm fragments as detailed by Hippolytus of Rome is also often permitted today. An alleluia verse is offered for the current liturgy prior to the Gospel. “St. Athanasius on one occasion mentioned the deacon’s reciting a psalm before the entire people, while the people responded repeatedly: ‘for his mercy is eternal,’ . . .” (Jungmann, p. 276). Saints Augustine, Chrysostom, and Leo the Great all made reference to this singing of the psalms.

The Alleluia

The original design of the alleluia has survived largely unchanged. The cantor chants alleluia, and the congregation repeats it. The singer then offers the intervening verse and then the alleluia is sung again. Perhaps the joyous nature of the Gospel tended to protect its structure from shortening? During Lenten times there is a verse instead. The alleluia was the first of the Mass chants to be associated with troping (inserts). However, the stress remained not on the verse but the alleluia.

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The Introductory Rites of Mass (5)

Posted by Father Joe on August 26, 2006

The following notes are largely derived from a thorough reading of Rev. Josef A. Jungmann, S.J.’s classic work, The Mass of the Roman Rite.

Collect or Opening Prayer

The priest prays as the spokesperson of the congregation and summons them to prayer. Sometimes called the Collect, (a name borrowed from the Gallican liturgy), it was implemented in the ancient Roman liturgy as a specification for the gathered assembly. It came also to designate the “collecting” of petitions. Having done this, the priest presents them to God. “The ceremony of entry reaches a peak in the oration of the priest, in the same way that the presentation of the offerings and the reception of Communion come to a fitting conclusion with an oration” (Jungmann, p. 240). Because the priest is the spokesperson for the people, they themselves are first called to prayer.
Following the invitation to prayer, priest and people alike observe a brief silence, “so that they may become aware they are standing in God’s presence, and may formulate their petitions in their hearts” (General Instruction, no. 32). According to the new Missal, this pause for silent prayer is no longer optional, but obligatory.
For a long time in the early Church, the priest was allowed to liberally extemporize or to read a prayer text composed by himself or another. This did not always work well, not all are gifted at such things, and Saint Augustine in his work, The First Catechetical Instruction, urges candidates for the catechumenate (who are well educated) not to mock them. Indeed, Saint Augustine would suggest that only approved texts should be permitted.
These prayers are to the point and are petitionary in character. Although the closing signature of this prayer usually invokes the Trinity, it is most common for the intercession of a saint to come at the beginning if there is a sanctoral memorial. Unless there is, a particular solemnity, -the content of the prayer must necessarily be general. It represents our approach to God.  Rev. Jungmann writes beautifully regarding this matter:  “Many formulas do not mention any specified object, but merely ask to be heard – for all the desires in the hearts of the assembled petitioners. Or perhaps one or the other constant and ever-recuring desire is mentioned: Help of divine power, overthrow of error and overcoming of danger, inclination to good, forgiveness of sin, attainment of salvation.  At the same time, however, these prayers often mirror the powers that stand opposed to each other in the spiritual combat, especially in the form of pairs of contrasting ideas, a literary device which matched the notorious fondness for antithetical phrasing: Corporeal and spiritual, thinking and doing” burden of one’s own effort and the heavenly intercession of the saints, abstaining from nourishment and fasting from sin, freedom from oppression and devotion to good works, profession and imitation, faith and reality, earthly life and eternal blessedness” (Jungmann, p. ,251).
Although the Roman liturgy never renounced Christ’s divinity, until about 1000 AD, it retained the rule set at the Council of Hippo that prayers directed to the Father should not be transferred to Christ. Even today, most of the Collects are addressed to the Father. (Of course, in personal piety and corporate devotions outside of Mass, as well as in the Scriptures, there were many examples of prayers and petitions addressed directly to Jesus, i.e. Romans 1 :8; 16:27; 2 Corinthians 1 :20; Hebrews 12: 15; 1 Peter 2:5; 4:11; Jude 25.) However, the name of Christ does appear in the closing formula of the Collect. Showing something of the economy of salvation, our prayer is offered “through our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is through Christ our Mediator that we come to the Father (Hebrews 7:25). We make our petitions through our eternal high priest. In olden times, figures of influence or importance might send a message (more so memorized than written) through a runner. When he reached the designated person, the messenger would recite the message in the person of the sender. To some degree, this is the case with Christ as our “pontifex” or bridge-builder to the Father. Through Christ, communications are fully restored and with them, our relationship to God.

The Collect is the Church at prayer, not only conceptually but really. The unity expressed by the greeting is given words in the opening prayer. However, this appreciation of the Church extends beyond the gathered communality and also embraces the people and structures of the Church universal. The people’s “Amen” confirms the prayer offered by the priest as the head of the local church. Although the liturgy has many opening orations, this was not always the case. “The Roman Mass for a thousand years had only one oration” (Jungmann, p. 255). Later they proliferated at the start of Mass. The eradication of the Prayer of the Faithful (until modem times) and the shortening of the Kyrie (litany), induced the Church to implement the Collect, Secret, and Post-communion prayers as the locus to express the wants of the Church and her current needs. 

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The Introductory Rites of Mass (4)

Posted by Father Joe on August 25, 2006

The following notes are largely derived from a thorough reading of Rev. Josef A. Jungmann, S.J.’s classic work, The Mass of the Roman Rite.

Absolution Prayer

Both the Misereatur and the Absolution followed the Confiteor and manifested something of the increased expressions of sorrow. However, the latter prayer has been eliminated from the current Missal. The rationale for this might not have merely been the reduction of a second absolution, but an attempt to avoid confusion with sacramental absolution. To add to this concern, at the time of their shift into the Mass, the Absolutionem was the same used in sacramental confession. The absolution retained, the Misereatur, was probably largely established in some form as early as the ninth and tenth centuries. The addition of various saints as intercessors would be rejected in the Missal of Pope Pius V and in the present ritual.
Kyrie Eleison
This prayer which is most particularly the people’s, has been reduced from nine to six petitions. However, there is nothing in the General Instruction which prevents additional invocations or even expanding the texts. The Kyrie came into Western Europe from the Greek liturgy. “The Kyrie did not get to Rome earlier than the fifth century. And when it was taken over, it was part of the litany which is traceable in the Orient since the fourth century and which has continued in use even today in the liturgies of the Orient as the so-called ektenes” (Jungmann, p. 222). However, it goes back further. The word” eleison” was probably even familiar to the pre-Christian religions. The Scriptures give us models of this prayer as in Psalm 6:3, “…have mercy on me, O Lord.” It is recorded that about 360 AD, a deacon in Jerusalem would complete Vespers with petitions, to which boys would respond, “Kyrie eleison.” About the same time, petitions prior to the dismissal of catechumens at Mass in Alexandria (like our general intercessions) were affirmed in a like manner. The response also became connected to the Litany of the Saints. The Milanese liturgy, like our own, placed the Kyrie eleison between the introit and oration. In chants that accompanied papal processions at the beginning of Mass, each utterance of the chant, according to the first Roman Ordo, was repeated three times. “Custom had thus consecrated the number three” (Jungmann, p. 228).
Both of the titles “Kyrie” and “Christus” are directed to Jesus. The tropes which are used with some versions of the Kyrie detail some attribute of Christ’s, particularly in terms of his saving action for us. With the development of various Gregorian melodies for the Kyrie, the trope materialized in the ninth century and flourished into the sixteenth. The Missal of Pius V eradicated the tropes as an “over-growth.” However, the Missal of Paul VI has restored them. “Originally the celebrating priest took no part in the Kyrie. For that reason it is not mentioned in most Ordinaries, not even in those that contain all the texts of the prayers at the foot of the altar, or the offertory” (Jungmann, p. 231).
Like the Kyrie, the Gloria was not initially created for the Mass. It is a remnant of the ancient hymns which were treasured by the early Church. They were composed to mimic biblical passages, especially the psalms.

“The line begun in the New Testament with the Magnificat and Zachary’s song of praise and the canticle of aged Simeon, is continued in these works.  Few, however, have remained in use to the present. . . . This last, [Gloria] often called the Greater Doxology, was already so highly esteemed even in the ancient Church that it outlived the fate that overtook so many songs which perished as a result of an adverse attitude towards church hymns created merely humano studio” (Jungmann, pp. 231-232).

The text of the Gloria can be traced back to three ancient sources, the most notable being the Codex Alexandrinus of the New Testament. It is from this that the Greek liturgy gets its rendition. The other two sources include a later expansion of it in the Syrian version (used in the Nestorian liturgy) and a much edited version in the Apostolic Constitutions.  This latter version existed as early as 380 AD, however, it subordinated Christ to the Father and did not address Jesus at all in the second part. Obviously, an Arian editor (denying Christ’s full divinity) altered the text to fit his theology.
As for its translation, an interesting note is made by Johannes H. Emminghaus in his book, The Eucharist:

“The English text implicitly keeps the optative form of the verb ‘to be’: ‘Glory [be] to God…’  This is not the sole possible interpretation of the original text; the indicative could just as well be used in translation (’Glory is to God. . .’), since all forms of praise of God from the Jewish period emphasize the fact that God is being glorified; they are not just wishes that God may be glorified in heaven and on earth” (Emminghaus, p. 124).

The Gloria can be delineated readily into three sections: the song of the angels on the first Christmas night (Luke 2:14); the praise of God; and the invocation of Christ. It was common for these hymns to begin with a verse from Scripture. The second element, praise of God, assembles a series of assertions about our activity toward God and his names (in the godhead). It addresses all three persons of the Trinity. The Christological segment posits Christ and God as one and on the same level. The Holy Spirit is included, but almost as an afterthought.

“No, God and Christ are the pillars of the Christian order of the universe: God, the beginning and the end of all things, towards whom all religious seeking is bent and all prayer eventually is turned; but in the Christian order also Christ, the way, the road on which all our God-seeking must be directed” (Jungmann, p. 234).

The peace that is proclaimed for God’s people on earth is properly from God. It is the gift given to those who, having received the Good News, are now receptive to his grace and favor. God has decreed that all should come to his kingdom (Ephesians 1:5). The glory made fully manifest during the events toward the end of his life begins now with his incarnation among us.

“Every day that the Church lives, every time the Church gathers her children in prayer, and particularly when she assembles them for the Eucharist, a new light flashes across the world and the Church beholds, with mingled joy and longing, the approach of the Kingdom of God, the advent, in spite of every obstacle, of the consummation of the great plan: that glory will come to God, and to men of God’s choice, peace and salvation” (Jungmann, p. 235).

We thank God for his wondrous glory.  God’s kingdom is erupting into the world and we are rewarded beyond imagining, beginning with the gift of his Son (Romans 8:32). Nevertheless, we praise God’s glory for what it is in itself and only secondarily for what it brings us. We acclaim him by his various titles and then move our attention particularly to Christ. “In this christological section we can distinguish the following framework:  (1) the laudatory salutation; (2) the litany-like invocations; (3) the triple predication, To Solus; and (4) the trinitarian conclusion” (Jungmann, p. 236). The most important of the titles used here for Jesus is “Lord” or “Kurios.”  As Saint Paul would emphasize, Christ alone is Lord. The phrase, “Only [-begotten] Son” of the Father was used in some ancient documents as a name for Jesus. The title “Lord” is repeated in a second series of three titles for him, giving it additional emphasis. Christ became one of us; however, since he shares in the light of his Father’s splendor, he is unfathomable as well (Hebrews 1:3). His redemptive labor is recalled with the name “Lamb of God.” In words similar to the Kyrie, we know at what great price he “take(s) away the sin of the world.” He will indeed “have mercy on us.” We make our prayers through Christ and he lives to intercede for us. Toward the end of the hymn, our acclaim of Christ logically blooms into an accolade of the triune God. However, even here, Christ’s name loses none of its splendor; for what is claimed of one must be acknowledged of all.  Before the world began, Christ lived in glory with the Father (John 17:5). He is the holy one who comes to make us holy. The phrase, “you alone are the Most High,” is taken from Psalm 82: 19.
Although not initially intended for the Mass, it was a festival song of thanksgiving. As such, Pope Telesphorus (d. 136 AD), commanded that it be sung for the evening Christmas Mass. Pope Symmachus (d. 514 AD) permitted it in episcopal Masses for Sundays and for the feasts of martyrs.   “According to the Ordo of St. Armand, the priest was allowed to intone it during Easter night, and also on the day of his ordination if he was installed in his titular church and there celebrated his first Mass” (Jungmann, p. 238). By the end of the eleventh century, the present rule went into effect throughout the universal Church. It may be used at any Mass of festive character. Although it would be transferred to the clergy (who intoned it), the Gloria was at first a song of the congregation, not of a special choir.

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The Introductory Rites of Mass (3)

Posted by Father Joe on August 24, 2006

The following notes are largely derived from a thorough reading of Rev. Josef A. Jungmann, S.J.’s classic work, The Mass of the Roman Rite.

Kissing the Altar (continued)

In time, the association of the altar with Christ would be a bit reshuffled by the placement of a small reliquary (altar stone) with the remains of some popular martyr. Consequently, the kissing of the altar was transformed into a greeting of the Church triumphant through the martyr. “Innocent III therefore explains the bishop’s kissing of the altar as representing Christ saluting his spouse”  (Jungmann, p. 211). The deletion of the words which accompanied this kissing of the altar in the previous rite (making it penitential) was to restore something of its otherwise innate meaning. The number of times that the altar is kissed have been (currently) reduced to that which was traditional in 1240 (and earlier), at the beginning and at the conclusion of the liturgy. To be honest, there was another such kiss mentioned at that time as well, however, its placement was not specified. If it is desired to create an aura of greater solemnity, the altar may be further honored by incensing. In the early days of the Church there was some hesitance to use incense at all because of its wide use in pagan cults.  With the disappearance of the old religions, this reservation was also dismissed. Along with the rising of the smoke, Christian hearts were also upraised to God. By the ninth century incense was definitely used at the liturgy. “A formal incensation of the altar is mentioned as early as the eleventh century”  (Jungmann, p. 213). Rev. Jungmann notes:

In the incensing of the altar, the meaning that stood in the foreground was the purification and protection that the incense implied; this became, in turn, a sign of honor. From here the next step was obvious; it could be carried over generally to all sacred objects — and to the most sacred of all, the Blessed Sacrament, where it does today actually find its favorite use (Jungmann, p. 213).

Sign of the Cross

The priest makes the sign of the cross, a gesture of blessing which is taken directly from the baptismal formula offered by Christ. Its use in the Mass can only be traced back to the 14th century. In its use we find a link between Baptism and Eucharist. By this blessing we invoke the power of the triune God that comes through the Cross. “In addition, the sign of the cross is based on a mysticism of the cross that has been known from the time of the Fathers and has good theological grounds, namely, that all salvation comes to us through the cross of Christ and that the sacraments spring from the wound that pierced the side of the dead Christ on the cross (John 19:34) (The Eucharist by Johannes H. Emminghaus, p. 113).

More About the Entrance Rites in General

By 1000 AD, the entrance rite was a full-blown ceremonial. However, fixed times for other prayers and choir service would mean that the ministers would already be present in the church. An entrance procession became unnecessary. Indeed, the celebrant and assistants, especially in monastic communities, would already be vested. With sacristies placed near the altar (where the ministers had also vested at one time), the steps to the altar were vastly reduced. “Instead of a processional, the introit became an introductory chant which in Rome already in the fourteenth century was not begun till the priest had reached the altar steps” (Jungmann, p. 195). When there is no music, as on weekdays at many churches today, this is still the basic pattern we see. The Collect (closure to these rites) was and is a priestly prayer that gathers together the petitions of the people. It draws to itself, all the prayers and actions that have come before it.

Greeting the Congregation

With outstretched arms, the celebrant greets the congregation with a desire for God’s blessings. This physical gesture can be both an invitation and a form of embrace. When combined with the people’s response, a communion between them is established and the mystery of the Church at prayer is made manifest. Following the greeting, the priest, deacon, or another minister may introduce the congregation to the Mass of the day.

It is with the opening prayer that the salutation, “The Lord be with you,” historically arises in the liturgy. Every time there is a special announcement or invitation, the greeting is uttered. It comes prior to the opening prayer, the Gospel, the preface, and the prayer after communion. This salutation helps to direct our attention to an important moment in the Mass. It is a part of all four major sections of the liturgy.

“Besides, the use of a greeting form enables the congregation to return the greeting [”And also with you.”], and so, through this religious setting of reciprocal salutation, the feeling of God’s nearness is intensified” (Jungmann, p. 242).

We find the greeting used in the Book of Ruth (2:4) when Boaz welcomes his reapers. It was an everyday expression. We find it again in Luke 1:28; Judges 6:12; Chronicles 15:2; and 2 Thessalonians 3:16. The peoples’ response to the greeting is also of Hebrew origin. The Latin reads: “Et cum spiritu tuo.” The Semitic understanding is starkly translated as “you” since it denotes the entire person. We find Scriptural precedent in this regard as well: Timothy 4:22; Philemon 25; Galatians 6:18; and Philip 4:23. The Old Testament exhortation that God be with us is refined in the New Testament to associate the title “Lord” in this instance to Christ. It reaffirms Christ’s own promise: “Behold, I am with you (always)” (Matthew 28:20). He also pledged, “Whenever two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in their midst” (Matthew 18:20). This latter sense is presumed but there is also an indefinite quality to the greeting which we celebrate in particular during the season of Advent, “0 Come, 0 Come, Emmanuel.”

A bishop might offer the greeting, “Peace be with you.” (All priests offer it at the sign of peace later in the liturgy.) It is the salutation of the Risen Lord to his Apostles. “In the Orient, outside Egypt, this formula has taken the place of the Dominus vobiscum since the fourth century” (Jungmann, p. 243).

In the case of both salutations, the priestly presider while facing the people stretches out his hands. This corporeal gesture “deepens once more the utterance of a desire to be united with the congregation and to draw them together into the prayer which is about to begin” (p. 243). The congregation ratifies this yearning for unity. In the prayer itself, the priest raises his hands.

At the same time the apologists perceive in this posture an image of the Crucified in whose name the Christiatian appears before God, a thought which recurs again in the commentators of the Middle Ages, who make much of it particularly as regards the posture during the canon of the Mass (Jungmann, p. 247).

The Confiteor

The origins of the Confiteor (I Confess. . .) are to be found in the papal worship regarding the stational services of Rome when he arrived at the altar. Originally unspecified and silent, these prayers undergo an evolution.

But for this quiet prayer words were soon inserted when the Roman Mass reached Frankish territory. The tendency is manifested, for instance, in the change of the seventh-century Roman rubric, “lying prostrate on the ground”; the Frankish revision of the eighth century makes the addition: “pouring forth prayers for himself or for the sins of the people.” Thus the theme of the apologies is sounded (Jungmann, p. 203).

The priest recognizes his sinfulness before God and his brothers and sisters. This transition to the prayer was finalized in the first third of the 11th century. Rapidly, it was imitated. It was essentially a copy of the confession of faults which had preceded Prime and Compline since the ninth century. Originally, it consisted only of the priest and deacon confessing. Later, the priest and some of those present at the Mass would do so.

The intercession of the Church was also an element that was extant in the prayers of sacramental confession. Another standard feature was the mention of saints. In some of the more ancient texts, mention of the altar was also made. (This accompanied the monastic practice of going from altar to altar, praying at each.)

About the year 1080 AD, the Cluniac Confiteor read as follows: “I confess to God, and to all his saints, and to you, Father, that I have sinned in thought, word, and deed, through my fault. I beg you, to pray for me.” The Cistercians in their General Chapter in 1184 AD added “the blessed Mary” before the mention of other saints. Throughout the Middle Ages, other saints were added, but only in the second part of the prayer regarding the Church on earth as intercessors. The Third Council of Ravenna in 1314 decreed that the direct mention of other saints had to be limited to Michael, John the Baptist, and the Apostles, Peter and Paul. Expressions of sorrow intensified. Bowing and indeed, even kneeling were not uncommon during it. As for the striking of one’s breast, as during the mea culpa, this was long a common practice.

This gesture, copied from the Bible story (Luke 18: 13) was so familiar to St. Augustine’s audience and so intimately connected with the acknowledgment of sin that the saint had to caution them against beating their breasts every time the word confiteor was called out (Jungmann, p. 205)

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The Introductory Rites of Mass (2)

Posted by Father Joe on August 23, 2006

The following notes are largely derived from a thorough reading of Rev. Josef A. Jungmann, S.J.’s classic work, The Mass of the Roman Rite.

Entrance Song & Procession

The act of prayer is introduced by an entrance song and a procession into the church. It is an approach to the majesty of God. As early as the year 800 AD, the Ordo of St. Amand (Roman), detailed how the schola would intone the introit antiphon. While the psalm was sung, the pope and his deacons would proceed through the church to the altar. At the end of this, with a signal from the pope, the schola would sing the Gloria. Arriving at the altar, he would bow, say a silent prayer, and kiss the altar. After the repetition of the antiphon, the pope would speak the greeting. Then, the Dominus vobiscum (The Lord be with you) and oration would be performed. The only thing missing was the Kyrie. (It must be said that the particular opening service narrated here was peculiar. According to this Ordo, everyone was to subsequently leave the church and set out in a penitential procession.) “But it is significant that the scribe felt called upon to make a special note regarding the missing part: ‘When the antiphon at the close of the introit has been sung to the end, the schola does not sing the Kyrie.’ The Kyrie therefore normally belonged to this rite” (Jungmann, pp. 192-193). Obviously, in such cases it was intoned at the beginning of the penitential procession.

As for hymns that might be used today in place of the short antiphons, some are likewise taken from the psalms. In a day gone by, these would have been the only ones allowed at the Mass. “The new hymnody, composed on the principles of meter and strophe, which was introduced about the time of St. Ambrose, was not admitted to the Roman Mass for over five hundred years. At Rome a strict rule was observed in the face of the wild and crafty song-propaganda of Manichean and Gnostic groups: We use only the songs dictated by the Spirit of God himself” (Jungmann, p. 214). The chants which came to be used were sung antiphonally with two choruses, verse by verse. With the early prohibition against musical instruments, a prefatory antiphon was used for the proper intonation. Eventually, this antiphon would be all that would remain. However, a tradition was starting that would profoundly affect the entire Mass. In the middle of the fourth century, monks who opposed the Arian heresy (in the East) would gather people and chant the psalms. Within a fairly short time, this way of singing became widespread. The cathedrals in the cities established scholas to chant their prayers. In Rome, it is traditionally claimed that antiphony was introduced by Pope Celestine I (died 432) and precisely as an introit no less. However, there is no historical data to backup this claim. In most other churches there was insufficient room for such a procession that would mandate an extended psalm. Consequently, it was reduced to a single antiphon.Tropes were used by some to enlarge this part of the liturgy. However, the Missal of Pius V eliminated this while tolerating a triple repetition of the antiphon. This was practiced by the Norbertines and Carmelites all the way from the eleventh century. Nevertheless, except for very rare occasions (as in the coronation Mass of Pope Pius XI in 1922), the entire psalm was not sung. As in our hymns today, the original intent was to use the psalms befitting the theme or feast of the day.

Kissing the Altar

The priest makes a simple bow to the altar or he genuflects if the tabernacle is there. The solenm (papal) liturgies of the seventh century began with the celebrant kissing the Book of the Gospels and the altar, both which represented Christ. Although the book will be kissed today after its proclamation, only the altar is so treated at the beginning of Mass. For a time, a cross would also be kissed; however, this was reduced to a kiss on a symbol of the cross in the liturgical book (as in the beginning of the canon). Three cardinal priests would give the kiss of peace to the Pope. The French had a similar practice, but after the Confiteor. The Missal of Paul VI reserves the sign of peace until just prior to communion. (Although a bishop’s initial greeting substitutes “Peace be with you,” for “The Lord be with you.”) There is a real similarity in regard to the present command to extend Christ’s peace. At that time in history, it was bluntly stated: “Receive the kiss of peace.” Borrowed from antiquity, the practice of kissing the altar finds precedence in the custom of honoring the temple by kissing the threshold. For the pagans, it was also common practice “to greet the images of the gods by means of a kiss or to throw them a kiss from a distance…” (Jungmann, p. 210). Even the family dining table was so honored, especially at the start of a meal. This civic custom became readily introduced into Christian practice. Indeed, the routine of kissing the altar extends at least as far back as the fourth century. By kissing Christ’s altar, we were honoring Christ himself.

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The Introductory Rites of Mass (1)

Posted by Father Joe on August 22, 2006

The following notes are derived from a thorough reading of Rev. Josef A. Jungmann, S.J.’s classic work, The Mass of the Roman Rite. Several years ago, Fr. Charles Pope used the book almost exclusively for a series of classes he gave at Mount Calvary. It may be the best text on this most important mystery of our faith.

Division of the Mass

In the revised liturgy, the names for the two principal parts of the Mass have been changed. Formerly, they were called the “Mass of the Catechumens” and the “Mass of the Faithful,” terms which reached popularity in the eleventh century and which Florus used in his De actione missarum of the ninth. Today, they are called the “Liturgy of the Word” and the “Liturgy of the Eucharist,” distinctions made clear as early as the mid-second century (Justin Martyr’s account) and maybe as far back as the late apostolic age. The use of introductory readings would create an aura of faith for the great mystery of faith which would come later. Just as the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults now (optionally) recommends, the catechumens in early days would be asked to leave prior to the second part of the liturgy. Indeed, in sixth century Rome, they would be required to leave even before the Gospel.

The Church has returned to the use of petitions after the readings, or what we commonly call the Prayer of the Faithful or General Intercessions. Also, similar to the practice of early times, the Liturgy of the Word begins rather abruptly, with a few introductory prayers. In reference to a story from the year 426 AD about Saint Augustine, Rev. Jungmann writes: “But what is of real interest to us is that when the tumult had gradually died down, the bishop ,greeted the people and then without further ado began the reading of the lessons”  (Jungmann, p. 188). 

A Schema of the Introductory Rites

(1)  Introit/Entrance Antiphon & Procession

(2)  Sign of the Cross

(3)  Greeting

(4)  Penitential Rite: Confiteor & Absolution

(5)  Penitential Rite: Kyrie Eleison

(6)  Gloria

(7)  Collect (Opening Prayer)

Unity of the Introductory Rites

The opening and closing rites of the Mass provide the framework in which is sandwiched the two principal parts of the Mass, the Word and Eucharist. Our current introductory rites are actually shortened versions of the more extensive ritual of the Tridentine Missal. Although some have complained about the lack of preparation this new brevity allows, liturgists like Johannes H. Emminghaus contend, “The recent reform did not entirely eliminate the impression of accumulation, but the structure has on the whole been rendered more logical and easier to put into practice, especially when use is made of various options offered” (The Eucharist, p. 104). Obviously, penitential rites were necessarily added from very early on, and even today, these rites can help the community to focus on their liturgical prayer. 

Originally, the collect was after the first reading. However, owing perhaps to the magnetism of the introit, it shifted to its present position. Others have suggested that its roots were really in some now forgotten ceremony of assembly prior to Mass, as appeared to have been the Roman custom. This particular oration was transferred to the processional litany, which exists today in its much reduced form, the Kyrie (Lord Have Mercy). Fr. Jungmann himself admits that the oration and the Kyrie belong together (Jungmann, p. 190).

The story is told that when Leo III and Charlemagne met in the year 799 AD, the pope intoned the Gloria which was taken up by the entire clergy, whereupon the pope recited a prayer. We are forced, therefore, to conclude that Kyrie, Gloria, and oration are part of a unified plan which is patterned on an ascending scale, the oration forming the high point  (Jungmann, p. 191).

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