Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Mass as it was in the City of Rome, part 9

The Salus Populi Romani, an 117 x 79 cm (5 x 3¼ ft) icon of Our Lady and Our Lord, perhaps dating in its original form from Late Antiquity, located in St. Mary Major.

XII. THE COMMUNION (continued) and THE COMMUNION-ANTHEM (1 Cor. 5: 7-8, Ps. 138 [139])

Now as soon as the Pope began to communicate the magnates, the choir immediately began to sing the Communion-Anthem by turns with the Subdeacons.

Choir: "Alleluia. Pascha nostrum immolatus est Christus, Alleluia; Epulemur in azymis sinceritatis et veritatis, Alleluia."
Subdeacons: "Pascha nostrum..."
Choir: (sings the rest of Psalm 138; i.e. where they left off at the Introit to sing the Gloria Patri)
Subdeacons: "Pascha nostrum..."
Choir: (sings the next verse)
Subdeacons: "Pascha nostrum..." (And so on until the Pope gives the signal to sing the Gloria Patri)

(Choir: Alleluia, Alleluia. Christ our Pasch is sacrificed, Alleluia; Let us feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Subdeacons: Christ our Pasch...
Choir: (Psalm 138 verse)
Subdeacons: Christ our Pasch...
Choir: (Psalm 138 verse), etc.)

The Pope, after communicating those on the women's side goes back to the throne and communicates the District Officials in order, and those who stand in a group, and on festivals twelve of the Choir as well. But on other days these communicate in the Presbytery.

After all these the Invitationer, and the Treasurer, the Acolyte who holds the Patenn, he who holds the towel, and he who offers water at the Washing of the hands, receives Communion at the Throne. After the Pope has given them the Consecrated Bread, the Archdeacon administers the Chalice to them.

Then a District-Subdeacon stands before the Pope in order that he may sign to him: but the latter first looks at the people to see if they have finished Communion, and then signs to him. Then he goes to the Pope's shoulder and looks towards the Precentor, making a Sign on the Cross on his forehead as a sign to him to sing the Gloria Patri. The Precentor returns his salutation, and sings:

Choir: "Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto."
Subdeacons: "Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen."
Choir: "Expurgate vetus fermentum, ut sitis nova conspersio, sicut estis azymi."
Subdeacons: "Pascha nostrum..."

(Choir: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.
Subdeacons: As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be; world without end. Amen.
Choir: Purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new paste, as you are unleavened.
Subdeacons: Christ our Pasch...)


At the end of the Communion Anthem the Pope rises with the Archdeacon and comes before the Altar and says the Post-Communion, facing Eastwards. He does not face the people here when he says Dominus vobiscum.

Pope: "Dominus vobiscum."
R: "Et cum spiritu tuo."
Pope: "Oremus. Spiritum nobis, Domine, tuae caritatis infunde: ut, quos sacramentis Paschalibus satiasti, tua facias pietate concordes. Per Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum, Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti, Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum."
R: "Amen."

(Pope: The Lord be with you.
R: And with your spirit.
Pope: Let us pray. Pour forth upon us, O Lord, the spirit of Your Love, that, by Your loving kindness, You may make to be of one mind those whom You have satisfied with the Paschal Sacraments. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit; God, forever and ever.
R: Amen.)

The facade of St. Mary Major today.


A Deacon appointed by the Archdeacon looks towards the Pope so that the latter may sign to him, and when he does, the Deacon says to the people:

Archdeacon: "Ite, missa est, Alleluia, Alleluia."
R: "Deo gratias, Alleluia, Alleluia."

(Archdeacon: Go, the dismissal is made, Alleluia, Alleluia.
R: Thanks be to God, Alleluia, Alleluia.)

The seven Acolytes who carry the candlesticks and the District-Subdeacon with the Thurible go before the Pope to the Sacristy. When the latter goes down from the presbytery, the Bishops say:

Bishops: "Jube, domne, benedicere."
Pope: "Benedicat nos Dominus."
Bishops: "Amen."

(Bishops: Grant, sir, to bless.
Pope: May the Lord bless us.
Bishops: Amen.)

Next the Presbyters follow and do the same. Then follows the Monks, then the Choir, then the Military Banner-bearers (those who carry standards), then the Bearers, then the Taperers, then the Acolytes who watch the gate (of the Confessio?) after them. Outside the Presbytery the Crossbearers and then the junior Sextons ask for the same, and this done the Pope then enters the Sacristy, ending the Mass.


When Bishops are celebrating Mass on their own respective Sees, they follow the rites discussed above. However, if the Pope is unable to be present on a Mass in a Stational Church, a Bishop celebrates it on his behalf, during which the following differences are observed (In other respects the Bishop will celebrate just like the Pope):

1.) The Deacons, and not the Bishop who is celebrating that day, enter with the candlesticks and Thurible.
2.) The Bishop does not sit in the Throne (Cathedra) behind the Altar.
3.) He does not say the Collect behind the Altar, but on the right side of it.
4.) The Deacon, and not the Bishop himself, makes the Sign of the Cross in the place where it is customary.
5.) The Chalice is not elevated by the Archdeacon after the Canon at the Per quem haec omnia and the Per Ipsum.
6.) The Subdeacon-Oblationer brings the Fermentum (a fragment of the loaves consecrated by the Pope in a previous Mass and sent by him through the Subdeacon-Oblationer) and gives it to the Archdeacon, and he offers it to the Bishop, who making the Sign of the Cross with it thrice as he says the 'Pax Domini' and drops it in the Chalice. This also is done differently, since the Pope does not break one of the loaves, but the Bishop breaks one over the Corporal.
7.) All receive Communion except the celebrant Bishop (for he does not Communicate himself by his own hand). Another Bishop puts a part of a loaf into his hand, and then he communicates himself from his own hand. Likewise a Presbyter does for a Presbyter, and a Deacon for a Deacon.


Same as the Bishop above, save that he does not recite the Gloria in Excelsis (since Priests could only say it at Easter at this time period).


A. THE FERMENTUM (from E.G. Atchley's Ordo Romanus Primus)

...The [Fermentum] was similar (to the Sancta), but different. When the Pope was unable to celebrate Solemn Mass in person, he sent a fragment of the loaves consecrated by him at some previous Mass to the Stational Church, by the hands of the Subdeacon-Oblationer; and the same custom obtained at Masses celebrated at the titular Churches.

This was put into the Chalice by the celebrant instead of the Sancta, and at the same liturgical moment. It is to this custom that the notice in the Life of Zephyrinus (203-221) refers:

The Liber Pontificalis tells us that this Pope ordained that when he was not present in person, but only by deputy, the Mass should not proceed till the Presbyter had received from the Bishop (i.e. the Pope) a consecrated corona or loaf.
The same book tells us that Melchiades (311-314) "caused that consecrated Oblation-loaves should be sent to the Churches of that consecrated by the Bishop; which is known as the Fermentum, or leaven."

Siricius (385-398) is also recorded to have "ordained that no Presbyter should celebrate Masses throughout the week, unless he should receive a certified consecrated [loaf] from the Bishop of the place appointed [? for the Stational Mass]," words which appear to refer to the same practice.

Innocent I, writing to Decentius in 416, says:

But concerning the Fermentum, which we send on Sundays to the titular Churches, you wished to consult us superfluously, since all our Churches are situated within the city, the Presbyters of which being unable to meet together with us on that day, because of the people committed to their care, therefore receive by the hands of Acolytes Fermentum consecrated by us, so that they may not appear to be separated from Communion with us, specially on that day.

I do not, however, think that this should be done for country Churches, because the Sacraments should not be carried about far (we do not send to the Presbyters attached to the different cemetery-Oratories), and their Presbyters have the power and licence to consecrate.
The Fermentum was sent, as we see from these quotations, to symbolize the unity of the Eucharists celebrated at the same time by Presbyters in their Parish Churches, or by the Pope's deputy at the Stational Church, with the Pope's Eucharist.

As the Sancta demonstrated unity in point of time, so the Fermentum demonstrated it in point of place. Both set forth the teaching of the Church that all persons offer as the one mystical Body of Christ, a united body at one with itself, and that, as one of our reformers (John Cosins) puts it: "The virtue of the Eucharistic Sacrifice doth not only extend itself to the living and those that are present, but likewise to them that are absent, and them that be already departed or shall in time to come live and die in the faith of Christ."

This note of unity in celebrating one Eucharist in one Church or diocese is strongly emphasized by St. Ignatius. In his epistle to the Ephesians he hopes that they will be "united in one faith, in obedience to their Bishop and Presbyterate with entire affection, and in breaking one Loaf, which is the medicine of immortality."

In that to the Philadelphians he urges them to "endeavour to use one Eucharist. For one is the Flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one the Chalice in the unity of his Blood; one the Altar, and one the Bishop, with the Presbyterate, and the Deacons my fellow-servants."

And more plainly still in the Epistle to the Smyrnaeans: "Let no one do any of those matters which pertain to the Church without the Bishop. Let that Eucharist be esteemed valid which is either offered by the Bishop or by him to whom he has given permission."

This ceremony of the Fermentum was a visible sign, so long as it lasted, of the unity (and consequent validity) of the Eucharist celebrated by the presbyters of the diocese in various places, with that offered by the Bishop.

B. THE POST-COMMUNION COLLECT (from E.G. Atchley's Ordo Romanus Primus)

After the Communion, the Pope says the Post-Communion Collect. But he does not turn to the people in making the usual salutation. The usual explanation of this is that the veils of the Ciborium (Canopy) were all drawn, so that he could not be seen at all; or, at any rate, that the custom arose at a time when such was the practice.

C. ITE MISSA EST (from the Catholic Encyclopedia article)

This is the versicle chanted in the Roman Rite by the Deacon at the end of Mass, after the Post-Communions. It is our formula of the old dismissal (apolysis) still contained in all liturgies. It is undoubtedly one of the most ancient Roman formulæ, as may be seen from its archaic and difficult form. All the three oldest Roman Ordines contain it.
...The medieval commentators were much exercised to explain the meaning of the strange expression. Durandus suggests several interpretations. It has been thought that a word is omitted: Ite, missa est finita; or est is taken absolutely, as meaning "exists; is now an accomplished fact".

The real explanation seems to lie rather in interpreting correctly the word missa. Before it became the technical name of the holy Liturgy in the Roman Rite, it meant simply "dismissal".

The form missa for missio is like that of collecta (for collectio), ascensa (ascensio), etc. So Ite missa est should be translated "Go it is the dismissal".

On certain days which have the character of fasting or penance, this versicle is replaced by the words Benedicamus Domino. The fact is noticed by medieval liturgists since about the 11th century. The three Roman Ordines before the tenth century know only the form Ite missa est.

The explanation is that originally the people were not dismissed on such days, but stayed in Church for further prayers after Mass, suitable to fasting days. This is confirmed by a now extinct medieval custom of singing Benedicamus Domino at the end of midnight Mass at Christmas, because Lauds follow at once. So the idea obtained that Ite missa est implies a festal Mass. Our present rule that it follows the Gloria in Excelsis (and therefore the Te Deum in the Office) is noted in "Micrologus" (xlvi). Either versicle was always answered by the obvious response Deo gratias, implying thanks that the Sacrifice has been offered -- is now complete.

At Requiems (since they have no Gloria) Ite missa est is not said. In this case the versicle is Requiescant in pace. The response is Amen. Jean Beleth says that this arose "only from a general custom".

Till about the 12th century the Ite missa est really ended the Liturgy, as its form implies...It was not till the 16th century (Missal of Pius V) that the accretions to the Mass that had gradually been introduced (Placeat, Blessing, Last Gospel -- all originally private prayers) were definitely recognised as part of the Liturgy to be said at the Altar.

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