|Christ in Majesty (c. AD 1100),|
Chapelle des Moines, Berzé-la-Ville
the words accompanying it in many liturgies, the sole meaning of this rite is to show to the faithful, before Communion, that it is the very Body and Blood of Christ which they are about to receive; and that their separation under the different species of bread and wine is only apparent. Although at this epoch Communion under both kinds was almost universal, the doctrine that Christ was present, whole and entire, under both species, was none the less of equally universal acceptance. The rites of "Commixtion" or "Immixtion," which are attached to this part of the Mass, seem, in our opinion, to favor this interpretation (see "Immixtion" in DACL).
The recitation of the "Pater" follows the "Fraction" and "Commixtion." Its recital during Mass in this place, or at some place very near to these two rites, is an almost universal practice. Some exceptions might indeed be mentioned. The "Apostolic Constitutions" do not speak of the "Pater;" neither does St. Hippolytus, nor Serapion, nor the "anaphora" of Balizeh. But these are exceptions. The "Pater" has its place, and that a place of honor in the Roman Mass, where it is surrounded with special rites. With the Gallicans, as in most other liturgies, it is, as it were, framed between a prelude or protocol and a conclusion or embolism.
|Stained glass window (1140-44), |
Abbey Church, Saint-Denis
In the Gallican Mass it is recited by the entire congregation, as was also the custom amongst the Greeks; while in Africa and at Rome the celebrant alone recited the "Pater" aloud, the people responding "Amen," or "Sed libera nos a malo." In Spain we have seen there was a special place for the recitation of this prayer.
Before the Communion the Bishop, or even the Priest, blessed the faithful. This blessing also is important; it is not confined to the Gallican liturgy, but took place in Africa also, in the time of St. Augustine. It existed, too, in the Eastern liturgies, and even Rome may have known it at one time, though it has been transformed and placed elsewhere.102
102 Cf. Dom Wilmart, op. cit., col. 1088; Dom Morin, "Revue Benedictine," 1912, Vol. XXIX, p. 179 seq.
The meaning of this blessing, a kind of absolution or final purification before Communion, is determined by the accompanying formulas. The Deacon said: "Humiliate vos benedictioni;" or with the Greeks: "Let us bow down our heads before the Lord." The pseudo-Germain mentions the following: "Pax, fides et caritas, et communicatio corporis et sanguinis D.N.J.C. sit semper vobiscum." He says, too, that the blessing given by the Priest must be shorter and less solemn than that given by the Bishop. This is a discreet allusion to the discussions which doubtless took place about this time, since the canons of some of the Councils of the fifth and sixth centuries bear traces of the controversy. The question was whether the right of blessing the people should be reserved to the Bishop alone, or whether (as here) it was sufficient to mark the difference between his blessing and that of a Priest (cf. especially the 44th canon of the Council of Agde, held 506). The formula varied according to the day. In the MS. collections many episcopal benedictions exist, some of which have been published, and these must not be neglected, since they form part also of liturgical theology (see our article, "Benedictions episcopales", in DACL).
A certain hierarchical order-indeed, a very rigorous one-was enforced for the Communion. Priests and Deacons communicated at the altar; other clerics before it; the laity outside the choir. This at least was the Spanish custom. In Gaul the faithful entered the choir and communicated at the altar. Men received the Host upon the bare hand; while women received It in a linen cloth called the "Dominical" (Duchesne, op. cit., p. 257).
|Mosaic of the Ark of the Covenant, Germigny-des-Prés, c. 806.|
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This would explain the pseudo-Germain's text on "Circumincession" in the Trinity. It is very subtle, but subtlety never frightened the symbolists of that period. However, what is incontestable is that these three verses with a special doxology are indeed a chant in honor of the Trinity; and on this point the Mozarabic rite agrees with that of Gaul. Other chants for Communion accompanied this, or took its place, such as the beautiful hymn, "Sancti venite," of the Celtic liturgies. In the Eastern and Mozarabic rites the Symbol of Nicea-Constantinople was recited at this moment. What must always be noticed is the intense care taken to cause an act of Faith to precede the participation in the Body and Blood of Christ; because the Eucharist is, above all, the mystery of union with Our Lord, and through Him between the faithful, in Faith and Charity.
After the Communion was said a prayer, the text of which varied. The Post-Communions preserved in the Gallican books are well worth study, for they express the faith of these liturgies in the Real Presence, and in the effects of the Sacrament upon the soul.
After these prayers the faithful were dismissed, as in other liturgies. The formula in the Roman rite is "Ite, Missa est," in the Missal of Stowe it is "Missa acta est, in pace." The Ambrosian rite has "Procedamus in pace, in nomine Domini;" while the Mozarabites have an even more solemn formula. The Eastern liturgies have yet others, and it was not until much later that, in certain rites, the reading of the Gospel of St. John and other prayers were added after this dismissal, a custom which causes the latter ceremony to lose all its meaning.
103 We shall have a word to say as to the neo-Gallican liturgies of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries on p. 203. But they have in reality little to do with the Mass.