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From Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year.

SUCH is the number and importance of the feasts kept during this holy season, that even those of the faithful who have not the habit of hearing Mass daily at other times look upon it as a sort of duty to do so now: and rightly; for the Lamb, who is offered up in this Divine Sacrifice, is he whom they have been asking of the Eternal Father with so much earnestness during Advent, in those words of the Prophet Isaias: Send forth, O Lord, the Lamb, the Ruler of the Earth.[1]

This tender Lamb is come; the child is born unto us,[2] and even now is on the Altar of his Sacrifice. St Paul tells us that this Jesus, on his first entrance into the world, said to his Father: Sacrifice and oblation thou wiliest not; but a Body thou hast fitted unto me. Then said I; behold I come: to do thy will, O God.[3] It is true that the Sacrifice of the Cross, of which that of the Mass is the continuation, was the Sacrifice of Christ at the end of his three-and-thirty years; still, during these days of Christmas, when we have so much to learn from the mystery of the Sacred Infancy, we shall be in strict accordance with the spirit of the Church if, whilst assisting at Mass, we keep before our minds not only the bleeding Victim of Calvary, but likewise the sweet Lamb of Bethlehem. Moreover, does not our Jesus offer himself for us to his Father from his Crib as well as from his Cross? Thus, we read in the Acts of the Saints, that as often as this our Redeemer wished to requite the faith and love of his servants by manifesting to them his real Presence in the sacred Host, he appeared to them in the form of a lovely Babe.

The liturgical iconography of the Greeks represents the mystery of the Eucharist under the symbol of a Babe reposing on a Paten. So, too, in many of our Latin Missals, up to the end of the sixteenth century, we find an illumination or engraving, as the case may be, representing a Priest vested in a Chasuble, standing at the Altar, and holding in his hands the Body of our Saviour under the form of a Child.

Let the faithful, therefore, enter the House of God in the dispositions wherewith the Shepherds and the Magi were animated, when they went to Bethlehem, the House of Bread. They too must come with haste;[4] from the midnight of this world to that Light which shineth in darkness.[5] They must come to the Altar as to the Crib of Jesus, and in the joy of this Mystery, they must offer their whole heart to the New-Born Babe. Then, uniting themselves with Mary and the Church, they must offer the Lamb of God to the heavenly Father, and themselves together with him—and all this with the humility and simplicity of little children.

We will now endeavour to embody these sentiments in our explanation of the Mysteries of the Holy Mass, and initiate the faithful into these divine secrets; not, indeed, by indiscreetly presuming to translate the sacred formulas, but by suggesting such Acts, as will enable those who hear Mass to enter into the ceremonies and sentiments of the Church and the Priest.

During a considerable portion of this Season, the Mass is celebrated in commemoration of the great Mysteries which were accomplished at this period of the Liturgical Year; and the Prayers used by the Church on these great Feasts will be found on the respective days. During the remaining forty days, the Holy Sacrifice is either of the Saints, or of the Sundays which come during this time, and on which there does not occur a principal Feast. The Sundays of Septuagesima and Sexagesima sometimes fall during Christmastide; and when this happens, they cannot be put out by any Feast save those of the Patron of the Place, or of the Titular or Dedication of the Church.

In all the Masses of the Sundays, as also on those Feasts which are called simples and semi-doubles, the Priest makes a commemoration of our Blessed Lady as Mother of God, and this by three Prayers which we give in their proper places. With regard to the colours of the Vestments used during this holy Season, we have explained them in a previous chapter.

On the Sundays, if the Mass at which the faithful assist be the Parochial, or as it is often called the Public Mass, two solemn rites precede it, which are full of instruction and blessing: the Asperges, or sprinkling of the Holy Water, and the Procession.

During the Asperges, let them unite with the intentions of the Church in this venerable rite, and pray for that purity of heart which will fit them for admission into that Stable of Bethlehem, wherein the Word Incarnate first appeared to his creatures.

Antiphon of the Asperges

Asperges me, Domine, hyssopo, et mundabor; lavabis me, et super nivem dealbabor.
Ps. Miserere mei, Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam.
℣. Gloria Patri, etc.
Ant. Asperges me, etc.
℣. Ostende nobis, Domine, misericordiam tuam.
℟. Et salutare tuum da nobis.
℣. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.
℟. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.
℣. Dominus vobiscum.
℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.
OREMUS
Exaudi nos, Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus: et mittere digneris sanctum Angelum tuum de cœlis, qui custodiat, foveat, protegat, visitet atque defendat omnes habitantes in hoc habitaculo. Per Christum Dominum nostrum.
℟. Amen.
Thou shalt sprinkle me with hyssop, O Lord, and I shall be cleansed; thou shalt wash me, and I shall be made whiter than snow.
Ps. Have mercy on me, O God, according to thy great mercy.
℣. Glory, etc.
Ant. Sprinkle me, etc.
℣. Show us, O Lord, thy mercy.
℟. And grant us the Saviour, whom we expect from thee.
℣. O Lord, hear my prayer.
℟. And let my cry come unto thee.
℣. The Lord be with you.
℟. And with thy spirit.
LET US PRAY
Graciously hear us, O holy Lord, Father Almighty, eternal God: and vouchsafe to send thy holy Angel from heaven, who may keep, cherish, protect, visit and defend all who are assembled in this place. Through Christ our Lord.
℟. Amen.

The Procession, which immediately precedes the Mass, should remind us of the Shepherds and Magi going to Bethlehem, and how, after a holy impatience to reach the sacred spot, they arrived, and found Mary and Joseph and the Infant lying in the manger.

But see, Christians, the Sacrifice begins! The Priest is at the foot of the altar; God is attentive, the Angels are in adoration, the whole Church is united with the Priest, whose priesthood and action are those of the great High Priest, Jesus Christ. Let us make the sign of the Cross with him.

The Ordinary of the Mass

In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.
℣. Introibo ad altare Dei.
℟. Ad Deum qui lætificat juventutem meam.
Judica me, Deus, et discerne causam meam de gente non sancta: ab homine iniquo et doloso erue me.
Quia tu es, Deus, fortitudo mea: quare me repulisti? et quare tristis incedo, dum affiigit me inimicus?
Emitte lucem tuam et veritatem tuam: ipsa me deduxerunt et adduxerunt in montem sanctum tuum, et in tabernacula tua.
Et introibo ad altare Dei: ad Deum qui lætificat juventutem meam.
Confitebor tibi in cithara Deus, Deus meus: quare tristis es anima mea? et quare conturbas me?
Spera in Deo, quoniam adhuc confitebor illi: salutare vultus mei, et Deus meus.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
℣. Introibo ad altare Dei.
℟. Ad Deum qui lætificat juventutem meam.
℣. Adjutorium nostrum in nomine Domini.
℟. Qui fecit cœlum et terram.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
I unite myself, O my God, with thy Church, who comes to seek consolation in Jesus Christ thy Son, who is the true Altar.
Like her, I beseech thee to defend me against the malice of the enemies of my salvation.
It is in thee that I have put my hope; yet do I feel sad and troubled at being in the midst of the snares which are set for me.
Send me, then, him who is light and truth; it is he who will open to us the way to thy holy mount, to thy heavenly tabernacle.
He is the Mediator, and the living Altar; I will draw nigh to him, and be filled with joy.
When he shall have come, I will sing in my gladness, Be not sad, O my soul! why wouldst thou be troubled?
Hope in his coming; he who is thy Saviour and thy God will soon be with thee.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
I am to go to the altar of God, and feel the presence of him who consoles me!
This my hope comes not from any merits of my own, but from the all-powerful help of my Creator.

The thought of his being about to appear before his God excites in the soul of the Priest a lively sentiment of compunction. He cannot go further in the Holy Sacrifice without confessing, and publicly, that he is a sinner, and deserves not the grace he is about to receive. Listen with respect to this confession of God's Minister, and earnestly ask our Lord to show mercy to him; for the Priest is your Father; he is answerable for your salvation, for which he every day risks his own. When he has finished, unite with the Servers, or the Sacred Ministers, in this prayer:

Misereatur tui omnipotens Deus, et dimissis peccatis tuis, perducat te ad vitam æternam.
May Almighty God have mercy on thee, and forgiving thy sins, bring thee to everlasting life.

The Priest having answered Amen, make your confession, saying with a contrite spirit:

Confiteor Deo omnipotenti, beatæ Mariæ semper Virgini, beato Michaeli Archangelo, beato Joanni Baptistæ. sanctis Apostolis Petro et Paulo, omnibus Sanctis, et tibi, Pater: quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo, et opere: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Ideo precor beatam Mariam semper Virginem, beatum Michaelem Archangelum, beatum Joannem Baptistam, sanctos Apostolos Petrum et Paulum, omnes Sanctos, et te, Pater, orare pro me ad Dominum Deum nostrum.
I confess to Almighty God, to blessed Mary ever Virgin, to blessed Michael the Archangel, to blessed John Baptist, to the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, to all the saints, and to thee, Father, that I have sinned exceedingly in thought, word, and deed, through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault. Therefore I beseech the blessed Mary ever Virgin, blessed Michael the Archangel, blessed John Baptist, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and all the saints, and thee, Father, to pray to our Lord God for me.

Receive with gratitude the paternal wish of the Priest, who says to you:

Misereatur vestri omnipotens Deus, et dimissis peccatis vestris, perducat vos ad vitam æternam.
℟. Amen.
Indulgentiam, absolutionem, et remissionem peccatorum nostrorum tribuat nobis omnipotens et misericors Dominus.
℟. Amen.
May Almighty God be merciful to you, and forgiving your sins, bring you to everlasting life.
℟. Amen.
May the almighty and merciful Lord grant us pardon, absolution, and remission of our sins.
℟. Amen.

 

Invoke the divine assistance, that you may approach to Jesus Christ.

℣. Deus, tu conversus vivificabis nos.
℟. Et plebs tua lætabitur in te.
℣. Ostende nobis, Domine, misericordiam tuam.
℟. Et Salutare tuam da nobis.
℣. Domine, exaudi orationem meam.
℟. Et clamor meus ad te veniat.
℣. O God, it needs but one look of thine to give us life.
℟. And thy people shall rejoice in thee.
℣. Show us, O Lord, thy mercy.
℟. And give us the Saviour whom thou hast prepared for us.
℣. O Lord, hear my prayer.
℟. And let my cry come unto thee.


The Priest here leaves you to ascend to the altar; but first he salutes you:

℣. Dominus vobiscum.
℣. The Lord be with you.

 

Answer him with reverence:

℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.
℣. Oremus.
℟. And with thy spirit.
℣. Let us pray.


He ascends the steps, and comes to the Holy of Holies. Ask, both for him and yourself, deliverance from sin:

Aufer a nobis, quæsumus, Domine, iniquitates nostras; ut ad Sancta sanctorum puris mereamur mentibus introire. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Take from our hearts, O Lord, all those sins which make us unworthy of thy visit; we ask this of thee by thy divine Son, our Lord.

When the Priest kisses the altar, out of reverence for the relics of the Martyrs which are there, say:

Oramus te, Domine, per merita sanctorum tuorum quorum reliquiae hic sunt, et omnium Sanctorum: ut indulgere digneris omnia peccata mea. Amen.
Generous soldiers of Jesus Christ, who have mingled your own blood with his, intercede for us that our sins may be forgiven: that so we may, like you, approach unto God.

If it be a High Mass at which you are assisting, the Priest incenses the Altar in a most solemn manner; and this white cloud, which you see ascending from every part of the Altar, signifies the prayer of the Church, who addresses herself to Jesus Christ; which this Divine Mediator then causes to ascend, united with his own, to the throne of the majesty of his Father.

The Priest then says the Introit. It is a solemn opening anthem, in which the Church, at the very commencement of the Holy Sacrifice, gives expression to the sentiments which fill her heart.

It is followed by nine exclamations, which are even more earnest, for they ask for mercy. In addressing them to God, the Church unites herself with the nine choirs of Angels, who are standing round the altar of Heaven, one and the same as this before which you are kneeling.

To the Father who has sent us his Son:

Kyrie eleison.
Kyrie eleison.
Kyrie eleison.
Lord, have mercy on us!
Lord, have mercy on us!
Lord, have mercy on us!

To the Son who has come down to us:

Christe eleison.
Christe eleison.
Christe eleison.
Christ, have mercy on us!
Christ, have mercy on us!
Christ, have mercy on us!

To the Holy Ghost, whose operation has accomplished the mystery:

Kyrie eleison.
Kyrie eleison.
Kyrie eleison.
Lord, have mercy on us!
Lord, have mercy on us!
Lord, have mercy on us!

Then, mingling his voice with that of the heavenly host, the Priest intones the sublime Canticle of Bethlehem, which announces glory to God and peace to men. Instructed by the revelations of God, the Church continues in her own words the Hymn of the Angels. She celebrates with rapture the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world. She offers to this Lamb, in return for the humiliations of the Stable and the Crib, the homage of her fervent praise, declaring that he alone is Holy, he alone is Lord, he alone Most High. Enter, Christians, into these sentiments of profound adoration of confidence and of tender love towards the Divine Lamb.

The Angelic Hymn

Gloria in excelsis Deo, Et in terra pax homibus bonæ voluntatis.
Laudamus te: benedicimus te: adoramus te: glorificamus te: gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam.
Domine Deus, Rex cœlestis, Deus Pater omnipotens.
Domine, Fili unigenite, Jesu Christe.
Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, Filius Patris.
Qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Qui tollis peccata mundi, suscipe deprecationem nostram.
Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris, miserere nobis.
Quoniam tu solus sanctus, tu solus Dominus, tu solus Altissimus, Jesu Christe, cum Sancto Spiritu, in gloria Dei Patris. Amen.
Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace to men of good will.
We praise thee: we bless thee: we adore thee: we glorify thee: we give thee thanks for thy great glory.
O Lord God, Heavenly King, God the Father Almighty.
O Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son.
O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father.
Who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Who takest away the sins of the world, receive our humble prayer.
Who sittest at the right hand of the Father, have mercy on us.
For thou alone art holy, thou alone art Lord, thou alone, O Jesus Christ, together with the Holy Ghost, art most high in the glory of God the Father. Amen.

The Priest turns towards the people, and again salutes them, to make sure, as it were, of their pious attention to the sublime act, for which all this is but the preparation. The words of this greeting are especially beautiful during the season of Christmas: The Lord be with you! Isaias had foretold that it would indeed be verified, and the Angel confirms the prophecy to St Joseph, when he thus says to him: He shall be called Emmanuel, that is, God with us.[6]

Then follows the Collect or Prayer, in which the Church formally expresses to the divine Majesty the special intentions she has in the Mass which is being celebrated. You may unite in this prayer by reciting with the Priest the Collects, which you will find in their proper places: but on no account omit to join with the server of the Mass in answering Amen.

Then follows the Epistle, which is generally a portion of one or other of the Epistles of the Apostles, or a passage from some Book of the Old Testament. Whilst it is being read, thank him who, not satisfied with having at sundry times spoken to us by the Prophets, has deigned in these days to speak to us by his Son.[7]

The Gradual is an intermediate formula of Prayer between the Epistle and Gospel. It again brings to our attention the sentiments which were expressed in the Introit. Read it with devotion, so as to penetrate more and more the spirit of the Christmas Mystery.

The song of praise, the Alleluia, is next heard. Let us, whilst it is being sung, unite with the holy Angels, who, at the Birth of the Divine Lamb, made our earth echo with their heavenly chants.[8]

One of the princes of this heavenly host said, speaking to the shepherds: Behold I evangelize to you (that is I bring you good tidings of) a great joy; for this day is born unto you a Saviour in Bethlehem, the City of David.[9] Afterwards came the Apostles, and they evangelized this same joy to the whole world; and the Book which contains the words which gave joy to mankind is called the Gospel, Evangelium. A passage from this divine Book is now going to be read to the assembly of the faithful; we shall hear the very words of him who became a Little Child in order to be thus able to speak to us.

If it be a High Mass, the Deacon prepares to fulfil his noble office, that of announcing the Good Tidings of salvation. He prays God to cleanse his heart and lips. Then, kneeling, he asks the Priest's blessing; and having received it, he at once goes to the place where he is to sing the Gospel. As a preparation for hearing it worthily, you may thus pray, together with the Priest and Deacon:

Munda cor meum ac labia mea, omnipotens Deus, qui Jabia Isaiæ Prophetæ calculo mundasti ignito: ita me tua grata miseratione dignare mundare, ut sanctum Evangelium tuum digne valeam nuntiare. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Dominus sit in corde meo et in labiis meis: ut digne et competenter annuntiem Evangelium suum: In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Saucti. Amen.
Alas! these ears of mine are but too often defiled with the world’s vain words; cleanse them, O Lord, that so I may hear the words of eternal life, and treasure them in my heart. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Grant to thy ministers thy grace, that they may faithfully explain thy law; that so all, both pastors and flock, may be united to thee for ever. Amen.

You will stand during the Gospel, as though you were waiting the orders of your Lord; and at the commencement, make the sign of the Cross on your forehead, lips and breast; and then listen to every word of the Priest or Deacon. Let your heart be ready and obedient. Whilst my beloved was speaking, says the Spouse in the Canticle, my soul melted within me.[10] If you have not such love as this, have at least the humble submission of Samuel, and say: Speak, Lord! thy servant heareth.[11]

After the Gospel, if the Priest say the Symbol of Faith, the Credo, you will say it with him. Faith is that gift of God without which we cannot please him. It is Faith that makes us see the Light which shineth in darkness, and which the darkness of unbelief did not comprehend. It is Faith that shows us him we are to love. It is Faith, too, that makes us become little children again; for such we must be, if we would have access to the Crib of him whom Clement of Alexandria so beautifully calls the King of Infants. Let us, then, say with the Catholic Church, our Mother:

The Nicene Creed[12]

Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipotentem, factorem cœli et terræ, visibilium omnium et invisibilium.
Et in unum Dominum Jesum Christum, Filium Dei unigenitum. Et ex Patre natum ante omnia sæcula, Deum de Deo, lumen de lumine, Deum verum de Deo vero. Genitum non factum, consubstantialem Patri, per quem omnia facta sunt. Qui propter nos homines, et propter nostram salutem, descendit de cœlis. Et incarnatus est de Spiritu Sancto ex Maria Virgine; et homo factus est. Crucifixus etiam pro nobis sub Pontio Pilato, passus et sepultus est. Et resurrexit tertia die secundum Scripturas. Et ascendit in cœlum; seder ad dexteram Patris. Et iterum venturus est cum gloria judicare vivos et mortuos; cujus regno non erit finis.
Et in Spiritum Sanctum, Dominum et vivificantem, qui ex Patre Filioque procedit. Qui cum Patre et Filio simul adoratur et conglorificatur; qui locutus est per Prophetas. Et unam sanctam Catholicam et Apostolicam Ecclesiam. Confiteor unum Baptisma in remissionem peccatorum. Et exspecto resurrectionem mortuorum, et vitam venturi sæculi. Amen.
I believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God. And born of the Father before all ages; God of God, light of light; true God of true God. Begotten, not made; consubstantial with the Father, by whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven. And became incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary; AND WAS MADE MAN. He was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried. And the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures. And ascended into heaven, sitteth at the right hand of the Father. And he is to come again with glory to judge the living and the dead; of whose kingdom there shall be no end.
And in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son. Who together with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified; who spoke by the Prophets. And one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. I confess one Baptism for the remission of sins. And I expect the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The Priest and the people should, by this time, have their hearts ready: it is time to prepare the offering itself. And here we come to the second part of the Holy Mass, which is called the Oblation, and which immediately follows that which was called the Mass of Catechumens, on account of its being formerly the only part at which the candidates for Baptism had a right to be present.

See then, dear Christians! bread and wine are about to be offered to God, as being the noblest of inanimate creatures, since they are made for the nourishment of man; and even that is only a poor material image of what they are destined to become in our Christian Sacrifice. Their substance will soon give place to God himself, and of themselves nothing will remain but the appearance. Happy creatures, thus to yield up their own being that God may take its place! We too are to undergo a like transformation, when, as the Apostle expresses it, that which to us is mortal shall put on immortality.[13] Until that happy change shall be realized, let us offer ourselves to God as often as we see the bread and wine presented to him in the Holy Sacrifice; and let us glorify him who, by assuming our human nature, has made us partakers of the divine nature.[14]

The Priest again turns to the people with the usual salutation, as though he would warn them to redouble their attention. Let us read the Offertory with him, and when he offers the Host to God, let us unite with him in saying:


Suscipe, sancte Pater, omnipotens æterne Deus, hanc immaculatam hostiam, quam ego indignus famulus tuus offero tibi Deo meo vivo et vero, pro innumerabilibus peccatis et offensionibus et negligentiis meis, et pro omnibus circumstantibus, sed et pro omnibus fidelibus christianis vivis atque defunetis; ut mihi et illis proficiat ad salutem in vitam æternam. Amen.
All that we have, O Lord, comes from thee, and belongs to thee; it is just, therefore, that we return it unto thee. But, how wonderful art thou in the inventions of thy immense love! This Bread which we are offering to thee is to give place in a few moments to the sacred Body of Jesus. We beseech thee, receive, together with this oblation, our hearts which long to live by thee, and to cease to live their own life of self.

When the Priest puts the wine into the chalice, and then mingles with it a drop of water, let your thoughts turn to the divine mystery of the Incarnation, which is manifested to the world by the Birth of our Emmanuel, and say:

Deus qui humanæ substantiæ dignitatem mirabiliter condidisti, et mirabilius reformasti: da nobis per hujus aquæ et vini mysterium, ejus divinitatis esse consortes, qui humanitatis nostræ fieri dignatus est particeps, Jesus Christus Filius tuus Dominus noster: qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
O Lord Jesus, who art the true Vine, and whose Blood, like a generous wine, has been poured forth under the pressure of the Cross! thou hast deigned to unite thy divine nature to our weak humanity, which is signified by this drop of water. O come and make us partakers of thy divinity, by showing thyself to us in thy sweet and wondrous visit.

The Priest then offers the mixture of wine and water, beseeching God graciously to accept this oblation, which is so soon to be changed into the reality of which it is now but a figure. Meanwhile, say in union with the Priest:


Offerimus tibi, Domine, calicem salutaris, tuam deprecantes clementiam: ut in conspectu divinæ Majestatis tuæ, pro nostra et totius mundi salute, cum odore suavitatis ascendat. Amen.
Graciously accept these gifts, O sovereign Creator of all things. Let them be fitted for the divine transformation,which will make them, from being mere offerings of created things, the instrument of the world's salvation.

                                    
After having thus held up the sacred gifts towards heaven, the Priest bows down: let us also humble ourselves, and say:

In spiritu humilitatis, et in animo contrito suscipiamur a te, Domine: et sic fiat sacrificium nostrum in conspectu tuo hodie, ut placeat tibi, Domine Deus.
Though daring, as we do, to approach thy altar, O Lord, we cannot forget that we are sinners. Have mercy on us, and delay not to send us thy Son, who is our saving Host.

Let us next invoke the Holy Ghost, whose operation is about to produce on the altar the presence of the Son of God, as it did in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the divine mystery of the Incarnation:

Veni, Sanctificator, omnipotens æterne Deus, et benedic hoc sacrificium tuo sancto nomini præparatum.
Come, O Divine Spirit, make fruitful the offering which is upon the altar, and produce in our hearts him whom they desire.

If it be a High Mass, the Priest, before proceeding any further with the Sacrifice, takes the thurible a second time. He first incenses the bread and wine which have been just offered, and then the altar itself; hereby inviting the faithful to make their prayer, which is signified by the incense, more and more fervent, the nearer the solemn moment approaches. St John tells us that the incense which burns on the Altar in heaven is made of the Prayers of the Saints. During Christmastide, therefore, we may look on the fragrant cloud which covers our Altar here on earth as an emblem of the prayers said by the Shepherds round the Crib, and of the adorations paid by the Magi to the Infant-God. Let us imitate them; for this same Jesus is soon to be on our Altar.

But the thought of his own unworthiness becomes more intense than ever in the heart of the Priest. The public confession which he made at the foot of the altar is not enough; he would now, at the altar itself, express to the people, in the language of a solemn rite, how far he knows himself to be from that spotless sanctity wherewith he should approach to God. He washes his hands. Our hands signify our works; and the Priest, though by his priesthood he bear the office of Jesus Christ, is by his works but man. Seeing your Father thus humble himself, do you also make an act of humility, and say with him these verses of

PSALM 25

 

Lavabo inter innocentes manus meas: et circumdabo altare tuum, Domine.
Ut audiam vocem laudis: et enarrem universa mirabilia tua.
Domine, dilexi decorem domus tuæ, et locum habitationis gloriæ tuæ.
Ne perdas cum impiis, Deus, animam meam, et cum viris sanguinum vitam meam.
In quorum manibus iniquitates sunt: dextera eorum repleta est muneribus.
Ego autem in innocentia mea ingressus sum: redime me, et miserere mei.
Pes meus stetit in directo: in ecclesiis benedicam te, Domine.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.
Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
I, too, would wash my hands, O Lord, and become like unto those who are innocent, that so I may be worthy to come near thy altar, and hear thy sacred Canticles, and then go and proclaim to the world the wonders of thy goodness. I love the beauty of thy House, which thou art about to make the dwellingplace of thy glory. Leave me not, O God, in the midst of them that are enemies both to thee and me. Thy mercy having separated me from them, I entered on the path of innocence, and was restored to thy grace; but have pity on my weakness still; redeem me yet more, thou who hast so mercifully brought me back to the right path. In the midst of these thy faithful people, I give thee thanks. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

The Priest, taking encouragement from the act of humility he has just made, returns to the middle of the altar, and bows down full of respectful awe, begging of God to receive graciously the Sacrifice which is about to be offered to him, and expresses the intentions for which it is offered. Let us do the same.

Suscipe, sancta Trinitas, hanc oblationem, quam tibi ofterimus ob memoriam Passionis, Resurrectionis et Ascensionis Jesu Christi Domini nostri: et in honore beatæ Mariæ semper Virginis, et beati Joannis Baptistæ, et sanctorum Apostolorum Petri et Pauli, et istorum, et omnium Sanctorum: ut illis proficiat ad honorem, nobis autem ad salutem: et illi pro nobis intercedere dignentur in cœlis, quorum memoriam agimus in terris. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
O Holy Trinity, graciously accept the Sacrifice we have begun. We offer it in remembrance of the Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. Permit thy Church to join with this intention that of honouring the ever glorious Virgin Mary, the Blessed Baptist John, the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, the Martyrs whose relics lie here under our altar awaiting their resurrection, and the Saints whose memory we this day celebrate. Increase the glory they are enjoying, and receive the prayers they address to thee for us.

The Priest again turns to the people; it is for the last time before the sacred Mysteries are accomplished. He feels anxious to excite the fervour of the people. Neither does the thought of his own unworthiness leave him; and before entering the cloud with the Lord, he seeks support in the prayers of his brethren who are present. He says to them:

Orate, fratres: ut meum ac vestrum sacrificium acceptable fiat apud Deum Patrem omnipotentem.
Brethren, pray that my Sacrifice, which is yours also, may be acceptable to God, our Almighty Father.

With this request he turns again to the altar, and you will see his face no more until our Lord himself shall have come down from heaven upon that same altar. Assure the Priest that he has your prayers, and say to him:

Suscipiat Dominus sacrificium de manibus tuis, ad laudem et gloriam nominis sui, ad utilitatem quoque nostram, totiusque Ecclesiæ suæ sanctæ.
May our Lord accept this Sacrifice at thy hands, to the praise and glory of his name, for our benefit and that of his holy Church throughout the world.

Here the Priest recites the prayers called the Secrets, in which he presents the petition of the whole Church for God's acceptance of the Sacrifice, and then immediately begins to fulfil that great duty of religion, Thanksgiving. So far he has adored God, and has sued for mercy; he has still to give thanks for the blessings bestowed on us by the bounty of our heavenly Father, and expressly for that chiefest of all his gifts, the Messias. We are on the point of receiving a new visit of this Son of God; the Priest, in the name of the Church, is about to give expression to the gratitude of all mankind. In order to excite the faithful to that intensity of gratitude which is due to God for all his gifts, he interrupts his own and their silent prayer by terminating it aloud, saying:

Per omnia sæcula sæculorum!
For ever and ever

In the same feeling, answer your Amen! Then he continues:

℣. Dominus vobiscum.
℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.
℣. The Lord be with you.
℟. And with thy spirit.

℣. Sursum corda!
℣. Lift up your hearts!

Let your response be sincere:

℟. Habemus ad Dominum.
℟. We have them fixed on God.

And when he adds:

℣. Gratias agamus Domino Deo nostro.
℣. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God,

Answer him with all the earnestness of your soul:

℟. Dignum et justum est.
℟. It is meet and just.

Then the Priest:

Preface:[15]

Vere dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere: Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus; quia per incarnati Verbi mysterium, nova mentis nostræ oculis lux tuæ claritatis infulsit: ut dum visibiliter Deum cognoscimus, per hunc in invisibilium amorem rapiamur: et ideo cum Angelis et Archangelis, cum Thronis et Dominationibus, cumque omni militia cœlestis exercitus, hymnum gloriæ tuæ canimus, sine fine dicentes:
It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should always and in all places give thanks to thee, O holy Lord, Father Almighty, eternal God; for by the mystery of the Incarnate Word, a new ray of thy glory has appeared to the eyes of our soul: so that while we behold God visibly, we may be carried by him to the love of things invisible: and therefore with the Angels and Archangels, with the Thrones and Dominations, and with all the heavenly host, we sing a hymn to thy glory, saying unceasingly:

Here unite with the Priest, who on his part unites himself with the blessed Spirits, in giving thanks to God for the unspeakable Gift: bow down and say:

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus sabaoth!
Pleni sunt cœli et terra gloria tua.
Hosanna in excelsis!
Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.
Hosanna in excelsis!
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts!
Heaven and earth are full of thy glory.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed be the Saviour whom we were expecting, and who is coming to us in the name of the Lord who sends him.
Hosanna be to him in the highest!

After these words commences the Canon, that mysterious prayer, in the midst of which heaven bows down to earth, and God descends unto us. The voice of the Priest is no longer heard; yea, even at the altar all is silence. It was thus, says the Book of Wisdom, in the quiet of silence, and while the night was in the midst of her course, that the Almighty Word came down from his royal throne.[16] Let us await him in a like silence, and respectfully fix our eyes on what the Priest does in the holy place.

THE CANON OF THE MASS

In this mysterious colloquy with the great God of heaven and earth, the first prayer of the sacrificing Priest is for the Catholic Church, his and our Mother.

Te igitur, clementissime Pater, per Jesum Christum Filium tuum Dominum nostrum supplices rogamus ac petimus, uti accepta habeas et benedicas hæc dona, hæc munera, hæc sancta sacrificia illibata, in primis quæ tibi offerimus pro Ecclesia tua sancta Catholica: quam pacificare, custodire, adunare et regere digneris toto orbe terrarum, una cum famulo tuo Papa nostro N. et Antistite nostro N., et omnibus orthodoxis, atque catholicæ et apostolicæ fidei cultoribus.
O God, who manifestest thyself unto us by means of the mysteries which thou hast entrusted to thy holy Church, our Mother; we beseech thee, by the merits of this sacrifice, that thou wouldst remove all those hindrances which oppose her during her pilgrimage in this world. Give her peace and unity. Do thou thyself guide our Holy Father the Pope, thy Vicar on earth. Direct thou our Bishop, who is our sacred link of unity; and watch over all the orthodox children of the Catholic Apostolic Roman Church.

Here pray, together with the Priest, for those whose interests should be dearest to you.

Memento, Domine, famulorum famularumque tuarum N. et N., et omnium circumstantium, quorum tibi fides cognita est, et nota devotio: pro quibus tibi offerimus, vel qui tibi offerunt hoc sacrificium laudis, pro se, suisque omnibus, pro redemptione animarum suarum, pro spe salutis et incolumitatis suæ; tibique reddunt vota sua æterno Deo, vivo et vero.
Permit me, O God, to intercede with thee in more earnest prayer for those for whom thou knowest that I have a special obligation to pray: * * * Apply to them the fruits of this divine Sacrifice, which is offered unto thee in the name of all mankind. Visit them by thy grace, pardon them their sins, grant them the blessings of this present life and of that which is eternal.

Here let us commemorate the Saints: they are that portion of the Body of Jesus Christ which is called the Church Triumphant.

Communicantes, et memoriam venerantes, in primis gloriosæ semper Virginis Mariæ, Genitricis Dei et Domini nostri Jesu Christi: sed et beatorum Apostolorum ac Martyrum tuorum, Petri et Pauli, Andreæ, Jacobi, Joannis, Thomæ, Jacobi, Philippi, Bartholomæi, Matthæi, Simonis et Thaddæi: Lini, Cleti, Clementis, Xysti, Cornelii, Cypriani, Laurentii, Chrysogoni, Joannis et Pauli, Cosmæ et Damiani, et omnium sanctorum tuorum, quorum meritis precibusquec oncedas, ut in omnibus protectionis tuæ muniamur auxilio. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
But the offering of this Sacrifice, O my God, does not unite us with those only of our brethren who are still in this transient life of trial: it brings us closer to those also, who are already in possession of heaven. Therefore it is that we wish to honour by it the memory of the glorious and ever Virgin Mary, of whom Jesus is born to us; of the Apostles, Confessors, Virgins, and of all the Saints; that so they may assist us, by their powerful intercession, to become worthy to see Jesus in Bethlehem, and to contemplate thee, as they now do, in the mansion of thy glory.

The Priest, who, up to this time, had been praying with his hands extended, now joins them, and holds them over the bread and wine, as the High Priest of the Old Law did over the figurative victim: he thus expresses his intention of bringing these gifts more closely under the notice of the Divine Majesty, and of marking them as the material offering whereby we profess our dependence, and which is, in a few instants, to yield its place to the living Host, upon whom all our iniquities are to be laid.

Hanc igitur oblationem servitutis nostræ, sed et cunctæ familiæ tuæ, quæsumus Domine, ut placatus accipias: diesque nostros in tua pace disponas, atque ab æterna damnatione nos eripi, et in electorum tuorum jubeas grege numerari. Per Christum Dominuin nostrum. Amen.

Quam oblationem tu Deus in omnibus, quæsumus, benedictam, adscriptam, ratam, rationabilem, acceptabilemque facere digneris; ut nobis Corpus et Sanguis fiat dilectissimi Filii tui Domini nostri Jesu Christi.
Vouchsafe, O God, to accept this offering which this thy assembled family presents to thee as the homage of its most happy servitude. In return, give us peace, save us from thy wrath and number us among thy elect, through him who is coming to us, thy Son our Saviour.

Yea, Lord, this is the moment when this bread is to become his sacred Body, which is our food; and this wine is to be changed into his Blood, which is our drink. Ah! delay no longer, but send to us this divine Son our Saviour!

And here the Priest ceases to act as man; he now becomes more than a mere minister of the Church. His word becomes that of Jesus Christ, with all its power and efficacy. Prostrate yourself in profound adoration; for Emmanuel, God with us, is coming down from heaven.

Qui pridie quam pateretur, accepit panem in sanctas ac venerabiles manus suas: et elevatis oculis in cœlum, ad te Deum Patrem suum omnipotentem, tibi gratias agens, benedixit, fregit, deditque discipulis suis, dicens: Accipite, et manducate ex hoc omnes. Hoc est Enim Corpus meum.
What, O God of heaven and earth, my Jesus, the long expected Messias, what else can I do at this solemn moment but adore thee in silence as my sovereign Master, and open my whole heart to thee, as to its dearest King! Come then, Lord Jesus, come!

The Divine Lamb, the Son of Mary, is now lying on our Altar! Glory and love be to him for ever. But he is come that he may be immolated. When Isaias, in prophetic vision, contemplated this Child that is born unto us, he saw that even then his government was upon his shoulder,[17] and this was the Cross. Hence, the Priest, who is the minister of the will of the Most High, immediately pronounces over the Chalice those sacred words which will produce the great mystical immolation, by the separation of the Victim’s Body and Blood. The substances of bread and wine have ceased to exist: the species alone are left, veiling, as it were, the Body and Blood, lest fear should keep us from a mystery which God gives us in order to give us confidence. Let us associate ourselves to the Angels, who tremblingly look upon this deepest wonder.

Simili modo postquam cœnatum est, accipiens et hunc præclarum Calicem in sanctas ac venerabiles manus suas: item tibi gratias agens, benedixit, deditque discipulis suis, dicens: Accipite et bibite ex eo omnes. HIC EST ENIM CALIX SANGUINIS MEI, NOVI ET ÆTERNI TESTAMENTI: MYSTERIUM FIDEI: QUI PRO VOBIS ET PRO MULTIS EFFUNDETUR IN REMISSIONEM PECCATORUM. Hæc quotiescumque feceritis, in mei memoriam facietis.
O Precious Blood! thou price of my salvation! I adore thee! Wash away my sins, and make me whiter than snow. Lamb ever slain, yet ever living, thou comest to take away the sins of the world! Come also and reign in me by thy power and by thy love.

The Priest is now face to face with God. He again raises his hands towards heaven, and tells our heavenly Father that the oblation now on the altar is no longer an earthly offering, but the Body and Blood, the whole Person, of his divine Son.

Unde et memores, Domine, nos servi tui, sed et plebs tua sancta, ejusdem Christi Filii tui Domini nostri tam beatæ Passionis, nec non et ab inferid Resurrectionis, sed et in cœlos gloriosæ Ascension's: offerimus præclaræ majestati tuæ de tuis donis ac datis Hostiam puram, Hostiam sanctam, Hostiam immaculatam: Panem sanctum vitæ æternæ, et Calicem salutis perpetuæ.

Supra quæ propitio ac sereno vultu respicere digneris: et accepta habere, sicuti accepta habere dignatus es munera pueri tui justi Abel, et sacrificium Patriarchænostri Abrahæ, et quod tibi obtulit summus Sacerdos tuus Melchisedech, sanctum sacrificium, immaculatam hostiam.
Father of infinite holiness, the Host so long expected is here before thee! Behold this thy eternal Son, who suffered a bitter passion, rose again with glory from the grave, and ascended triumphantly into heaven. He is thy Son; but he is also our Host—Host pure and spotless—our Meat and Drink of everlasting life.

Heretofore thou didst accept the sacrifice of the innocent lambs offered to thee by Abel; and the sacrifice which Abraham made thee of his son Isaac, who, though immolated, yet lived; and lastly, the sacrifice, which Melchisedech presented to thee, of bread and wine. Receive our Sacrifice, which is above all those others. It is the Lamb, of whom all others could be but figures: it is the undying Victim: it is the Body of thy Son, who is the Bread of Life, and his Blood, which, whilst a Drink of immortality for us, is a tribute adequate to thy glory.

The Priest bows down to the altar, and kisses it as the throne of love on which is seated the Saviour of men. Do you look at it with love, as the Crib, whereon is laid, veiled in the eucharistic elements, that Jesus who has said: I am the Bread of life.

Supplices te rogamus, omnipotens Deus: jube hæc perferri per manus sancti Angeli tui in sublime Altare tuum, in conspectu divinæ Majestatis tuæ: ut quotquot ex hac altaris participatione, sacrosanctum Filii tui Corpus et Sanguinem sumpserimus, omni benedictione cœlesti et gratia repleamur. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
But, O God of infinite power, these sacred gifts are not only on this altar here below; they are also on that sublime Altar in heaven, which is before the throne of thy divine Majesty. These two altars are but one and the same, on which is accomplished the great mystery of thy glory and our salvation. Vouchsafe to make us partakers of the Body and Blood of the august Victim, from whom flow every grace and blessing.

Nor is the moment less favourable for making supplication for the Church Suffering. Let us, therefore, ask the divine Liberator, who has come down amongst us, that he mercifully visit, by a ray of his consoling light, the dark abode of Purgatory, and permit his Blood to flow, as a stream of mercy's dew, from this our altar, and refresh the panting captives there. Let us pray expressly for those amongst them who have a claim on our suffrages.

Memento etiam, Domine, famulorum famularumque tuarum N. et N., qui nos præcesserunt cum signo fidei, et dormiunt in somno pacis. Ipsis, Domine, et omnibus in Christo quiescentibus, locum refrigerii, lucis et pacis, ut indulgeas, deprecamur. Per eumdem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Dear Jesus! let the happiness of this thy visit extend to every portion of thy Church. Thy face gladdens the elect in the holy City; even our mortal eyes can see beneath the veil of our delighted faith: ah! hide not thyself from those brethren of ours, who are imprisoned in the place of expiation. Be thou refreshment to them in their flames, light in their darkness, and peace in their agonies of torment.

This duty of charity fulfilled, let us pray for ourselves, sinners, alas! who profit so little by the visit which our Saviour pays us. Let us, together with the Priest, strike our breast, saying:

Nobis quoque peccatoribus famulis tuis, de multitudine miserationum tuarum sperantibus, partem aliquam et societatem donare digneris cum tuis sanctis Apostolis et Martyribus: cum Joanne, Stephano, Mathia, Barnaba, Ignatio, Alexandro, Marcellino, Petro, Felicitate, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucia, Agnete, Cæcilia, Anastasia, et omnibus Sanctis tuis; intra quorum nos consortium, non æstimator meriti, sed veniæ, quæsumus, largitor admitte. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Per quem hæc omnia, Domine, semper bona creas, sanctificas, vivificas, benedicis, et præstas nobis: per ipsum, et cum ipso et in ipso, est tibi Deo Patri omnipotenti, in unitate Spiritus Sancti, omnis honor et gloria.
Alas! we are poor sinners, O God of all sanctity! yet do we hope that thy infinite mercy will grant us to share in thy kingdom, not, indeed, by reason of our works, which deserve little else than punishment, but because of the merits of this Sacrifice, which we are offering to thee. Remember, too, the merits of thy holy Apostles, of thy holy Martyrs, of thy holy Virgins, and of all thy Saints. Grant us, by their intercession, grace in this world, and glory eternal in the next: which we ask of thee, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son. It is by him thou bestowest upon us thy blessings of life and sanctification; and by him also, with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, may honour and glory be to thee!

Whilst saying these last few words, the Priest has taken up the sacred Host, which was on the altar; he has held it over the Chalice, thus re-uniting the Body and Blood of the divine Victim, in order to show that he is now immortal. Then raising up both Chalice and Host, he offers to God the most noble and perfect homage which the divine Majesty could receive.

This solemn and mysterious rite ends the Canon. The silence of the Mysteries is broken. The Priest concludes his long prayers by saying aloud, and so giving the faithful the opportunity of expressing their desire that his supplications be granted:

Per omnia sæcula sæculorum.
For ever and ever.

Answer him with faith, and in a sentiment of union with your holy Mother the Church:

Amen.
Amen! I believe the mystery which has just been accomplished. I unite myself to the offering which has been made, and to the petitions of the Church.

It is time to recite the prayer which our Saviour himself has taught us. Let it ascend up to heaven together with the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. How could it be otherwise than heard, when he himself who made it for us is in our very hands now whilst we say it? As this prayer belongs in common to all God’s children, the Priest recites it aloud, and begins by inviting us all to join in it.

Oremus

Præceptis salutaribus moniti, et divina institutione formati, audemus dicere:
Let us Pray

Having been taught by a saving precept, and following the form given us by a divine instruction, we thus presume to speak:

THE LORD’S PRAYER

Pater noster, qui es in cœlis: Sanctificetur nomen tuum: Adveniat regnum tuum: Fiat voluntas tua, sicut in cœlo, et in terra. Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie: Et dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris. Et ne nos inducas in tentationem.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily Bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation.

Let us answer with deep feeling of our misery:

Sed libera nos a malo.
But deliver us from evil.

The Priest falls once more into the silence of the holy Mysteries. His first word is an affectionate Amen to your last petition—deliver us from evil—on which he forms his own next prayer: and could he pray for anything more needed? Evil surrounds us everywhere, and the Lamb on our altar has been sent to expiate it and deliver us from it.

Libera nos, quæsumus Domine, ab omnibus malis, præteritis, præsentibus et futuris: et intercedente beata et gloriosa semper Virgine Dei Genitrice Maria, cum beatis Apostolis tuis Petro et Paulo, atque Andrea, et omnibus Sanctis, da propitius pacem in diebus nostris: ut ope misericordiæ tuæ adjuti, et a peccato simus semper liberi, et ab omni perturbatione securi. Per eumdem Dominum nostrum Jesum Christum Filium tuum, qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitate Spiritus Sancti Deus.
How many, O Lord, are the evils which beset us! Evils past, which are the wounds left on the soul by our sins, and strengthen her wicked propensities. Evils present, that is, the sins now at this very time upon our soul; the weakness of this poor soul; and the temptations which molest her. There are also future evils, that is, the chastisement which our sins deserve from the hand of thy justice. In presence of this Host of our Salvation, we beseech thee, O Lord, to deliver us from all these evils, and to accept in our favour the intercession of Mary the Mother of Jesus, of thy holy Apostles Peter and Paul and Andrew. Liberate us, break our chains, give us peace: through Jesus Christ, thy Son, who with thee liveth and reigneth God.

The Priest is anxious to announce the Peace which he has asked and obtained; he therefore finishes his prayer aloud, saying:

Per omnia sæcula sæculorum.

℟. Amen.
World without end.

℟. Amen.

Then he says:

Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum.
May the Peace of our Lord be ever with you.

To this paternal wish reply:

℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.
℟. And with thy spirit.

The Mystery is drawing to a close: God is about to be united with man, and man with God, by means of Communion. But first, an imposing and sublime rite takes place at the altar. So far the Priest has announced the Death of Jesus; it is time to proclaim his Resurrection. To this end, he reverently breaks the sacred Host, and having divided it into three parts, he puts one into the Chalice, thus reuniting the Body and Blood of the immortal Victim. Do you adore, and say:

Hæc commixtio et consecratio Corporis et Sanguinis Domini nostri Jesu Christi, fiat accipientibus nobis in vitam æternam. Amen.
Glory be to thee, O Saviour of the world, who didst, in thy Passion, permit thy precious Blood to be separated from thy sacred Body, afterwards uniting them again together by thy divine power.

Offer now your prayer to the ever-living Lamb, whom St John saw on the Altar of Heaven standing as though slain: say to this your Lord and King:

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis.
Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, give us Peace.

Peace is the grand object of our Saviour's coming into the world: he is the Prince of Peace. The divine Sacrament of the Eucharist ought therefore to be the Mystery of Peace, and the bond of Catholic Unity; for, as the Apostle says, all we who partake of one Bread, are all one Bread and one Body.[18] It is on this account that the Priest, now that he is on the point of receiving, in Communion, the Sacred Host, prays that fraternal Peace may be preserved in the Church, and more especially in this portion of it which is assembled round the altar. Pray with him and for the same blessing:

Domine Jesu Christe, qui dixisti Apostolis tuis: Pacem relinquo vobis, pacem meam do vobis: ne respicias peccata mea, sed fidem Ecclesiæ tuæ: eamque secundum voluntatem tuam pacificare et coadunare digneris. Qui vivis et regnas Deus, per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
Lord Jesus Christ, who saidst to thy Apostles, “my peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you”: regard not my sins, but the faith of thy Church, and grant her that peace and unity which is according to thy will. Who livest and reignest God for ever and ever. Amen.

If it be a High Mass, the Priest here gives the kiss of peace to the Deacon, who gives it to the Sub-Deacon, and he to the Choir. During this ceremony, you should excite within yourself feelings of Christian charity, and pardon your enemies, if you have any. Then continue to pray with the Priest:

Domine Jesu Christe, Fili Dei vivi, qui ex voluntate Patris, cooperante Spiritu Sancto, per mortem tuam mundum vivificasti: libera me per hoc sacrosanctum Corpus et Sanguinem tuum, ab omnibus iniquitatibus meis, et universis malis, et fac me tuis semper inhærere mandatis, et a te nunquam separari permittas. Qui cum eodem Deo Patre et Spiritu Sancto vivis et regnas Deus in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who, according to the will of thy Father, through the co-operation of the Holy Ghost, hast by thy death given life to the world; deliver me by this thy most sacred Body and Blood from all my iniquities, and from all evils; and make me always adhere to thy commandments, and never suffer me to be separated from thee, who with the same God the Father and the Holy Ghost, livest and reignest God for ever and ever. Amen.

If you are going to Communion at this Mass, say the following Prayer; otherwise, prepare yourself to make a Spiritual Communion:

Perceptio Corporis tui, Domine Jesu Christe, quod ego indignus sumere præsumo, non mihi proveniat in judicium et condemnationem: 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 sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
Let not the participation of thy Body, O Lord Jesus Christ, which I, though unworthy, presume to receive, turn to my judgement and condemnation; but through thy mercy may it be a safeguard and remedy both to my soul and body. Who with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, livest and reignest God for ever and ever. Amen.

When the Priest takes the Host into his hands, in order to his receiving it in Communion, say:

Panem cœlestem accipiam, et nomen Domini invocabo.
Come, my dear Jesus, come!

When he strikes his breast, confessing his unworthiness, say thrice with him these words, and in the same disposition as the Centurion of the Gospel, who first used them:

Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum: sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur anima mea.
Lord, I am not worthy thou shouldst enter under my roof; say it only with one word of thine, and my soul will be healed.

Whilst the Priest receives the sacred Host, if you also are to communicate, adore profoundly your God, who is ready to take up his abode within you, and again say to him with the spouse: Come, Lord Jesus, come!

But should you not be going to receive sacramentally, make a Spiritual Communion. Adore Jesus Christ who thus visits your soul by his grace, and say to him:

Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam meam in vitam æternam. Amen.
I give thee, O Jesus, this heart of mine, that thou mayest dwell in it, and do with me what thou wilt.

Then the Priest takes the Chalice, in thanksgiving, and says:

Quid retribuam Domino pro omnibus, quæ retribuit mihi? Calicem salutaris accipiam, et nomen Domini invocabo. Laudans invocabo Dominum, et ab inimicis meis salvus ero.
What return shall I make to the Lord for all he hath given to me? I will take the Chalice of salvation, and will call upon the name of the Lord. Praising I will call upon the Lord, and I shall be saved from mine enemies.

But if you are to make a Sacramental Communion, you should, at this moment of the Priest’s receiving the precious Blood, again adore the God who is coming to you, and keep to your canticle: Come, Lord Jesus, come!

If, on the contrary, you are going to communicate only spiritually, again adore your divine Master, and say to him:

Sanguis Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam meam in vitam æternam. Amen.
I unite myself to thee, my beloved Jesus! do thou unite thyself to me! and never let us be separated.

It is here that you must approach to the altar, if you are going to Communion. The dispositions suitable for Holy Communion during this season of Christmas are given in the next Chapter, p. 80.

The Communion being finished, whilst the Priest is purifying the Chalice the first time, say:

Quod ore sumpsimus, Domine, pura mente capiamus: et de munere temporali fiat nobis remedium sempiternum.
Thou hast visited me, O God, in these days of my pilgrimage; give me grace to treasure up the fruits of this visit for my future eternity.

Whilst the Priest is purifying the Chalice the second time, say:

Corpus tuum, Domine, quod sumpsi, et Sanguis quem potavi, adhæreat visceribus meis: et præsta ut in me non remaneat scelerum macula, quem pura et sancta refecerunt Sacramenta. Qui vivis et regnas in sæcula sæculorum. Amen.
Be thou for ever blessed, O my Saviour, for having admitted me to the sacred mystery of thy Body and Blood. May my heart and senses preserve, by thy grace, the purity which thou hast imparted to them: and I be thus rendered less unworthy of thy divine visit.

The Priest having read the Antiphon called the Communion, which is the first part of his Thanksgiving for the favour just received from God, whereby he has renewed his divine presence among us, turns to the people with the usual salutation; after which he recites the Prayers called the Postcommunion, which are the completion of the Thanksgiving. You will join him here also, thanking God for the unspeakable gift he has just lavished on you, and asking him, with most earnest entreaty, that he will permit you to continue for ever in the company of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

These Prayers having been recited, the Priest again turns to the people, and full of joy for the immense favour he and they have been receiving, he says:

Dominus vobiscum.
The Lord be with you.

Answer him:

Et cum spiritu tuo.

Ite, Missa est.

℟. Deo gratias.
And with thy spirit.

Go, the Mass is finished.

℟. Thanks be to God.

The Priest makes a last Prayer, before giving you his blessing: pray with him:

Placeat tibi, sancta Trinitas, obsequium servitutis meæ, quod oculis tuæ majestatis indignus obtuli, tibi sit acceptabile, mihique, et omnibus, pro quibus illud obtuli, sit, te miserante, propitiabile. Per Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.
Eternal thanks be to thee, O adorable Trinity, for the mercy thou hast showed to me in permitting me to assist at this divine Sacrifice. Pardon me the negligence and coldness wherewith I have received so great a favour, and deign to confirm the blessing which thy Minister is about to give me in thy Name.

The Priest raises his hand, and thus blesses you:

Benedicat vos omnipotens Deus, Pater, et Filius, et Spiritus Sanctus.

℟. Amen.
May the Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, bless you!

℟. Amen.

He then concludes the Mass, by reading the first fourteen verses of the Gospel according to St John, which tell us of the eternity of the Word, and of the mercy which led him to take upon himself our flesh, and to dwell among us. Pray that you may be of the number of those who, now that he has come unto his own, receive him, and are made the sons of God.

℣. Dominus vobiscum.

℟. Et cum spiritu tuo.

Initium sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem.
Cap. I.

In principio erat Verbum, et Verbum erat apud Deum, et Deus erat Verbum. Hoc erat in principio apud Deum. Omnia per ipsum facta sunt; et sine ipso factum est nihil quod factum est. In ipso vita erat, et vita erat lux hominum: et lux in tenebris lucet, et tenebræ eam non comprehenderunt. Fuit homo missus a Deo, cui nomen erat Joannes. Hic venit in testimonium, ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine, ut omnes crederent per ilium. Non erat ille lux, sed ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine. Erat lux vera, quæ illuminat omnem hominem venientem in hunc mundum. In mundo erat, et mundus per ipsum factus est, et mundus eum non cognovit. In propria venit, et sui eum non receperunt. Quotquot autem receperunt eum, dedit eis potestatem filios Dei fieri, his, qui credunt in nomine ejus: qui non ex sanguinibus, neque ex voluntate carnis, neque ex voluntate viri, sed ex Deo nati sunt. Et Verbum caro factum est, et habitavit in nobis: et vidimus gloriam ejus, gloriam quasi Unigeniti a Patre, plenum gratiæ et veritatis.

℟. Deo gratias.
℣. The Lord be with you.

℟. And with thy spirit.

The beginning of the Holy Gospel according to John.
Ch. I.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was made nothing that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men; and the light shineth in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the light, that all men might believe through him. He was not the light, but was to give testimony of the light. That was the true light which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them he gave power to he made the sons of God; to them that believe in his name, who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us; and we saw his glory, as it were the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

℟. Thanks be to God.

 

 

[1] Heb. x 5.
[2] St Luke ii 16.
[3] St John i 5.
[4] Isa. xvi 1.
[5] Ibid, ix 6.
[6] St Matt, i 23.
[7] Heb. i 1, 2.
[8] Should Septuagesima occur before February 2nd, observe here that the Alleluia Verse is replaced by the Tract. (See next vol.)
[9] St Luke ii 10, 11.
[10] Cant. v 6.
[11] 1 Kings iii 10.
[12] The Credo is not said on the Octave Days of St Stephen, St John, and Holy Innocents.
[13] 1 Cor. xv 53.
[14] 2 St Pet. i 4.
[15] This Preface is said on Christmas Day, and during its Octave; on the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus; and on the Purification of the Blessed Virgin. The Prefaces for the Epiphany, of the Blessed Trinity, and of the Apostles, will be given in their proper places. The following is the Common Preface, which is said as often as there is not a proper one assigned:
Vere dignum et justum est, æquum et salutare, nos tibi semper et ubique gratias agere: Domine sancte, Pater omnipotens, æterne Deus, per Christum Dominum nostrum; per quem majestatem tuam laudant Angeli, adorant Dominationes, tremunt Potestates, Cœli, cœlorumque Virtutes, ac beata Seraphim, socia exultatione concelebrant. Cum quibus et nostras voces, ut admitti jubeas deprecamur, supplici confessione dicentes;
It is truly meet and just, right and available to salvation, that we should always and in all places give thanks to thee, O holy Lord, Father Almighty, eternal God: through Christ our Lord; by whom the Angels praise thy majesty, the Dominations adore it, the Powers tremble before it; the heavens and the heavenly Virtues, and the blessed Seraphim, with common jubilee glorify it. Together with whom, we beseech thee that we may be admitted to join our humble voices, saying;
[16] Wisd. xviii 14, 15.
[17] Isa. ix 6.
[18] 1 Cor. x 17.

 

 

 

 

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