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Rome, but must be received as evidences of historical truth.
“But when we consider the universality and primitive antiquity of the uniform doctrine and practice of all Christian Churches in communion with the See of Rome, concerning the sacrifice of the Mass, as the sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ, really present under the appearances of bread and wine, what a collection of historical evidence is presented to us, demonstrating that this doctrine and practice were established by the Apostles, as the doctrine and institution of Christ, in all nations where they established Christianity ! The most incontestable and irresistible proofs of this universal and primitive doctrine and practice, are found in the ancient Liturgies, or Missals, or books containing the form and order of divine worship, used in all Christian Churches, from the beginning of Christianity.
“The holy fathers of the Church agree that the substance of these Liturgies, which is the same in all, was derived from the Apostles, and communicated by them to the Churches where they preached and established the religion of Christ. The first Liturgy was that which was formed and used by the Apostles, in the Church of Jerusalem, and which is sometimes called the Liturgy of St. James, the first bishop of that see; then the Liturgies of the Patriarchate Churches of Alexandria, called that
of St. Mark, of Antioch, and of Constantinople. These Liturgies were communicated to the Churches under those Patriarchates. The most sacred part of these Liturgies, the Canon, was not originally written, but was carefully committed to memory by the bishops and priests, as the Apostles' Creed was by the faithful. The Canon was not committed to writing till the fifth age, when the danger of exposing all that was most sacred in the mysteries of religion to the derision and blasphemy of infidels, was not so great as in the first three or four centuries. But when the Canon was generally committed to writing, it was found to be the same in substance in all Christian countries, which shewed the unity of its origin, in the unity of that faith which was every where taught by the Apostles. In all these ancient and primitive Liturgies, we find the clearest expressions and professions, made by priests and people, that the same body and blood of Christ, which were immolated on the cross, are offered to God in the Christian sacrifice, under the appearances of bread and wine, for the living and the dead; and that this same body and blood are really received in the Communion. In all these Liturgies, we read the most sublime hymns of praise and thanksgiving to God and Christ really present; acts of spiritual communication between the faithful on earth and the Saints in heaven; and prayers offered for the repose of the souls of those
who have departed this life in the faith and communion of the Church. Some short citations, from a few of the principal Liturgies, will shew the spirit of them all. They all profess that the Mass is the sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ, really present, under the appearances of bread and wine.
“ In the Liturgy of Jerusalem, after the form of the consecration of the bread and wine, the priest says, 'We offer to thee, O Lord, this tremendous and unbloody sacrifice. Before the Communion, the priest, addressing his prayers to Jesus Christ, on the altar, says, 'O Lord, my God, may thy grace render me worthy to receive thy sacred body and thy precious blood, for the remission of my sins, and for life everlasting. In the Liturgy of Alex. andria, which has been in use among the Cophtes or Eutychians for about 1300 years, the Mass is called the sacrifice of benediction. In the
prayer of the oblation of the bread and wine, the priest thus prays to Jesus Christ : 'Change them, so that this bread may become thy sacred body, and what is contained in the chalice, thy precious blood.
“ In the Liturgy of Constantinople, the Mass is called a rational and unbloody sacrifice.' The priest offers this prayer to Christ: 'O Jesus Christ, mour God,--thou who dwellest in heaven with the Father, and who art here invisibly with us, make us worthy to partake of thy most pure body,
and of thy precious blood, and to distribute it to thy people.
" In the Liturgy of the Syrians, it is called a ' propitiatory sacrifice. In the Syriac Liturgy, called of St. Maruthas, the priest prays, “that this, which is mere bread, may be changed, and may become the same body that was immolated on the cross, the same body that was raised in glory, and did not see corruption; the body of the Word of God, of our Saviour Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins. The people say, “Amen.' And that the wine, which is in the chalice, may be changed, and may become the same blood that was poured forth on the summit of Golgotha; the same blood that flowed on the earth and purified it from sin; the blood of the Lord himself, of the Word of God, of the Saviour Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and for life everlasting, to those who receive it.'
“ In the Armenian Liturgy, the priest, praying for the dead, says: ‘Be mindful, O Lord, and having pity, be propitious to the souls of those who have departed this life, and particularly to that soul for which we offer this holy sacrifice. During the communion this canticle is sung: This bread is the body of Christ; this cup is the blood of the New Testament. The hidden Sacrament is manifested to us, and by it God shews himself to us. Here is Jesus Christ, the Word of God, who is
seated at the right hand of the Father. He is sacrificed in the midst of us.'
“The Roman Liturgy was brought to England by St. Augustin in the year 595; and in substance has been the common Liturgy of all the Latin Churches, from the time of their conversion to Christianity. It agrees with our Catholic Liturgy now in use, except in some accidental additions that have been made. In the Roman Liturgy, according to the Sacramentary of Pope Gelasius, written about the year 490, we find these words before the consecration : “We beseech thee, O Lord, in all things to bless, approve, ratify, sanction, and accept this oblation, that it may become the body and blood of thy most beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.' And after the consecration the priest says: We offer unto thy supreme Majesty, of thy gifts bestowed upon us, a pure victim, a holy victim, an unspotted victim, the holy bread of eternal life, and the chalice of everlasting salvation.'
By the evidence of the ancient Liturgies, used by all Christian Churches in the world, previous to the change of religion by Luther and Calvin, in the sixteenth century, the uniform and universal religious practice of offering the Sacrifice of the Mass, as the sacrifice of the body and blood of Christ, really present under the appearances of bread and wine, may be traced back to the earliest ages of Christianity. No later date can be as