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Cabrol F. Chapter VI-2. The Pre-Mass, or Mass of the Catechumens.


By the Right Reverend Dom Fernand Cabrol




PREPARATION.--The "Missale Mixtum" contains a Preparation for Mass which is  given after the Mass for Easter (P.L., Vol. LXXXV, cols. 521-522). It  comprehends a number of rites and prayers, washing of hands, four Ave  Maria, prayers for the amice, the alb, girdle, maniple, stole, and  chasuble, an "apologia," the psalm "Judica me" with the anthem "Introibo ad  altare Dei," the confession of sins, the absolution, the prayer "Aufer a  nobis," the signing of the altar with the cross and kissing it (which was  formerly the kissing of the Cross present on the altar), and the prayer on  extending the Corporal upon the altar and on the preparation of the  chalice. Some of these rites and prayers are ancient, as may be seen by a  comparison with the Gallican rites; others are of recent introduction. The  preparation of the chalice and the Corporal formerly took place at the  Offertory (cf. P.L., loc. cit., col. 339, and Lesley's notes on these  passages).

INTROIT.--The Mass begins with the "Officium," called by the Gallicans  "Antiphona ad praelegendum," in the Ambrosian rite, Ingressa, and at Rome,  Introit, or "Antiphona ad introitum." It is composed of an anthem, the  verse of a psalm, and a doxology, and is taken either from Holy Scripture  or from the "Acta" of the Saint whose Feast is that day celebrated (cf.  Tommasi, "Disquisitio de antiphona ad introitum Missae," and Lesley's note,  P.L., col. 234). The doxology differs from that of Rome, and the "Semper"  of "Per omnia" is also a feature of the Mozarabic rite. But in outline the  Mozarabic "Officium" is closer to the Roman "Introit" than is the Ambrosian  "Ingressa."

GLORIA IN EXCELSIS AND COLLECT.--The "Gloria in Excelsis" is enclosed at  beginning and end by "Per omnia semper secula seculorum." It was sung in  this rite on Sundays and Feast Days, as the Fourth Council of Toledo says  (canon 12). Etherius and Beatus also state it (Ord. Elip., I, I; cf. also  Lesley's note, P.L., loc. cit., col. 531). Later the Mozarabites omitted  this hymn on the Sundays of Advent and Lent. It was also sung by the  Gallicans, as may be seen by the Missal of Bobbio, and was followed by two  prayers. In the Mozarabic rite, after the final "Per omnia," the Deacon  cried "Oremus," and the Priest said a prayer. Later on this acclamation of  the Deacon was suppressed, but not the Priest's prayer, which varied for  the Sundays of Advent, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, Pentecost, and for the  Feasts of Saints. The text of these various prayers will be found in the  "Missale Mixtum," P.L., Vol. LXXXV, col. 531 seq. The text of the "Gloria"  here given is the same as usual, but other forms do exist. (On this point  see the discussion between Lebrun and Lesley, P.L., loc. cit., col. 33; and  also Dom German Prado, "Una nueva recension del hymno Gloria in Excelsis"  in "Ephemerides Liturg.," 1932, PP. 481-486.)

The Collect, here called "Oratio," is often directly addressed to Christ,  as in the Gallican liturgies. Very often it is a paraphrase of the "Gloria  in Excelsis." As a rule it has not the sobriety, the precision, nor the  rhythm of the Roman Collect. Often it is merely a kind of pious effusion.  We may take as a chance example the prayer for the Feast of St. Stephen  (P.L., loc. cit., col. 190). After the oratio the Priest says:

"Per misericordiam tuam, Deus noster qui es benedictus: et vivis et omnia  regis in secula seculorum. Amen. Dominus sit semper vobiscum. Et cum  spiritu tuo."

READINGS.--On Fast Days in Spain the "Officium" was shortened, and Mass  began with the Lessons, as it did formerly at Rome. St. Augustine, too,  tells us that in Africa Mass began on Sunday with the reading of Holy  Scripture.
We have one Lesson from the Old Testament, one from St. Paul, and the third  is the Gospel. The first is called the "Prophecy," the second the  "Epistle," or "Apostle," the third the "Gospel." But this order was not  invariable. On Sundays the Prophecy was omitted, while during Lent and on  Fast Days there were four Lessons, two from the Old, two from the New  Testament. Again, from Easter to Pentecost the first Lesson was taken from  the Apocalypse, that from the Old Testament being suppressed. The Gallicans  had almost exactly the same custom with regard to their Lessons. At Rome,  on the contrary (cf. Chap. IV), the readings were usually two in number, as  they are to-day. St. Isidore tells us that the Prophecy was read by the  Lector ("Epist. ad Ludifrid. Cordubensem." As to this custom, cf. Lesley's  note, P.L., loc. cit., col. 251). After the first prayer the Priest saluted  the people, and the Lector from a high place announced the title of the  book, "Lectio libri Exodi," the people responding "Deo Gratias," making the  sign of the Cross, and listening to the Lesson. After it was over they  answered: "Amen" (St. Isidore, "Offic.," I, I, c. x., and I, II, c. xi.).  The Priest added, as he did after the prayer: "Dominus sit semper vobiscum.  Et cum spiritu tuo."

PSALLENDO.--After the Prophecy is chanted the Canticle of the Three  Children, with the first verse of the psalm "Confitemini," as was also the  custom in the Gallican liturgy. The Lectionary of Luxeuil says: "Daniel cum  benedictione", as also does the author of the Letters of St. Germain. The  same order is recalled by the Fourth Council of Toledo (can. 14). After the  "Benedictus es" the Priest began to intone the Psalm "Confitemini," which  was continued by choir and people (see the "Missale Mixtum," P.L., loc.  cit., col. 297 and note). According to the MSS. the "Benedictus es," which  was sung in responses, shows a large number of variations. The "Psallendo,"  which comes next, is a responsory sung by the Precentor from a pulpit. St.  Isidore calls it "responsoria," while in Gaul it was called "Psalmus  responsorius "(St. Isidore, "Offic.," Gregory of Tours, "Hist. Franc.," I,  VIII, c. iii). It has sometimes been confused with the Roman Gradual, but  it differs from this in certain characteristics (cf. Lesley, P.L., loc.  cit., col. 257).

TRACT.--The ancient Mozarabic books contain a Tract, "Tractus," which was  sung from the ambone by the Psalmist. Like the Roman Tract it had neither  repetition nor interruption, and was sung to a very simple melody. It  differed from the Roman Tract, because that of the Gregorian rite follows  the Gradual and takes the place of the "Alleluia," while the Mozarabic  Tract holds the place of the "Psallendo" (Lesley, col. 306. Cf. Tommasi,  "Responsoralia et antiphonaria Romance Ecclesiae," p. 32 seq., Rome, 1686).

DIACONAL PRAYERS.--The "Missale Mixtum" contains a rubric after the  "Psallendo," requiring the Priest to prepare the chalice by putting in wine  and water, to place the Host upon the paten and put that upon the chalice,  and, lastly, to say the "Preces: Indulgentiam postulamus." But this is a  recent rubric, and according to St. Isidore (Epist. ad Ludifr. Cordub.) it  was the place of the Deacon to prepare the chalice and to say the "Preces"  (cf. Lesley, loc. cit., col. 297). In his note Lesley confuses these  "Preces diaconales" with the "Prayer of the Faithful," which is quite  different. These diaconal prayers have great interest for the student of  liturgical history; they are a relic of the past, still preserved in the  Eastern liturgies, but of which but few traces have survived in that of  Rome. They will be found in the "Missale Mixtum," loc. cit., col. 297.

The Priest then says a prayer in a low voice. The following is the text of  that which comes after the diaconal prayer:

"Exaudi orationem nostram, domine: gemitusque nostros auribus percipe: nos  enim iniquitates nostras agnoscimus . et delicta nostra coram te pandimus  tibi Deus peccavimus: tibique confitentes veniam exposcimus. Et quia  recessimus a mandatis tuis: et legi tue minime paruimus. Convertere,  Domine, super servos tuos quos redimisti sanguine tuo. Indulge quaesumus  nobis: et peccatis nostris veniam tribue: tueque pietatis misericordiam in  nobis largire dignare. Amen.
Per misericordiam tuam Deus noster qui es benedictus et vivis et omnia  regis in secula seculorum. Amen."

In the Gallican liturgies this prayer is called "Post Precem."

EPISTLE.--After the singing of the "Psallendo" and the Diaconal Prayers the  Priest commanded silence, "Silentium facite," and the Lector read the  Epistle, usually called the Apostle, as in Gaul, Italy, Africa, and other  countries. He first announced the title, as, for instance, "Sequentia  epistolae Pauli ad Corinthios," to which the people answered "Deo Gratias,"  and signed themselves. But as far back as the time of St. Isidore it was no  longer the Lector, but the Deacon, who read the Epistle. The reading ended,  the people responded Amen, and the Deacon descending from the ambone,  carried the book back to the sacristy (cf. Lesley's note, col. 268). The  text was not always read in its integrity, and the Mozarabic books contain  examples of Lessons where texts are combined or fitted together. (Thus,  P.L., loc. cit., cols. 622 and 278.)

GOSPEL.--Like the Epistle, the Gospel was at first read in Spain by the  Lector. Then this function was reserved for the Deacon, "ad diaconum  pertinere praedicare Evangelium et apostolum" (St. Isidore, "Ep. ad  Ludifr."). This also was the case in Gaul (Gregory of Tours, "Hist.  Franc.," I, VIII, c. iv. IV). The Deacon first said the prayer, "Munda cor  meum corpusque et labia mea," etc., and then went to receive the Bishop's  blessing: "Corroboret Dominus sensum tuum," etc. Having returned to the  altar the Deacon said: "Laus tibi," clergy and people responding: "Laus  tibi, Domine Jesu Christe, Rex aeternae gloriae." He then ascended the  ambone, with the book, preceded by those who bore candles, and perhaps  incense, and announced the reading: "Lectio sancti evangelii secundum  Lucam," to which the people answered: "Gloria tibi, Domine," making the  sign of the Cross, and responding "Amen" at the end of the Gospel, which  they stood upright to hear. The Bishop kissed the book of the Gospels when  this was presented to him, saying: "Ave, verbum divinum, reformatio  virtutum et restitutio sanitatum." (P.L., Vol. LXXXV, col. 269.)

As in the case of the Prophecy and the Epistle, the Mozarabic books do not  scruple to omit verses of the Gospel, or to rearrange its text. After the  reading the Priest said: "Dominus sit semper vobiscum. "Et cum spiritu  tuo."

In private Masses the Priest recited a prayer before the Gospel: "Comforta  me, Rex sanctorum," etc., and also the "Dominus sit in corde meo," etc.,  the Deacon saying the "Munda cor meum" (cf. loc. cit., col. 528). But these  prayers are of a later age, and are probably borrowed from the Roman  liturgy.

LAUDA.--The "Lauda," which follows the Gospel, is composed of the  "Alleluia" and a verse taken generally from a psalm. This place was  assigned to it by the Fourth Council of Toledo (cf. also St. Isidore,  "Offic.," I, I, c. xiii.). In the "Missale Mixtum" it is followed by "Deo  Gratias," but it would not appear that this is primitive (P.L., loc. cit.,  col. 536). The "Lauda" is sung by the Cantor. This custom of singing a  verse after the Gospel is found in other liturgies.

At this point there was formerly (at least on certain days, especially in  Lent) a prayer for the penitents, and their dismissal, as well as that of  the catechumens (cf. P.L., loc. cit., cols. 307, 308). Here the Pre-Mass  ended. We see that its principal features are very much the same as those  of the Gallican, and even the Roman, Pre-Mass. But the Mozarabic rite has preserved more memories of the primitive liturgy.

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