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Encyclopedia > Canon of the Mass

This article incorporates text from the public domain Catholic Encyclopedia. The public domain comprises the body of all creative works and other knowledge—writing, artwork, music, science, inventions, and others—in which no person or organization has any proprietary interest. ... The Catholic Encyclopedia (also referred to as the Old Catholic Encyclopedia today) is an English-language encyclopedia published in 1913 by the The Encyclopedia Press, designed to give authoritative information on the entire cycle of Catholic interests, action and doctrine. // History The writing of the encyclopedia began on January 11...


Canon of the Mass (Canon Missæ, Canon Actionis) is the name used in the Roman Missal of the Tridentine period for the part of the Mass that began after the Sanctus with the words Te igitur. The Rubricae generales Missalis, XII, 6, stating: "After the Preface the Canon of the Mass begins inaudibly", confirmed this starting point. From there until the end of the Mass, each page of the Missal was headed "Canon Missae". However, some considered that it ended with the doxology before the Pater Noster (... omnis honor et gloria, per omnia sæcula sæculorum. Amen.). As support for this opinion, they cited the Ritus servandus in celebratione Missae, which, after the two sections, "VIII - Of the Canon of the Mass to the Consecration" and "IX - Of the Canon from the Consecration to the Lord's Prayer", headed the next section: "X - Of the Lord's Prayer and other parts to completion of the Communion". Others held that the Canon of the Mass included the Lord's Prayer with its introduction (Praeceptis salutaribus ...) and its embolism (Libera nos ...), but not the later parts of the Mass. The Roman Missal (Missale Romanum) is the liturgical book that contains the texts and rubrics for the celebration of the Latin rite of Mass. ... The adjective Tridentine refers to any thing or person pertaining to the city of Trent, Italy (Latin: Tridentum). ... Mass is the term used of the celebration of the Eucharist in the various liturgical rites of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglo-Catholic tradition of Anglicanism, and in some Lutheran regions which are largely High Church: the main Lutheran service is still known as the... The Lords Prayer (sometimes known by its first two Latin words as the Pater Noster, in Greek as the , or the English equivalent Our Father) is probably the best-known prayer in Christianity. ...


The present Roman Missal uses the term "Roman Canon" of the first of its four Eucharist Prayers, and leaves no doubt about the extent of the Eucharistic Prayer or Anaphora part of the Mass, placing the words "Eucharistic Prayer" before the dialogue that precedes the Preface, and putting the new heading "Rite of Communion" before the introduction to the Lord's Prayer.


For detailed information on the history of the Roman Canon of the Mass, see the article Canon of the Mass in the Catholic Encyclopedia, from which the rest of this article has been transcribed. The Catholic Encyclopedia (also referred to as the Old Catholic Encyclopedia today) is an English-language encyclopedia published in 1913 by the The Encyclopedia Press, designed to give authoritative information on the entire cycle of Catholic interests, action and doctrine. // History The writing of the encyclopedia began on January 11...

Contents


Name and place of the Canon

One can only conjecture the original reason for the use of the term Canon. Walafrid Strabo says: "This action is called the Canon because it is the lawful and regular confection of the Sacrament" (De reb. eccl., xxii); Benedict XIV says: "Canon is the same word as rule, the Church uses this name to mean that the Canon of the Mass is the firm rule according to which the Sacrifice of the New Testament is to be celebrated" (De SS. Missæ Sacr., Lib. II, xii). It has been suggested that our present Canon was a compromise between the older Greek Anaphoras and variable Latin Eucharistic prayers formerly used in Rome, and that it was ordered in the fourth century, possibly by Pope Damasus I (366-84). The name Canon would then mean a fixed standard to which all must henceforth conform, as opposed to the different and changeable prayers used before (E. Burbridge in Atchley, "Ordo Rom. Primus", 96). In any case it is noticeable that whereas the lessons, collects and Preface of the Mass constantly vary, the Canon is almost unchangeable in every Mass. Another name for the Canon is Actio. Agere, like the Greek dran, is often used as meaning to sacrifice. Leo I, in writing to Dioscorus of Alexandria, uses the expression "in qua [sc. basilica] agitur", meaning "in which Mass is said". Other names are Legitimum, Prex, Agenda, Regula, Secretum Missæ. Walafrid (also Walahfrid), surnamed Strabo (or Strabus, i. ... Scholar Pope, Benedict XIV Benedict XIV, né Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini (Bologna, March 31, 1675 - Rome, May 3, 1758) was pope from 1740 to 1758. ... In the Eastern Christian liturgy, the anaphora is that part of the Liturgy having to do specifically with the consecration and offering of the Eucharist, as opposed to scripture readings, etc. ... Saint Damasus I ( 305-383) was Pope from 366. ... Pope Saint Leo I, or Leo the Great, was a Roman aristocrat who was Pope from 440 to 461. ... Dioscorus (or Dioscurus) (died c. ...


The whole Canon is essentially one long prayer, the Eucharistic prayer that the Eastern Rites call the Anaphora. And the Preface is part of this prayer. Introduced in Rome as everywhere by the little dialogue "Sursum corda" and so on, it begins with the words "Vere dignum et justum est". Interrupted for a moment by the people, who take up the angels' words: "Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus", etc., the priest goes on with the same prayer, obviously joining the next part to the beginning by the word igitur. It is not then surprising that we find in the oldest sacramentary that contains a Canon, the Gelasian, the heading "Incipit Canon Actionis" placed before the Sursum Corda; so that the preface was then still looked upon as part of the Canon. The Eucharist or Communion or The Lords Supper, is the rite that Christians perform in fulfillment of Jesus instruction, recorded in the New Testament, to do in memory of him what he did at his Last Supper. ... The term Eastern Rites may refer to the liturgical rites used by many ancient Christian Churches of Eastern Europe and the Middle East that, while being part of the Roman Catholic Church, are distinct from the Latin Rite or Western Church. ... In the Eastern Christian liturgy, the anaphora is that part of the Liturgy having to do specifically with the consecration and offering of the Eucharist, as opposed to scripture readings, etc. ... In the Catholic tradition, the so-called Gelasian Sacramentary is a book of liturgy, containing the priests part in celebrating the Eucharist. ...


However, by the seventh century or so the Canon was considered as beginning with the secret prayers after the Sanctus (Ord. Rom. I: "When they have finished the Sanctus the pontiff rises alone and enters into the Canon", ed. Atchley, 138). The point at which it may be considered as ending was equally uncertain at one time. There has never been any sort of point or indication in the text of the Missal to close the period begun by the heading "Canon Missæ", so that from looking at the text we should conclude that the Canon goes on to the end of the Mass. Even as late as Pope Benedict XIV there were "those who think that the Lord's Prayer makes up part of the Canon" (De SS. Miss Sacr., ed. cit., 228). On the other hand the "Ordo Rom. I" (ed. cit. infra, p. 138) implies that it ends before the Pater Noster. Benedict XIV, born Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini (Bologna, March 31, 1675 – Rome, May 3, 1758), was Pope from 1740 to 1758. ... The Lords Prayer (sometimes known by its first two Latin words as the Pater Noster, in Greek as the , or the English equivalent Our Father) is probably the best-known prayer in Christianity. ...


The two views are reconciled by the distinction between the "Canon Consecrationis" and the "Canon Communionis" that occurs constantly in the Middle Ages (Gihr, Das heilige Messopfer, 540). The "Canon Communionis" then would begin with the Pater Noster and go on to the end of the people's Communion. The Post-Communion to the Blessing, or now to the end of the last Gospel, forms the last division of the Mass, the thanksgiving and dismissal. It must then be added that in modern times by Canon we mean only the "Canon Consecrationis".


The Canon, together with the rest of the "Ordo Missæ", is now printed in the middle of the Missal, between the propers for Holy Saturday and Easter Day. Till about the ninth century it stood towards the end of the sacramentary, among the "Missæ quotidianæ" and after the Proper Masses (so in the Gelasian book). Thence it moved to the very beginning. From the eleventh century it was constantly placed in the middle, where it is now, and since the use of complete Missals "according to the use of the Roman Curia" (from the thirteenth century) that has been its place invariably. It is the part of the book that is used far more than any other, so it is obviously convenient that it should occur where a book lies open best -- in the middle. No doubt a symbolic reason, the connection between the Eucharistic Sacrifice and the mysteries of Holy Week, helped to make this place seem the most suitable one. The same reason of practical use that gave it this place led to the common custom of printing the Canon on vellum, even when the rest of the Missal was on paper -- vellum stands wear much better than paper. Orthodox pilgrims bathing with the Holy Fire in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre on Holy Saturday. ... Easter is the most important religious holiday of the Christian liturgical year, observed in March, April, or May to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, which Christians believe occurred after his death by crucifixion in AD 27-33 (see Good Friday). ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Holy Week procession. ... Vellum (from the Latin for wool or pelt) is a sort of parchment, a material for the pages of a book or codex, characterized by its thin, smooth, durable properties. ...


Mystical interpretations

It is obvious that in the great days of mystic theology, so venerable and sacred a text as the Canon of the Mass should have received elaborate mystical explanations. Indeed, after the Bible it was chiefly to the Canon that these pious writers turned their attention. Equally obvious is it that such interpretations never have any sort of regard to the historical development of the text. By the time they began the Canon had reigned unquestioned and unchanged for centuries, as the expression of the most sacred rite of the Church. The interpreters simply took this holy text as it stood, and conceived mystic and allegorical reasons for its divisions, expressions, rites, even -- as has been seen -- for the letter T, with which in their time it began. Mysticism is the philosophy and practice of a direct experience of God. ... Theology is reasoned discourse concerning God (Greek θεος, theos, God, + λογος, logos, word or reason). It can also refer to the study of other religious topics. ... A rite is an established, ceremonious, usually religious act. ... Saint Peters Basilica in Rome. ...


No one who is accustomed to the subtle conceptions of medieval mysticism will be surprised to see that these interpretations all disagree among themselves and contradict each other in every point. The system leads to such contradictions inevitably. You divide the Canon where you like, trying, of course, as far as possible to divide by a holy number -- three, or seven, or twelve -- and you then try somehow to show that each of these divisions corresponds to some epoch of our Lord's life, or to one of the Gifts of the Holy Ghost, or -- if you can make eight divisions somewhere -- to one of the Beatitudes. The arrangements are extremely ingenious. Indeed, perhaps the strongest impression one receives from such mystical divisions and explanations is how extraordinarily well their inventors do it. Mysticism is the philosophy and practice of a direct experience of God. ... The Gift of the Holy Ghost is a doctrine of the Latter Day Saint movement, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. ... The Beatitudes (from Latin, beatitudo, happiness) is the name given to a well-known, and to some, such as Henri Nouwen, definitive and central, portion of the Sermon on the Mount, recorded in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. ...


Nor does the utterly artificial nature of the whole proceeding prevent many of the interpretations from being quite edifying, often very poetic and beautiful. To give even a slight account of the endless varieties of these mystic commentaries would take up very much space. Various examples will be found in the books quoted below.


William Durandus (Duranti) the Elder, Bishop of Mende (d. 1296), in his "Rationale divinorum officiorum", set the classic example of these interpretations. His work is important chiefly because incidentally we get from it a very exact account of the prayers and ceremonies of the thirteenth century. Very many theologians followed in his footsteps. Perhaps Benedict XIV and Cardinal Bona are the most important. Gihr has collected all the chief mystical explanations in his book on the Mass. One or two of the more interesting or curious examples may be added here. Scholar Pope, Benedict XIV Benedict XIV, né Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini (Bologna, March 31, 1675 - Rome, May 3, 1758) was pope from 1740 to 1758. ...


A favourite idea is that the Ordinary to the Sanctus, with its lessons, represents Christ's public life and teaching; the Canon is a type of the Passion and death -- hence it is said in silence. Christ taught plainly, but did not open his mouth when he was accused and suffered. From Durandus comes the idea of dividing the Mass according to the four kinds of prayer mentioned in I Tim., ii, 1. It is an Obsecratio (supplication) to the Secret, an Oratio (prayer) to the Pater Noster, a Postulatio (intercession) to the Communion, and a Gratiarum Actio (thanksgiving) to the end. Benedict XIV and many others divide the Canon into four sets of threefold prayers: The Passion is the technical term for the suffering and Agony of Jesus that led directly to the Crucifixion, a central Christian event. ... (Redirected from 1 Timothy) This article or section should be merged with Second Epistle to Timothy The First Epistle to Timothy is a book of the canonic New Testament, one of the three so-called pastoral epistles (1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and the Epistle to Titus). ... Secrecy is the condition of hiding information from others. ... Scholar Pope, Benedict XIV Benedict XIV, né Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini (Bologna, March 31, 1675 - Rome, May 3, 1758) was pope from 1740 to 1758. ...

  • "Te igitur", "Memento vivorum", "Communicantes";
  • "Hanc igitur", "Quam oblationem", "Qui pridie";
  • "Unde et memores", "Supra quæ", "Supplices te rogamus";
  • "Memento defunctorum", "Nobis quoque", "Per quem hæc omnia".

This gives the mystic numbers four, three, and twelve. So again each separate expression finds a mystic meaning. Why do we say "rogamus ac petimus" in the "Te igitur"? "Rogamus" shows humility, "petimus" confidence (Odo Cameracensis; "Exp. in Can. Missæ", dist. iii). Why do we distinguish "hæc dona" and "hæc munera"? "Dona" because God gives them to us, "munera" because we offer them back to Him (Gihr, 552, n. 5). Why is there no Amen after the "Nobis quoque peccatoribus"? Because the angels say it at that place (Albertus Magnus, "Summa de off. Missæ", III, c. ix). "Per ipsum et cum ipso et in ipso est tibi . . . omnis honor et gloria" signifies in its triple form that our Lord suffered three kinds of indignities in His Passion -- in His body, soul, and honour (Ben. XIV, 227).


See also the explanations of the twenty-five crosses made by the priest in the Cannon suggested by various commentators (Gihr, 550). Historically, when these prayers were first composed, such reduplications and repetitions were really made for the sake of the rhythm which we observe in all liturgical texts. The medieval explanations are interesting as showing with what reverence people studied the text of the Canon and how, when every one had forgotten the original reasons for its forms, they still kept the conviction that the Mass is full of venerable mysteries and that all its clauses mean more than common expressions. And in this conviction the sometimes naive medieval interpreters were eminently right.


See also

This article or section needs to be wikified. ...

References

This article incorporates text from the public domain Catholic Encyclopedia. The public domain comprises the body of all creative works and other knowledge—writing, artwork, music, science, inventions, and others—in which no person or organization has any proprietary interest. ... The Catholic Encyclopedia (also referred to as the Old Catholic Encyclopedia today) is an English-language encyclopedia published in 1913 by the The Encyclopedia Press, designed to give authoritative information on the entire cycle of Catholic interests, action and doctrine. // History The writing of the encyclopedia began on January 11...


 
 

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