Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. VII:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Catechetical Lectures of S. Cyril.: Eucharistic Rites. Liturgy.
Chapter V.—Eucharistic Rites. Liturgy.
§ 1. First Communion. When the rites of Baptism and Chrism were completed, the new-made Christians, clothed in white robes (Myst. iv. 8), and bearing each a lighted taper in his hand, passed in procession from the Baptistery into the great “Church of the Resurrection.” The time was still night, as we gather from the allusion in Procat., § 15: “May God at length shew you that night, that darkness which shines like the day, concerning which it is said, darkness shall not be hidden from thee, and the night shall be light as the day.” As the newly-baptized entered the church, they were welcomed in the words of the 32nd Psalm. “Even now,” says Cyril (Procat., § 15), “let your ears ring, as it were, with that glorious sound, when over your salvation the Angels shall chant, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; when like stars of the Church you shall enter in, bright in the body and radiant in the soul.” During the chanting of the Psalm the neophytes seem to have stood in front of the raised bema or sanctuary, as we learn from Cyrils eloquent contemporary, Gregory Nazianzen, Orat. XL. § 46: “The station in which presently after Baptism thou wilt stand before the great sanctuary prefigures the glory from yonder heaven; the psalmody, with which thou wilt be welcomed, is a prelude of those heavenly hymns; the lamps, which thou wilt light, are a mystic sign of the procession of lights, with which bright and virgin souls shall go forth to meet the Bridegroom, with the lamps of faith burning brightly.”
From the Syriac “Treatise of Severus, formerly Patriarch of Alexandria (Antioch), concerning the rites of Baptism and of Holy Communion (Synaxis) as received among the Syrian Christians” (Resch, Agrapha, § 12, p. 361); we learn that it was the custom “to lift up the newly-baptized to the altar, and after giving them the mysteries the Bishop (Sacerdos) crowned them with garlands.”
The white garments (Procat., § 2: Mystag., iv. 88) were worn until the Octave of Easter, Low Sunday, Dominica in Albis (Bingham, XII. c. iv. § 3).
§ 2. The Liturgy. In Cyrils last Lecture, Mystagogic V., he reminds his hearers of what they had witnessed at their first Communion on Easter-day, and thus gives a most valuable testimony to the prescribed form of administering the Holy Eucharist in the Eastern Church in the middle of the fourth century.
Passing over all the preparatory portion of the Liturgy, he tells us first that the Deacon brings water to the Bishop or Priest (τῷ ἱερεῖ) and to the Presbyters who stand round the altar, that they may wash their hands in token of the need of purification from sin; a ceremony which evidently had reference to the words of the Psalmist, “I will wash mine hands in innocency; so will I compass Thine altar, O Lord 219 .” In some Churches, perhaps also at Jerusalem, the words were actually chanted during the ablution 220 .
“Then the Deacon cries aloud, Receive ye one another: and let us salute (ἀσπαζώμεθα ) one another.” In the Clementine Liturgy 221 the “Kiss of Peace” precedes the “Ablution.”
p. xxxv Sometimes these two sentences are combined: “Salute ye one another with the holy kiss 222 .” In the Liturgy of S. James there are two separate rubrics, one immediately after the dismissal of the Catechumens, “Take knowledge one of another,” and a second after the Creed, “Let us embrace (ἀγαπήσωμεν) one another with a holy kiss.”
“After this the Priest (ἱερεύς) cries aloud, Lift up your hearts. Then ye answer, We lift them up unto the Lord 223 .”
The meaning of this Preface, as explained by Cyril, is an exhortation by the Priest, or Bishop when present, and a promise by the people, to raise all their thoughts to God on high, in preparation for the great Thanksgiving to which they were further invited: “Let us give thanks unto the Lord,”—“It is meet and right 224 .”
Then follows a very brief summary of the Eucharistic Preface, and after that the Trisagion 225 , corresponding in part to the long Thanksgiving in the Apostolic Constitutions for all Gods mercies in creation, providence, and redemption 226 .
It is important to observe how S. Cyril in this and the following sections associates the people with the Priest, using throughout the Plural “We.” That this is intentional and significant, we may learn from a passage of S. Chrysostom 227 which is so interesting that we may be allowed to translate it at length: “Sometimes moreover no difference is made between the Priest and those over whom he presides, as for example when we are to partake of the awful mysteries; for we are all alike deemed worthy of the same privileges: not as in the Old Covenant some parts were eaten by the Priest, and others by the governed (ὁ ἀρχόμενος), and it was not lawful for the people to share in what the Priest partook of. It is not so now: but one Body is set before all, and one Cup. And in the prayers also one may see the laity contributing much. For the prayers on behalf of the Energumens, and on behalf of those in Penitence are offered in common both by the Priest and by themselves; and all say one prayer, a prayer that is full of compassion. Again, after we have excluded from the sacred precincts those who are unable to partake of the Holy Table, there is another prayer to be made, and we all alike lie prostrate on the floor, and all alike rise up. When again we are to receive and give a kiss of peace, we all alike embrace each other. Again even amid the most tremendous Mysteries the Priest prays over the people, and the people over the Priest: for the formula, “With Thy Spirit,” is nothing else than this. The words of the Thanksgiving again are common: for he does not give thanks alone, but also the whole people. For having first got their answer, and they agreeing that It is meet and right so to do, he then begins the thanksgiving. And why wonder that the people sometimes speak with the Priest, when even with the very Cherubim and the Powers on high they send up those sacred hymns in common. Now all this I have said in order that each of the common people (τῶν ἀρχομένων) also may be vigilant, that we may learn that we are all one Body, having only as much difference between one and another, as between members and members, and may not cast the whole work upon the Priests, but ourselves also care for the whole Church even as for a common Body.”
It is remarkable that in Cyrils account of the Eucharistic rites in this Lecture there is not the slightest reference to the words of Institution, though these hold so prominent a place before the Invocation both in the Clementine Liturgy and in the Liturgy of S. James. But we cannot justly assume, from a mere omission in so brief a summary, that the Commemoration of the Institution had no place in the Liturgy then in use at Jerusalem. It seems more probable that Cyril did not think it necessary, after his repeated references to the Institution in the preceding Lecture, to make further mention of a custom so well known as the recitation of Christs own words in the course of the Prayer preceding the Invocation. On p. xxxvi the previous day he had quoted S. Pauls account of the Institution, with the remark, “Since then He Himself has declared and said of the Bread, This is My Body, who shall dare doubt any longer? And since He has Himself affirmed and said, This is My Blood, who shall ever hesitate, saying that it is not His Blood 228 ?” The like efficacy he again ascribes to “the Lords declaration” concerning both the Bread and the Wine, that they are “the Body and Blood of Christ 229 .”
In the Didaché, which gives the oldest elements of an Eucharistic Service, there is neither the Commemoration nor the Invocation, but only two short and simple forms of Thanksgiving “for the Holy Vine of David,” and “for the broken Bread 230 .”
Justin Martyr seems to imply that the consecration is effected by the Commemoration of Christs own words in the Institution: “We have been taught,” he says, “that the food which is blessed by the prayer of the word which comes from Him (τὴν δι᾽ εὐχῆς λόγου τοῦ παρ αὐτοῦ εὐχαριστηθεῖσαν τροφήν), and by which our blood and flesh are by transmutation nourished, is the Flesh and Blood of that Jesus who was made Flesh.” He gives no separate Invocation of the Holy Ghost, but this may have been supplied in the “praise and glory” or in the “prayer and thanksgivings” sent up “to the Father of all through the name of the Son and of the Holy Ghost 231 .”
Irenæus is apparently the earliest writer who represents the Invocation of the Holy Ghost as the immediate act of consecration: “We make an oblation to God of the bread and the cup of blessing, giving Him thanks for that He has commanded the earth to bring forth these fruits for our nourishment. And then, having completed the oblation, we call forth (ἐκκαλοῦμεν ) the Holy Spirit, that He may exhibit this sacrifice, both the bread the Body of Christ, and the cup the Blood of Christ, in order that the partakers of these antitypes may obtain the remission of sins and life eternal 232 .”
Mr. Hammond writes that, “By the Oriental Churches an Invocation of the Holy Spirit is considered necessary to complete the consecration. In the three Oriental Families of Liturgies such an Invocation is invariably found shortly after the Words of Institution 233 .”
It is in accordance with this statement that, we find Cyril so frequently declaring that the elements which before the Invocation are simple bread and wine, become after the Invocation the Body and Blood of Christ 234 . In the first of the passages referred to below he speaks of “the Holy Invocation of the Adorable Trinity,” in the others of the Holy Spirit only.
Cyril next describes the Invocation as “completing the Spiritual Sacrifice, the bloodless Service,” and then gives a summary of the “Great Intercession” as made “over that Sacrifice of the Propitiation.” The Intercession, as represented by Cyril, is not simply a prayer, but an offering of the Sacrifice 235 , and this is in accordance with the usual language of the Liturgies.” We offer to Thee, O Lord, on behalf also of Thy holy places, which Thou hast glorified by the Theophany of Thy Christ, and by the visitation of Thine All-Holy Spirit: especially on behalf of glorious Sion, the Mother of all the Churches, and on behalf of Thy Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church throughout the whole world 236 .” In the Liturgy of S. Chrysostom, as now commonly used in the Orthodox Eastern Church, we find the fuller phrase, “We offer unto Thee this reasonable Service on behalf of the world, on behalf of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church 237 .”
In some particulars Cyrils summary agrees most nearly with the Clementine Liturgy, as, for example, in the prayer “for the King and those in authority, and for the whole army, that they may be at peace with us 238 .” In others he follows the Liturgy of S. James, p. xxxvii as in the intercession for “every Christian soul afflicted and distressed, that stands in need of Thy pity and succour 239 .”
Cyril next describes the commemoration of departed Saints, and “of all who in past years have fallen asleep among us,” that is, in the bosom of the Church, and states his belief “that it will be a very great benefit to the souls, for whom the supplication is put up while that holy and most awful Sacrifice is presented 240 .” He refers to objections against this belief, and brings forward in defence of it a reason applicable only to sinners: “When we offer,” he says, “our supplications for those who have fallen asleep, though they be sinners, we offer up Christ sacrificed for our sins, propitiating our merciful God for them as well as for ourselves 241 .” His language on this subject seems in fact to shew an advance in doctrine beyond the earliest Liturgies. In those of S. James and S. Basil we find prayers that the offering may be acceptable as a propitiation “for the rest of the souls that have fallen asleep aforetime,” and again, “that we may find mercy and grace with all the Saints who have ever been pleasing in Thy sight from generation to generation, forefathers, fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Martyrs, Confessors, Teachers, holy men, and every righteous spirit made perfect in the faith of Thy Christ.”
There is nothing here, nor in the Clementine Liturgy, nor in that of S. Mark, corresponding to the purpose which Cyril ascribes to the commemoration, “that at their prayers and intercessions God would receive our petition.” In the Anaphora of S. Chrysostom contained in the later form of the Liturgy of Constantinople we find, apparently for the first time, this prayer added to the commemoration of all Saints, “at whose supplications look upon us, O God.”
There was much controversy on the subject of prayers for the dead in Cyrils time, and the objections which he notices were brought into prominence by Ærius, and rebuked by Epiphanius 242 .
From the commemoration of the departed Cyril passes at once to the Lords Prayer 243 , omitting the Preface which is found in the Liturgies of S. James and S. Mark. In the Clementine Liturgy, contrary to general use, the Lords Prayer is not said at all. Cyril adds an exposition of each petition, and gives an unusual explanation of ἐπιούσιος, for which see the footnote: he also explains τοῦ πονηροῦ as referring to “the wicked one,” following in this the Embolismus of S. James, “deliver us from the wicked one and from his works.”
“After this the Bishop says, Holy things for holy men 244 .” Chrysostom explains this as being both an invitation to the Faithful in general to communicate, and a warning to the unholy to withdraw. “The Bishop, with loud voice and awe-inspiring cry, raising high his arm like a herald, and standing on high in sight of all, above that awful silence cries aloud, inviting some and repelling others, and doing this not with his hand, but with his tongue more clearly than with the hand..…For when he says, Holy things for the holy, he means this: Whosoever is not holy, let him not draw near 245 .”
In regard to the doctrinal significance of the formula, Dr. Waterlands remarks should be consulted 246 .
The response of the people to the “Sancta Sanctis” is given by Cyril 247 in accordance with the Liturgy of S. James and the Clementine: “One is Holy, One is the Lord, Jesus Christ:” but he does not mention the “Gloria in excelsis” nor the “Hosanna,” both of which follow here in the Clementine.
“After this,” says Cyril, “ye hear the chanter inviting you with a sacred melody to the Communion of the Holy Mysteries, and saying, O taste and see that the Lord is good 248 . This p. xxxviii agrees with the Clementine rubric: “Let the 33rd Psalm be sung while all the rest are partaking.” In the Liturgy of S. James, while the Bishop is breaking the Bread and dipping in the Wine, the “Agnus Dei” and several Psalms were sung: but of these there is no mention in the Clementine Liturgy or in Cyril.
On Cyrils directions for receiving the Bread and the Cup with due reverence, see the footnotes on the passages 249 .
His final injunction to remain for the prayer and thanksgiving is taken from that in the Clementine Liturgy: “Having partaken of the precious Body and the precious Blood of Christ, let us give thanks to Him who hath counted us worthy to partake of His holy Mysteries.” The thanksgiving, benediction, concluding prayers, and dismissal, vary much in the different Liturgies.
Mystag. v. § 2.xxxiv:220
Dict. Chr. Ant. “Lavabo.”xxxiv:221
Apost. Const. viii. c. 11.xxxv:222
Apost. Const. viii. c. 11. Compare Justin M. Apolog. I. c. 65.xxxv:223
Mystag. v. § 4.xxxv:224
Apost. Const. viii. c. 12. See the Eucharistic Preface of the Liturgy of S. James in note 4 on Mystag. v. § 6.xxxv:227
In Epist. II. ad Cor. Homil. xviii. § 3.xxxvi:228
Mystag. iv. § 1.xxxvi:229
Ib. § 6: see also § 7.xxxvi:230
Capp. ix., x.xxxvi:231
Apol. I. cc. 65–67.xxxvi:232
Liturgies, p. 382.xxxvi:234
Mystag. v. i. § 7; iii. § 3; v. § 7.xxxvi:235
Mystag. v. § 8: ταύτην προσφέρομεν τὴν θυσίαν.xxxvi:236
Hammond, Liturgy of S. James, p. 43.xxxvi:237
Ib. p. 115.xxxvi:238
Ib. p. 18.xxxvii:239
Hammond, Liturgy of S. James, p. 44.xxxvii:240
Hæres. lxxv. § 7. Cf. Bingh. Ant. XV. c. 3, § 16; Dict Chr. Biog. “Aerius.”xxxvii:243
Mystag. V. § 11.xxxvii:244
Ib. § 19.xxxvii:245
Hom. xvii. in Hebr. These Homilies were edited after Chrysostoms death.xxxvii:246
A Review of the Doctrine of the Eucharist, c. x.xxxvii:247
§§ 21, 22.
Next: Effects of Baptism and of Chrism.
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