ON THE EUCHOLOGION
Encyclical of Pope Benedict XIV promulgated on March 1, 1756.
To the Archbishops, Bishops and Other Clerics, Secular and Regular, of the Greek Rite Who Enjoy Favor and Communion with the Apostolic See.
Venerable Brothers and Beloved Sons, We Give You Greeting and Our Apostolic Blessing.
Ever since We first became Pope, We have proven Our fatherly love in embracing in Christ Our beloved eastern clergy and people, the Uniates as they are called, who are in agreement with Us and are free from the stain of schism. We have made every attempt to induce the schismatics to abandon their errors and join Us in Catholic unity. We do not intend to recall here all the measures We took for this purpose since the records of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith are filled with Our decrees on this subject and everyone can refer to Our apostolic letters and constitutions on eastern affairs in the volumes of Our Bullarium. Our present purpose is to inform you that the work of correcting the Greek Euchologion is now completed. It has already been printed by the press of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith following a lengthy scrutiny of every detail and most careful correction.
Consequently We exhort you to set aside previous editions which have been found to contain too many different errors, and to use this edition in sacred rites. The errors of former editions, however, are not to be wonderered at, for errors are readily made whenever the same work goes through many editions and the editors do not exert the strictest care. Such care is necessary to prevent the repeated insertion or addition of matters which are not found in the earliest and most faithful editions, whether through deceit or ignorance. Then since these errors have to be excised or somehow restrained, corrections and new editions more faithful to the original eventually are necessary. This has obviously occurred in the Western Church too, even though it is not as subject to these errors as the Eastern Church. Accordingly the Roman Pontiffs have often had to see to it that Missals, Rituals, Breviaries, and Martyrologies were newly issued in improved editions after appropriate corrections.
In regard to the corrections of your Euchologion (which, as you well know, is no more than the collection of prayers and blessings of the Church and so with Goarius We can appropriately term it the Ritual, Manual, Sacerdotal, or Pontifical of your Church), We propose to address two subjects in particular in this letter: namely, to set down first, the history of the new corrected edition which has just been completed, and then to expound in greater detail certain admonitions which have been suitably placed at the beginning of the Euchologion. We have postponed making known to you several other matters relating to the Euchologion itself. These could not properly be included in the present letter since they would make it immoderately long and would impose excessive toil on Us quite unsuited to Our age and not easily included with the other important concerns which particularly engage Us at present in Our Apostolic ministry and cannot now be laid aside.
Correction of the Euchologion
- Philip IV, Catholic King of the Spains, towards the beginning of 1631, had recourse to the Apostolic See. He revealed that he had been informed by Greek Uniate inhabitants of this realm that a Euchologion containing many errors had been published by the Greek schismatics; he asked at that time for the application of appropriate remedies to this source of foolish confusion. At once Urban VIII formed a special Congregation for the correction of the Euchologion and personally appointed to it certain Cardinals, Prelates of the Roman Curia, and renowned theologians. At that time, he summoned to Rome others with a worldwide reputation for ecclesiastical learning, intending to appoint them also to this Congregation. Among those summoned was Dionysius Petavius, a priest of the Society of Jesus living in France; however, he understandably excused himself from so long a journey because of his advanced age. Jean Morin, a priest of the Gallican oratory, was also called to Rome; he attended many sessions and made many noteworthy proposals which aided the organization and direction of the undertaking. These We will discuss in another place.
- The members of this Congregation conscientiously undertook the work entrusted to them; their careful work was approved by Leo Allatius who wrote in a discussion of the Greek Euchologion: “I could relate and investigate many matters about the book, but since it is submitted to the censure and judgment of keen scholars, I wait for a true statement and an infallible verdict concerning it.” They met indeed for eighty-two sessions, as was long ago affirmed by Cardinal Franciscus Barberinus the elder at the meeting of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. Pope Innocent X attended this meeting on January 23, 1645, shortly after the death of his predecessor Urban, the uncle of this cardinal. Yet the correction of the Euchologion was not finished, and the new edition could not be brought to completion.
New Congregation on the Euchologion
- With succeeding popes, although the work was never completely abandoned, it proceeded slowly while, as often happens, its final conclusion was held up by the emergence of new and later business. But when God raised Us to the supreme pontificate, among Our first concerns was the correction of the books of the Oriental Church, particularly of the Euchologion of the Greeks. So We soon gave the following orders and were careful to have them carried out so that We might finally reach Our desired goal. First, the transactions of the Congregations which met in the reign of Urban VIII and his successors were collected and put in order to ascertain the form of those resolutions which had been adopted but not reinforced by papal confirmation: for apparently the popes had not condemned these resolutions but had deferred their consideration, possibly for good reasons, to more suitable times. Next, after the deaths of all who served on the Congregation, We assigned other Cardinals and Consultors to press on with the important task. Among the Cardinals who died were Antonio Xaverio Gentili, Philippo Monti, Gioachimo Besozzi, and Aloysio Lucini, in that order. As Prefect of the Congregation, We established the presbyter cardinal Fortunato Tamburini, who is still living. As Consultors We designated Brother Giuseppi Agustino Orsi of the Order of Preachers, the master of Our Apostolic palace; Leonardus Siderer, a priest of the Society of Jesus; Domenico Vitali, a monk of the Order of St. Basil; Thomas Sergius, a priest of the Pious Workers; and Domenico Teoli, a Roman priest. Some of these are still living. Finally We appointed as Secretary of this Congregation Master Niccolo Antonelli, Our domestic prelate. All of these men were obliged to deal with the matters submitted to their judgment. This they did diligently for an entire ten years.
At the start a dispute arose as to the method to be followed in the investigating-some judging that the forms of the Sacraments should be examined first, while others urged that matters relating to the duty of simple priests should be dealt with separately from those pertaining to bishops. We removed this problem by commanding that the revision and correction of the Euchologion should proceed in stages from the first page to the following pages in the order in which the Euchologion itself is arranged and printed. Finally We required the Secretary of the Congregation to produce an agenda before every session, for timely delivery not only to each of the Cardinals and Consultors who were to meet but also to Us, since We wanted to know of every matter to be discussed in the Congregation. In this agenda he was to list the headings of the questions to be brought forward, and to add notes on the considerations adduced and conclusions arrived at on these matters in the Congregations of previous popes insofar as they had been dealt with in former Congregations, followed by opinions on these questions from theological authors and ecclesiastical records.
Secretary of the Congregation
- It was unnecessary, as one would expect, to advise the Secretary on the subject of examining and comparing old Euchologia. He is expert in the Greek language, outstanding in sacred learning and teaching, and ready to undertake any great labor in obedience to and for the benefit of the Apostolic See; he has often shown this on other occasions when affairs demanded it, and also by zealously publishing books.
Everyone is aware that Father Jacobus Goarius of the Order of Preachers, a Frenchman by race, spent eight years in eastern parts examining all matters closely, and then came to Rome about 1640. There he conferred at length with outstanding scholars and experts in Greek affairs; with Leo Allatius, a Prelate of the Roman Curia; Basilio Falasca, Procurator General of the Order of St. Basil; Giorgio Coresio; and Pantaleone Ligaridio. Fr. Echardus records this in De scriptoribus Ordinis Praedicatorum (vol. 2, p. 574). Finally he returned to France and published the Greek Euchologion together with a Latin translation. The excellence of this work is enhanced by the careful learning with which the author examined and evaluated many manuscript codices and printed books, and criticized them in his Preface to the Reader. He added variant readings everywhere and occasionally inserted appropriate and learned notes. He first published that work at Paris in the year of the Lord 1647. It was reprinted at Venice in 1739.
Importance of Extant Manuscripts of Old
- Men of learning are also aware that several manuscript examples of the Greek Euchologion are preserved in the Vatican library, and that the Library of the Barberini has the famous Euchologium Barberinum S. Marci, so called because it was brought there long ago from the monastery of St. Mark at Florence. They know that this is more than ten centuries old, since Leo Allatius testified that already in his day it was considered to be more than nine hundred years old by the greatest experts of his time: “The Barberini codex surpasses all the others in point of antiquity. It is a most accurate copy in square letters on parchment and was written more than nine hundred years ago in the opinion of those who are considered foremost in judging these matters.” Learned men must also know of the precious codex preserved in the archive of the monastery of Grottaferrata which is called the Euchologium Patriarchale. It was left to the monks of that abbey by the will of the great Cardinal Besscion, who was the first Commendatory Abbot of that monastery. He always regarded it very highly since he had received it as a gift from Cardinal Giuliano Cesarino, who had in turn been given it at the Council of Florence by the Cretan priest Georgius Varj, as Arcudius testifies. All these copies of the Euchologion have been examined and critically compared as a guide to accuracy and soundness in the new edition of the Euchologion. This work was done both by the prelate who is Secretary and by other members of the Congregation who are skilled in Greek usage. Moreover there was no need for Us to advise this measure, since they themselves of their own accord undertook this trouble and performed it with great care.
- Likewise We did not need to remind the learned Cardinals and Consultors in the Congrgation of those wise remarks of the renowned Joannes Morinus in the preface to his work De Sacris Ordinibus, of Lukas Holstein in his in Dissertatione 1, de Sacramento Confirmationis, and finally of the author of the Vindiciarum P. le Brun where he writes on the form of the Sacrament of the Eucharist. These remarks should be certainly kept in mind if one desires to judge the Greek rites correctly. For it would of course be unjust, mistaken, and opposed to the peace and unity of the Church to make judgments concerning the Greek Rites solely on the basis of a knowledge of the Latin Rituals and what is reported by some of our writers. Even though they are expert in our practices, they are uninstructed in Greek customs, and do not know how the Apostolic See has always regarded them. So they unhesitatingly condemn everything in the sacred Greek rites which they discover to be dissimilar and not in agreement with the Latin rite.
As We say, there was no need to remind the Cardinals and Consultors selected for the correction of the Euchologion of these matters, since they had already themselves decided on this method of action and judgment and had thoroughly followed it. We acknowledge that this was also done by the cardinals and prelates who gave their opinion in the Congregations which met on this subject under Urban VIII. All the measures which We insisted on, as mentioned above, were fully implemented and the unceasing care and effort expended by all the members of the Congregation in completing the work cannot be sufficiently emphasized. Not only did the Secretary show Us the agenda before each of their sessions, but also after each session he carefully reported to Us the statements and resolutions of the Congregation. We read them all attentively and after due consideration approved and confirmed them insofar as it seemed expedient to do so. By keeping to this method the correction of the Euchologion was completed and the new edition of it was printed in 1754, at the press of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. We were desirous of bringing these matters to your attention to acquaint you with the great zeal, toil, and care which were devoted to the publication of the corrected edition of your Euchologion.
- At the beginning of this most recent edition four admonitions are to be found. We want to explain briefly to you in this letter the reasons for the presence of these remarks.
First Admonition-Commemoration of Pontiff in the Mass
- The first admonition is thus expressed: “It must be known that the priests who will use the Euchologion should be acquainted with the ecclesiastical canons of the holy Fathers and the Constitutions of the Catholic Church in order that they may avoid obvious mistakes in administering the divine Sacraments and performing their other duties. Therefore where commemorations are customarily made in the sacred liturgy, the Roman Pontiff should be first commemorated, then one’s own bishop and patriarch, provided they are Catholic. But if either or both of them are schismatic or heretic they should by no means be commemorated.” Certainly this is in full agreement with the decrees passed at the meeting of the Congregation on May 1, 1746, which We approved and confirmed. The following question was raised at that meeting: “whether the name of the supreme pontiff should be put into the prayers said by priest and deacon at the Offertory as well as in the other prayers, that is, For the supreme pontiff N.” This response was given to that question: “In the instruction which is to be added at the start of the Euchologion, Greek priests should be advised to make a commemoration of the supreme pontiff and of their bishop or archbishop if he is in union with the Roman Catholic Church, and moreover a rubric should be put in the margin of the Liturgy referring them to the instruction.” For it seemed best to add in this manner such matter as was missed in the text of the Euchologion itself.
This Practice is Long-Standing
- We have Ourselves dealt with the commemoration of the Roman pontiff in the sacrifice of the Mass, and with the antiquity of this practice in Our treatise De Sacrificio Missae, sect. I, n. 219. But since the publication of this book, the same subject has been treated with many extraordinary observations by Dominicus Georgius (who in his lifetime was Our dear sacristan) in his De Liturgia Romani Pontificis, vol. 3, chap. 3, no. 14, where he writes: “It has ever been customary in the Catholic Church to recite the name of the Roman pontiff during the sacred mysteries.” In no. 22 he adds: “All the ancient testimonies and the oldest copies of the sacred canon agree concerning the name of the supreme pontiff.” Indeed, that such a commemoration had been made in the Mass is shown by the Ambrosian Liturgy, the Mozarabic Mass, and the Latin Mass which the Lutheran Flaccus Illyricus copied from one ancient manuscript and published. So also does the most ancient Liturgy which is found in the old manuscript on the Sacraments of the Roman Church which was published by Venerable Cardinal Thomasius. Finally, this is also shown in all the sacred canons of the Mass, whether printed or written by hand, as the prelate Niccolo Antonelli amply shows in the long and learned dissertation which he wrote as a necessary part of his duty as Secretary of the Congregation for the Correction of the Euchologion; he had it printed when a dispute on this subject arose among the Cardinals and Consultors. A reprint of this can also be I found in the Appendix to the old Lateran Monastic Missal in the Collectio Liturgica, vol. 1, made by Fr. Emanuele de Azevedo.
- So far the testimonies mentioned relate to the Latin Church. As regards the Greek Church, Cardinal Bona says that it is not known whether in the early centuries it recalled the Roman pontiff in the sacrifice of the Mass: “But whether in the first centuries Orthodox Greece commemorated the Roman pontiff is unclear” (Rer. Liturgicar, bk. 2, chap. 11, no. 3). Moreover Isaac Habertus admits that among the records of the early age, he has found none to establish that it was customary in the Oriental Church to commemorate the Roman pontiff during the celebration of Mass: “I could wish it was done and if it had been done I would approve of it, but even so I do not read that it was done.” But he says that the name of the Roman Pontiff had been added to that of the Patriarch in the time of Pope Nicholas I, that is about 858, since the following words are found in several ancient copies of the Holy Liturgy of John Chrysostom: “Long be the days of most holy Nicholas the universal pope” (Observationes ad Pontificale Graecorum, pt. 8, observ. 12).
But Antonelli, whom We have praised, argues in his dissertation that it was customary in the Greek Church to commemorate the Roman Pontiff during Mass long before the period assigned by Habertus. He proves his point especially by the fact reported by Nicephorus in his in Historia Ecclesiast., bk. 16, chap. 17, where he depends on the testimony of a more ancient and serious historian, Basilius Cilix. Acacius, bishop of Constantinople, a supporter of the Eutychian heresy, prevailed on the emperor Zeno to publish his ill-fated edict, the Henoticon, which rendered void the definition of the holy Council of Chalcedon which opposed the heresy of Eutyches. When Pope Felix III could not ignore this and therefore deprived Acacius of communion, he had the audacity in the year of the Lord 484 to erase the name of the Roman pontiff Felix from the sacred diptychs in a new and hitherto unheard-of excess of rashness. For this reason the memory of Acacius was then condemned. The Greek church accepted this condemnation in the time of Pope Hormisdas and Emperor Justin, although the two predecessors of Hormisdas, Anastasius 11 and Symmachus, had failed to win this acceptance. So in the great church of Constantinople (whose example was doubtless followed by the other lesser churches of the east) the name of the Roman pontiff was in the sacred diptychs; therefore it must be asserted that he was prayed for by name during the celebration of Masses. Acacius is described as the first to erase this name and his deed was on this account particularly punished since, without any precedent, he committed a new sort of outrage till then unheard of, even though in former times there had been no lack of offense and disagreements between the Roman pontiffs and the bishops of the imperial city. It is thus abundantly proved that long before the time of Acacius and so in the early centuries, the name of the Roman pontiff was written in the sacred diptychs of the Greeks and thus it was customary to pray for him during the celebration of Mass.
But however it may be with this disputed point of ecclesiastical learning, it suffices Us to be able to state that a commemoration of the supreme pontiff and prayers offered for him during the sacrifice of the Mass is considered, and really is, an affirmative indication which recognizes him as the head of the Church, the vicar of Christ, and the successor of blessed Peter, and is the profession of a mind and will which firmly espouses Catholic unity. This was rightly noticed by Christianus Lupus in his work on the Councils: “This commemoration is the chief and most glorious form of communion” (tome 4, p. 422, Brussels edition). This view is not merely approved by the authority of Ivo of Flaviniaca who writes: “Whosoever does not pronounce the name of the Apostolic one in the canon for whatever reason should realize that he is separated from the communion of the whole world” (Chronicle, p. 228); or by the authority of the famous Alcuin: “It is generally agreed that those who do not for any reason recall the memory of the Apostolic pontiff in the course of the sacred mysteries according to custom are, as the blessed Pelagius teaches, separated from the communion of the entire world” (de Divinis Officiis, bk. 1, chap. 12).
Pope Pelagius II who held the Apostolic See in the sixth century of the Church gives this weightier statement on Our present subject in his letter: “I am greatly astonished at your separation from the rest of the Church and I cannot equably endure it. For Augustine, mindful that the Lord established the foundation of the Church on the Apostolic sees, says that whosoever removes himself from the authority and communion of the prelates of those sees is in schism. He states plainly that there is no church apart from one which is firmly established on the pontifical bases of the Apostolic sees. Thus how can you believe that you are not separated from the communion of the whole world if you do not commemorate my name during the sacred mysteries, according to custom? For you see that the strength of the Apostolic See resides in me, despite my unworthiness, through episcopal succession at the present time” (Labbe, Conciliorum Collectione, vol. 5, col. 794f and 810). This letter of Pelagius has also been used by St. Agobard, the great archbishop of Lyons, in his treatise De comparatione utriusque regiminis. This is printed in the in Magna Bibliotheca Patrum (vol. 14, p. 315, no. 21, Lyons) and was reissued by Balutius with other writings of this saint (col. 2, p. 49).
- Moreover it suffices Us to be able to affirm without peril that at whatever time the practice of praying by name for the Roman pontiff at Mass was finally accepted by the Greek Church, this practice was definitely in force in Greek churches many centuries before schism broke out, and was only broken off after the fatal separation. A letter dated 1053 of Peter, patriarch of Antioch, to Michael Cerularius, the well-known reviver of the Photian schism, survives. This letter is published in Greek and Latin by Joannes Baptista Cotelerius in the second volume of his Monument. Eccles. Graec. Michael had said that he was surprised that Peter of Antioch himself as well as the bishops of Alexandria and Jerusalem mentioned the Roman pontiff in the sacred diptychs (p. 140 of the abovementioned volume). But Peter most sharply rebuked the rashness of the maddened man in showing that both at Antioch and at Constantinople, the commemoration of the Roman pontiff had never been omitted up to his time: “Of these matters I too am an unexceptionable witness, as are the many others who with me hold high office in the Church, that in the time of Lord John (patriarch of Antioch), the Pope at Rome, also called John, was included in the sacred diptychs. Furthermore, when I came to Constantinople forty-five years ago I found that under Patriarch Sergius the Pope was mentioned at holy Mass along with the other Patriarchs.”
It is said in addition that no discussions on restoring unity were ever begun without the acceptance of the prior condition that the commemoration of the Roman pontiff should be included in the sacred liturgy, nor was a union which had been agreed on regarded as complete until the previous condition had actually been put into effect. The clear result of all this is that the Latin and Greek churches agree in recognizing and affirming that the commemoration implies a profession of due subjection to the Roman pontiff as head of the Church, and of a willingness to remain in the unity of the Church. On the other hand the omission of this commemoration signifies the intention of steadfastly espousing schism.
- When Michael Palaeologus, Emperor of Constantinople, in 1263 and thereafter, affirmed his desire to return in company with his Greek subjects to unity and concord with the Roman Church, Urban IV aptly proposed the condition “that in sacred ceremonies from the diptychs, the name of the Pope should be commemorated together with the four patriarchs” (Nicetas, bk. 5, chap. 2). And when thereafter the negotiation of this union was again undertaken by Emperor Michael and Patriarch Giovanni Vecco and was seriously debated at the General Council of Lyons held in the year of the Lord 1274, the Pope, Blessed Gregory X, with the agreement of the assembled council fathers, first proposed several indispensable conditions for the effective negotiation of union. The first of these was “that the Pope be included in the diptych with the other four patriarchs and commemorated during the holy services” (Nicetas, as above). And Pachymeres (bk. 5, chap. 22) testifies that this condition was accepted by the Greeks and carried out in practice: “There were two immediate results of this arrival of the ambassadors who brought back word that peace had been made on the strength of the previous agreements: the deposition of the Patriarch and the public commemoration of the Pope in holy services.” 15. His son Andronicus succeeded Michael Palaeologus as emperor, and was so extreme a supporter of the schism which had been condemned that he allowed his father’s body to be buried beyond the sacred precinct because he had attempted to establish a union of the Greek Church with the Latin. Because the emperor could hardly hope for success in his intended revival of the schism while the Catholic patriarch, Giovanni Vecco, was leader of the church at Constantinople, he imposed as patriarch a certain Joseph who was tainted with the stain of heresy. As a result affairs began to deteriorate and a sincere reconciliation of the churches was no longer possible. Finally, at the meeting of the General Council of Ferrara, later transferred to Florence, in the year 1434, after proper deliberations of the issues by the Greek and Latin fathers, the wall of division was cast down which had for so long kept the one church apart from the other. To attest to everyone the reality of the enacted union John Palaeologus, emperor of the Greeks, gave orders that the name of the Pope be replaced in the sacred diptychs, as is testified even by the schismatic author Sylvester Sguropolus in his Historia Concilii Flor., sess. 10. chap. 2. Afterwards when the decree of established union had been brought to Philotheus, patriarch of Alexandria, he was careful to state in his answer to Pope Eugenius IV that he had also decided that the commemoration of the Roman pontiff in the sacrifice of the Mass should be placed before that of the other patriarchs: “Hence in company with our Egyptian bishops and other clergy, we decided that everywhere in all of Christ’s churches during the sacrifice of the Mass, we should commemorate Your Blessedness before the other Patriarchs, as is provided for in the sacred canons.” This passage may be found in the collection of the transactions of the Council of Florence made by Cardinal Justinianus (pt. 2, collect. 22, p. 323).
- Constantine was the Greek emperor after John Palaeologus. When he sent ambassadors to Nicholas V to beseech help for his faltering fortunes, he was careful to profess that he would make every effort to implement as fully as could be desired the harmony which was agreed on at Florence, and that consequently he would see to it that the name of the Roman pontiff was restored to the sacred diptychs. This is attested by Ducas in his Historia Byzantina: The emperor had already sent to Rome to request reinforcements with the additional purpose of strengthening the harmony achieved at Florence and of having the Pope’s name proclaimed from the sacred diptychs during the liturgies of the great church.” The Pope showed himself ready to give him as much aid as he could and continued at the same time to exhort him to promulgate the decree of the union which had been agreed on at the Council of Florence. He urged him to see to it that the name of the Roman pontiff “was proclaimed in the diptychs and that the whole Greek church prayed for him expressly and by name, as was the former practice of men who were pleasing to God, both patriarchs of Constantinople and emperors” (Raynaldus, Annales, 1451 A.D., no. 2).
- This is all We want to say on the first part of the first Admonition which deals with the obligation of celebrants to pray for the pope in the sacrifice of the Mass. Nothing further is to be added except that even before this Admonition, Catholic Greek Oriental bishops were careful to decree this very measure in their synods. We Ourselves did not neglect the publication of such suitable decrees for Italian Greeks. In 1720, a provincial synod was held at Zamoscia on the order of Pope Clement XI, under the presidency of Hieronymus Grimaldus. He was then the archbishop of Edessa and nuncio of the Apostolic See in the kingdom of Poland; later, he was raised to the honor of the Cardinalate by Pope Clement XII. In the decrees of this synod, which were confirmed after proper investigation by Pope Benedict XIII, the following words are found under the heading de fide Catholica: “For the same reason”-that is, to remove all suspicion of schism-“and to show a sincere union of the members with their head, it has decided and commanded under penalties to be applied at the judgment of the Ordinary that wherever a Roman pontiff is to be commemorated, especially at the Offertory of the Mass, it should be made in clear and definite words which can signify none other than the universal Bishop of Rome.”
In agreement with this view are the fathers of the Synod of Lebanon which occurred in 1736 under the presidency of Joseph Simonius Assemanus, a prelate of the Roman curia and an Apostolic envoy. In the decrees of this council too, under the heading de Symbolo Fidei, ejusque professione, no. 12, these words are found: “Let us not neglect to repeat the commemoration of the most holy Roman pontiff, both in Masses and in the divine services, before the name of the most reverend lord patriarch, as has hitherto been our custom.” After the strictest investigation, We confirmed this council with Apostolic authority, as may be seen in Our constitution Singularis (Bullarium, vol. I, no. 31). Peter Arcudius in his work de Concordia Ecclesiae Occidentalis et Orientalis, bk. 2, chap. 39, offers an admonition for Latin bishops with Greeks living in their dioceses to zealously impel them to commemorate the Roman pontiff in the Mass, to banish the last shade of suspicion of any inclination to schism: “The Latin bishops should see to it that the Greek priests subject to them are in Catholic unity and recognize the Supreme Pastor, and according to the ancient custom solemnly pray for him” in the sacrifice of the Mass-the subject under discussion in this passage. In agreement with this most just admonition, the following provision was made in Our constitution issued for the Italian Greeks, Etsi Pastoralis (Bullarium, vol. 1, 57, sect. 9, no. 4): “Next a commemoration should be made of the Supreme Roman Pontiff and of the Local Ordinary in Masses and divine services.”
First Admonition-Commemoration of Bishop and Patriarch
- Now follows the second part of this first admonition which, as was mentioned above, obliges the Greek priest during Mass, after praying for the Roman pontiff, to pray for his own bishop and his patriarch if they are Catholic. For if either is or both are schismatic or heretic, a commemoration should not be made.
- In the Latin Church there is usually no difficulty in commemorating the bishop in whose diocese the priest celebrates Mass. We Ourselves have dealt with this subject in Our work de Sacrificio Missae (sect. 1, no. 220 in the Latin edition) and have shown that the priest who celebrates Mass in any diocese should commemorate the bishop of that diocese rather than the bishop in whose diocese he was ordained or the one to whose Ordinary jurisdiction he is subject. We added that it was not permissible for regular clergy to commemorate their Superior General or for other priests to commemorate during Mass any lesser prelate of a separate territory to whom they are subject. For this honor is to be conferred only on the superior or prelate who possesses the episcopal authority and order. In that work We adduced the writings of the men who transmit to us all these matters and establish them by their testimony. So at this point We will add no more except to quote the remarks of the above-mentioned Dominicus Georgius in his treatise De Liturgia Romani Pontificis in which he studied many ancient manuscripts, which has appeared since the publication of Our work: “Nearly all the most ancient copies of the sacred canon of the Mass note the name of the bishop after the Roman Pontiff as is attested by Florus and the more ancient writers on the Mass whom We give in an appendix” (Op. cit., vol. 3, chap. 3, no. 23, p. 52).
- Still in reference to the Latin practice, We will also note that when a bishop is celebrating Mass, he prays for himself as an “unworthy servant.” This practice is in harmony with the words of the apostolic constitutions where the celebrant, after praying for others, prays for himself in these words: “We now beseech you for a man of no worth, for myself who am offering to You” etc. (Ap. Const., bk. 8, in Cotelerius, Opera Patrum Apostolicorum, vol. 1, p. 407). Moreover it should be known that in Rome commemoration is made only of the Roman Pontiff since he is not only Supreme Pontiff, but also the bishop of the city of Rome in particular. When the Pope himself says Mass, he prays for himself in precisely the same way as any bishop prays for himself during Mass. In reply to the bishop of Orense who enquired how the Pope commemorated himself during the celebration of Mass, Innocent III, in a letter not yet published but preserved in the Vatican archives (bk. 9, no. 33) replied as follows: “You have also asked to be instructed as to the words used by the Roman Pontiff at the place in the canon of the Mass where a priest of lower rank says ‘together with our Pope,’ since the Pope is then obviously praying for himself and is subordinate to no bishop. Our reply to your devotedness is this: at that place We say ‘together with me your unworthy servant.”‘
Finally it must be remarked that Latin priests make no commemoration of an archbishop such as a metropolitan in the canon. This point is also rightly made by P. Merati in his Commentaria ad Gavantum (pt. 2, head. 8, no. 5) and the case is the same even if the episcopal see is vacant: “But if the bishop, who is Ordinary of the place in which Mass is being celebrated, has departed this life, the aforesaid words are omitted”-that is, a commemoration is not made-“but it is to be noticed that the Vicar Capitular cannot be named instead of the bishop, since although while the see is vacant he is Ordinary of that place, he is still not the bishop of that diocese. Moreover, the archbishop or the patriarch of the province which includes the diocese of the dead bishop cannot be named, even though he has a certain jurisdiction over it, since an archbishop or a patriarch is not said to be Ordinary in the dioceses of his suffragans.”
- Turning now to the Greeks, We consider first the Italian Greeks. These are entirely subject to the jurisdiction of the Latin bishop in whose diocese they live, in accordance with constitution 74, Romanus Pontifex, of Our predecessor, Pope Pius IV. This is to be found in volume two of the Bullar. Rom. and We have discussed it at length in Our treatise De Synodo Dioecesana, bk. 2, chap. 12, of the most recent Roman edition. Therefore these Italian Greek priests, in offering the sacrifice of the Mass, are required to follow the Latin practice and commemorate the Roman Pontiff and the local bishop. They should never commemorate eastern bishops or patriarchs even if they are Catholic, since these possess no jurisdiction in Italy and the adjacent islands, as has been discussed in Our constitution Etsi Pastoralis (Bullarium, vol. 1, const. 57, sect. 9 no. 4).
Of course in the Dictatus of Pope St. Gregory VII (can. 10) we find the dictum: “That the name of the Pope alone be pronounced in the church.” This Dictatus is included in the collections of the councils (Royal Parisian, vol. 26; Labbe, vol. 6, pt. 1). Still We are well aware that there is a vigorous debate among scholars as to whether this is an authentic work of the holy pontiff or rather a forgery. Indeed Fr. Mabillon in his treatise De Studiis Monasticis has ranked this among the more difficult questions which professors of Church history can engage in solving. But laying aside this problem also-as to whether the Dictatus Papae is an authentic work of St. Gregory VII-the real and pertinent meaning of the Canon quoted is not that in the Latin Church the name of the diocesan bishop be removed from the Canon of the Mass, but that the name of Oriental Patriarchs should not be included there.
The Patriarchs indeed professed their agreement with the condition, that the name of the Roman Pontiff should be replaced in the Liturgy and that prayers should be offered for him in all the churches of the east, if in turn the Pope would consent to their names being pronounced in the Canon of the Mass by Latin priests of the Roman Church and of the other churches in the Patriarchate of Rome. Lupus wisely notes: “Purposing to abandon his schism, Michael (Cerularius, Patriarch of Constantinople) tried to have his name inscribed on the Roman tablets and he promised to restore the name of the Pope to the tablets of all of his churches. But Leo (Pope Leo IX) would not consent: for the reciprocal pronouncement of the names of Patriarchs was practiced only among the equal sister sees of the eastern patriarchs, but never by the Roman see. For this see is not only sister but also mother and head of the eastern sees and so has never pronounced any other name than the bishops” (ad Concilia, pt. 4, p. 437, Brussels edition). He continues in this way on the following page: “The names of the eastern patriarchs have never been pronounced by the Roman church nor for that matter by any Latin church.”
- The foregoing discussion relates to the Italian Greeks. But as regards the rest of the Greeks and Orientals, the admonition in the preface of the Euchologion, which We are now considering, by no means prevents them from commemorating their metropolitans and patriarchs during the Mass, but merely forbids this if they should be schismatic or heretic. It is beyond dispute that the commemoration of patriarchs in the prayers of the Mass is an ancient custom in the Greek church. Theodorus Balsamon in his de Patriarcharum juribus has written: “It is established that in every church of God, whether on the Euphrates or on the edge of the Ocean, the names of the patriarchs are mentioned together.” Goarius cites this as the established practice that in the Greek liturgy the priest prays for all the bishops and for the metropolitan (in Notis ad Rituale Graecorum, p. 63). Meratus, after establishing the fact that We mentioned earlier, that in the Latin church a commemoration of the archbishop is not made in the Mass even during a vacancy in a suffragan church, adds that: “This however is not the practice of the Greeks and other Orientals. These name the patriarch and the metropolitan” (in notis ad Gavantum, vol. 1, p. 539, Roman edition).
This practice is not absolutely forbidden to them in the admonition in question, but only in the cases when the metropolitan or patriarch is schismatic or heretic. This is in accordance with rules which were established and accepted before the correction of the Euchologion was undertaken. When this practice was dealt with in the Congregation of the Holy Office in 1673, the following decree was published: “At the General Congregation of the Holy Office on June 7, 1673, the question was posed whether a priest in the town of Lebanon during Mass might name the patriarch of the Armenians, who is schismatic, with the purpose of praying for him. The petition for this concession was made with great urgency in order by this means to attract that people to a greater friendship for the Latins. The Sacred Congregation responded that it could not be done and should be utterly forbidden. In the same Congregation on June 20, 1674, there was read a letter of the nuncio at Florence written on April 10, 1674, sent to the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith and forwarded by this Congregation to the Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office. It was decided that a reply should be sent to the nuncio informing him that on the subject of prayer in the liturgy for the patriarch of the Armenians, the Sacred Congregation abided by its decrees published in 1673, that is, that it could not be done and should be utterly forbidden.”
- In harmony with this decision is another very similar decree of the Congregation on the corrected edition of the Coptic Missal made in 1732. Among other disputed questions the following was proposed: “Whether, and in what way, the words in which the priest commemorates the patriarch, bishop, etc. are to be corrected.” This was the answer which was given: “A rubric should be placed at the beginning of the missal to advise and inform the priest on points relating to the celebration of Mass. Here should be placed a special rubric on the commemoration of the Roman pontiff as well as of the patriarch and bishop, provided that they are in union with the Roman Church. This rubric should be consulted in its own place.” Moreover heretics and schismatics are subject to the censure of major excommunication by the law of Can. de Ligur. 23, quest. 5, and Can. Nulli, 5, dist. 19. But the sacred canons of the Church forbid public prayer for the excommunicated as can be seen in chap. A nobis, 2, and chap. Sacris on the sentence of excommunication. Though this does not forbid prayer for their conversion, still such prayer must not take the form of proclaiming their names in the solemn prayer during the sacrifice of the Mass. This fully accords with the ancient practice, as may be seen in Estius in 4. Sententiar., dist. 12, sec. 15. For that purpose it is sufficient to beseech to lead back the wanderers to the way of salvation and to the bosom of holy Mother Church, as is expounded by Sylvius, in 3. part. D. Thomae, vol. 4, quest. 83, art. 1, qu. 9.
Here is the teaching of St. Thomas himself in 4. Sent., dist. 18, quest. 2, art. 1, in answer to the first difficulty: “Prayer can be offered for the excommunicated, although this should be done apart from prayers which are offered for members of the Church.” This does not necessarily involve a confusion of the Church’s laws which exclude from the roster of its faithful followers the names of those who have cut themselves off from it. In forbidding public prayers to be offered for them, the Church definitely rules out commemorating them in the celebration of Mass. Very relevant is the view of Ven. Card. Bellarmine: “Someone will ask whether at the present time it is permissible to offer the sacrifice of the Mass for the conversion of heretics or the infidels. The reason for doubt is that the entire liturgy of the Latin church, as it is now performed, relates to the faithful, as is clear from the prayers of the offertory both before and during the canon. I answer that I consider it permissible, provided that no addition is made to the Mass, but the sacrifice is applied to the conversion of the infidels or heretics only by the intention of the priest. For this is the practice of pious and learned men, with whom we cannot disagree, and it is not forbidden by the Church” (Controversarium, vol. 3, bk. 6, de Missae, chap. 6).
Should the King be Commemorated?
- In this first admonition, however, there is no mention at all of commemorating or saying a prayer for an emperor or king and his whole palace and army. But since this matter is very closely connected with the other matters mentioned in the first admonition, We judge it appropriate to append the following remarks.
- All the euchologies, whether manuscript or printed, which are earlier than the revision of Leontius, included prayers for the emperor, the king, his palace, and army. In the May 1, 1746, session of the Congregation for the Correction of the Euchologion, it was disputed whether these prayers should be removed. It was decided, with
Our subsequent approval, that “they should be left in the canon or the liturgy.” But since the Greeks of old used to offer these prayers at the prothesis as well, but later removed them, it was added that “they are not to be said during the prothesis or preparation.” For it seemed pointless to say such prayers at the prothesis when they were already being said in the canon, or liturgy.” The newly corrected edition of the Euchologion has treated the matter in just this way.
- We Ourselves in Our treatise de Sacrificio Missae, sect. 1, no. 221, have already discussed the commemoration in the canon of the emperor or king, as is customary in some districts belonging to their temporal realm. Cardinal Bona provides evidence that in many Latin churches the name of the king is commemorated in the canon (Rer. Liturgicar. bk. 2, chap. 11, no. 4). Furthermore Martene in his work de antiquis Ecclesiae Ritibus, bk. 1, chap. 4, art. 8, no. 9, after adducing the appropriate evidence, comes to the following conclusion: “From the unchanging tradition of the Church as it was received from the Apostles, it is certain that prayers for kings and princes have always been offered during the sacred mysteries.” It is quite evident that the writer is here relying on the words of the Apostle (1 Tm 2) commanding that prayers and petitions be made for kings and all who are in high places, as well as on the text of the apostolic constitutions: “We also beseech You, Lord, for the king and for those who are in high places and for all the army that our affairs may prosper” and “Let us pray for kings and those of exalted power that our affairs may enjoy peace” (Cotelerius, Patrum Apostolicorum, col. 1, bk. 8, chap. 12 and 13). On this point Gregorius too may be consulted (de Liturgia Rom. Pont., bk. 4, chap. 3, no. 4). However it may be with the dispute conducted between Balutius and Lupus, on the date when the emperor’s name was replaced by that of the king in the lands subject to the sway of kings (a question treated at great length by Lupus (can. 10, Dictatus S. Greg. VII), it is sufficiently established that in the Latin church a commemoration of the king is made in those districts in which it has long been an accepted custom or where a concession of the Apostolic See has allowed it, as Meratus remarks (ad Gavantum, vol. 1, pt. 1, p. 539, no. 6 of the Roman edition).
- But among the Oriental peoples this practice of commemorating the king in the sacred liturgy is common, as may be seen in the Liturgies of the Armenians, Copts, Ethiopians and Syrians. But if it should be asked how it can be endured where it is certain that the kings for whom they pray and whom they commemorate in the liturgy are infidels, Ven. Card. Bellarmine would reply (as in fact he replied in the chapter quoted above) that it is by no means forbidden by the nature of the object, as theologians say, to pray during Mass even for infidels since the sacrifice of the Cross has been offered for all men. And of course St. Thomas teaches that although St. Augustine wrote in his work de origine Animae that the sacrifice is offered only for those who are members of Christ, his statement must be understood to include both those who are already members of Christ and those who are able to become such (in 4. Sentent., dist. 12, quest. 2, art. 2, quest. 2, to the fourth). Therefore, the Cardinal adds that the whole question should be assessed in terms of what the Church has forbidden: “It is certain from the nature of the object that if the Church has not prohibited it, it is permissible to offer prayers for those men (i.e., the infidels).” Although there is such a prohibition against the excommunicated and so against heretics and schismatics, there is none against infidels and these are not bound by excommunication. This is enough, he says, to allow commemoration of them during Mass and even the offering of the sacrifice for them in accordance with the evident tradition in this matter and with the apostolic constitution. “But someone may ask whether it is permissible if the king is an infidel as in Greece, where the Turk is ruler, and as in India, Japan and China where pagans rule, for priests there to offer prayers expressly for the king. I answer that I consider it permissible provided that the king is not excommunicated as are heretic kings, but is a pagan. For this tradition, this constitution, is apostolic, as I showed just above. To my knowledge there is no clear prohibition of this by the Church.” A useful addition to the present discussion is the text of Tertullian: “We offer sacrifice for the health of the Emperor but we offer it to our God and his in the prayerful way commanded by God. For God the Creator of the whole world has no need of honor or of anyone’s blood” (ad Scapulam, chap. 2).
- However, We may leave aside these statements without further inquiry, since they are unnecessary for justifying the retention of the commemoration of emperors or kings in the text of the Greek Euchologion. But it is worth remarking that when Greek Catholics were asked if, in making these commemorations they intended to offer prayers for the Turks to whose temporal sovereignty they have been subject since they were deprived of their own leaders, they answered that their intention at all times was to pray for Orthodox kings and Christian princes. This is asserted by Goarius in his in notis ad Euchologium, p. 38, where he says that when he asked Greek Catholics whether they intended to include Turks in their prayers, they invariably replied that they meant only our Christian kings, and that they proclaimed in the churches as lords in faith and religion those whom they wanted as rulers. For those alone they unfailingly desired to pray even when the published books suppressed the prayers.”
- The second of the admonitions in the preface of the new edition of the Greek Euchologion is expressed as follows: “In addition the priest in the sacred liturgy approaches the gifts while singing the glory of God; raising these in a fitting religious manner above his head, he carries them to the altar in a procession around and up through the church. Meanwhile the people devoutly bow the head and kneel as they pray that they may be remembered in this procession of the gifts. But some of the faithful who kneel think these gifts are the Body and Blood of Christ and adore them as such, perhaps because they confuse them with the entry of the presanctified, that is when previously consecrated bread is carried, and do not understand the difference between the two carryings. The priest therefore should carefully teach and inform all the faithful of the difference between these two processions of the gifts, since in one case they have been changed and sanctified by the word of God. These gifts should be worshipped and adored most religiously since under the appearance and symbols of bread and wine, they contain the Body and Blood of Christ. But the case is different before they are consecrated and consummated.”
The Greater Entrance
- You already know well that your liturgy has two entrances, called the smaller and the greater. The smaller entrance is when the book of the holy Gospel is brought in, but the greater entrance is when the unconsecrated gifts of bread and wine are carried to the holy altar from the small altar or table known as the prothesis on which they were prepared. Accordingly the second sentence of this admonition deals with the greater, not with the smaller entrance. At the greater entrance, the practice of this Rite is for either the deacon or the priest to carry over his head the bread on a paten covered with a veil. The deacon carries the bread when a solemn Mass is celebrated with a deacon as assistant and minister. On such an occasion, he holds the paten with the bread above his head with his left hand and with his right he incenses the priest who is carrying the chalice with wine. When the priest celebrates without a deacon, he is incensed by the lector while he holds the paten with the bread over his head with his left hand and with his right he carries the sacred chalice on a level with his breast. It is at this greater entrance, then, that the people bow, or, in accordance with the different customs of different districts, prostrate themselves, and strike the ground with their foreheads just as if the Body and Blood of Christ the Lord were contained under the appearances of the bread and wine even before consecration. “The people everywhere address and adore the King of Heaven as if He were present in this offering; in Greece they bow very low but avoid bending the knee so as not to appear to imitate the Latins even on weekdays; while in Russia they prostrate themselves and strike the ground with their foreheads” (Peter Arcudius, De Concordia Eccles. Occid. et Orient., bk. 3, chap. 19).
- The rite of the greater entrance when a patriarch or a metropolitan celebrates Mass is described by Christianus Lupus, Operum super Conciliis, pt. 3, p. 760 of the Brussels edition. In his Vocabulario Ecclesiastico under the word Prothesis, Magri describes in detail the actions performed by the Emperor while standing at the sacred assembly on the day of his coronation as emperor. Goarius explains most carefully the complete ceremony of the greater entrance in his in notis ad Liturgiam Sancti Joannis Chrysostomi, no. 110, as does Cardinal Bona in Rer. Liturgic., bk. 2, chap. 9, no. 4. Everything done by the Greeks on this occasion is likewise done by the Armenians, Copts, Ethiopians, and Syrian Jacobites, as can be seen in Le Brun, Explanatione Missae, vol. 3; in Chardon, Historia Sacramentorum, vol. 2, chap. 2; and in Renaudot, vol. 1, on in notis ad Liturgiam Cophtorum. Why, even in the city of Rome, on the feast of St. Athanasius, the Greeks may be seen in their own church performing all the ceremonies We have reviewed above. “And in this way even today the Greeks perform the liturgy on the feast of St. Athanasius in his basilica in Rome” (Lupus, loc. cit.).
Adoration of Consecrated Hosts
- You understand also that in accordance with your Rite during the days of the Lenten fast, only the Mass of the Presanctified is celebrated among you, except on Saturdays and Sundays and on the feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary if it occurs in the Lenten period as is specified in the Trullan Canon 52. “On all days of the holy Lenten fast except on Saturday, Sunday, and the holy day of the Annunciation, the sacred ministry of the Presanctified should take place.” As you already know, the priest who celebrates Mass in Lent on the days when he is permitted to do so, that is on Saturday and Sunday, consecrates and consumes one host but reserves another consecrated host. He divides this into as many pieces as will suffice for the number of Masses of the Presanctified which are to be celebrated on the following days, at which he will give communion to himself and to the other communicants, if there are any, from the Eucharistic bread which was consecrated on the preceding days. This is how Leo Allatius rightly describes the entire ceremony in the prolegomena to Gabriel Naud’s de Missa Praesanctificatorum, p. 1531, no. 1: “Each priest counts on his fingers the days of the coming week on which he is going to celebrate, then breaks off at the offertory as many pieces of bread as will suffice for the Masses he is going to say. He consecrates these as well as the piece he will consume on the same day and preserves in the pyx the consecrated pieces after dipping them in the Lord’s Blood, as is customary. He removes a piece from the pyx at an appropriate time later, when he is about to celebrate (leaving the others there for future use), places it on the paten and, after bringing it to the greater altar, he consumes it.”
- On this occasion likewise a solemn procession through the church is made. The deacon carries above his head the sacred pyx in which is contained the sacrament under the appearance of bread, while the priest carries in his hands a chalice containing wine mixed with water which has been blessed but not consecrated. If the priest celebrates alone-since he does not always have the assistance of a deacon in saying Mass-he carries the pyx in his left hand over his head and holds the chalice in his right, proceeding in this way from the small to the larger altar. This is stated by Arcudius in the work already mentioned, bk. 3, chap. 58: “The Greeks have the custom in liturgies of the Presanctified of placing the Sacrament on a paten on a small altar of offering, and of pouring wine into a chalice without prayers before the ceremony begins. Then about the middle of the Mass, the priest, if he is celebrating alone, holds the paten above his head, takes the chalice in his right hand, and brings them to the larger altar, etc. But if the priest is celebrating this kind of Mass with the assistance of a deacon, it is customary for him to give the paten with the Sacrament to the deacon who carries it above his head, while he himself takes the chalice and follows after the deacon.” At that point the people bend the knee, beat the breast, and adore the consecrated Bread carried by the priest or by the deacon, as We have mentioned above.
It is claimed that this is why people offer the same reverence during the greater entrance, when the bread and wine which are not yet consecrated are carried through the church in a rite of supplication. This is indeed the problem, and it is on the basis of this that criticisms have been leveled against the greater entrance. Nicolas Cabasilas writes: “If, however, there are some who prostrate themselves on the ground when the priest enters with the gifts, and adore and address these gifts as if they were the Body and Blood of Christ, these people have been confused by the entrance of the presanctified gifts and do not understand the difference between the two kinds of sacrifice; for in the first kind the gifts are not sanctified and not yet perfected at the entrance, while in the second kind they are perfected and sanctified and are the Body and Blood of Christ” (in Expositione Liturgiae, chap. 24). Later Arcudius gives this account: “Therefore the people through not understanding the difference between the two kinds of liturgy behave in the same way at ordinary and presanctified liturgies. And so they make a serious mistake, since of course when the priest carries the true Body of Christ on the paten at liturgies of the Presanctified, it is right that they prostrate themselves on the ground and adore it. But at sacrifices of the other kind, they should behave with more restraint since the offertory in these cases is made before the consecration” (Op. cit. bk. 3, chap. 19). In later chapters of this book, Arcudius refutes Gabriel, Archbishop of Philadelphia, a voluminous defender of this rite. Even Goarius, in the passage quoted above, considered it necessary to adduce some appropriate arguments in defense of this rite.
The following passage occurs in the latest edition of a work called Perpetuitas Fidei Catholicae de Sacramento Eucharistiae, adversus Claudium vindicata, p. 68: that “the Greeks, far from not adoring the sacrament of the Eucharist, are rather obliged to cleanse themselves, thereby demonstrating that they do not pass beyond the limits of what is right and do not honor still unconsecrated bread and wine with the same acts of adoration as they use to reverence them after consecration.” Le Brun asserted without hesitation that the nature of the rite called for some measure of reformation. In relating that he observed with his own eyes the performance of this ceremony among the Armenians, Tournefort (vol. 3, pp. 411f) expresses a certain indignation. Chardon in the passage noted above cites from the writings of Tournefort and Fr. Le Brun, but then leaves the point of the question undecided. So the fathers of the council held at Zamosc in 1720, in their decree de celebratione Missarum, sect. 4, unhesitatingly prohibited any genuflection or bowing of the head while still unconsecrated bread and wine were being brought from the small altar to the main altar. “The synod forbids all genuflection and bowing of the head while the bread of oblation is being brought for consecration from the smaller altar to the main altar during the period of the offertory. It commands the parish priests to admonish the people on this matter, to prevent their exposure to the danger of idolatry.” In making this decree, the fathers may have had in mind the incident related in 2 Kings 18 of Ezechiah, King of Judah, who broke the bronze snake made by Moses because the children of Israel burned incense for it even up to his time.
- We were able to gather the preceding passages from the books which have treated of this rite. Now We will add the opinions and decisions regarding this rite which emerged both in the Congregations convened under Urban VIII and in those which were held in Our days, whose decrees We Ourselves subsequently approved.
- It was first prudently observed that to abolish the ceremony of the greater entrance (a course which incidentally would have put the blade to the root, as the saying is) would be extremely odious to the Greek church. It would also be inconsistent with the established practice of the Latin church which had always tried to preserve as much as possible the Greek rite in the Greek church. Such a course would be all the more unacceptable because the ceremony is ancient. It is usually said in explanation of this rite that it preserves an ancient custom in reference to the triumphal entrance of Christ when He came from Bethany to Jerusalem. Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople, wrote on this very subject: “For at that time on the human level a great crowd and the children of the Hebrews sang a hymn as for a king and the conqueror of death, but on the spiritual plane the angels with the cherubim rendered the hymn, Thrice Holy.” He then added that the smaller entrance signifies the humble coming of the Son of God into this world.
- In the second place, attention was directed to the difference between the words sung during the transference of the presanctified and those sung by the clergy during the procession of the greater entrance. In the latter case the words are, “As men who are about to welcome the king of all things,” and these point not to a king who is present, but to one who is to come hereafter. In the former case they omit the hymn of the cherubim and repeat the following words: “Behold the mystical and consummated sacrifice.” So great is the difference that everyone, even men of the slightest intelligence, can distinguish between the two ceremonies. For in the transference of the Presanctified, Jesus Christ is shown as present under the appearances of bread, while in the ceremony of the greater entrance the same Lord is referred to, not as present under the appearances of bread and wine, but as very soon to be present after the words of consecration have been pronounced by the priest.
External Acts of Adoration
- Thirdly, it was considered that the Greeks who are learned in religious matters understand fully that the Body and Blood of the Lord are not yet present under the appearances of bread and wine during the greater entrance. If they also know, as they surely must, that acts of worship (latria) are due to God alone, no one can justly suspect that they intend to offer worship to still unconsecrated species by the external actions of veneration which they practice at the entrance of the offerings. These same signs of external reverence are usually offered at different times to the Creator and to created things. Thus the holy Scriptures say that Abraham adored the angels, that Jacob more than once prostrated himself before his brother Esau, and that the prophet Nathan did likewise in the presence of David. The condemnation of this Greek rite is unnecessary also because worship (latria) is not constituted by external acts alone, but particularly by the inner disposition of the mind which determines the external actions. Moreover if the Greeks at the Mass of the Presanctified show reverence by the same acts of external adoration to the bread which is consecrated and at the same time to the wine contained in the chalice which is admittedly not consecrated, they are not for this reason accused of adoring with an equal act of worship the bread which has been consecrated and the wine which has only been blessed in the Mass of the Presanctified. This accusation is not made, of course, because external actions are guided by the mind. Therefore in accordance with different intentions, one and the same act can convey at one time the adoration of worship, at another the implication of a lesser reverence.
This point sufficiently establishes that even if during the greater entrance, in the presence of the still unconsecrated bread and wine, the Greeks perform the same external acts of adoration as they are accustomed to offer to the Eucharistic bread and consecrated chalice, it cannot be asserted that they worship ordinary bread and unconsecrated wine. For every action should be measured by the intent, which can direct the same external actions after the consecration to express an adoration of worship towards the Eucharistic Bread and Wine. It can also exclude the act of worship from the performance of the same actions before the consecration at the solemn entrance of the offerings. So the following passage of Leo Allatius is relevant: “This service is not called worship, which is due to Got alone, but it is such as is demanded by the veneration of creatures. For a gesture of external reverence such as uncovering the head, kissing the hands, joining them in an attitude of supplication, stretching them out, raising them on high and the like, as well as kneeling and prostrating oneself on the ground, is offered not only in adoration of God but of creatures too. No wrong is done in such cases provided that we mentally distinguish God the Creator from the creation, and a more excellent creature from a less excellent one. So through external gestures of the body, service rendered to God in adoration is considered worship not on account of the nature of these actions, but on account of the intention which determines them, since otherwise in their mere nature they are indifferent. For the inner will and intention of pleasing the divine honor through these external actions makes these acts suitable for the service of God, and allows the external adoration of Got to be exercised through them” (Tractat. de Missa Praesanctificatorum, no. 8).
St. Thomas teaches as follows: “Adoration chiefly consists in an inner reverence of God, but in a secondary way in certain bodily signs of humility, just as we bend the knee to show how weak we are in comparison with God and we prostrate ourselves to proclaim that, of ourselves, we are nothing” (Summa Theol. 2.2, quest. 84, art. 82, answer to the second). In explaining this teaching, Sylvius adds these words: “It is fitting that adoration chiefly consist in an interior reverence for God, but secondarily in certain bodily signs. This is true, although there is hardly any bodily sign of reverence or service which cannot be offered in homage to a creature as well as to God. Consequently external acts of homage must be distinguished on the basis of the intention of the offerer. For if he intends by an external mark of reverence to offer an honor appropriate only to God and to honor Him as supreme, then such a service will pertain to divine worship; but if it is intended to offer reverence to an outstanding creature pleasing to God, it will be an instance of the service of Dulia or Hyperdulia. I said “hardly” since no doubt there is an external sacrifice which can be offered only to God.” Thus Sylvius states that the one outer sign which necessarily implies a service of Latria is an external sacrifice which is most definitely offered to God alone, as is shown at length by St. Thomas too (Summa Theol. 2.2, quest. 85, art. 2). So we read in the Acts of the Apostles that when the Laodiceans thought that Paul and Barnabas were gods, they at once considered the need of offering sacrifice to them.
Suarez hands on precisely the same doctrine: “External acts are not of their own nature fixed to the extent that they cannot be performed both to reverence God and to honor a creature, etc. Therefore, in these external acts, the distinction of the Latria due to God alone from the reverence of a creature depends chiefly on the inner intention” (in 3. part. Divi Thomae, vol. 1, quest. 25, art. 2, disput. 61, sect. 4). The same writer, it is true, adds a little later that it is not only the agent’s inner will which confers on an external act the nature of divine reverence; the act can become such and be so considered if such a meaning is assigned to it by one who has the requisite authority: “Apart from inner intention a public imposition must be considered. For if these signs are imposed by sufficient authority and power to signify God and His service, they can only be used for the service of God. Then if such service is imparted to creatures, it will be at least external idolatry even if it does not proceed from the intention or arises from a mistaken judgment.” But this teaching can have no application to Our present subject for there exists nowhere a decree of public authority that the external acts described above as performed by the Greeks at the procession through the church at the greater entrance must be considered as acts and signs of a service of Latria.
- Fourthly and finally, the Congregation for the Correction of the Euchologion at its meeting on September 5, 1745, discussed the question of whether the rite of the greater entrance which We have been describing should be abolished or corrected. After full discussion, it decided that no innovations should be made; we subsequently confirmed this decision. No different, of course, were the opinions of the Congregations which examined this very question in the time of Urban VIII. However they advised that Bishops and others who have the care of souls should be sure to teach the uninstructed laity that the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ are not present under the appearances of the sacred gifts while these are being carried in solemn rite from the prothesis to the main altar, since they have not yet been consecrated. Therefore, the extemal acts of reverence displayed towards the still unconsecrated gifts are not performed to offer the service of Latria, which is due to God alone, but to render a lesser service directed to the approaching transubstantiation of those gifts into the Body and Blood of the Lord.
A similar measure was employed by the fathers of the Council of Trent when they discussed the veneration and service of sacred images. They decided, that while no change should be made in the ancient practice of the Church in this matter, it was incumbent on the bishops and on others who teach to instruct the Christian people on the relevant points (session 25, Decreto de invocatione, et veneratione, et Reliquiis Sanctorum, et Sacris Immaginibus). With more immediate relevance to Our subject, Goarius in the passage mentioned earlier likewise advised that the rite of the greater entrance should not be abrogated, but that the people should be taught with appropriate proofs: “Certainly the faith of that simple people should be instructed, but their devotion should never be quenched nor their external cult wholly abolished.” So too, Philipus de Carboneano in his Appendix ad Tract. P. Antoine de Eucharistia, sect. 3, concludes that “there are no grounds for blame in this case, but the simple people should be taught not to reverence those gifts as the Body and Blood of Christ.”
But if you take this measure, as We are confident you shall, you will wholly escape the accusation levelled by Arcudius at the Greek bishops of his day. He stated that while the people then lived in the darkest ignorance, the bishops could easily have cured their blindness by means of appropriate teaching, if they had not refrained from undertaking this task through fear of worldly censure. “The Greek bishops could and should carefully advise the people, and if they worked together they could achieve much. But perhaps they themselves are afflicted with the same disease and live in the same error on account of their ignorance. Or if some of them indeed understand, these few fear the majority because they fear to lose earthly glory and human regard and they dread that their name will be trodden underfoot by the mob like the heretics’. And so they give an excellent imitation of the others’ error, at least outwardly, and they ignore these matters in deep silence, pretending they do not exist. So the blind lead the blind and they all fall into the ditch” (de Concordia, bk. 3, chap. 19).
- Furthermore, before the celebrant carries the sacred gifts from the small table to the main altar, he approaches the prothesis clad in the sacred vestments and divides the bread for consecration into many pieces. The large piece is offered to show due service to God who is best and greatest, in remembrance of Our Savior Jesus Christ. The other smaller pieces, called merides, are likewise offered to Almighty God, but of these one is offered in honor of the glorious Virgin Mary, Mother of God; another in honor of St. John the Baptist, the holy Apostles, and the other saints whom the priest names; another for the salvation of the living whose names are mentioned by the priest; another for the dead who are likewise commemorated by name; another in honor of the saint whose feast day is being celebrated. The priest may still offer the Sacrifice especially for the person or persons of his choice. That this rite of dividing the Bread into pieces is long established is proved by Montfaucon’s edition of the Typico of the Empress Irene (Analect. Graecor. vol. 1, chap. 34). But if a bishop or the priest who takes the part of the main celebrant concelebrates with other priests, and deacons also assist as ministers in the service, not only each priest but each deacon as well offers one larger host together with the smaller merides. If at the end any of the smaller pieces have not been consumed by the celebrant or celebrants, they are distributed to those present who wish to receive holy communion. All these matters are related in careful detail by Cardinal Bona, Rer. Liturgicar, bk. 2, chap. 1, no. 7; Arcudius de Concordia, bk. 2, chap. 9; and Goarius, ad Rituale Graecorum, in notis ad Liturgiam S. Joannis Chrys., p. 98f.
- There is no dispute among Catholics about the rite of the large and smaller hosts, called merides. For when this rite was examined at the ecumenical council of Florence, it was noted in the Proceedings that the Archbishop of Mitylene fully answered the questions which were raised. Although the content of his answers is not given, it must be assumed that he could satisfy his questioners only by demonstrating the antiquity of this rite. It has been observed throughout many centuries in the Oriental church to indicate the various ends for which the sacrifice is being offered. “He will have said he considered it to be an ancient custom of the Oriental Church which was used to state different ends of the sacrifice” (Arcudius, op. cit., bk. 3, chap. 9). Moreover, We have said that no dispute over this rite has arisen among Catholics. But among the schismatics it is generally accepted that Simeon, Archbishop of Thessalonica, betrayed certain doubts about the consecration of the particles in his treatise de Sacramentis. But everyone can easily see how unreasonable his doubting was. The priest at the sacred altar pronounces the form of consecration over the smaller particles no less than over the larger piece. Since his intention is equally aimed at consecrating all of them, and the matter of all of them is suitable for sacramental transformation, the smaller particles must certainly be consecrated too if the larger piece receives consecration.
- Catholics, however, have disputed whether the oblation can be performed by the deacons, as We mentioned above. Arcudius shows that this is wholly unlawful for them according to the Sacred Canons (bk. 3, chap. 17). Goarius states that oblation by the deacon was not an accepted usage in the great church of Constantinople (ad Euchologium, p. 72). Many feel that the words relating to the oblation by the deacon should be struck from the Euchologion on the grounds that they had been added by the schismatics. On the other side of the question, Cardinal Bona knows of no canon opposed to this rite. While the sacred canons exclude the deacon from rashly making the oblation at the holy altar, they do not forbid the oblation which he performs at the prothesis. Indeed this is nothing but the preparation for the other oblation which the priest will perform at the holy altar (Rer. Liturgic. bk. 2, chap. 1, no. 7). He also shows that the rite of oblation by the deacon is ancient and has been practiced for many centuries in the Greek Church. In fact, when it was questioned at the council of Florence, the fathers assembled there were satisfied by the answers of the Archbishop of Mitylene. Likewise Berlendis recognizes the oblation at the prothesis as an office of deacons even though the right of making oblation at the altar is forbidden to them as belonging only to priests. “The office of making oblation given to the deacon means the first oblation of the particles while they are still on the table, called the prothesis, but not the other two oblations which are performed by the priest during the liturgy” (Tractatu de Oblationibus, sect. 5, p. 143, Venice, 1743).
- St. Ambrose extolled the virtue of St. Lawrence, who as a deacon desired to be led to martyrdom together with Pope St. Sixtus. He imagines him speaking as follows: “Test me, and see if you have appointed a suitable minister to be entrusted with the distribution of the Lord’s Blood!” We know, of course, that some copies read “consecration” for “distribution,” but here “consecration” merely means the ministry of assistance given to the consecrating priest. Peter of Blois says: “to us deacons the consecration of the saving Host is entrusted, not so that we may consecrate it but that we may humbly help those who do” (epistle 123). Similar is the explanation of Peter Cantor given in Menard, in notis et observationibus ad librum Sacramentorum S. Gregorii, p. 287. It has always been forbidden to subdeacons to administer the Eucharist to the people either under the appearance of bread or under the appearance of wine, according to canon 25 of Laodicea (see the notes on this canon by Balsamon, Zonaras and Aristenus in Beveregius, vol. 1, p. 464). But this was not the case with deacons, who of old were particularly entrusted with the sole distribution of the Lord’s Blood. Later this privilege was taken from them on account of certain abuses which had developed (Cotelerius, Constitutionum, quae Apostolicae dicuntur, vol. 1, on bk. 8, chap. 13).
- Now the Congregations which met under Urban VIII, as well as those during Our pontificate, carefully examined the question of whether the oblation by the deacons at the prothesis should be abolished. The Congregation held on January 3, 1745, issued a directive that “no innovations should be made,” and We gave this directive Our approval. For the reasons in favor of this rite adduced by Cardinal Bona seemed stronger and weightier than those assembled by Arcudius for its abolition. So in the new edition of the Euchologion, the rite of oblation by the deacon remains unchanged. Although this rite is not mentioned in the statement of the second admonition which We have hitherto discussed, We still thought it proper to enter a little on the subject here. For not only is it one of the sacred actions which are performed at the prothesis to which We have directed the foregoing remarks, but We also avail Ourselves of every occasion to assure you that the Roman church is not at all hostile to your rites. Rather it makes every effort to preserve them unchanged when they contain no error or disgrace.
Third Admonition-Sacrament of Extreme Unction
- We come now to the third admonition which consists of two parts and is expressed as follows: “The priests should remember that the sacrament of holy oil, called euchelaeon, was instituted by Christ as a heavenly medicine for the health of the body as well as that of the soul. Accordingly it is to be given only to the sick at the time they desire it and while they are still in possession of their faculties. So coming with faith and a devout will to be anointed with the holy oil, they will receive additional grace from the sacrament. Likewise it must be understood that although bishops of the Oriental Church customarily use many spices in preparing the sacred chrism, only oil and balm are required. Then with these, in accordance with the ancient custom of the Oriental Church, other spices may rightly be mixed if they are available. But if some are lacking, since they are not required, the holy chrism may duly be prepared with only oil and balm.”
- This sacrament is called “extreme unction” by both the Latins and the Greeks. At the second general council of Lyons convened by the leaders of east and west in 1274, Latins and Greeks approved and signed a statement of faith (Harduin, Collect., vol. 7, p. 695). The Greeks also call this sacrament the oil consecrated and sanctified by the prayers of priests, and the perfecting or fulfillment of the sacrament of penance. It is named euchelaeon in the Euchologion of Goarius, p. 346, no. 42 and p. 349, no. 1. The same name is used by writers of the next generation as can be seen in Georgius Pachymeres, Hist. Palaeol., bk. 6, chap. 32, and Possinus uses the same name in Bk. 1 Glos., p. 386 in Gabriel Philadelphius De Sacramento Euchelaei and Acta Ecclesiae Orientalis, vol. 1, p. 338. Moreover, the Greeks sometimes call this sacrament Heptapapadum. At the synod in Constantinople which met under Patriarch Giovanni Veccos in 1277, the Patriarch accepted the confession of faith agreed upon at the Council of Lyons. He wrote to the Roman Pontiff John XX (XXI) that: “We also accept extreme unction as we accept the other sacraments. It is named heptapapadum from our way of conferring it,” that is, the service of seven priests, since the Greeks administer the sacrament in this way.
- We shall not speak in this letter of the institution of this sacrament by Christ or of its effect. Nor shall We deal with the rules to be observed in administering it, namely that it should be conferred not on those who are in good health but only on the faithful who are seriously ill while they are still fully conscious. We shall not treat, either, of certain rites of the Greek church, such as the blessing of the oil of the sick by a priest and not only by a bishop as is the Latin practice, or the administering of the sacrament of extreme unction by many priests rather than by one only. For We have given a detailed account of all these matters in Our treatise de Synodo Diocesana, bk. 8, chaps. 1-8 of the latest edition. But simply to cast light on the first part of the third admonition, We will add that both in the time of Urban VIII and in the earlier years of Our pontificate, a lengthy dispute took place concerning whether words should be struck from the Greek Euchologion which apparently suggested that it was permissible to confer this sacrament even on those in good health. In the assembly on September 3, 1747, the Congregation decided that no changes should be made in the text, but that necessary points of observance should be mentioned in an admonition placed at the start of the Euchologion. We then approved this decision. This has been done in the words quoted above which warn Greek priests not to confer the sacrament of extreme unction on those in good health, but only on those who are seriously ill. There was clearly no need to alter the text of the Euchologion at this point, since the words could be interpreted correctly. For it does not state that the sacrament may be conferred on those in good health, but that persons who come to the church may also be anointed. This can be easily understood of those who, though grievously ill, are still able either to walk to the church or to be brought there by the assistance of others to ask for the sacrament of extreme unction. Examples of this kind can be found even in the western church as can be seen in Martene, de antiquis Ecclesiae Ritibus, bk. 2, chaps. 7, art. 2, no. 7-8, and in Mabillon’s preface to the first century in Acta Sanctorum Ordinis Benedictini, sec. 9, no. 101.
- The two following points are to be noticed in connection with the first part of the third admonition. First, even though the Greeks have been clearly forbidden to confer the sacrament of extreme unction on any but the seriously ill, they have not been prohibited from anointing sick or possessed people with the oil of the lamp, which is kept in the church, as well as others who ask for it either out of devotion or for deliverance from some affliction. For the oil which is kept in the lamp was not consecrated by the bishop or priest for use in administering extreme unction. We are well aware that the request has previously been made for permission for the Greeks to be anointed with the oil of extreme unction in cases other than serious illness without the sacramental form being spoken by the priest. They of course reasoned that the sacrament is conferred not by the mere application of the matter, but necessarily requires that the form be pronounced at the same time. But this request was not acceptable since We can never permit a sacrament established by Christ to be converted into any whimsical ceremony even if it is a pious one. This is rightly observed by Fr. de Carboneano in his Appendix ad Tractatum P. Antoine de Extrema Unctione, sect. 4, p. 661. Despite the affirmation of Quintaduenas that parish clergy may send the holy oil of the sick upon request to the ill and others in order that they may anoint themselves in their sickness (Treatise 5, de Extreme Unctione, sing. 11), anyone who attempts to do this is punished with heavy penalties by the ecclesiastical tribunal, either for misuse of a sacrament of the church or being under suspicion of unorthodox belief concerning the sacrament, as Clericatus aptly remarks (de Savamento Extremae Unctionis, sect. 70, no. 32).
- Furthermore, since it is forbidden to administer the sacrament of extreme unction except in a case of serious illness, a penitent may no means be obliged to receive anointing with oil of extreme unction as penance or satisfaction for his sins. As Pope Eugene IV established in his Decretum pro Instructione Armenorum, satisfaction for sins or penance imposed by confessors on their penitents should consist chiefly in prayers, fasting, and almsgiving. In times past such anointing was introduced among eastern Christians. That it was purely ceremonial may be gathered from canon 74 or the Council of Nicaea (from the Arabic translation, Harduin, Collect. vol. 1, p. 492). There it is decreed that if one of the faithful shall live impurely with an unbeliever, he may be reconciled to the Church after extended penance “through holy water and the oil of the sick.” This was the source of a further abuse. According to Joannes Nathanael, de Moribus Graecorum, and Francois Richard, de Expeditione Sacra, rich penitents were often obliged to receive this anointing as penance for their sins; thus this practice was quite profitable for the clergy.
Pope Innocent IV opposed this serious error in his letter to the Bishop of Tusculum: “Confessors may not impose on anyone any mere anointing in satisfaction for their sins” (sect. 6). The synod of Nicosia passed a similar decree (Harduin, Collect. vol. 7, p. 1114) and We renewed this precept in Our constitution, Etsi Pastoralis, sect. 5 (Bullarium, vol. 1, no. 57). Thiers, de Superstit., bk. 8, chap. 6, should also be consulted. Arcudius, moreover, refers to Greek priests who impose this on their penitents; he states that they usually employ the sacramental words in performing the anointing. He criticizes them severely for this (de Concordia, bk. 5, chap. 4, sect. Ego praesentem). However, Goarius asserts that the Greeks did not intend to confer the sacrament in performing this anointing: “They do not consider that the infirmities of the soul are removed automatically by the anointing and prayers, but only that the devotion of the penitent or the prayerful charity of the minister, that is, the intention of the agent, may possibly have this effect” (in notis ad Euchologium, p. 350). Still, even he criticizes this custom since, as he says, the Greeks should be careful to act in this affair in accordance with the teaching of the holy Roman Church. Many serious errors stem from this practice of anointing: either the sacrament of extreme unction is conferred on one in good health and so incapable of receiving this sacrament, or the matter and form of the sacrament is used without the intention of conferring the sacrament itself.
- The second part of the third admonition concerns the holy chrism. The Greeks make this not only from oil and balm, but with additional spices. This section indicates that the addition of spices is not forbidden, but that the chrism must consist of oil and balm. So even if some of those spices are absent, sacred chrism may still be prepared.
- The imposition of hands while conferring this sacrament is not prescribed for the Greeks. In his treatise de Confirmatione, chap. 4, Morinus writes: “The Latins have always joined the imposition of hands to anointing, but the Greeks have always kept these rites separate and have used only anointing in conferring this sacrament. Neither old nor new euchologies mention the imposition of hands.” The same point is made by Goarius, in Euchologio, p. 299, no. 28. Renaudot in his Opus de Perpetuitate, vol. 5, bk. 2, chap. 12, affirms that for many centuries in the Greek church no evidence is to be found of an imposition of hands in conferring the sacrament of Confirmation. As authorities for this statement he cites the modern Greek theologians, Simeon of Thessalonica, Gabriel of Philadelphia, Sirinus, and others. Recently Chardon, in Historia Sacramentorum, bk. 1, chap. 1, De Confirmatione, argues that in earlier centuries the Greek church did include the imposition of hands in the rite of Confirmation, but he does grant that for many centuries since then, there is no evidence for this. Finally Guiseppe Agostino Orsi O. P., at present the master of Our apostolic palace, proves by marshalling much learned evidence in his historical theological dissertation, de Chrismate Confirmatorio, that among the Greeks the matter of the sacrament of Confirmation is the holy oil, not the imposition of hands. This gives no grounds for asserting, as some have rashly done, that the sacrament of Confirmation does not exist in the Greek church because it does not include the imposition of hands. For no one can believe that the sacrament of Confirmation did not exist for many centuries in so large a portion of the Christian world especially in a church renowned for its learning and its sanctity. Goarius (loc. Cit.) gives an apt expression to Our opinion: “Few men in my judgment will attempt to assert that so large a portion of the Christian world, which is learned and loyal to apostolic and ecclesiastical rules, either rejected, neglected or remained in ignorance of this perfect sacrament.”
- The main issue of this unfair and untimely disagreement between the Latin and Greek churches derives from the controversies in which our theologians habitually engage. Some dispute whether the Apostles conferred the sacrament of Confirmation by laying on of hands or by using holy oil, and as usual some assert what others deny. They also dispute whether the imposition of hands alone is the matter of this sacrament. Some hold that this is the case, while others consider the holy oil to be the remote matter of the sacrament; in this case the application of this oil in the sign of the Cross to the forehead of the confirmand is considered the proximate matter. These last argue from the text of the decree for the Instruction of the Armenians published by Pope Eugenius IV: “The second sacrament is Confirmation whose matter is chrism. Chrism is made from oil and balm which has been blessed by the bishop. The oil signifies a good conscience and the balm, good reputation.” In speaking of the imposition of hands which the Apostles used in conferring this sacrament, Pope Eugenius adds: “In place of that imposition of hands, however, Confirmation is given in the Church.” Finally, others join together the imposition of hands and the chrism, stating that both are equally the matter of the sacrament of Confirmation, but that either is insufficient by itself. Only when these two are joined together do they comprise the full matter of the sacrament.
As regards the imposition of hands, some think it consists in the stretching out of the hands of the bishop towards the confirmands at the start of the ceremony while he is saying the opening prayers. Others understand it to consist in the very act of anointing of the forehead of the confirmand by the bishop, since it is impossible to anoint the forehead without laying a hand on it. These are controversies which engage our theologians, and everyone may embrace the interpretation he finds most persuasive. But it is wrong for anyone to assert that the sacrament of Confirmation does not exist in the Greek Church. For this opinion is contradicted by ancient eastern practice as found in the Greek Rituals which make no reference to the imposition of hands as matter either sufficient or insufficient of the sacrament of Confirmation. And this practice has never been condemned or criticized by the Apostolic See although it was well-known. So to escape the labyrinth of this difficulty, a different line must be followed, a line which is open to the careful seeker. This line avoids a condemnation of a view which has many supporters among the orthodox, on the basis of an uncertain and undefined proposition.
- What is beyond dispute should be stated: that in the Latin church, the sacrament of confirmation is conferred by the priest pronouncing the words of the sacramental form while he makes the sign of the Cross on the forehead of the candidate with holy chrism, that is olive oil mixed with balm and blessed by the bishop. In those areas where genuine balm is not be to found, the popes have readily allowed the use of a sweet-smelling juice or liquid, generally taken for real balm, in preparing chrism. This is clear from constitution 180 of St. Pius V which grants this privilege to the bishops of the Indies, and from constitution 97 of Sixtus V (in Bullario nova, vol. 4, pt. 3, Roman edition). Pope Sixtus explains that real balm is scarce chiefly because the Turks completely destroyed its main source, the trees which once flourished in Palestine and particularly in the Jericho valley. He accordingly gives permission to the Archbishops and Bishops of Portugal to use balm from Brazil and other areas of the New World in preparing holy chrism. In so doing the Pope asserts that he is following the example of his predecessors Pius IV and Gregory XIII. The prudence of these popes has been praised by Morinus in his posthumous work de Sacramento Confirmationis, p. 35.
Likewise in the Greek church the sacrament of confirmation is conferred by means of holy oil. This is made from olive oil and balm, but in addition twenty-three kinds of other herbs are used as well as a little wine. These herbs are carefully listed by Habert, in librum Pontificalem Ecclesiae Graecae, observation 5, on the rite of chrism; and by Berti, Theologia, vol. 7, bk. 32, chap. 5. The latter, however, thinks it practically impossible for the Greeks to add all the herbs mentioned by Habert since some of them are so unknown that they receive scant mention in dictionaries and specialized writings on plants and herbs. Whatever the truth of this question, the rite has been left unchanged in the admonition under discussion, since the practice of adding these herbs is an ancient one. The Greeks are merely advised that they should not consider these herbs essential for the matter of the sacrament; they should recognize the sacrament as valid when it is performed only with oil and balm blessed by the bishop, even though some of the herbs which they usually add in accordance with their rite are lacking. Wisely and with good cause did the fathers at the Synod of Zamoscia in 1720 affirm that whatever herbs were added to the balm, care should be taken “that the largest part of the chrism should always be oil mixed with balm” (sect. 2, de Confirmatione).
- Now that the second part of the third admonition has been completed, We shall add here in the form of an appendix some comments well-suited to Our present purpose, since they are related both to the doctrine of the sacrament of confirmation and to the revision of the Euchologion.
- The form of the sacrament of confirmation in the Greek church, according to the generally received opinion, consists in the words: “the sign of the gift of the Holy Spirit” uttered by the minister while making the sign of the Cross with the holy oil on the forehead of the candidate. This is clear from canon 7 of the First Council of Constantinople (Harduin, Collect. vol. I, p. 811) as Cardinal Bessarion correctly understands the words of that canon (in Opuscolo de Eucharistia, printed in the Library of the Fathers, vol. 26, p. 765, Lyons edition): “The Second Ecumenical Council gives the words of consecration for holy chrism in the seventh canon as follows: ‘While signing them, that is while anointing them with the most holy chrism, we say: the sign of the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ According to them these words confer the sacrament of confirmation.” But although this statement of the Cardinal has been contested by Lupus, in notis ad Canonem 95. Concilii Trullani, he is not likely to win much support for his opinion since his antagonist is Cardinal Bessarion. Arcudius draws attention to this point when he cites Bessarion’s statement and continues: “Bessarion speaks thus and certainly no one could excel him in knowledge of the practices of the eastern church in administering the sacraments” (bk. 2, chap. 7). Goarius shares this opinion (in notis ad Euchologium, p. 302, no. 31). So too does Habert (in suis notis ad Pontificale Graecorum, observ. 4, n. 2). It would be easy to assemble many other testimonies, but it will suffice to state what the Synod of Zamoscia said when treating the sacrament of confirmation: “The form of the sacrament which is recommended by the approved Euchologia which are more ancient than the schism itself, is this: ‘The sign of the gift of the Holy Spirit, amen’ and this should be said once only while the anointing is conferred.”
- The decree of St. Methodius, Patriarch of Constantinople, is well-known in the Greek church. Methodius was Patriarch about the middle of the ninth century and tirelessly strove to call the wanderers back home to holy unity. His decree lays down the method of restoring to the Church those who have left it and subsequently returned: “At the end of the prayer he takes the holy oil in accordance with the custom of the baptized, and anoints him, making the sign of the Cross on his forehead, eyes, nostrils, mouth, both ears, hands, breast, and shoulders while he says: ‘the sign of the gift of the Holy Spirit.”‘
This passage certainly gives rise to a great difficulty, for apparently it must be admitted either that the words “the sign of the gift of the Holy Spirit” are not the form of the sacrament of confirmation in the Greek church or that this sacrament is conferred a second time on those who have already received it validly once, if after the sin of apostasy they desire to return to the Church. The latter view is of course contrary to the established opinion that sacraments, which impress a character on the soul, can never be conferred again on those who have received them validly once. This was defined by the Council of Trent, session 7, on the sacraments in general, canon 9. There is no use in appealing to canon 7 of the Council of Constantinople, which was mentioned above. This canon lays down that Arians, Macedonians, Novatians, and Apollinarians who turn from their heresy and come to the Church are to be received with holy chrism. This ruling refers only to these heretics, since they confer the sacrament of confirmation invalidly, if at all; the decree of St. Methodius though is general and applies to all who wish to return after leaving the Church. Moreover, since provisions similar to those of the decree of Methodius are made in some euchologies in the section on the reconciliation of penitents, the same difficulty arises in these cases.
- The subtlety of scholars has been fully deployed to solve this problem. Some assert that the decree in question was not issued by St. Methodius, Patriarch of Constantinople in 842, but by a different Methodius, the schismatic Patriarch of Constantinople, in 1240. But Goarius states that he saw several documents anterior to the latter Methodius which assign the decree to St. Methodius the Patriarch (in notis ad ipsum Decretum in his elucidation of the Euchologion, p. 698). That is enough to deprive this solution of its weight.
Others grant that the words “the sign of the gift of the Holy Spirit” are the form of the sacrament of confirmation, and recognize that the same words are to be said during the anointing of repentant apostates who are being received back into the Church in accordance with the decree of St. Methodius. They think, however, that this does not give grounds for saying that the sacrament of confirmation has been conferred on men who have already received it, since the intention of the minister is necessary for the conferring of the sacraments. In this case it is quite clear that the intention of the minister is not to confer the sacrament but to reconcile a returned apostate to the Church. This solution is embraced by the following writers: Du Hamel, Theologiae, vol. 6, p. 383, Paris 1605; Goarius, in notis ad Eucholog., p. 598; Tournely, in Tractatu de Confirmatione, p. 612f; and Assemanus the Younger, Codex Liturgicus, bk. 3, De Confirmatione, p. 63.
However, many others are dissatisfied with this solution. Juveninus, in particular, raises two objections. In the first place he notices that there is no Greek evidence to suggest that it is not the minister’s intention to confer the sacrament of confirmation when he reconciles an apostate by anointing him with holy oil and using words which contain the form of the sacrament. He suggests secondly that if a minister applies the matter and form of a sacrament to one who is not capable of receiving it, his act is wrong and sinful, even if his intention is not to confer the sacrament.
Finally, others point out that evidence from the early centuries establishes that apostates in the Western church were sometimes reconciled by an imposition of hands. They admit that it is now forbidden to confer the sacrament of confirmation a second time on those who have already validly received it, but they claim that it was not so in the early days of the Church. Hence, they conclude that it should not seem so strange that the decree of St. Methodius, which relates to the Eastern church, requires returned apostates to be confirmed a second time despite their first valid confirmation.
But this argument is fragile. For some of the early evidence states plainly that apostates were received back by the imposition of hands alone. If this is to be understood as the conferring of confirmation, it will have to be shown that this sacrament was then conferred by the imposition of hands alone without any anointing. If it is said, and there is some evidence to this effect, that holy oil as well as the imposition of hands was used in reconciling this type of penitent, it will still have to be shown what form of words if any was used by the minister who imposed hands and anointed with chrism in order to establish that the sacrament was repeated. Marcus Rehmensis describes many types of imposition of hands in his treatise on in Tractatu de variis Capitibus Ecclesiae, chap. 18. The author of the Gloss on the Can. Manus impositio, 1, quest. 1, also gives a careful account of this matter. Sirmondus and Morinus, both illustrious, consider that the imposition of hands, which is now in question, imparted Confirmation (Sirm., in suo Antirbetico secundo, chap. 5; Mor. de Sacram. Confir., chap. 12, p. 56 and in Tract. de Poenitentia, bk. 9, chap. 9-10). But Peter Aurelius argues that the imposition of hands given when receiving heretics back was purely ceremonial and did not confer the sacrament. This opinion is shared by Lupus in Can. 7. Constanti nopolitanum, vol. 2, p. 46f; Arcudius, bk. 2, chap. 18; Suarez, in 3. part. Divi Thomae, vol. 3, quest. 72, disp. 34, sect. 1, resp. 3, and disp. 36, art. 11, sect. 3. Accordingly Witasse, after reviewing all the evidence for both views, finally judges both possible and leaves the matter there (Tract. de Sacram. Confirmat., esp. p. 63). The author of the additions to Estius in bk. 4. Sentent., dist. 5, sect. 16, lit. B. p. 87, behaves with similar caution.
- So a different way must be found to solve the difficulty under discussion. First of all, as regards the decree of St. Methodius, the text We gave above is quite different from that found in the much-used Annals of Cardinal Baronius for 842 A.D. The text given by Baronius does not prescribe the use of the words “the sign of the gift of the Holy Spirit” in receiving back an apostate, although it requires that he be anointed with holy oil. The text reads: “Let them be anointed with chrism as those who are baptized are usually anointed.” Even admitting that these words are authentic rather than a later addition as there is some reason to believe, their obvious sense will always be that when an apostate is received back, the same parts of the body should be anointed as are anointed when Confirmation is administered after Baptism. And since no mention is made of saying the words: “The sign of the gift of the Holy Spirit,” the whole force of the problem is dispersed.
There is the additional consideration that the legates sent by Pope Nicholas I to Bulgaria conferred the sacrament of confirmation on those who had already received it from Greek priests. Their main reason for so doing was that the Greek ministers had not received the faculty for administering this sacrament from the Apostolic See. Photius launched a bitter attack against them in his encyclical letters, accusing them of conferring the sacrament of chrism on people who had been confirmed already. “Who ever heard of such madness as was unwaveringly engaged in by those fools? They have confirmed a second time people already anointed with chrism,
making trivial mockery of exalted mysteries.” This proves clearly that St. Methodius did not intend to prescribe that penitent apostates on returning to the church should be given the sacrament of chrism a second time if they had already been confirmed. For Photius, who was Patriarch about forty years after St. Methodius, despite his perverse mind, enjoyed a constant reputation for learning and circumspection. He would never have accused the apostolic legates so bitterly for repeating the sacrament of chrism if St. Methodius had previously decreed or intended that apostates should receive the same sacrament a second time upon returning to the Church. For he would have foreseen that the legates would answer that they had only followed the custom of the eastern church in receiving the wanderers back to unity in accordance with the decree of St. Methodius.
- The occurrence in some of the euchologies of the words, “the sign of the gift of the Holy Spirit,” in conjunction with anointing when reconciling the repentant is to be attributed to the interpolation of schismatics. Theodore Balsamon convinced them that any Latin who seceded to the Greeks should be confirmed again. This is stated by Gregory Protosyncellus in his Apologia against Marcus of Ephesus (Harduin, Collect., vol. 9, p. 640). But the use of the words in question is not prescribed in the many manuscript copies of the Euchologion examined and compared by Joannes Matthaeus Cariophylus Cydonius, a trustworthy witness, according to Arcudius, de Reformat., bk. 2, chap. 18. Neither are they found in the famous Euchologion of Grottaferrata, a point of great importance. Therefore the Congregations for the Correction of the Euchologion which met in the time of Urban VII and in Our day decreed with Our approval that the rite of reconciling penitents should be printed in the revised Euchologion exactly as it is described in the Euchologion of Grottaferrata; this has been done. At the meeting of the Congregation on January 7, 1748, the question was raised as to whether the rite of receiving back apostates on their return to the Church should be made to conform to the decree of St. Methodius. It was pointed out that this anointing was to be performed in the way that those who are baptized are anointed, but that the requirement of saying at the same time the words, “the sign of the gift of the Holy Spirit,” was to be found only in a few modem euchologies. Therefore the Congregation of February 18, decreed that “the euchology should be revised to conform to the patriarchal euchology of Cardinal Bassarion, now of Grottaferrata.” On receiving this report, We examined the matter and gave Our approval to the decree.
Fourth Admonition-Removing Impurities
- Next We must deal with the fourth admonition, which concerns the removal of certain impurities by blessings and prayers which are included in the Euchologion. The words of the admonition are: “Finally, it should be known that if anything unclean or defiled chances to fall in a well or other receptacle of liquid, or if an unclean thing is touched or eaten, or if an impure animal is born or dies in a church, the priests of the eastern church in accordance with the custom of their Church use the prayers and blessings contained in the Euchologion. However they are not attempting to observe the precepts of the old Law which as everybody knows have been revoked by the coming of Christ.”
- In the revised Euchologion, just as in the Euchologion of Grottaferrata, once Cardinal Bessarion’s, and in the most ancient manuscripts, there is a prayer which mentions the distinction made in the old Law between clean and unclean foods as well as the uncleanness in the eyes of the Law of anyone who ate unclean food. The prayer goes on to say that the one who has eaten unclean foods cannot receive the precious Body and Blood of Christ without sin. The contents and expressions of this prayer and others like it occasioned a discussion of whether one might well suspect that the observance of the legal ceremonies of the old Law was being added to or retained alongside the new law and the Gospel. To understand whether there are any grounds for this suspicion, We will touch briefly on the following considerations. They will throw light on all aspects of the question and the reason for each detail will be plain.
- The first consideration is that the ceremonies of the Mosaic Law were abrogated by the coming of Christ and that they can no longer be observed without sin after the promulgation of the Gospel. Since, then, the distinction made by the old Law between clean and unclean foods belongs to the ceremonial precepts, it may justly be affirmed that such a distinction no longer exists and ought not be insisted on. It is true that I the holy Apostles forbade the faithful to eat blood or the flesh of animals which had been strangled. This view was expressed by James at the Council of Jerusalem: “Therefore I judge that those of the Gentiles who turn to God should not be disturbed, but that we should write to them to abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, from unchastity, from the meat of strangled animals, and from blood” (Acts 15). But it is clear that this was ordained to remove all occasion of disagreement between Jewish and Gentile converts to Christ. Since this reason has long since vanished, its consequence should also be said to have vanished. “Similarly, we profess that the legalities of the Old Testament, the ceremonies of the Mosaic Law, the rites, sacrifices, and sacraments have ceased at the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ; they cannot be observed without sin after the promulgation of the Gospel. The distinction of clean and unclean foods found in the old Law pertains to the ceremonies which have passed away with the rise of the Gospel. The Apostles’ prohibition on food offered to idols, blood, and the meat of strangled animals was suitable at that time to remove cause for disagreement between Jews and Gentiles; but since the reason for this prohibition has ceased to be, the prohibition too has come to an end.”
- The preceding words are from the Profession of Orthodox Faith which Pope Urban VIII required of Orientals, as published in 1642 by the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. They are in harmony with the teaching of St. Thomas (Summa 1, 2, quest. 103, art. 4, to 3rd). Moreover this teaching is confirmed by ancient documents. St. Gregory II in his capitular letter (chap. 7) appointing Bishop Marinianus and the priest George as legates to Bavaria, writes: “No food should be considered unclean to eat, except what was sacrificed to idols since, as we learn from the apostolic teaching, every creation of God is good and whatever is taken with thanks is not to be rejected.” Likewise St. Nicholas I in his answer to the 43rd decree of the Bulgarians regarding clean and unclean animals, said: “God showed clearly, in my opinion, what animals or birds may be eaten when, after the flood, he gave all animals to Noah and his sons to eat…. Therefore, every animal may be eaten whose flesh is definitely not harmful to the body and is regarded as food by human society.” So the Decree for the Jacobites of the Council of Florence reads: “The holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes, and preaches that every creature of God is good and not to be rejected if it is taken with thanks. According to the Lord’s word, a man is not defiled by what enters his mouth. The Church affirms that the distinction made by the Mosaic Law between clean and unclean foods belongs to the ceremonial laws which have passed away with the coming of the Gospel…. So it declares that no kind of food is to be condemned which human society regards as food, and no distinction is to be made between animals on the basis of gender or the manner of their death. However many things which are not forbidden may and should be given up for the health of the body, the practice of virtue, and regular Church discipline. As the Apostle says: ‘All things are permitted, but not all are expedient.”‘
- The second consideration is that although the ceremonial precepts of the old Law have come to an end with the promulgation of the Gospel, and the new Law does not contain any precept which distinguishes between clean and unclean foods, nevertheless the Church of Christ has the power of renewing the obligation to observe some of the old precepts for just and serious reasons, despite their abrogation by the new Law. However, precepts whose main function was to foreshadow the coming Messiah should not be restored, for example, circumcision and the sacrifice of animals, as Vasquez aptly remarks in 1, 2, Divi Thomae, vol. 2, disp. 182, chap. 9, sect. ex quibus omnibus. Precepts regarding external discipline and cleanliness of body, the kind which contain the precepts on clean and unclean foods, may be restored. The Western as well as the Eastern Church assumed this practice; this is documented from the earliest centuries.
- The Gentiles invented the calumny about the early Christians eating the flesh of infants and drinking human blood. Such calumny was occasioned by the prevailing practice of religious secrecy. The faithful kept secret the Real Presence of Christ’s Body in the Eucharistic meal which they ate, but the Gentiles got some vague rumor of this Mystery and used this as a basis for inventing and spreading this falsehood against the Christians. This is shown by Schelestratus in his Dissertat. de Disciplina Arcani, artic. unic., chap. 4, sect. 17.
Equally renowned is the answer the ancient Apologists gave to the Gentiles on behalf of the Christians without disclosing the secret. They asserted that it was quite impossible that the disciples of Christ should eat human flesh and drink human blood since, as was well known, they even abstained from the blood of animals and from the flesh of strangled animals. Tertullian uses this proof in his Apologetici, chap. 9. This answer, however, proves clearly that in the first centuries Christians distinguished between foods for some reason and abstained from blood and the meat of strangled animals. This is wisely noted by both Nicholas le Nourry, vol. 2, Apparatus in Biblioth. Patr., diss. 4 on Tertullian, chap. 12, art. 2, and by Pamelius, in dictum cap. 9 Tertulliani, no. 138.
Those Christians did not think that the Mosaic Law was still binding in this matter. They knew that the apostolic prohibition regarding abstinence from blood and the meat of strangled animals had been removed. They did not consider these foods prohibited in any way, yet they abstained from them on the grounds that it was fitting to observe the custom handed down by the fathers. Natalis Alexander writes that “the custom of abstaining from blood and the meat of strangled animals was so religiously observed in those churches because they had received this custom from their fathers, not because they considered that these foods were absolutely prohibited” (Hist. Ecdesiast. Saecul. 1, diss. 10).
- In his Comment. on the words “from strangled animals and blood” (Acts 15), Calmet states that some Latin churches distinguished between clean and unclean foods and abstained from blood and strangled meat as late as the tenth and eleventh century. He does not at this point offer any proof for his statement but its truth is quite evident to anyone who has the slightest acquaintance with Christian writing. For Canisius published an old Roman penitential from the end of the eighth or the start of the ninth century; under the heading “On strangled meat,” it prescribes a penance for eating the meat of a strangled animal, and under the heading “On mangled flesh,” it prescribes penances and fasts for eating fish which died in the pool or for drinking water from a well in which a mouse or a hen died before thoroughly cleansing the well.
Humbertus, Cardinal of Silva Candida, as Legate of Pope St. Leo IX at Constantinople, argued violently with the Greeks, but he openly admitted during the disputations that on this subject Latins and Greeks did not disagree since this practice was still observed in some Latin and Greek churches. “Maintaining the ancient custom or tradition of our fathers, we too hold these things in abomination; apart from the great danger to life, a heavy penance is imposed on those among us who eat blood or corpses or polluted waters or animals which died by accident.” And elsewhere he says, “So even though the Lord and the Apostles give us permission to eat everything which does not harm our own health nor that of our brother, the custom of some areas and the precepts of our fathers make us abstain from some foods. We do this not because they are bad or unclean, but either because at times they are not expedient, or they revolt us now that longlasting habit has become nature for us.”
- There is no trace of this abstinence left in the Latin churches, if we may believe Cornelius a Lapide (in Commentar. in Actus Apost., chap. 15, “and from blood”). But it is still strong in the Greek church which considers it praiseworthy to maintain the apostolic precept on abstinence from blood and strangled meat. So say Calmet and a Lapide. Christianus Lupus says further that “the Greeks too have for a long time afterwards observed unchanged this apostolic law” (Notes on Canon 67 of the Trullan Synod). This Trullan Canon 67 says, “The divine scripture has commanded us to abstain from blood, strangled meat, and fornication. We fittingly punish those who for the pleasure of the belly skillfully season, serve, and eat the blood of an animal. So if anyone henceforth eats the blood of an animal in any way, he should be deposed if a cleric and separated if a layman.”
The Armenians alone, to Our knowledge, have publicly abandoned this custom of the Greeks upon entering into union with the Roman Church. For the schismatic Vartanes had persuaded them to abstain from certain foods which the Mosaic Law called unclean with the sole exception of pork; this he claimed had been allowed by St. Gregory the Illuminator, their first patriarch. He also instructed them to destroy vessels of oil and wine if a fly or suchlike drowned therein. Nevertheless the conferences which effected the union of the Armenians with the Roman Church decreed that “the Armenian fathers at both the synods of Sis and Adana in uniting their church with the Church of Rome have approved the Dogmatic Letter of Gregory, Patriarch of Armenia, to King Haytones, which rejects the Jewish distinction of foods by the words, “We command that all impure foods be considered purified, as St. Paul says, especially in the case of the poor. The lord Nierses, that is, Ghelajensis, also a Doctor and Patriarch of Armenia, taught that such foods should be blessed with prayers” (Galanus, vol. 2 De conciliatione Ecclesiae Armenae cum Romana).
- The third and final point suggested by the text of the fourth admonition is that Greek priests are not forbidden to use any of the prayers or blessings which are in their Euchologion by reason of references to matters which were subject to the ceremonial precepts of the Old Law. They should, however, do everything with the intention not of obeying the precepts of the old Law, which has now been abrogated, but of respecting the new Law of the Church or canonical custom made strong by long and unbroken observance.
In dealing with the Greek custom of abstaining from blood and strangled flesh, Lorinus notes that “if the Greeks today abstain from blood on the grounds that they are bound by this law, they are superstitious. This law now binds nobody and its observance savors of the ceremonies of the old Law. But they should not be blamed if they reject this food from a natural revulsion or other good reason” (in cit. Actuum Apos. 15.20). Goarius, in writing in variantibus lectionibus in the Greek Euchologion, considers the prayer “for those who have eaten forbidden and unclean things.” He notes that “the Orientals avoid partaking of unclean foods through zeal for the Church, rather than for the Mosaic Law, etc. Consequently, despite the babbling calumny of Catumsyritus, they are far from observing Jewish ritual since they are observing the traditions of the Church.” Catumsyritus would have some basis for his daring statement if the Greeks acted as they do not for these reasons, but from wrongly thinking that they are bound by the Apostolic precept on abstinence from blood and strangled meat. William Beveregius unfortunately attempts to defend this opinion in his Codex Canonum Ecclesiae primitivae, vol. 2, chap. 7, no. 5.
Certain schismatics have tried to calumniate the Latin church by saying that it judaizes by consecrating unleavened bread, observing the Sabbath, and retaining the anointing of kings among the sacred rites. But Leo Allatius counters their rash claim in his splendid work de perpetua consensione Ecclesiae Occidentalis et Orientalis, bk. 3, chap. 4. He refutes them particularly by arguing as follows: “Since Jews observe Sabbaths, a man who observes Sabbaths acts in Jewish fashion: therefore the man who does not eat the flesh of strangled animals acts in Jewish fashion since the Jews are forbidden by the Law to eat such food: but the Greeks do not eat such food: therefore, the Greek judaize” (loc. cit. n. 4). Then to Our purpose he concludes (n. 9) that it cannot be absolutely asserted that that man judaizes who does something in the Church which corresponds to the ceremonies of the old Law. “If a man should perform acts for a different end and purpose (even with the intention of worship and as religious ceremonies), not in the spirit of that Law nor on the basis of it, but either from personal decision, from human custom, or on the instruction of the Church, he would not sin, nor could he be said to judaize. So when a man does something in the Church which resembles the ceremonies of the old Law, he must not always be said to judaize.”
- Since We have added an appendix to Our treatment of each of the first three admonitions, before ending Our encyclical We now want to add to this fourth admonition an appendix relevant both to the subject of the admonition and to the publication of the revised Euchologion.
- In the Book of Leviticus, chap. 12, it is decreed that a woman who has borne a boy is unclean for seven days and remains for a further thirtythree days in “the blood of her purification.” If she has been delivered of a girl, she is unclean for two weeks and remains for sixty-six days “in the blood of her purification.” She may not enter the sanctuary before this time has elapsed. When she first enters the temple, she is to bring a prescribed offering.
- It cannot be denied that this prohibition continued for some time in the Church. In the Penitential Canons of Theodorus, quoted by Ivo in his decree and mentioned by Cardinal Baronius under 266 A.D., it is said that “a woman who enters the church before her blood is clean after birth must do penance for thirty-three days if she brought forth a boy and for fiftysix days if she bore a girl. If any woman rashly enters the church before the prescribed time, she must do penance on bread and water for as many days as she should have stayed away from the church.” But it also cannot be denied that this prohibition was removed in the Latin Church in the course of time. “If at the same hour as she has brought forth, a woman enters the church to give thanks, she does not commit any sin,” said Pope Gregory, and his words are quoted in the Decree of Gratian, can. 2, dist. 5. In his decretal Volens, De purificatione post partum, Innocent III cites the text, “The law was given through Moses: grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” He adds that a woman who wishes not to enter the church for a time after childbirth is not forbidden to do so, but that a woman who comes to church does not sin. “So they commit no sin and are not to be forbidden to enter the churches. To forbid them would obviously imply that their punishment was a sin. Still if they want to stay away for some time out of a feeling of reverence, We do not believe that their devotion should be condemned.”
The Blessed Virgin Mary willingly subjected herself to the law of Leviticus, although this law did not apply to her, when she presented herself and her divine Son in the Temple at the proper time after childbirth. In memory of this remarkable event, the rite which is found in the Roman Ritual published by order of Pope Paul V was established. After childbirth a woman goes to the church and is met at the door by a priest. He prays over her and sprinkles her with holy water. Then holding the hem of the priest’s stole, she goes up to the altar, genuflects before it, and offers thanks to God for the benefits she has received. In the Latin church, however, this blessing of the woman after childbirth is not obligatory and there is no sin involved if it is omitted, although to omit it from contempt would be a sin as Quartus warns in his work de Benedictionibus, tit. 3, sect. 12, diff. 1).
- In the Greek Church, however, the law regarding childbirth is observed religiously as if a commandment, and a woman who has given birth is not allowed to come to the church before the appointed time. Indeed in earlier centuries the practice of the Greeks was so strict that women during menstruation were prevented from sharing the Eucharist, even when critically ill. For this practice they were severely criticized by Cardinal Humbertus of Silva Candida (Baronius, 1054 A.D.). This strictness was later modified to the extent that women during menstruation who were in danger of death were allowed to receive the Eucharist. This is seen both from the Canonical Letter of Dionysius of Alexandria and from Novella 13 of Emperor Leo the Wise. The remark of Cardinal Baronius (266 A.D., no. 11) should be recalled here. He notes that Dionysius in this letter merely expressed his own opinion and submitted it to the judgment of Basilides and others. “I have written this not as a teacher, but to make my opinion public with all appropriate simplicity. After repeated examination, write and tell me the conclusion you have come to and whether this is the best view of the matter.” On the other hand the reasoning of St. Gregory the Great is clearly true: “The excess of nature cannot be counted as a sin, and it is not just to prevent a woman from entering the church because of what she endures against her will” (cited by Gratian, can. 4, dist. 5).
As regards partaking of the Eucharist, the holy Doctor openly declares that he does not condemn a woman for communicating even at this time, although he does not disapprove if she abstains from doing so from reverence. “She should be praised if she does not presume to receive the sacrament from a feeling of great reverence, but if she does receive she is not to be condemned. For it is characteristic of good people to see sins in some measure in actions of their own which involve no sin.”
Therefore Theophilus Raynaudus criticizes the practice of the Greeks in this matter (Operum, vol. 16, Heterodita Spiritualia, p. 33, no. 28, Lyons). And even Goarius, who is otherwise so constant a promoter and defender of Greek rites, frankly admits that the law which forbids communion to women during menstruation is too severe and contrary to all order. “Still women who are defiled should be treated more mildly, despite all the arguments and subterfuges of the Greeks, etc. The weakness is one of nature which relieves itself automatically” (in notis ad Euchologium, p. 270). He then invokes the authority of St. Gregory by quoting the passage from his letter which is given above.
- Whatever be the case with women during menstruation entering the church and being allowed to receive the Lord’s body, We turn back now to women after childbirth. As has been said, in the Latin Church observance of a period following birth is simply advised but not prescribed, while the Greek Church obliges women not to enter the church for a specified number of days. As Goarius says (p. 269): “The Greeks demand this behavior as a duty, the Latins only as a demonstration of reverence.” But the Euchologion contains prayers to be said by the priest on this occasion as part of the whole ritual of the ceremony surrounding childbirth.
- Accordingly this matter was carefully examined and discussed in the Congregations which met for the revision of the Euchologion both under Urban VIII and during Our pontificate. No one proposed the entire elimination from the Euchologion of the rites surrounding childbirth, but the suggestion was made that the prescribed period of forty days should be changed, and that different prayers should be substituted for the prayer in the Euchology which seemed to refer excessively to the legal uncleanness which caused the Jews to prevent their wives from doing any business for forty days after birth and from entering the temple. It seemed especially unfitting to beseech God to “cleanse etc. the defilement of her body from all the defilement of sin and wash away the stains of the soul in the course of forty days.”
- But others remarked wisely that some, surely, of the ceremonial rites of the old Law could be observed under the new Law if only they were not done as obligations of the old Law, which was abrogated, but as a custom, or lawful tradition, or as a new precept issued by one enjoying the recognized and competent authority to make laws and to enforce them, as Vasquez observes (vol. 3, in the 3rd part of the Summa, disp. 210, quest. 80, art. 7). It was decided that there was no real ground for surprise that the observance of a period after childbirth should be simply a counsel for Latin women, but obligatory law for the Greeks. Moreover, since the Greeks perform the rite in a different way than the Jews of old in not making an offering to the priest in the Jewish way, and since they sanctify the rite with suitable prayers, beseeching God to forgive any sins the woman has committed, and since the patronage of the Virgin Mother of God is invoked for this very purpose, it was decided on January 8, 1747, by those whom We had placed in charge of the revision of the Euchologion, to make no changes in this section. We subsequently approved their decision.
For it is easy to arrive at a correct understanding of the words quoted from the Greek prayer, by saying that God is thereby asked both to cleanse the woman’s soul from every sin and to free her body from all uncleanness, natural not legal, insofar as it indicates a spiritual uncleanness. For cleanliness of body also is part of the service and reverence due to the churches and holy things. Therefore in the early centuries the faithful used to enter the churches only after carefully washing themselves, as St. John Chrysostom says, and in private they always washed their hands before touching the volume of the Gospels.
- We thought We should explain these matters to you in this encyclical letter, venerable brothers and beloved sons, to inform you of the reasons why the Apostolic See has for a long time felt that the laborious task of revising your Euchologion should be undertaken, and to make known to you the care, zeal and cautious reasoning with which the work was undertaken and brought to completion. No changes were made in the oldest and most authoritative euchologies; only what seemed to have been included in some more recent editions by the credulity or wickedness of some men was eliminated or emended. Everything was kept which could possibly be kept, and some benevolent interpretation was employed to save your Rite from any appearance of attack.
We do not doubt that all of this speaks of Our real love for you and of the love of the Apostolic See. We are also certain that you will understand how great Our zeal and concern is that you persevere firmly in holy union and that the wanderers be recalled one day by God’s grace to the same union and the way of salvation. It is up to you to use this revised edition of the Euchologion and to see to it carefully that any new edition of it conforms in every point to this edition, which has been published in 1754 at the press of the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. This will ensure that all the errors and nonsense which formerly found their way into and spoiled other editions will be kept out.
Finally We ask you to assist Us by your prayers in Our difficult task of governing the universal Church and We lovingly impart to you Our Apostolic blessing.
Given at Rome in St. Mary Major’s on the 1st of March 1756 in the sixteenth year of Our Pontificate.
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