Monday, June 11, 2007

The History of the Mass, Part I

Appended to William Caxton's Englishing of The Golden Legend or Lives of the Saints of the Blessed Jacobus of Voragine, Bishop of Genoa, published at Westminster the twentieth day of November, the year of our Lord fourteen hundred and eighty-three, and the first year of the reign of King Richard III.

Here beginneth the noble History of the Exposition of the Mass.

For heart devout to understand what it is to say mass, also to conscrate the body of our Lord, the precious sacrament of the altar, it is to know that the mass may be comprised in four parts principal. The first part dureth from the beginning of the mass unto the offering, the second dureth from the offering to the Pater Noster said, the third part dureth from the Pater Noster unto the perception, and the fourth part dureth from the perception unto the end of the mass. As touching the first part, that is, the beginning of the mass unto the offering, it is to understand that the priest, which is as he that showeth the way of God to the people, ere he revesteth him with the chasuble, he beginneth and saith a psalm that is in the third nocturn of the psalter, the which psalm beginneth: Judica me deus et diseerne, and in the same psalm he asketh four things. The first is that he may be parted from all evil company, the second is that he may be delivered from all evil temptation, the third is that he may be of the Holy Ghost enlumined, and the fourth is that Jesu Christ give himself to be consecrated by him. And to the entent he may the more surely and devoutly consecrate the said sacrament, he confesseth himself generally of all his sins, saying his confiteor, by the which confiteor he showeth four things. First, he showeth himself worthy of redargution or rebuke, secondly, he showeth himself plein of contrition, thirdly, he requireth aid of them that are about him, that he may have remission of his sins, and fourthly, he demandeth of our Lord very absolution.

The priest, after, kisseth the altar, the which kissing signifieth unity and direction in showing how our Lord would unite or join our humanity to his divinity by great love, and take the church for his own spouse, wherefore the holy church may say thus: Quasi sponsam decoravit me corona, et quasi sponsam ornavit me monilibus. That is to say, that our Lord as his proper spouse, hath adorned or clad me with things precious.

For the full text, see here. More to come.

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