Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Liturgical Variations: The Fraction in the Mozarabic Liturgy

As I have mentioned in the comments, I am working here and there as I can on a post upon the Mozarabic liturgy, one of the few Western liturgical rites that the NLM has not explicitly covered to date.

As a teaser, and simply out of general interest, I wished to share with you the unique and complex fraction of the Mozarabic liturgy.

First, a few descriptions of the practice:

The Host is first divided into two halves, then one half is divided into five and the other into four parts. Seven of these particles are arranged in the form of across, five, named Corporatio (Incarnation), Nativitas, Circumcisio, Apparitio (Epiphany), and Passio forming the upright part, and two, named Mors and Resurrectio, the arms. These last are arranged on either side of the Particle Nativitas with the Gloria and Regnum, placed together on one side.

-- The Catholic Encyclopedia

In the Mozarabic rite the Fraction is rather complicated. The Priest divides the Host in the middle, placing half on the paten; the other half is divided into five parts, which are also placed on the paten. He then divides the first part into four. The nine particles so obtained are arranged in the form of a Cross, and each recieves its name: Corporatio (or Incarnation), Nativitas, Circumcisio, Apparitio (or Epiphany), Passio, Mors, Resurrectio, and, separately, Glora, Regnum.

-- The Mass of the Western Rites, Dom Fernand Cabrol

The unique method of the fraction in which the Host is divided into nine particles, and arranged symbolically on the paten in the form of a cross, is somewhat similar to what existed in the Gallican and Celtic rites... Sometimes the particles were arranged on the paten in such a manner as to represent the human form. Such a practice was denounced by the second council of Tours (567), and it was decreed that the portions should be arranged in the form of a cross. The Irish treatise on the Mass incorporated in the Celtic missal of Stowe (end of the 8th or beginning of the 9th century) speaks of the Host as divided in seven different ways according to the day. The number of particles varied from five at ordinary Masses to sixty-five on the principle feasts of Easter, Christmas and Pentecost. They were arranged in the form of a cross, with certain additional dispositions when they were numerous. At the Communion, each particle of the cross, or of its additions, was distributed to a special group of persons, that is priests, monks, etc. In the Mozarabic rite, the priest first divides the Host in the middle, placing one half on the paten, and dividing the other into five particles which he puts also on the paten. Then the first half is divided into four particles. Each fragment so formed bears the title of a mystery in the life of our Lord, which the priest enumerates at its specific fraction.

The ceremony of the fraction affords a parallel to the Byzantine proskomide, which is in fact an anticipation of the fraction of the consecrated bread.... Symbolism has suggested also that Corporatio is the first particle, as the Incarnation was the beginning of our salvation, whereas the arm of the cross is completed by Resurrectio, the mystery which consummated the Passion and Redemption. The particles Gloria and Regnum are so placed on the paten since Christ, the vanquisher of death, is seated on the right hand of the Father, and, although his kingdom is eternal, neither 'glory' nor 'kingdom' are limited to place or time.

When the fraction has been completed, the priest cleanses his fingers...

-- Liturgies of the Primatial Sees, Archdale King

Here is an image of this rubric taken from the pages of the 1804 edition of the Mozarabic Missal (Missale Gothicum):

This same rubric still exists in the 1991 edition of the Missale Hispano-Mozarabicum.

To give you a greater sense of this, here it is seen in practice in the context of the aforementioned edition:

You can make out the cross form that is beginning to take shape as part of the fraction.

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