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had 'approved of the custom.' But such approval is doubtful. The practice arose from the wishes and requests of the religious Orders, especially of the Dominicans and the Franciscans, who having so many illustrious dead buried in their convent precincts, felt bound to ask an extension of the privilege granted to secular priests, who were allowed to say two Masses on this feast day. Here are the words of Bishop Crespi, O.P. (in 1658):—
I imagine that the Convent of the Dominicans at Valencia was probably the first to obtain permission to say three Masses on the one day, and simply for this reason that within that convent were buried a multitude of people pre-eminent both in number and in quality. the time when this custom arose, the handful of friars resident there was far too small to cope with the demands made upon them. And this much I know from experience that though in my time there were many more priests, and though all were permitted to say three Masses, it was still necessary to get religious of other Orders to come in from outside to say their Masses with us in order that we might discharge the obligations of that day.
The privilege of saying three Masses on one day was extended by Benedict XIV from Aragon to all Spain, and to all Portugal in 1748; it was granted to all nations by Benedict XV in 1915.
It was mentioned above that the death of St. Columbanus was made known to St. Columba, in distant Iona, by some supernatural means. The deaths of the great, of friend and stranger, are made known in modern civilization by obituary notices in newspapers. The telegraph and the postal delivery bring such news quickly to friends and relatives of the departed. But how was such information conveyed before the advent of the newspaper, the telegraph or the cheap postal service? News of all kinds travelled slowly. The news of the Waterloo victory took almost a fortnight to reach English villages. The news of the passing of Emancipation for Ireland did not reach parishes in the north of the island for ten days. And death being such a sad, common, everyday thing was very often allowed to pass in silence, so that relatives and friends twenty miles distant were left in ignorance of the death of friend or relative. There was no quick, safe way of sending such messages.
But the religious Orders adopted a plan which was very simple and very popular. They instituted associations for mutual prayer for the members of their Orders, and for those who were benefactors or who begged a
remembrance in their holy prayers and Masses. Hence, periodically, a messenger was sent out with a long strip of parchment bearing the names of those who had died in his community since his previous visit to the associated convent. This roll was copied into the roll of the convent visited, and laid on the high altar of the church when Mass was said. To the messenger's roll were added the names of those dead for whom the religious sought prayers. Sometimes the entries were brief: In the name of Christian charity we beg prayers for the soul of priest and sacristan of our monastery. We in turn will pray for your dead.' Sometimes these requests were elaborate and naive. To the superioress of a community of nuns, Sinbert, Bishop and Abbot, wrote:
Let your honeyed charity (melliflua charitas) be hereby advertised that your brother so and so, on such a day, has departed this life. . . . Wherefore we most earnestly implore your motherly tenderness (almitatem vestram) that you will give order that such provision be made for his soul by Mass and Psalms as your immense goodness is wont to do. We hope that you may ever thrive.1
These parchment rolls sometimes grew to immense proportions; one preserved in Ghent is ninety-seven feet long. It far outshines in size and weight the petitions sent to Parliament from Ulster, but it was more useful and is more interesting. Sometimes messengers were lazy and tricky. Their long journeys of hundreds of miles, tramping from convent to convent, meeting all sorts and conditions of men, and lodging and feeding in all hospitable places did not tend to improve the mind or manners of the rolligers, or roll carriers. 'Qui multo vagantur, raro sanctificantur,' says the Imitation, and the rolls bear notes from the superiors warning them to feed the rolliger, mark, date, and sign with names of the house superior the roll, and despatch the bearer. The untidy man carrying the untidy roll has given probably a word to the English language the word rigmarole, ragman's roll. From this we see that there is nothing new under the sun; and that the black edged notes sent round by the circles and councils of the St. Vincent de Paul Societies asking prayers for deceased brethren are not novelties but survivals. Again, the practice of sending obituary notices of nuns to convents of their own and of other Orders asking prayers for deceased 1 Quoted in Father Thurston's book, p. 73. VOL. XIV-26
nuns was known centuries ago, when the notice, asking the immense goodness' of the reverend mother to have Masses offered, was written.
It may help those trying to follow St. Columba's advice about fervour in singing the Office for the Dead to recall portions of their college lectures on liturgy. Some few clerics may have lost those notes' they used to write in days of boyhood; others, perhaps, may have forgotten the mental notes then made, and for both the cadence of these sentences may breath the strain wakening thoughts that long have slept, kindling former memory again, in faded brains which long have slept.
The Invitatory.-The invitation addressed to the faithful to come to assist at the Office dates from the times of St. Benedict (480-560). Probably it was originally the chant used to call the monks to choir: 'O, come, let us praise the Lord with joy: let us joyfully sing to God Our Saviour.' It is not found in the very earliest Roman liturgy, which is represented in our service books by the services of the last three days of Holy Week. It began to appear in the Office for the Dead about the year 800. The psalm of the invitatory is attributed by the Septuagint and by the Vulgate to David, as author. Its form in our Matins is slightly different from its form in the Vulgate. The Breviary retains in this one instance the first revision of St. Jerome, whilst the Vulgate has the second, more correct revision. It is well called a message from the saints, from the white-robed army of martyrs, holy confessors, virgins, spouses of Christ, who, for the benefit of their brethren on earth, sing 'O, come let us praise the Lord with joy."
The lessons of the Office for the Dead varied in different churches :
In quibusdam enim ecclesiis leguntur novem lectiones de Job et incipiunt Parce mihi domine, etc. . . . In aliis leguntur de libro Sapientiae et incipiunt, Parce mihi domine, etc., In aliis vero de quodam sermone Augustini, sed undecunque sumantur absolute et sine Jube Domine, et sine Tu autem. . . . Verumtamen in quibusdam ecclesiis loco, Tu autem terminantur Beate mortui qui in domino moriuntur.1
The Book of Job, from which the lessons of the Office for the Dead are taken, is arranged as a drama, and the various stages in its development may be presented in the
1 Durandus (1237–1296), Rationale Divinorum, chap. xxxv. sects. 33-34.
form of prologue, dialogue, monologue and epilogue. The first lesson, Parce mihi, is Job's address to God, when in reply to Eliphaz he declares his innocence. The second lesson is the conclusion of his reply to Baldad. Job said no man is justified before God, but he is puzzled, 'I will say to God, do not condemn me; tell me why Thou judgest me so' (verse 2). In the next lesson he insists on his dependence on and trust in God, his Creator: 'Thou hast granted me life and mercy and Thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.' In these, as in the remaining lessons of the Office, the words of the inspired author impress us with God's wisdom and providence, the relation of evil to God's providence, the sufferings of the just; and above all, the words impress mourners to remember that suffering and sorrow are not signs of sorrow but of divine love. The responds of the lessons are said to be the work of Maurice De Sulby († 1196), Archbishop of Paris. They are things of beauty, of which several writers have written with admiration.
The psalms of Lauds are especially well chosen to express sorrow. and hope. In Lauds of the Office for the Dead there is no hymn. This shows the antiquity of this choir service, which was in existence long before the introduction of hymn singing in public liturgy at Rome. The collects printed in modern liturgical books are very ancient, and appear in very slightly different forms in the old liturgical books of the Celtic Church (e.g., Stowe Missal, sixth century; the Corpus Missal, tenth century).
In Requiem Mass the psalm Judica is not said. Because this antiphon and psalm were not said in the Mass till the eleventh century, and the order of Requiem Mass was in a fixed state for centuries previously. Even in the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth centuries unity of practice did not prevail, and in the manuscripts are found directions for the celebrant: Cum accedit ad altare,' 'Dum ingreditur ad altare,''Paratus autem venit ad altare dicens, Dum procedit de secretario,' 'Quando ingreditur ad altare sub silentio dicat sacerdos judica.'1
The Introits retain only the antiphons of the long psalms, which found a place in Roman Missals till the end of the twelfth century. Both antiphons and psalms were chosen with great care to suit the festival. Thus
1 Battifol, Leçons sur la Messe, r. 13.
in the complete psalm which formerly formed part of the Introit, the words, 'Blessed is he whom thou has chosen and taken to thee; he shall live in thy courts. We shall be filled with the good things of thy house, holy is thy temple, wonderful thy justice,' are expressive of hope in God's mercy, and comfort in the thought of the heaven where all are filled with the good things of God, whose justice now seems wonderful.
In Kyrie eleison, the opening words of a long litany, we have a remnant of a prayer of acclamation. In medieval times each invocation of the litany was repeated, sometimes seven times, sometimes five times. Medieval liturgists say that the threefold repetition--as in our Mass-is to show homage to the Blessed Trinity. It is of interest that in the well-known Missal of sixth-century Ireland, the Stowe Missal, a litany of twenty-one invocations, stands at the very beginning of the Mass. The same litany stands in the St. Gall fragment, and seems to be peculiarly Irish.
The Collects of the Roman Missal have three great characteristics: first, the celebrant never repeats them in his own individual name, but in the name of the whole Church, he says Oremus. St. Cyprian explains this rule when he says that liturgical prayer is public and collective, and when we pray, we pray not for one individual, but for all the people. Second, collects-not several of the secret prayers of the Mass-are addressed to God in His eternity and all mightiness, Deus, Deus, noster, omnipotens et misericors Deus. Hence, in the Missal prayers (orationes) God is never called Father, not even in the prayers where the Son is mentioned. Very few prayers (orationes) are addressed to the Son and none to the Holy Ghost. Thirdly, the collects of the Missal are composed on a fixed plan or mode. For, if we take an example from the Mass as offered in memory of the dead, we find (a) 'Fidelium Deus omnium Conditor et Redemptor,' the invocation; (b) 'animabus famulorum famularumque tuarum . . the motive; (c) ‘ut indulgentiam... consequantur,' the petition; (d) ‘Qui vivis et regnas... Amen,' the conclusion.1
Of the sequence in the Masses of Requiem it is unnecessary to write, so many have written lovingly and learnedly of it; it has had so many admirers, imitators
1 Cf. Dr. Fortescue, The Mass, pp. 249-254; Father Lucas, Holy Mass, i. 67-69; Battifol, op. cit., p. 124.