Wednesday, 24 December 2014

How Christ said the first mass, By Rev. James L. Meagher, D.D. Part 10.


The Jewish Temple was filled with numerous objects reminding the Hebrews of their religion, exciting them to prayer and devotion. These objects did not of themselves give grace. But aroused at the sight of them they performed their acts of religion in the faith, hope, and love of their foretold Redeemer. These religious objects were the sacramentals of the Old Law. At the Last Supper Christ raised the Jewish sacramentals, bread, wine mixed with water, and oil, with the imposition of hands, into the dignity of being the materials of the Eucharistic Sacrifice and of holy Orders. The general impression is that when Christ did this he took materials never used before in worship. But he did not make any sudden change. From prehistoric time, in days of patriarchs, of Moses and of the prophets, the Holy Ghost had chosen bread, wine, water, oil, and incense, and in Passover and in Temple they came down in rite, history and religion of the Hebrews to the days of Christ. Let us see these images of the Mass and of the sacraments with their histories, for we will later find them in the Last Supper.
First we will begin the story of bread, " the staff of life." When at the dispersion of the seventy-two families of mankind from the plains of Mesopotamia, when the language of our race was changed, the white men retired to the southern shores of the Caspian Sea, where they found growing the wheat, triticum vulgare a species of the hordeicae or barley family. There soon after the flood but long before they emigrated to settle Europe, they cultivated this wheat, whence it spread over the world. It is mentioned as flourishing in Egypt in the days when the Hebrew captive Joseph became the Pharaoh's prime minister.1

Palestine produced great quantities of a superior wheat as soon as the Hebrews took possession of their " Promised Land." You will still find the hills of Palestine terraced to the tops. Long winding narrow fields, sometimes but a few feet wide, look like great steps, the soil upheld by stone walls, the labor of nearly 4,000 years, on which the wheat was grown in those days when the Holy Land was densely populated. Thirty-five times the wheat is mentioned in the Old Testament. Why did the Holy Ghost inspire the patriarchs to bake unleaven cakes of wheaten flour for the Passover? Why did the priests offer them in the Temple every Sabbath, and why did Christ change this bread into His Body? Let us see the deep reasons shown in the investigations of our day.
According to scientific research, wheaten bread is the most nourishing of all foods. The human body requires heat to supply energy, and nourishment to repair the losses. Life could be sustained longer on bread alone than on any other food, its only deficiency being want of nitrogenous matters. A pound of bread is more nourishing than a pound of meat. A man could live on two pounds of bread a day for an indefinite time, but not on any other one kind of food. Sugar is the next most valuable food, and this explains why children like bread with sweets. The sweets in wine, or grape sugar, supply what is wanting in bread. For that reason bread and wine are the most nourishing foods known to man. The patriarchs, directed by the Holy Spirit, chose for their sacrifices, and the Passover, a food and drink founded on strictly scientific principles.
People first ate grain without grinding. Passing through the fields, they rubbed the heads in their hands, separating the chaff and ate the grains, as the apostles did on the Sabbath. 2 In ancient times Hebrews ate grain this way. 3
Later it was ground in a wooden or stone mortar, the flour was mixed with water and made into cakes and baked on the fire. They laid them on the live coals, as Abraham did when the Lord with two angels visited him. In Moses' demands to let the Hebrews go, we first find the mill mentioned 5 and seven times the Old Testament mentions the flour mill.
This ancient mill called in Hebrew rechayim, still used in Palestine and the Orient, is made of two flat stones, about two feet in diameter. The upper, called the pelach, rested on a lower, the receb, united by a spindle through a hole in the middle; women sitting on the ground turned the upper stone, the right hand grasping a handle, putting in the grain with the left. The stones were roughened on the lower and upper sides. 6
In Christ's time, they sometimes used large stones turned by animals. 7 Kings and nobles had special bakers. 8 The law forbade one of the stones to be pledged for a debt, for then the family could not grind their grain. 9 They ground all kinds of grain in these little mills, but as flour of wheat was used to make the Temple proposition bread of the last Supper, we will confine ourselves to wheaten bread.
The word bread comes from the Hebrew barah "to eat," "to feed," "to nourish"; in this sense God told Adam after his sin that he would eat his bread with the sweat of his brow all the days of his life, 10 and many Bible texts show that bread meant all kinds of food.
After the wheat was pounded or ground in the mill, the flour was mixed with water made into a dough, rolled into thin cakes and baked on live coals. The patriarchs thus made the unleaven cakes of only flour and water; these were the Passover cakes, and in this way the breads have since been made for Mass in the Latin Church.
In the account of the flight from Egypt, we first find mentioned fermented bread. This is made by mixing the dough with yeast, "to foam," "to give off gas." The yeast is a microscopic fungus plant which feeds on the sugar and gives off gas, which makes the bread "rise." Numerous kinds of this fungus are used in the fermentation of wine, bear, etc., we find that the Egyptians made beer, and perhaps from them the Hebrews learned to make fermented bread. In Greek and Oriental Churches fermented bread is used for the Mass, but this is not according to the strict rules of the Hebrew Passover, the Last Supper, and the patriarchal custom.
In the deserts wood is scarce, and Arabs now use dried dung, on which they lay the flattened unfermented cakes which they turn to bake both sides: the crust smells of the dung but the taste of the inside is pleasant.
Large ovens were established in each town and village of Judea where the people brought the bread to be baked. Going over Mount Olivet, a little below the place of the Ascension was seen a round dome, about ten feet in diameter and six high, in which was a fire of dried dung. A woman inside, surrounded with smoke, was making cakes and placing them on the fire. She offered one, but it was declined with thanks. Such ovens may be still seen in all parts of the East, especially among the common people, who have not been changed by modern methods.
The housewife prepared and baked the bread. 11 Later this became the servants' work. 12 After David's time, when the Hebrews began to devote themselves to business, each rich family had a baker. 13
They used a wooden platter in which they mixed the dough made of flour and water, but later they put yeast in to make it rise by fermentation. The first kind, called Matzoth, "unleaven," was alone used at the Passover and in all the sacrifices of the Temple. 14 The latter was named Chometz,"fermented."
The cakes were round, from ten to twelve inches in diameter, the unfermented breads being as thin as a knife and the fermented about half an inch thick. They never cut bread with a knife, but broke it with their fingers. 15 At Passover and feasts the master of the house always broke the bread and handed it to his guests. The master of the house on Sion during the Passover broke the bread and handed a piece to the writer.
In the Church the celebrant breaks the Host before partaking, and if necessary he breaks the smaller Hosts when giving Communion. In the Latin Rite this Jewish custom of breaking the bread or Hosts is always followed, and the unfermented bread of the Jewish Passover and the patriarchs only is used. In the Greek and sister Rites, with a long ceremony at the credence table during Mass, the celebrant with a little lance cuts from a loaf of fermented bread a large piece for the sacrifice, one for the Virgin, one for John the Baptist, and one each for the Apostles. Let us see the bread in Hebrew homes and Temple.
Outside the house, they dug a hole like a well, two or three feet wide, and from three to six deep, 16 walled it up with stones, then plastered it with wet clay on the inside, leaving little holes for the flames to pass up into the oven. When the oven became red-hot, they removed the fire and put in the dough, covering the whole outside of the oven with earth. 17 When the cakes were baked on one side, they turned them over. 18 This was the smoking furnace shown Abraham in which to bake Passover cakes, 19 when the Lord, with an angel each side of him, visited the patriarch's tent. In this kind of an oven Lot prepared unleaven bread for the angels who warned him to flee from the wicked doomed Sodom and Gomorrah.
Later they used a movable oven called tannur, about three feet high, made of earthenware, glazed within and without with white potter's clay, resting on a movable base forming the furnace. After heating it Avith a fire inside, they removed the coals and pasted the dough to the sides. 20 In this oven they baked the proposition or "showbreads," of the Temple, type of the Eucharist. 21 It was the bread the raven brought Elias each day. Some writers say the raven was not a bird, but a member of the Raven tribe of Bedouin wanderers. The angel gave the great prophet this unleaven bread, which gave him strength to fast for forty days and nights, till he came to Horeb, foretelling the graces of Communion. 22
Vessels of the same shape and materials were used to hold liquids. They also used an iron basket with three feet like a tripod, or rested it on three stones, built a fire under it and in it the dough was baked. 23 In this they baked not only the unleaven bread for the Passover, the leaven bread for daily use, but also other kinds of cakes and bread made of different grains.
Unleaven bread, made before history opened, of only flour and water, is called in Hebrew Matzoth, in Greek Azymous, both meaning "unleaven," to distinguish it from Chometz, "leaven," which was made with yeast, was used at the Passover, offered in the Temple and eaten at all their religious feasts. Thirty-eight times this bread is found in the Old Testament, and hundreds of times in later Jewish writings.
Jews of our day prepare this bread, carefully following the customs of their fathers. The flour is ground of chosen wheat, it must not be musty, or mixed with other flour, and it is carefully kept. Mixed with purest water, they make a dough, roll very thin cakes about a foot in diameter and bake at once, lest the dough ferment. When baked they keep them in a clean box or chest. They then mix the remaining dough with honey, eggs and sugar, etc., but not with yeast. These, called haschira, "rich cakes," they send to friends, the sick, and to Christians. But strict Jews do not send the regular Passover bread to Gentiles.
To the Hebrew this unleaven bread was the "staff of life," no meal was held without it; it reminded them of the bread Melchisedech offered when he blessed their father Abraham; it recalled the proposition bread of the Temple, the desert manna, and it was handed down that when the Messiah came he would in bread renew the miraculous manna. For these reasons the blessings at the table were always said over the bread 24 and wine, and these blessings sufficed for all the other foods.
Each Sabbath eve with a ceremonial we will later give, the priests laid twelve thin cakes of unfermented bread of the patriarchal Passover, and between and mingled in mystic meaning with them twelve gold flasks of wine mixed with water. 25 These of purest gold were made like golden bottles. 26 The lamb sacrificed morning and evening every day foretold the crucifixion, and the bread and wine pointed to the Last Supper and the Mass. What was the Temple ceremony of the bread and wine?

1 Gen. xli.

2 Matt. xii. 1, 2. 

3 Levit xiv. 23; Ruth ii. 2, 3,17, 18; II. Kings, xvii. 28 etc. 

4 Gen. xviii. 6.

5 Exod. ii. 5. 

6 Deut, xxiv. 6; Job. xli. 15,16; II. Kings xv. 21. 

7 Matt, xviii. 6. 

8 Gen. xl. 2; Jer. xxxvii. 21; Osee vii. 4. 

9 Deut. xxiv. 6. 

10 Gen. iii. 19.

11 Gen. xviii. 6; Levit. xxvi. 26; II. Kings xiii. 6-8; Jer. vii. 18. 

12 I. Kings viii. 8-13. 

13 Osee vii. 4-7; Jer. xxxvii. 20; Migne, Cursus Comp. S. Scripturæ, iii. 1135, etc. 

14 Gen. xviii. 6, xix. 3; Judg. vi. 11; III. Kings xvii. 12; Exod. xii. 15, 85, xiii. 3, xvi. 3, 4, 8,12; Levit. ii. 4, vii. 12-13, viii. 26, 31, 32; Deut. xvi. 3; Amos IV. 6. 

15 Isaias Iviii. 7; Lam. iv. 4; Matt. xiv. 19, xv. 36, xxvi. 26.

16 Levit. xi. 35. 

17 Levit. vii. 9,12, 3, etc. 

18 Osee vii. 8. 

19 Gen. xv. 17. 

20 Levit. ii. 4; Eccl. x. 30; Jer. IIi. 18. 

21 See Edersheim Temple, 152. 

22 III. Kings xix, 6-8. 

23 Levit. ii. 5, vi. 14-15: Exod. xxix. 2-3.

24 See Edersheim. Life of Christ, ii. p. 206. etc. 

25 Exod. xxv. 29, 30.

26 Exod. xxxvii. 19 16; xl 1; Numb. iv. 7; xxviii. 9-10.