Wednesday, 31 December 2014

How Christ said the first mass, By Rev. James L. Meagher, D.D. Part 13.

In the days of David from Eleasar, Aaron's son, had descended sixteen courses of priests 1 and from his brother Ithamar, eight families came. These David divided into the twenty-four "courses" of the Temple. From these families the priests were chosen with greatest care lest the young man might have a blemish of body or defect of mind.
The young candidate, chosen in his thirtieth year, bathed, shaved and anointed with olive oil, brought his two goats to the Temple, stood before the Holies, having two cakes of unfermented bread in his hands. The high priest sprinkled him with water. He prostrated himself on the ground before the Shekina of his fathers, his face to the earth. Three times he makes the prostration. This was the reason Christ prostrated himself in the garden before he offered his sacrifice of the cross. This is why the clergy prostrate themselves during the ceremony of ordination in our churches.
The young priest rises to his knees, crosses his arms on his breast and the Temple priests impose their hands on him their arms crossed like Jacob blessing Joseph's sons. 2 He puts his sins on the two goats, the priests sacrifice them and splash their blood on the horns of the altar to foretell the cross. They take the flesh to be burned outside the walls, to foretell Christ sacrificed and buried outside Jerusalem. 3
They put the blood of the victims on the young priest's right ear, thumb and great toe. They mix the blood to show the two natures of Christ, and with it they sprinkle him and his vestments.  4 They anoint him on the head with the holy chrism, place in his hands the flesh of the sacrifice dripping with blood, and cakes of unfermented bread. 5
To the young Levite they gave the symbols of his ministry, the sacrificial vessels, and the keys of the Temple gates. The latter he placed over a stone flag in the Beth ha Mocked each night on which a priest slept. These are the reasons, the keys, chalice, etc., are handed to the candidates for minor orders and subdeaconship while receiving these orders.
The Lord was anointed in an invisible manner by the Holy Spirit with his sevenfold gifts. 6 But was he anointed with oil as were king, priest, rabbi and judge who foretold him in ceremonial and office? He was anointed in this very visible manner, and he anointed his apostles the same way at the Last Supper when he consecrated them bishops.
On the fertile western shores of the Sea of Galilee, so rich as to be called the "Udder of the Land," at a place where then rose an ancient watch-tower called Migdol-El, "God's Tower," around which spread fertile fields where they raised wheat for the proposition Temple bread, was born to a wealthy Jewish family, Lazarus, Martha, and Mary, the latter being called the Magdalen from Magdala, the Greek name of the tower.
She married a strict Pharisee, Paphus, who divorced her because of adultery with a soldier Pandira, and with the latter she took up her residence in the neighboring city Herod had built on the site of an ancient cemetery on the shores of that Lake, seven hundred feet below the ocean level, which he called Tiberias, after the then reigning Roman emperor. There she lived in sin with soldiers of the garrison, till as the woman taken in adultery, she was brought before Christ who drove seven demons out of her and told her to sin no more. 7
Healed and repentant she went back to her home in Bethany, and lived with her brother and sister. When the Sabbath before the Passion ended with sunset, Simon gave a banquet in Christ's honor in his house, a few blocks west of Lazarus' house. With the other guests the Lord reclined at the table on the couch, his feet stretched out as was the custom at feasts. Mary Magdalen came to anoint him. What kind of anointment was it?
The spikenard of olive oil mixed with many rare perfumes was for sale in costly carved alabaster flasks in cities of the Roman empire, but at such a price that only members of royal families and wealthy people could buy it. Mary being of a rich noble family, some writers say she was of royal stock, bought a "box" holding about a pound of this ointment and came to Jesus' feet, which first she washed with bitter tears for her sins, and wiped with her hair hanging down, sign of the harlot among the Hebrews.
The strict Pharisees found fault for they knew her. Judas complained of the price. 8 Christ reproved them because they did not anoint his head as was the custom at formal feasts, 9 and Mary poured the precious ointment on his head, 10 and the whole house was filled with the odor of the ointment. 11
Thus as priest and king, and rabbi, and judge in Israel were anointed, 12 so was the Lord anointed by the woman who was a great sinner. And Jesus said; "Let her alone that she may keep it against the day of my burial." 13 They prepared the Lord's body for the grave with spices, myrrh, aloes, balsamodendron, resin of aquilaria, agallochum and perfumes, and this preparation the Greeks called migma, the Jews chanat, or chunetto, meaning to become "red like tanned leather."
During the feasts of Israel, especially at the Passover, the chamber was perfumed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. 14 Precious unguents were poured on the heads of guests. Anointing guests at these banquets, became such an abuse in the days of the prophets, that Amos denounced them. 15 Twenty-seven times in the Old, and fourteen time in the New Testament, ointment will be found.
From apostolic times down the centuries in all the Liturgies the bishop blesses the holy oils at Mass on Holy Thursday. In the Greek and kindred Rites the oil is mixed with thirty-two perfumes. He is attended by the lower clergy or altar boys, seven subdeacons, seven deacons and twelve priests. From Jewish customs, Oriental Rites and the unchanging Roman Church, we are forced to conclude that Christ blessed the oils at the Last Supper. There is no other way of explaining that rite, so old and universal.
"And the Lord said to Moses. Take unto thee spices, stacte, and oncha, galbanum of sweet savor, and the clearest of frankincense, all shall be of equal weight, 16 and thou shall make incense compounded by the work of the perfumer." That was the way they made the incense mentioned seventy-three times in the Bible. Let us see the materials of which it was compounded. 17
Stacte, or storax, is a liquid, resinous, fatty matter, very odoriferous, of the nature of liquid myrrh and of great value. It comes from the officinalis tree of the styraceous family of plants related to the Canadian, Peruvian and Mecca balsams. It belongs to the same family and looks like the balsam spruces of America. This tree grows in Arabia and Asia Minor. Quantities of this balsam are shipped from Triste and ports of the Orient. It has a vanilla odor, and is closely related to benzoin. It was one of the spices the Ismaelite caravan was carrying to Egypt when they bought Joseph 18 and is translated myrrh in the Bible.
Onycha is a product of India, as Dioscorus says. It 19 gives forth a strong sweet perfume, which when burned fills the whole building with beautiful fragrance.
The cassia, or stacta, "a drop," in Hebrew kiddah, "to cleave," "to tear lengthwise," is the product of a reed growing in shallow waters. Twice Herodotus uses the word, and says the Arabs gather it in shallow lakes. 20
Dioscorus mentions several kinds of cassia, and writes that they are produced in "Spicy Arabia." One kind, known under the name of mosyletis, or mosylos, is so called from the ancient city of Mosyllon, on the coast of Africa, near the present Cape Guardafui, from which it originally came. Much has been written regarding the plant and its products, entailing considerable confusion.
The plant belongs to the family of the leguminosa, is related to senna, and resembles the flag called "cat-tail." It grows in wet places and resembles " sweet flag." The root is aromatic, with a pleasant taste and a beautiful perfume. From remote times it was used as a cathartic, but the species called fistula furnishes the medicine.
Cinnamon, mentioned five times in the Bible, comes from a native tree of Ceylon. The bark yields an oil with a strong perfume and it was used as a medicine. This oil is very strong. God told Moses to use only half as much as myrrh. From beyond historic times caravans from India brought all kinds of perfumes and spices to the west of Asia, Egypt and Europe. 21
The calamus Acorus calamus called "sweet-flag" in this country, mentioned eight times in the Old Testament, is "the bruised reed Christ was foretold not to break." 22 It grows in marshy places, has aromatic roots, which bruised yields the calamus of commerce. In the middle ages, they strewed the floors of the cathedrals and churches with the flags, and wove them into mats, rugs and carpets. The calamus has a strong aromatic taste, is slightly acrid and from early time has been used as a stimulant and for indigestion. It is still mixed with candy and perfumers use it.
Galbanum is a resin-gum of the Ferula tree, belonging to the umbellifera species of plants, growing in India and the Orient. Its gum oozes out like yellowish brown, or blue tears, or white drops like tears. In Moses' day it was used as a medicine, internally to stimulate, and externally as a plaster. When burned it produces a pungent, agreeable odor.
Frankincense, called in medicine olibanum, is a resinous gum produced by the Bosicellia serrata of India and the East. It is shipped now from Calcutta in round lumps, or tears, of a pale yellowish color. The grains are translucent, but covered with a whitish powder, caused by friction. It has an acrid bitter taste, and softens when chewed. It burns with a fragrant odor. Maimonides says it was used in the Temple as incense to conceal the smell of the sacrificed flesh. These, mentioned thirty-four times in the Old Testament, when mixed formed the incense used in tabernacle and Temple. They have been used in Christian churches from the time of the Apostles.
The smoke of incense ascending up before the Lord in the Temple at Passover, and in the Church, typified the prayers of Christ, and of his saints, offered up unto the eternal Father. "Incense ground to finest powder is, like our good works, ground in our hearts as in a mortar. 23
"Incense we make of aromatics, which we offer at the altar, showing forth a multitude of works of virtue." 24
"Incense is the body made holy through temperance, a bridle for reason, and in our body formed of four elements. Stacte referred to water. Oncha typified earth dried up in desert lands, that is, mankind without grace; galbanum burning with fire, the scorching sun drying up the desert." 25
"And there was given him much incense that he should offer of the prayers of the saints upon the golden altar, which is before the throne of God." "And golden vials full of odors which are the prayers of the saints." 26
The Temple incense was prepared of the four ingredients mentioned, 27 with which, the Rabbis say, seven other materials were added, and a smaller quantity of the herb "Ambra" to give out a dense smoke—368 pounds of this mixture being made at once, and half a pound was used at the morning and evening services. The formula of mixing this incense was a secret of the Abtinas family.
While the lamb was being slain, they played the Magrephah, and priests and Levites hastened to their places for their service of sacred song. The priest chosen to offer incense in the Holies, who could officiate only once in his life, with the gold censer hanging from its chains, mounts to great sacrificial altar, fills it with burning coals, takes more live coals in a gold dish, with an assistant on each side, like the deacon and subdeacon with the priest ascending to our altar; vested in magnificent vestments, they slowly mount the marble steps to the Holies, and enter behind the veil.
The priest chosen by "lot" for that function, most sacred Temple ceremony except that of the high priest the Day of Atonement, with his two ministers, one on either side, like the deacon and subdeacon at a high Mass, enter the Holies, reverently spread the live coals on the altar of gold, sprinkle it on the censer, and the two ministers retire, leaving the priest alone in the sacred sanctuary of the Lord of hosts. 28
The lone priest, image of the Priest of mankind, Jesus Christ, offering prayer while on earth to his heavenly Father before his death, swings the censer three times to the west, over the smoking altar, towards the Holy of Holies, dwelling-place of the Shekina, the Holy Spirit, and then over each side, and at the two ends of the altar, each movement with mystic meaning, saying:

"Let my prayer be directed as incense in thy sight, 
  The lifting up of my hands as evening sacrifice. 
  Set watch, O Lord, before my mouth, 
  And a door round about my lips. 
  Incline not my heart to evil words 
  To make excuses in sins." 29

The Jewish priest thus prayed alone in the Holy of Holies, and no one for him prayed, for he figured Jesus Christ, who wants no prayers, for he had no sin, 30 as St. Augustine says, "He is the Lord Jesus Christ, the only Priest and the only Mediator between God and men." 31
On that altar of gold within the gold-walled Holies, image of the sanctuary of our Church from which Christ through his priest offers the Eucharistic Sacrifice, only incense was offered, the animals were sacrificed without, in the Priests' Court, for Christ is not slain now in our Church in a painful and bloody manner, as he was that fatal Friday by the Jewish priesthood. But on the Day of Atonement, the high priest reddened the horns of that gold altar with the blood of the victims, to foretell that the sacrifice of Calvary and of the Mass are identical.
Let us now describe a scene which took place in the Holies when the Jewish Church was about to pass into the glories of the Catholic Church.
Early morning of the 24th of September, six months before Gabriel "God is mighty" appeared in the holy house of Nazareth to the Virgin espoused to Joseph, to announce the Incarnation, the "lot" drawn by the Temple superintendent fell on Zachary "Jehovah is renowned," son of that Barachias Christ said the Jews had killed between the altar and the Temple. 32 For the first and last time he was to offer that sacred incense. He was of the course Abia, "the eighth" of the twenty-four divisions of the priests. He had married Elizabeth "God of the covenant;" his home was about four miles northwest of Jerusalem, down in the valley on the side hill facing north, just beyond the little village now called St. John's.
They were both old and childless, a great disgrace in these days, when every mother hoped and prayed that she might bring forth the long-looked for Saviour. Zachary had just returned from a three months' retreat, spent with the Essenes, at their house built under the cliff on the north side of the ravine, about a mile up from Jericho, in the side of the Lenten mountain, where later Christ fasted. There he had spent his days praying for an heir. He had returned to the city, for it was the time his course of Abia was to go on duty in the Temple.
Early in the morning from the tower on Olivet's top, the priests announced that the sun illumined the tombs of the patriarchs at Hebron, then that the sun was rising over Nebo, where Moses' body reposed. The high priest ordered the lamb brought from the Beth-Moked chamber, where they had kept it for four days; others bring the gold and silver vessels, ninety-three in number, they examine the lamb again for blemishes, water it out of a gold cup— all this to foretell there would be no stain of sin on Christ, and also to foretell the vinegar and gall they gave to drink to Him the Jewish court had condemned to death four days before that fatal crucifixion Friday. They fasten the lamb to the second row of hooks on the pillar at the north of the altar, his feet tied with a cord to make a cross, his head to the south, its face to the west, for so faced Christ when sacrificed. Tlie sign is given to open the great gates with three blasts on the silver trumpets which had replaced the ram's horns of the tabernacle, and vast crowds of people fill the Courts. The lamb is slain, its blood put on the horns of the outside altar in the form of a cross, and the priest Zachary was about to offer the daily incense in the Holies. He represented the foretold Christ, who was once to offer himself for mankind's wickedness.
Zachary, clothed in magnificent vestments, went up the inclined passage on the south side to the great altar, holding in his right hand the censer with its three chains. He scraped up the burning coals in a gold vessel called the teni, put them in the censer and came down. While he did this his two assistants trimmed the lamps of the great golden candlestick, poured into each olive oil, fixed the wicks made from worn-out vestments and lighted them. But the central middle lamp which bent towards the Holy of Holies could be lighted only from the everburning fire on the sacrificial altar.
The great organ, the Magrephah, began the music, the priests and Levites took their places—the first on the steps leading up to the Holies, the second on the steps of the Nicanor Gate, as Zachary with his two assistants ascend the steps preceded by the two priests who had dressed the gold altar, and the candlestick, and who had removed the vessels of their ministry and returned. One of the assistants spread the live coals on the altar, the other arranged the incense, and all retired leaving Zachary alone within that sanctuary before the altar, imaging the priest standing before our altar offering the Mass with its prayers, ceremonies and incense.

1 Numb. 60.

2 Gen. xlviii. 13.

3 Exod xxix. 10-14; Levit. viii. 2, 3, 11,17.

4 Levit. iv. 3, 5, 16, vi. 15; Psalm cxxxii. 2.

5 Exod, xxix. 19-34; Levit, viii. 32-36. etc.

6 Isaias xi. 1, etc.

7 See Talmud, John viii. 3, 4.

8 Luke vii. 36-46

9 Luke vii. 46.

10 Mark xiv. 3.

11 John xii. 3.

12 Migne, Cursus Completus, S. Scripturæ, iii, 223-224.

13 John xii. 7.

14 Proverbs vii. 10-17.

15 Amos vi. 4, 5, 6, 7.

16 Exod. xxx. 34.

17 Geikie, Life of Christ, i. 91; Migne, ii. 869.

18 Gen. xxxvii. 525.

19 Lib. ii. ch. 8.

20 Herodotus II., 86. III. 110.

21 Gen. xxxvii. 25.

22 Isaias xlii. 3.

23 St. Gregory, in fine, I. Moral.

24 St. Gregory, Lib. Moral, 39.

25 St. Basil, in Isaias, C. I.

26 Apoc. v. 8.

27 Exod. xxx. 34.

28 See Edersheim, Life of Christ, vol. i. 137, 138; Geikie, Life of Christ, i. 91, 92, 210, etc.

29 Psalm cxl. 2 to 4.

30 I. Kings, ii. 25.

31 St, Augustine, Enar, ii. in Ps. xxxvi.. Ser. ii. n. xx.

32 Matt, xxiii. 35; Luke xi. 51.