Saturday, 21 February 2015

How Christ said the first mass, By Rev. James L. Meagher, D.D. Part 27

Writers say in the time of Christ synagogue services were held in 480 schoolhouses and public buildings of Jerusalem. 1 The finest of these public buildings, except the Temple, was the Cenacle over the tombs of David and the kings. There, on Sabbath, Passover and feast, they gathered for morning worship, in the afternoon for the Micha: "vespers" and night prayers. The Rabbis hold that these hours of prayer came down from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, which Moses and the prophets had developed into the Temple and synagogue ceremonials of the days of Christ.
Moses led the Hebrews in sight of the Promised Land, but did not himself enter.  Josue, or as he was called in Greek Jesus, brought them into Palestine after Moses' death. A mystery is written in this. For a greater than Moses, Jesus Christ, was foretold to lead the world into the mysteries of the Canon of the Last Supper, the Mass with the Consecration, the Eucharistic Sacrifice and Communion. The synagogue services carried the Mass as far as the end of the Preface. There the worship of the Jewish Church stopped. But Christ and the Apostles brought the Last Supper to the end of the Mass. The first part of the Mass is founded on the worship of the Jewish Temple and synagogue little modified. But supernatural Christian faith enables us to see the heavenly wonders of the Real Presence. Let us therefore see the synagogue and its worship at the time of Christ. Then we will better understand the rites, ceremonies and prayers of that historic night.
When the Hebrews were carried into Babylonia, in every place where ten men, called batlanim, formed a band, named kehillah, lived, they worshiped God according to the ceremonial of the ruined Temple, sacrifice excepted, which was forbidden except at Jerusalem. 2 Then they built edifices facing the sanctuary toward the sacred city, to remind them of Palestine, the splendors of Solomon's ruined Temple, and the foretold Messiah to be born of their race, and, as they thought, to found for them a kingdom of matchless splendor extending over all the earth. 3
In these buildings they worshiped the God of their fathers who had punished their race for the sins of idolatry. They then began to better study their sacred books, and the traditions coming down from immemorial times Since that epoch the Jews never again fell into idolatry, the synagogue having kept them in Jewish faith. 4
A tradition came down and crystallized into the Talmud, that Moses ascended Sinai on Thursday, where he remained forty days and received the Law, and that he returned on Monday, when he found them worshiping the golden calf, 5 and they set apart Mondays and Thursdays in addition to the Sabbath as days of fasting and prayer. Of this the Pharisee gloried: "I fast twice a week." 6 These days called Sabbaths farmers came into the cities to sell their produce, the Sanhedrin or Court sat, and special services were held in the synagogues.7
During the Captivity Daniel, Ezechiel and other prophets consoled thorn with God's oracles foretelling they would return to Palestine, that the Temple would be rebuilt and that the Messiah would come. Seeing his very name in Isaias' prophecy, learning that they worshiped the same Almighty God he adored under the name of Aliura liladza, that Zoroastrianism taught by Persian Magi priests was similar to the Hebrew worship of Jehovah, Cyrus sent them back to rebuild city and Temple. 8
When under Esdras the exiled Jews returned, in every town and hamlet of the Holy Land they built a place of worship they called in Hebrew haccenseth "house of meeting," in Syro-Chaldaic beth cnishta or beth-hath-tiphillah, "house of prayer," in Greek, "synagogue," gathered together, and in Hebrew, Asaph, "a congregation." 9 Their ruins are still seen scattered all over Palestine.


Captain Wilson examined the remains of seven synagogues in Galilee, the largest being ninety by forty-four feet six inches, and the smallest forty-eight feet six inches by thirty-five feet six inches. At Rome, Alexandria, Athens, Antioch and in every place into which the Jews scattered to engage in trade before the time of Christ, they had synagogues for the members of each trade,profession and guild of workmen, where the service was in Hebrew, and the sermons in the language of the people. There the Hebrews worshiped Jehovah of their fathers in the midst of the awful debasement of paganism, hoping for the coming of the Messiah, who they thought would gather them again into Judea and make them rulers over all the earth. Thus they understood the prophecies relating to Christ and the Church.
God gave his revelation to mankind through the Jewish race, Christ was a Jew and followed every religious rite and custom of his people. 10 The Church is the daughter of Judaism. We find no Church ceremony which was copied from paganism, as some writers hold. For twenty centuries Church and synagogue have come down side by side, entirely separated, but having much in common. Let us see the synagogue that we may understand the Last Supper and the origin of the Mass ceremonial. The word synagogue is found once in Exodus, four times in Numbers, the same in Psalms, once in Proverbs, six times in Ecclesiasticus in the Latin Vulgate Bible. Few writers treat of the synagogue in an exhaustive manner, perhaps prejudice has been an obstacle or the persecuted Jew would not give the information. Eighty times the word will be found in the Bible as a meeting. When they saw Moses' face "horned," they returned, both Aaron and the rulers of the congregation, 11 the word here translated "congregation" being synagogue. But in other places the word synagogue is retained in translations of the Bible.
Let us first see the name. Synagogue is the Greek of the Hebrew Moed, "Appointed place of meeting." In later times it was named Beth-ha Cennesth, "House of Gathering." Classic writers, like Thucydides 12 and Plato 13 use the word synagogue.


The Septuagint Bible translates twenty-one Hebrew words by the term synagogue, implying a gathering. It is used 130 times for an appointed meeting, twenty-five times for a meeting "called together," and Church and congregation appear in the same verse. 14
In the New Testament, the word is often applied to the tribunal on which the judges sat, 15 or to the court. 16 But as a house of worship it was named, Beth Hakkeneseth, "house of assembly." During week-days the building was used as a schoolhouse for the children, and named beth hamidrash, "house of study."
The New Testament gives the word twenty-four times, often as the meeting places of the apostolic converts. St. Ignatius of Antioch uses the word for Church, 17 as does Clement of Alexandria. 18 Later, when the division between Jews and Christians became more marked, the latter used exclusively the word Church.
Jewish writers claim a high antiquity for the synagogue, holding that every place where the Hebrews, "appeared before the Lord," or "prayed together" was a synagogue. The Targum of Onkelos, and that of Jonathan, think they find it in Jacob dwelling in tents, 19 and in the calling of assemblies. 20 Where did the Hebrews living in places far from the Temple, many miles from the sacred city worship? Where did they observe the feasts, fasts, and new moons, when they could not go up to Jerusalem? The Jewish writers say in the synagogues built in every town in times remote far beyond the Captivity. 21
When in addition to the Temple priests and Levites rose the prophets to instruct the people and foretell the Messiah, they established schools of prophets to sing God's praises. In different parts of Palestine were purified houses or synagogues where the phylacteries or teraphim, called "Frontlets," were almost worshiped. The ancients of Israel sitting before Ezechiel 22 to learn of the prophet God's oracles show that during the Exile the synagogue was revived. The great Seer told them God was in Babylonia as well as in Judea, and would gather them together—back again into Palestine.23


The whole history of Esdras' time supposes synagogues, if not existing before at least in his day, and many writers give him as their founder. 24 At that epoch the synagogue was either instituted or revived. The words of St. James the apostle: "For Moses from ancient times hath in every city them that preach him in the synagogues, where he is read every Sabbath," 25 seem to date the synagogue from Moses. But the Machabees mention only Maspha as a place of prayer, 26 perhaps because Jerusalem was then in ruins.
Jewish writers say the synagogue of the time of Christ existed from Moses' day, was developed during the Captivity, fostered by Esdras, still more developed under the high priest John Hyrcanus, and that in the days of Christ every town and hamlet in Judea, where 120 families lived, had a synagogue, and that the surrounding country was divided into districts, each having its own synagogue. The apostles copied the Jewish Church, and divided districts into dioceses, placing over each a bishop with his twelve priests or presbyters.
During the Captivity, the synagogue exerted a deep influence on the Hebrews, united them to struggle under the Machabees, trained them in the faith of Israel, and established schools for the children, so that they never afterwards abandoned Judaism. When the bloody sacrifices were re-established in the rebuilt Temple, the synagogue services, with their deep devotion, edifying worship and stately liturgy of the Temple united the people, attracted converts from paganism, and satisfied the human heart's cravings for pure religion.
The prophets had ceased to teach, and beside the Temple ministers flourished another order of religious teachers—the Scribe and Rabbi, not necessarily born of the tribe of Levi and the house of Aaron. Schools and colleges flourished in which these men were educated, after which they were ordained with the imposition of hands. The synagogue and Rabbi have come down to our days substantially as in the time of Christ.


While the plan of the tabernacle and Temple came from heaven, no fixed size Avas laid down for the synagogue building; it varied with the size and wealth of the congregation. But the building was always in a prominent part of the city, on a hill near by, or a tall pole rose from its roof to tell the passer by the site. The building was erected by levying a tax on the people of the surrounding district, by free offerings of wealthy Jews, 27 or by a friendly convert. Often it was by the tomb of a celebrated Rabbi or prominent Jew.
When finished it was dedicated with great ceremony, like Solomon's Temple—forever consecrated to God; like our consecrated churches, it could not be used for any other purpose, and common acts of life, like eating, drinking, sleeping, etc., were forbidden. There was only one exception to this rule. The Passover, being a religious feast, could be, and was usually held in the synagogue. No one was allowed to pass through it as a short-cut; if it ceased to be a synagogue, it could not be turned into any other use, as a bath, laundry, tannery, etc. At the door stood a scraper, on which they cleaned their feet; there they left their sandals or shoes, but they wore their turbans in the building all the time. 28
The synagogue building was modeled after the Temple. Entering the latter you first came to the Choi: "The Profane," where the Heathens could worship, beyond which they were forbidden to pass under pain of death. The Choi represented the Gentiles without faith. It surrounded the whole building. The next was called the Cliel, "the Sacred." Then came the women's Court, beyond which no female could penetrate, to remind them of Eve's sin. Farther in was the Court of Israel where the men adored. It was separated from the priests' Court by a low marble railing, beyond which was the priests' Court, in the middle of which rose the great sacrificial altar. To the west was the Holies. Within the "Gold House" was the Holy of Holies. Each of these spaces and Courts was higher than the outside spaces we have described, and were approached by magnificent stone staircases.
The divisions of the synagogue were three—the porch, nave, and sanctuary Church buildings, having been copied after the synagogue, have always these three divisions—the porch represents the infidels, the nave, the Christians, and the sanctuary heaven, copied after the Holies of the Temple or the sanctuary of the Cenacle. Let us see the synagogue in detail.
In the synagogue porch were money-boxes like the money-chests of the Temple—the latter being called the Corban. In one they put money for the expenses of the synagogue, in another offerings for the poor of the congregation, in another alms for the poor of Jerusalem, and in others gifts for local charities, of which St Paul writes. 29 Whence rose the custom of having poor-boxes in our churches. On the walls were posted notices of feasts, fasts, and the names of those under Kareth, "cut off," excommunicated, and the names of the dead for which their friends asked prayers. Near by was a box in which were kept the musical instruments used by the choir.
On the right door-post hung a little box, the Mezuzeh, having a parchment with a prayer written on it, which they said while entering. It reminded them of the blood of the paschal lamb on the doorposts when their fathers left Egypt. On the left of the staircase leading up to the Temple Holies was a great bronze "sea" in which priests bathed before entering on their ministry. 30 This and the box gave rise to the holy water fonts in the porch of our churches, and to the custom of taking the holy water and praying when entering, to remind Christians of baptism through which they enter the Church.
The synagogue nave has galleries on three sides, the side opposite the door being occupied by the sanctuary. A synagogue of our day is so like a Catholic church, that hardly a change, except to place an altar in it, would be required to turn it into a church. Thus church and synagogue buildings have not changed for twenty centuries.
In the days of Christ, all synagogues did not have these galleries, the nave was divided into equal divisions, men occupying the part to your right, women the other, a partition about six feet high running down the middle. A still stricter separation of the sexes now prevails among


Oriental and orthodox Jews, the galleries being screened off by lattice work. Orientals looked on women as being deeper defiled by Eve's sin,—this especially prevails among Moslems. The Jew of our day prays: "O Lord, I thank thee that thou didst not make me a woman," and the woman says: "O Lord, I thank thee that thou didst make me as I am." 31
They planned the synagogue so the sanctuary would face towards Jerusalem; in the latter city it faced the Temple, the direction being called in Hebrew Kedem, "The Front." The sanctuary of the Cenacle faced the east, from that rose the ancient custom of facing the sanctuary of our churches towards the east.
In the time of Christ the sanctuary was named by the Grecian Jews the Bema, while the Roman Hebrews called it the rostrum "stage" 32 as of theaters and public buildings. Only men could occupy the sanctuary during divine services; and women were never allowed to take part during public worship. 33 Whence St. Paul says: "Let women keep silent in the churches .... For it is a shame for a woman to speak in the church." 34 As a sign of subjection, they always wore a head covering when praying. "Doth it become a woman to pray to God uncovered?" says St. Paul; 35 whence women even in our day never uncover their heads during church or synagogue services.
At your right, but within the sanctuary, was a rostrum or pulpit called the darshan, from which the preacher delivered the midrash "sermon," on the part of the Law or Prophets read. From this came the custom of preaching on the Epistle or Gospel, and the pulpit in our churches. As the men read the lessons from the Bible one stood by, called the meturgeman, 36 and translated the words into the language of the people, who in the days of Christ did not understand the ancient Hebrew.

1 Jerusalem Talmud, Megilla, iii. 73; Edersheim, Life of Christ, i. 119, 432.

2 Deut. xvi. 5, 6, etc.

3 See Geikie, Life of Christ, I.. 81, 174 to 187; II., C14.

See Edersheim, Life of Christ, I. 19 to 30, 433 to 456.

5 Exod. xxxii. 19.

6 Luke xvlii. 12.

7 Mark i. 21, iii. 9.. vi. 2; Luke iv, 16. xiii. 10; Acts xiii. 14, xv. 21, xvi. 18, xvii. 2. xviii. 4. etc.

8 Isaias xliv. 26,28,45; Daniel x.

St. Augustine, Enar. in Psal. Ixxvi. n 11.

10 St. Augustine Enar. in Psal, xliv. n. xii,

11 Exod. xxxiv. 31.

12 ii. 18.

13 Repub. 526.

14 Prov. v. 14. See S. Augustine, Ques. in Evang. 1. ii. viii.; Enar. in Psalm Ixxxiv; in Psalm Ixxiii., 1; Enar. in Psalm Ixxx. 11; Enar. in Psalm Ixxxii. 1.

15 Matt. x. 17.

16 Matt, xxiii. 34; Mark xiii. 9.; Luke xii. 11, xxii. 11.

17 Epist. ad Trall, c. 5.

18 Stroma, VI. 633.

19 Gen. xxv. 27.

20 Judg. v. 9; Isaias i. 13, etc.

21 See Migne, Cursus Comp. S. Scripturæ, iii. 1233, etc.

22 Ezech. viii. 1, xiv. 1, xx. 1, xxxiii. 31.

23 Ezech. ii. 14 to end.

24 I. Esdras viii. 15; II. Esdras viii. 2, ix. 1; Zach. vii. 5.

25 Acts xv. 21,

26 I. Mach, iii, 46.

27 Luke vii. 5.

28 Babyl. Talmud, Megalla, Chap, iv., Gemara, p. 77.

29 I. Cor. 16, etc.

30 See Edersheim Life of Christ, i. 278, etc.

31 Jewish Prayer Book.

32 In St. Chrysostom's Liturgy the sanctuary is called the Bema.

33 See Migne, Cursus Coinp. S. Scrpturæ, iii. 1432, etc.

34 I. Cor. xiv. 34.

35 I. Cor. xi. 13.

36 Edersheim, Life of Christ, i. 10, 11, 436, 444, 445.