Thursday, 26 February 2015

How Christ said the first mass, By Rev. James L. Meagher, D.D. Part 30.


During this reading, all except the reader sat, and that is the reason that in the church to-day, all sit during the reading of the Epistle at Mass.
As the Scriptures were in the ancient Hebrew, which the people did not understand, one stood by the reader and translated the sentences into the language of the people, into Syro-Chaldaic in Palestine, or into the Babylonian, Greek, Latin, etc., according to the place where the synagogue was. 1 The reader, or Maphtir, covered his head with the prayer-shawl, called the tallith, to which St. Paul alludes. 2 As the Jews considered themselves a nation of priests, anyone could rise in the synagogue and read the Scriptures. 3
After reading the portion of the "Books of Moses" relating to the feast, they read a part of the prophecies. Generally they stood while the prophecies were read, and that gave rise to the custom of standing during the Gospel in our churches. After this they sat while the reader, Rabbi, or one of the congregation preached the sermon from the pulpit. The parts were marked so that the whole Torah, or Pentateuch was read in the course of three years. Later, but before Christ, it was arranged so that they read the whole Torah in one year. That gave rise in the early Church of reading a part of each of the Books of the Bible during the year.
In Scripture and Jewish writings, the word Sabbath, "rest," means not only Saturday, the Jewish day of worship, but any solemnity, festival, or feast. 4
During Sabbath feasts, and Passover, the latter being the highest holiday, all work stopped, they could even walk only half a mile. They worshiped God with solemn synagogue and Temple worship at Passover. The Talmud Tract, 5 under thirty-nine heads, cites things forbidden on Sabbath. Three chief things were done on the Sabbath and feast—trumpets sounded, tables were prepared, lamps and candles lighted, synagogue services held, and Law and Prophets read. But the preparations and services of Passover were most elaborate.


The Laws of Moses were first read in what the Greeks called Parasca "section," and its appendix, the prophecy, was also sung, as we read first the Epistle, and then the Gospel. The regular prayers were said, and two added for the Passover, the last being a prayer for the king whom they served. 6 St. Paul, asking Christians to pray for and obey their princes 7 followed the synagogue and Temple, where day by day sacrifices were offered for the Roman emperor. After these services they sat or reclined at the table to eat. 8 Some writers claim the custom of reading sections of the Scripture came from Moses, others from Esdras, but the council of Jerusalem defines in these words: "From the most ancient times, Moses had in each city men, who preached the Scripture in the synagogues where every Sabbath it was read." 9
In Babylonia, at the time of Christ, they read the whole Law or Pentateuch once a year. This is still the practice of modern Jews, but in Judea they read the whole of Moses' Books in three years. They were divided into sections 10 not marked in scrolls, but each part was fixed by custom. As the reader read the Hebrew, one stood by with a pointer so the reader might not miss a word. Ordinary Sabbaths six men of the congregation were called up, and on feasts seven men, each reading a portion. Then two other men, called by the Hassan, read two lessons of the Prophets. This gave rise to the nine lessons of Holy Week, and of the Breviary. Holy Week services have remained almost unchanged since the beginning of the Church. In the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem, these lessons are read facing the door of the tomb, and the prophecies are striking when heard in the very place where they take place. People from all nations of the earth fill the ancient building St. Helena erected A. D. 312.
The Talmud tells us how they were read in Christ's day. "When the Sabbath of Shekalim (the time for collecting the half-shekel at Passover) falls due, the portion proper to this Sabbath is Thetzaveh. Six persons should read from verse 20 of xxvii. to verse 11 of xxx., and one from 11 of xxx. to verse 17." Said Abbyi: The people will think the portion is too long, and will not notice that they read the portion Shekalim, and therefore he says six should read from 20 in xxvii., to 17 in xxx., Thetzaveh, and then should come another and repeat from 11 in xxx. to 17. When the first of Adar falls on the eve of Sabbath, said Rahb, the portion Shekalim should be read on the preceding Sabbath, because the tables of money-changers are set up two weeks after the reading, etc. These were the money-changers Christ drove from the Temple. The Temple priests derived a discount of $45,000 from the traffic.


"Three men are called 11 to read the Holy Scrolls on Mondays and Thursdays, and on the afternoon of the Sabbath, neither more nor less than that number may be called, nor shall any section from the Prophets be then read. He who commences the reading of the Holy Scrolls shall pronounce the first benediction before reading it, and he who concludes the reading shall pronounce the last benediction after reading it. On all days when an additional offering is prescribed, which are not nevertheless festivals, four men are called, five on festivals, six on the Day of Atonement and seven on the Sabbath."
The synagogue service on the afternoon was mostly formed of Psalms, and this gave rise to our Vesper service, when the Gospel is not read. "It is not so with the reading of the Torah (the Law), which can be read only when the congregation sits.
"The scrolls of the Pentateuch one should read, and the other should interpret, but not one read and two translate, but the Prophets one should read and two interpret. One must not read less than ten verses in the house of prayer. To what do these ten correspond? To the ten unemployed men in the synagogue. The beginner shall pronounce the benediction before the reading, and the last reader after."
They kissed the sacred words of the Scrolls before and after reading. In our time they rub the corner of the prayer-shawl worn on their shoulders on the text and kiss that. The Jewish rite of kissing the Scrolls of the law we see when the celebrant of the Mass kisses the beginning of the Gospel after reading it, and pronounces the blessing over the kneeling deacon. This rite comes from the Jewish benediction before reading the law. 12
The Temple service was more elaborate than that of the synagogue. Twelve priests served the high priest, six on either side, and the Segan at his right as assistant priest. "The six men who read on the Day of Atonement, to whom do they correspond? He said, 'To the six who stood on the right and the six on the left of Esdras as is written. 13 The names of the six men who stood on the right and of the six that stood on the left.' "


The Mass, having come from the Passover or Last Supper only indirectly from the Temple,follows the former in the number of its ministers and ceremonies. Whence the bishop, the high priest of the Church, is served not by twelve priests as the pontiff in the Temple, that by seven ministers as the Rabbi was served in the synagogue. ''The Torah was read by seven men." We find repeated in many places of the Tract Megilla of the Talmud:
"Not less than three verses of the Holy Scrolls may be read in the synagogue by each person. One verse only of the Law may at one time be read to the interpreter. From the Prophets however may be read three also, but if each verse form a separate section, each must be read separately. Passages may be skipped in the reading of the Prophets, but not in that of the Holy Scrolls. Two weeks before the Passover it shall be lectured about the Passover. On the first day of Passover, the portion in Leviticus relating to the festival must be read. 14 On Passover should be read the portions referring to the festival, and the portions from the Prophets should be from Josue v. 9, about Gilgal (Galgal in our version), etc., and at present in exile, when we keep two days as festivals, the first day should be about Gilgal, the second day, from IV. Kings, xxiii, about Josias, and the last day of Passover should be selected small portions, in which it is spoken about Passover."
At all Jewish feasts parts of the Bible relating to the feasts were read in the Temple and synagogues, and from this was derived the custom of reading in the church portions of the Bible relating to the feasts.


"One shall open the Holy Scrolls and look on them, pronounce the benediction, then read. He who rolls together the Holy Scrolls, shall do it so that the sewn rolls should be in the middle, that it be done easily. They may be rolled together only from the outside, so that the letters should not be seen outside."
Then follow details of rolling and holding the scrolls. Books were first written on long scrolls rolled up, whence perhaps our word volume, "rolled." During the synagogue services the Rabbi and ministers always stood, as the celebrant and his ministers stand while carrying out Church functions. In Temple or synagogue the people prostrated themselves thirteen times on the floor at the name of Jehovah and during the most solemn parts of the services. We see the remains of this at the end of the Gospel, when the standing congregation bend the knee. The celebrant reads the Epistle and Gospel before they are sung. This was also the way in the early Church. St. Augustine tells us that "While Lazarus the deacon read the Acts relating to the coming of the Holy Ghost and gave the book to the bishop, Augustine, the bishop said, 'I wish to read, for the reading of these words gives me more pleasure than to preach.' " 15
When did they begin to read the Prophets? When the Greek king Antiochus forbade all sacrifices and public and private reading of Scripture under pain of death, the Jews divided the prophetic books into sections and began to read them in the synagogues. 16 The Machabees restored and endowed the synagogue worship with greater splendors. The Acts says ''After the reading of the Law and the prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them Paul and Barnabas, asking them to preach to the people." 17 Christ himself read the prophet Isaias in the synagogue of Nazareth. 18
It was the text of the prophet 19 relating to him that he read that day, towards the end of August. Christ read the Nitzauim "Section" of that day. But the Jews, seeing him foretold in it, later changed it for another section which they read in our time on that day lest the people might see the Redeemer it foretold. Reading the Law and the Prophets in the church therefore comes down to us from the Jewish Church which from early times followed the synagogue custom. 20


How did it happen that Christ was called up that day to read Isaias's words relating to himself? Any man in the congregation might be called up to read if he were over thirty years of age. After his fast of forty days on the Lenten mountain, Christ, in his thirtieth year began his public ministry. "And he came to Nazareth where he was brought up, and he went into the synagogue according to his custom on the Sabbath day, and he rose up to read. And the book of Isaias the prophet was delivered to him. And as he unfolded the book, he found the place where it was written:
" 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, wherefore he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he hath sent me to heal the contrite of heart, to preach deliverance to the captives, and sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of reward. 21 And when he had folded the book, he restored it to the minister and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him." 22
As one of the men read the Scrolls in the original Hebrew which the Am-ha-Arets, "Country people" did not understand, one stood by and translated it into the Syro-Chaldaic they spoke. Then the preacher addressed them on the text. The man's name who translated the text of Isaias for Christ that day is not given. But Jesus then preached to the people in the synagogue his first sermon. "And they wondered at the words of grace that proceeded from his mouth, and they said. Is not this the son of Joseph." 23
If a Jew could not be present at the synagogue services because of sickness, etc., he clothed himself with the taleth, "prayer shawl," place his phylacteries on brow and left arm, stood by his bed, in a quiet corner of his house or in his place of business, and recited the prayers while they were being held morning, noon and afternoon in synagogue or Temple.


This the Rabbis called "Stirring up in them the kingdom of God" or "of heaven." 24 These services recalled to them the long-looked for kingdom of the Messiah, the Prince of David was to establish for them over all the earth. From these customs came down to us morning and evening prayers.
During Temple and synagogue services the priests praying stretched out their hands, following the example of Moses praying for victory over the enemies of Israel when Aaron and Hur upheld his arms. 25 But during these prayers they were forbidden to hold their hands higher than the Phylacteries on their brows. 26 "Why," say the Talmud,"is it then the custom at present for the priests to raise their hands in the afternoon prayer of the fast day? Because the afternoon prayer is said very near sunset, it is regarded the same as the closing prayer." 27
Isaias in his prophetic description of the Last Supper 28 foretold the Lord during the first Mass on Sion, as we will later explain. He continues, "As he shall spread forth his hands in the midst of them, as he that swimmeth spreadeth forth his hand to swim," etc.
Following Temple, synagogue, and Last Supper, at the Mass the celebrant still stretches forth his hands, with his body forming a cross. For the Jewish ceremony related to the Crucified who stretched forth his hands on the cross when he would redeem our race. And the celebrant who now offers the Mass as a memorial of the crucifixion still stretches forth his hands during the prayers. As he cannot hold his hands out all the time in the form of a cross he holds them near his body.
At every Mass we pray for the repose of the souls of the dead. Did Christ pray for the dead at the Last Supper? We find no record, but it was the custom of the Temple and synagogue in his day.


Prayers for the repose of the souls of the dead are found in the earliest records of the Temple and synagogue. Even Mohammed prayed for the dead as all Mohammedan sects still do. The writer was shown an ornamental table on which, each Friday, the Khedive of Egypt places the Koran and beside it kneels to pray for the repose of the souls of his two daughters, where their bodies rest within the mosque rising at your left as you go up to the citadel of Cairo. The Jews of New York called the attention of the writer at different times to the solemn prayers for the dead during the synagogue services. Their belief regarding purgatory, souls detained there and helped by fasting and prayer of their friends on earth, is the same as that of the Church.
Let us give the words of a learned Protestant writer, who investigated the question. 29 "Whatever account may be given of it, it is certain, that Prayers for the Dead appear in the Church's worship, as soon as we have any trace after the immediate records of the apostolic age. It has been described by a writer, whom no one can suspect of Romish tendencies as "an immemorial practice." Though "Scripture is silent, yet antiquity plainly speaks." The prayers "have found a place in every early liturgy of the world." 30 How indeed, we ask, could it have been otherwise? The strong feeling shown in the time of the Machabees, that it was "a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead," 31 was sure, under the influence of the dominant Pharisaic Scribes, to show itself in the devotions of the synagogue. So far as we trace back these devotions, we may say that there also the practice is "immemorial," as old at least as the traditions of the Rabbinic fathers. 32 There is a probability, indefinitely great, that prayers for the departed, the Kiddish of later Judaism, were familiar to the synagogues of Palestine, and other countries, that the early Christian believers were not startled by them as an innovation, that they passed uncondemned by our Lord himself. The writer already quoted sees a probable reference to them in II Tim. i. 18. St. Paul, remembering Onesiphorus, as one whose "house" had been bereaved of him, prays that he may find mercy of the Lord "in that day." Prayers for the dead can hardly therefore be looked on as anti-Scriptural. 33


In all Apostolic Liturgies, in every one of the Oriental Kites, we find prayer for the dead, offerings for prayers, stipends given by the laity for Masses for the repose of the souls of the departed. Along the walls of the Catacombs, on tombstones, on monuments of the apostolic age, on walls of church buildings now made into mosques, in Constantinople, etc., the writer has seen "Let them rest in peace," "Pray for the repose of the soul of such a one" etc. These inscriptions are in Greek, Latin and other ancient languages. The Jewish Prayer Book, used all over the world, copying Temple and synagogue services, has prayers for the repose of their dead relatives and friends, no synagogue service is complete without the Kaddish, called "Prayers for the Dead." The abuses of offerings for Masses for the dead, and of indulgences, rife before the Reformation, induced the reformers to go too far, and abolish these prayers and doctrine relating to purgatory.
The Jews of our day believe that their dead go to a place like purgatory, where they remain for a time and are aided by their friends' prayers. Children pray for their parents on the day of death, on the third, seventh, thirtieth day, and on the anniversary of their death. These customs coming down from the Temple and synagogue services gave rise to the burial of the dead on the third day, the "Month's Mind," the anniversary and Masses for the departed. 34
The Jews observed peculiar burial custom, the third, seventh and thirtieth days being held as special mourning days, but when these days fell on feasts they had special regulations. 35 Cohabitation, wearing shoes, etc., were forbidden these days. 36 Only near relatives rent their garments and ate "the mourning meal." 37 "When a coffin is being removed from one place to another, those present must stand in a row and pronounce the mourning benediction and the words of consolation." 38 A learned scholar, or a Rabbi, pronounced the funeral oration sometimes in verse. 39 The "mourning women" wailed these days but did not clap their hands. 40


In the time of Christ the Jews prayed 41 for the repose of the souls of the dead. Jews of our day do not continue praying for them for a whole year, lest it might imply that they remained for a year in purgatory. 42 The Jewish Prayer Book used today in the synagogue, 43 in the prayer for the dead has the following words.
"May God remember the soul of my revered father, (mother) who has gone to his (her) repose. May his (her) soul be bound up in the bond of life. May his (her) rest be glorious with the fulness of joy in thy presence, and pleasures for evermore, at thy right hand. Father of mercy, in whose hand are the souls of the living and the dead, may thy consolation cheer us, as we remember (on this holy day) our beloved and honored kinsfolk, who have gone to their rest. . . And may their souls repose in the land of the living, beholding thy glory and delighting in thy goodness," etc.
They followed the example of their fathers, who offered sacrifices in the Temple for the repose of the dead, as the Machabees did. "For it is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins." 44
The Rabbis of the time of Christ made a distinction between the Onen, "The suffering," and the Avel, "The mourner." The first applied to the day of the funeral, and the seven following days, the latter to the month following the funeral, the prayers for the dead were said in the synagogue, or elsewhere. A strict rule was laid down for the High Priest. 45 It was customary to say "May we be thy expiation," or, "Let us suffer what ought to have fallen thee," to which he replied "Be ye blessed forever," or "Be ye blessed of heaven." At the "wake," the friends partook of a "mourning meal," at which no more than ten cups of wine should be drunk. 46 The Mergillath Taanith, "Roll of Feasts," gives the day on which mourning was forbidden.
They also prayed to the Saints in heaven in the following words "May they in heaven show forth our merit for a peaceable preservation, and may we receive a blessing from the Lord and justice from the God of our salvation, and good understanding in the sight of man."

1 Acts xv. 21: Luke iv. 16.

2 Rom. iv. 7.

3 Luke iv. 16: Acts xiii. 15.

4 Zanolini, Disp. de Fest. Jud├Žorum, Cap. Prim.

5 The Sabbath, Cap. vii., Sec. 2.

6 Zanolini, Cap. I.

7 Titus, 3-1.

8 Zanolini, Ibidem. See his Note regarding the three sections of the session at the table.

9 Syn. Jerusalem, C. 15, V. 21

10 See Geikie, Life of Christ, ii, 584.

11 Balyl Talmud, Megilla, 57-89.

12 See Babylonian Talmud, Taanith, cap. ii. 41, 75. etc.. where the order of benedictions is given.

13 II. Esdras, viii, 4.

14 Levit. xxiii. 5-22.

15 S. Augustine, Sermo ccclvi. de Vita Cler.

16 Zanolini, Opere citato; i. Mach. I. 52.

17 Acts xlii. 15.

18 Luke iv. 16.

19 Isaias Ixi. i. etc.

20 (See Apostolic Constitut. Book 8, Clementine Recognitions, etc. For the synagogue worship, see Migne, ii. 1346-1368: Babyl. Talmud, Magilla, Whole Tract.

21 Isaias Ixi. 1, etc.

22 Luke iv. 16--20.

23 Luke iv. 22.

24 Matt. vi. 5.

25 Exod. xvii. 12; Edersheim, Temple, 141.

26 Levit. ix. 22.

 27 Tract Taanith, "Fasting," of the Babyl. Talmud, 81.

28 Isaias xxv, 6 to end of chapter.

29 Rev. E. H. Plumptre, M. A., Prof, of Divinity in King's College, London, in Smiths Dic. of Bible, Vol. iv. p, 3187.

30 Ellicott. Destiny of the Creature, Ser. vi.

31 II. Mac. xii. 43 to 46.

32 Buxtori. De Synagog. p. 709, 710; McCauL, Old Paths, C. 38.

33 Quoted from Smith's Dic. of Bible, Art, Synagogue.

34 See Sketches of Jewish Life, 173; Geikie, Life of Christ, ii. 605. See whole Tract Ebel Rabbath, "Great Mourning," in Babyl. Talmud.

35 Tract Moed Katan, "Minor Festivals.'' Mishna p. 36.

36 Ibid. 39.

37 Ibid. 40.

38 Ibid. 41.

39 Ibid, 42, 43.

 40 Ibid. 45.

41 See Smith's Dic. of Bible, art. Synagogue Worship, n. 4.

42 Edersheim, Sketches of Jewish Life, p. 174,180.

43 Daily Prayer Book, p. 326.

44 II. Mach. xii. 46.

45 Levit. xxi. 10-12.

46 Ter, Ber, iii. 1,