We shall content ourselves with giving a few examples. Christian initiation.
Justin and Hippolytus. After the rites of the catechumenate signation, exorcisms, renunciation of Satan, and profession of faith , everyone goes into the baptistry. There, in all the rites except the Byzantine, readings are given before the priest blesses the water. The pericopes are taken especially from the teaching of St.
Paul on baptism Rom. The Byzantines content themselves with two Eph. The Copts have a double series for Sunday and for weekdays. And the Armenians have no less than seventeen readings, the mere naming of which although certain pericopes are repeated could furnish the outlines of a solid Biblical theology of marriage. Here is the list:. For the espousals: Prov.
For the crowning the marriage properly so called : Gen. The Anointing of the Sick. With the Syrians it lasts about two hours. In all the rites, the participation of several priests is required if possible, according to the text of St.
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James: "Is anyone sick among you? Let him call in the priests of the Church" James In the Byzantine rite the Office of the Holy Oil is entrusted to seven priests, each of whom gives an anointing. And each of these is accompanied by two readings, an Epistle and a Gospel. Here again the choice is interesting as giving a Biblical light on the theology of the anointing of the sick. Our own ritual of the visiting of the sick, which is so beautiful and so little used, would be still further enriched if all these texts were included, bringing their message of hope and peace.
Everyone knows, of course, that in all the rites the Bible furnishes the very texture of the Divine Office with its psalmody, the singing of the canticles of the Old and New Testaments, and the continuous reading of the holy Books. We shall, therefore, make only two observations here on the subject of the relationship between the Bible and the Office. The Roman Office is typically monastic. This is why, following the ordinance of the Rule of St.
Benedict, all the readings of any length are included in the Office for the end of the night, in the nocturns of the vigil. By contrast, the Oriental Office, retaining a far more clearly marked popular structure, gives its Scripture readings at the Hours in which the people are invited to participate: Lauds in the morning; Vespers in the evening; and on the vigils of the great feasts, vigils which are days of fasting and more intense prayer, there are readings at the Hours of Prime, Terce, Sext and None, which are called on these days the "Great Hours.
Thus the Spanish Breviary indicates four readings for Terce and None, and one reading for Sext on each of the three days of the fast preceding Epiphany. Let us take, for example, the feast of Epiphany itself. In the Byzantine rite, the holy theophanies of our Lord are preceded by a vigil with obligatory fasting.
Each of the Great Hours of the day has three readings Prophecy, New Testament, Gospel ; then in the evening come the Vespers of the feast. This includes, together with the usual psalmody and the "lucernarium," fifteen readings thirteen from the Old Testament, followed by St. Paul and the Gospel and is completed by the solemn celebration of the Liturgy of St. The Liturgy itself is followed by the blessing of the water, which includes five readings.
Although the Milanese liturgy does not display such profusion, somewhat overwhelming for Latins, it does possess for the evening of January 5 a Vesper Office of similar structure: the Office of the "lucernarium" followed by four readings with their responsorial psalms, and by the Mass of the vigil, after which the psalmody of Vespers is continued. We might note that, although the Church always gives a large place in the Divine Office to the reading of the Bible, the place for this reading is not the same in all rites, and it is not self-evident that the one accorded to it in the Roman rite is the best.
We could quite well conceive of its insertion at the end of the psalmody of Vespers; here it would afford the best form of evening prayer for the Christian community and could serve as the prelude to evening Mass. Unfortunately, the Roman rite has chosen a facile solution to the question of prayers in the Office, ending all the Hours except Prime and Compline with the Collect of the Mass. We are far from the wealth of the Milanese Office, which introduces up to five proper prayers into the psalmody of Vespers and has for each of the Hours of the day a prayer asking for the special grace connected with that Hour: " Our Office, however, had an earlier state in which flowered a prayer made up entirely of psalmody and the Biblical background of the Hour being celebrated.
We have two important witnesses to this. First, the Psalter Collects. In accordance with the tradition of the Egyptian monks, which was accepted from the fourth century on into the practice of the Churches of the West, after each psalm came a brief pause for prayer the Gloria Patri was born of this custom.
Then at the end of this silent prayer the president of the assembly gathered the whole Christian substance of the psalm that had just been heard and made it into a Collect. We still possess three series of these psalm-prayers, which have an incomparable value in giving a Christian understanding of the Psalter. For example, consider the prayer in the Roman series concluding Psalm , "Laudate pueri": "Laudantes benedictum nomen tuum omnipotens Deus, rogamus ut nos in sinum matris ecclesiae collocatos, caritatis tuae facias stabilitate connecti.
Through Christ With the psalm-prayers of the sixth century, we might also recall the morning and evening prayers of the sacramentaries which may date from the same period. These are the prayers with which the president of the assembly concluded the morning and evening gatherings of the faithful. Such, for example, after those of the Leonine Sacramentary, are the orationes ad Matutinas 3, 94 , the orationes ad Vesperum 3, 85 , and the twenty-five orationes paschales vespertinales 1, 56 of the Gelasian Sacramentary.
All are filled with echoes of the Bible: "Efface, we pray Thee, O Lord, the notice of our guilt inscribed by the law of sin, which Thou hast made void for us in the paschal mystery by the resurrection of Thy Son The Gregorian Sacramentary also has an analogous series of orationes matutinales, orationes vespertinales, and orationes cotidianae, which have disappeared in its successors of the ninth and tenth centuries.
The abandonment of these prayers at the time when the first abridgments of the Office, the first "Breviaries," were being developed has meant an impoverishment of the Roman liturgy. Here again, may we express the desire that these documents, born of the piety of the contemporaries of St. Benedict, of St.
Caesarius of Arles, or of St. Isidore of Seville, may emerge from the domain of specialists and once more be used to enrich the official prayer of the Church. We have now carried out an investigation of the liturgical books of the East and West, sufficiently extensive in both time and space: quod semper, quod ubique. And this has served amply to justify our initial statement: the formularies of the Catholic liturgy are taken from Biblical texts.
It remains now to show, more briefly, how this sacred text, gathered from the Bible in the liturgical formularies, is welcomed as a living Word in the very act of celebration. The liturgical celebration manifests the mystery of the Word of God and gives it its highest degree of effectiveness. The mystery of the Word is essentially that of a living presence: the Word of God received in the Bible is not presented to us as a document taken from the archives, as would be, for instance, the testament of Richelieu or the record of the trial of St. Joan, but as a Word transmitted to us here and now by the messenger of the living God.
And it is precisely in the liturgical proclamation of the Word of God that this twofold actualization takes place, of the messenger and of the message. God speaks to me here and now through His messenger. This living messenger is, above all, the Apostle. In the oldest description that we possess of the liturgical assembly, that of St. Justin about the year , the author says that "the recollections of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read," thus giving the first place to the apostolic message.
In the course of it, brief periods of silence are also appropriate, accommodated to the assembled congregation; by means of these, under the action of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God may be grasped by the heart and a response through prayer may be prepared. The Manner of Pronouncing the Different Texts Drawing on historical case studies and focusing particularly on the early centuries of Christian worship, this book ultimately aims at the present by lifting a veil on liturgy's past to allow for a richly diverse notion of gender differences as these continue to shape liturgical life. In other places set aside for sacred celebrations, the altar may be movable. The Liturgy itself teaches the great reverence that is to be shown to this reading by setting it off from the other readings with special marks of honor, by the fact of which minister is appointed to proclaim it and by the blessing or prayer with which he prepares himself; and also by the fact that through their acclamations the faithful acknowledge and confess that Christ is present and is speaking to them and stand as they listen to the reading; and by the mere fact of the marks of reverence that are given to the Book of the Gospels. Gives complete text of all the psalms and readings for Liturgy of the Hours for each day with provision for the time zone you are in.
When we examined the organization of the readings in the different rites, we were able to establish the fact of the universality of the Gospel reading and also of the exceptional place given to the reading of the New Testament, especially of St. When the Old Testament is included in the readings, it is not read for itself or as one more sacred text; it has its place in virtue of its prophetic character and the light shed on it by the New Testament.
In the non-Roman liturgies, the Old Testament readings are nearly always explicitly commented on by the apostolic reading that follows. And all this leads us to take cognizance of the living presence of the apostle in the midst of the Christian community. This living presence of the apostle in the midst of the assembled community gives an increased importance to the appeal to their intercession: "May the prayer of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John be a wall of defense to our souls," sings the choir in the Chaldean liturgy; after the reading of the "Catholicon," the Copts have the following prayer "O Lord our God who has revealed to us by Thy holy apostles the mystery of Thy Gospel, which is the glory of Thy Christ, and who has entrusted to them, according to the infinite riches of Thy grace, the work of preaching to all nations the incomprehensible treasures of Thy mercy: we pray Thee, make us worthy to share in their lot and in their inheritance.
Grant that we may always walk in their footsteps, imitate their struggles, and share in the tribulations that they underwent for the cause of justice. The living presence of the apostle--but, above all, through his mediation, the living presence of Him who sent the apostle, Christ Himself To realize this we need only consider the honors paid to the Gospel. In the Roman Rite. In the entrance procession of a pontifical Mass, the book of the Gospels is carried by the subdeacon; then the bishop places it on the altar, after he has kissed the altar itself.
The procession to the ambo has great majesty in the description given in the Ordo of the seventh century: two acolytes carry torches and three subdeacons in charge of the incensorium walk ahead of the deacon who has kissed the book before taking it from the altar. All, of course are standing, while the choir sings the Alleluia and a psalm verse taken from the royal psalms. Here we have, in fact, a theophany, an appearance of Christ the King, the Son of God, of one substance with the Father, in the midst of the assembly.
The honors paid to Him are those that were rendered to the imperial majesty. Catholic faith has always thus treated the book of the Gospels as the equivalent of the living Person of the Lord. This is the reason why, from the Council of Ephesus to that of the Vatican the book of Gospels has presided over the council meetings. Cyril of Alexandria gives witness to this: "The holy Synod assembled together in the church gave Christ, as it were, membership in and the presidency of the Council.
For the venerable Gospel was placed upon a holy throne. When the deacon has placed the book of Gospels on the desk of the ambo, the announcement that he makes of God's Word is hailed, not only by the clergy present, but by all the people: "Gloria tibi, Domine! In the Oriental Rites. These yield nothing to the Roman liturgy in the homage they give to the Gospel. In his day, St. Jerome admired the practice, in all the Eastern Churches, of lighting candles at the reading of the Gospel, even though the sun had already risen.
The Syrian rite of Antioch is content to have a procession with the book around the altar, an obvious vestige of the ancient entrance procession. The procession to the ambo--or, at least, the presentation of the Gospel when it is sung directly on the threshold of the sanctuary- -is, in all the rites, similar to that of the Roman: lights, incense, singing of the Alleluia. In the majority of the rites Coptic, Eastern and Western Syrian, Armenian the singing of the Gospel is reserved to the celebrant priest or bishop.
The role of the deacon is to invite the people to welcome the Word of the Lord: "Silence! It is God who speaks, and it is today that He speaks to His people gathered together in response to His call.