CHAPTER THE TENTH.
THE GOSPEL AND THE
THE second lesson from the Bible read at
Mass is called the Gospel (the good tidings of God). After the Blessed Eucharist there is nothing the Church venerates
more than the word of God in the Gospel. At High Mass the Gospel has lights and incense in token of the Church’s veneration;
while only the priest or deacon is allowed to read or sing it at Mass.
Before the Gospel the priest bowing
profoundly before the altar, says two prayers the first is called the Munda cor meum and is as follows: Almighty God who didst
with a burning coal purify the lips of the Prophet Isaiah, cleanse also my heart and my lips, and of Thy merciful kindness
vouchsafe to purify me that I may worthily announce Thy holy Gospel, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
This prayer alone shows the great importance
set by the Church on the reading and explanation of the Gospel. The allusion is to the vision told in the sixth chapter of
Isaiah. In a vision the Prophet saw the God of armies and his own unworthiness to preach God’s message, “and one
of the Seraphim flew to me and in his hands was a live coal, which he had taken with the tongs off the altar. And he touched
my mouth and said, Behold this hath touched thy lips, and thy iniquities shall be taken away, and thy sin shall be cleansed."
Then only did the Prophet gain courage to give God’s message. The fire is the figure of the grace of the Holy Spirit
which consumes all imperfections, and cleanses the heart to preach the Gospel.
The second prayer is as follows: May the
Lord be in my heart and on my lips that I may worthily and in a becoming manner (this refers to the leading or explanation)
announce His Gospel.
After saying this prayer in secret the
priest moves to the right side of the altar, and in a loud voice addresses his salutation to the people, The Lord be with
you, the server answers and with thy spirit, which means here a mutual desire of priest and people to announce and receive
the Gospel in fitting dis positions.
The priest then says, according to the
passage that he is going to read, either the beginning of the Gospel according to St. Matthew (or another Evangelist) or a
continuation of the Gospel.
The words of the Church indicate that there
are not four Gospels, but one Gospel written by four Evangelists from different points of view. The server answers
Glory be to Thee, O Lord, because the good news of the Gospel teaches us to honour and praise God.
The priest makes the sign of the Cross
on the Missal, not to bless it, but to signify “This is the book of the Crucified." The Gospel is the word of the Cross.
The priest next makes the sign of the Cross on his forehead, lips, and heart, to remind us that we ought to carry the doctrine
of a crucified Redeemer in our mind, on our lips, and in our heart.
The Church’s Rubrics observed in
the reading of the Gospel show her esteem for the Sacred Word.
(1) The Gospel is read at the
right or more honour able side of the altar. Right and left on the altar are indicated by the arms of the cross over the tabernacle.
Consequently the Gospel is the right, the Epistle the left of the altar.
(2) The congregation stand as a mark of
respect and reverence.
(3) At High Mass two acolytes with lighted candles and the thurifer with incense accompany the deacon as he chants the Gospel. The lighted
candles signify the light of faith, the perfume of incense the good odour of Christ, while the consuming of the incense itself
by fire is suit able to the idea of destruction involved in the Sacrifice.
(4) The kiss given by the celebrant to
the sacred volume is a token of homage to and affection for our Lord’s teaching. The words said while he kisses the
Missal, after the first Gospel, May our sins be blotted out by the words of the Gospel, are the Church’s petition for
the pardon of sin, through those acts of sorrow and love which the words of the Gospel above all other words excite in the
After the Gospel on Sundays follows
usually the sermon or explanation of the Gospel.
The Gospel, then, closes the first
of the two great divisions of Mass. The Mass to the end
of the Gospel and sermon was called in the early ages of the Church the Missa Catechumenormn the Mass of the Catechumens
from the Offertory to the Ite Missa est, Missa fidelium the Mass of the faithful.
The catechumens, or those under instruction
for the Church, were dismissed after the Gospel. The Dis cipline of the Secret lasted for the first five hundred years in
the Church. We have already alluded in the Introductory Chapter to the Discipline of the Secret, or the custom which prevailed
in the early Church of con cealing from heathens and catechumens the more secret and mysterious doctrines of the Catholic
Church, either by not mentioning them at all, or by mentioning them in enigmatical language, intelligible only to those who
were initiated into its meaning. “That it existed even as a rule with respect to the sacraments," says Cardinal Newman,
"seems to be admitted on all hands." In times of persecution the Christians were afraid to speak openly of their doctrines
and worship, from the fear of increasing their own persecution or of having their doctrines misunderstood or laughed at. They
were especially anxious to keep the Blessed Eucharist and Mass secret from heathens and even catechumens.
The Offertory begins the Mass of the Faithful,
or of those who professed the Catholic faith. The Credo is fittingly introduced after the Gospel as a solemn
act of faith in the Gospel and doctrines of Divine revelation. The Credo is a suitable introduction to the
Sacrifice, as it is a confession of faith in our Divine Redeemer, who is both Priest and Victim.
After the Gospel on certain days the Creed
is said or sung. These days are, all Sundays in the year, all feasts of our Lord and the Blessed Virgin, of the Apostles,
and Doctors of the Church, the feasts of All Saints, the Angel Guardians, and practically all Doubles of the First Class.
Apostles and Doctors have the Credo, because
to them in a special way belongs the duty of teaching the truths of faith professed in the Credo. Except the Mother
of God, to St. Mary Magdalene alone among women the Credo is given. St. Theresa and other saintly women may have
the Credo on their feast in a special church, because that feast is a Double of the First Class in that church, or
because it claims the saint as its patron.
The Credo in the Mass is called
in the Church’s language Synibolum Nicaenum Constantinopolitamim. Symbolum means a sign. The Creed
is the sign of the true Faith we profess and to which we belong. In it are gathered together the chief Dogmas of Faith. In
the Constantinopolitan Creed we have clearly defined the Divinity of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Arius denied the Divinity
of the Son, Macedonius the Divinity of the Holy Ghost. At Constantinople in 381 two additions
were made to the old Nicene formula. The clause, of whose kingdom there shall be no end, was added against Marcellus of Ancyra,
who denied that Christ’s reign would continue after the Day of Judgment. Again, after the clause, and in the Holy Ghost,
the words, the Lord and Life-giver who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, who together with the Father and the Son, were
added against the Macedonians who denied the Divinity of the Holy Ghost. The famous addition of the Filioque, who proceedeth
from the Father and the Son, was introduced later by particular churches. About
1015 Rome itself adopted it. This brings the Creed to the
shape we now have it at Mass. The Credo was generally sung in the Roman Mass at the beginning of the eleventh century. In
the Eastern Church the Credo was introduced at the beginning of the sixth.
Credo in unum Deum, Patrem omnipótentem, factórem cæli et terræ,
visibílium ómnium et invisibílium. Et in unum Dóminum Jesum Christum, Fílium Dei unigénitum. Et ex Patre natum ante ómnia sæcula. Deum de Deo,
lumen de lúmine, Deum verum de Deo vero. Génitum, not factum, consubstantiálem Patri: per quem ómnia facta sunt. Qui propter
nos hómines, et propter enture salútem descéndit de cælis. ET INCARNÁTUS EST DE SPÍRITU SANCTO EX MARÍA VÍRGINE: ET HOMO FACTUS
EST. Crucifixus étiam pro nobis; sub Póntio Piláto passus, et sepúltus est. Et resurréxit tértia die, secúndum Scriptúras.
Et ascéndit in cælum: sedet ad déxteram Patris.
Et iterum venturus est cum entur judicare vivos et mortuos. Cujus
regni non erit finis. Et in Spíritum Sanctum, Dóminum et vivificántem: qui ex Patre Fílioque procédit. Qui cum Patre, et Fílio
simul adorátur et conglorificatur: qui locutus est per Prophetas. Et unam, sanctam, cathólicam et apostólicam Ecclésiam. Confíteor
unum baptisma in remissionem peccatorum. Et exspécto resurrectiónem mortuórum. Et vitam ventúri sæculi.
I believe in one God, The Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things
visible and invisible. And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of God. Born of the Father before all ages. God
of God, Light of Light, true God of true God. Begotten, not made, of one substance with the Father. By whom all things were
made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven. (Here all kneel)
And became incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary: AND WAS MADE MAN. (Here
all arise) He was also crucified for us, suffered under Pontius Pilate, and was buried. And on the third day He rose
again according to the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in
glory to judge the living and the dead and His kingdom will have no end. And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life,
Who proceeds from the Father and the Son. Who together with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified, and who spoke
through the prophets. And one holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins and I
await the resurrection of the dead and the life + of the world to come. Amen.
THE NICENE CREED.
I believe; believe does
not mean as often in English a mere expression of opinion said hesitatingly and doubtfully; believe means a firm, unhesitating,
abso lutely certain state of mind, without shadow of fear or doubt, because the belief rests on the word of God.
In one God. We are bound
to believe in God, infinite in every perfection, containing in Himself the fulness of every conceivable good: hence it follows
there is only one God for the fulness of every conceivable perfection is found in one God alone.
The Father Almighty. The
word Father in the Creed leads us to a knowledge of the Trinity; there cannot be a Father without a Son; thus we are obliged
to acknowledge the Trinity in which there is a distinction of person with one and the same nature, the Son proceeds from the
Father, the Holy Ghost necessarily from the Father and Son. Almighty means that God can do everything which is not repugnant
to His infinite perfection. Almighty is the name most frequently applied to God in Scripture. The thought of omnipotence strengthens
more than anything else our faith, hope, and confidence in God.
Maker here is the same as Creator,
and the latter signifies, as taught by the Council of the Vatican, one who makes out of nothing, that is, where nothing was,
something came into being at God’s command.
Of Heaven; this includes
the sun, moon, stars, and sky above; the words and earth mean this planet with everything on its surface.
of all things visible and invisible; this clause explains more fully Heaven and earth nothing exists, seen or unseen
in earth or Heaven, neither men nor angels, which have not been made by God. He made the demons too: not as demons: He made
them pure spirits, and by their own sin they became demons.
And (I believe) in
one Lord Jesus Christ. The Council now passes on to condemn Arius by distinctly defining that Christ is God. Lord
expresses our belief in the sovereignty of Christ not merely as God but also as Man over the whole world. He is Lord of earth,
of angels and of men. Jesus is the distinctive name of Christ as God and Man it means Saviour, indicating His office according
to the Angel’s words to St. Joseph: “She shall bring forth a Son and thou shalt call His name Jesus; for (the
reason of the name) He shall save His people from their sins." (St. Matt. i. 21.) Christ means anointed. In the Old Law priests,
prophets, and kings were anointed. The rite is used in the Christian Church when priests are ordained and kings are crowned.
Christ is Priest, Prophet, and King. He
is anointed not with oil as priests and kings, but with the fulness of grace poured into His Soul by the Holy Ghost. The Psalmist
says of Christ, “Thou hast loved justice and hated iniquity: therefore God, Thy God hath anointed Thee with the oil
of gladness above Thy fellows." (Psalm xliv. 8.) The name Christ as also the name Jesus brings before us the two natures of
the Word Incarnate. Besides the anointing of the Man Jesus with grace, there is the higher anointing with the Divinity whereby
especially He is the Messiah long expected by the nations. Christ is a Priest not by sacra mental rites. His Priesthood began
with His Incarnation, and it was completed by the sacrifice of His life on Calvary. The best
description of that Priesthood is given by St. Paul in the
Epistle to the Hebrews.
Christ is also a Prophet. In Scripture
prophet does not mean exclusively one who foretells the future. It is commonly used to signify a teacher. Christ is the great
Teacher of the world, from Him we learn the Gospel that leads to Heaven. Before the coming of Christ, of Him prophets spoke,
and Christ in the flesh spoke of His Father. Christ is King not only as God but as Man and as sharer of our nature. “He
shall reign in the house of Jacob for ever and of His Kingdom there shall be no end." (St. Luke i. 32, 33.) His Kingdom is
spiritual and for everlasting. It began on earth and will be perfected at His second coming, when the whole world shall be
subject to Christ, and Christ at the head of His elect shall as Man make His grand act of submission to His Father and God
shall be all in all. (i Cor. xv. 28.)
The Only-begotten Son of God.
The Council refers to the eternal generation of Christ from His Father. Christ is God, says the Athanasian Creed, begotten
before time from the substance of the Father, born of the Father before all ages, and He is Man born in time from the substance
of His Mother. God of God, that is, God begotten of God; Light of Light, uncreated Light proceeding everlastingly from un
created Light; true God of true God, true God begotten of the only true God; begotten, not made, begotten eternal as He who
begets, not made from substance existing before: consubstantial with the Father, the same substance numerically with the Father
Christ has one and the same nature, essence, substance as the Father. By whom all things were made. The Father is said to
create through the Son in the sense that He communicated to the Son the essence and power wherewith He creates along with
Who for us men, and for our salvation,
by these words the end of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ is clearly stated. He came for us men on earth not to condemn us
but to save us. Came down from Heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost. Christ remaining God took flesh not by the power
of man, for no man was His father, but by the power of the Holy Ghost miraculously, of the Virgin Mary. Mary was a Virgin
in her miraculous Conception, a Virgin in the miraculous birth of her Child, and a Virgin after birth; always a Virgin, as
the Church says semper Virgo.
And was made Man.
In one sentence here is the whole doctrine of the Incarnation; the Divine nature in Christ was not made, the human was. Christ
became, what He was not before, Man with a body and soul like ours. Two natures, consequently divine and human, in one Person.
He was crucified also for us.
By these words was fulfilled the prophecy of our Lord in St. Matthew xx. 19, “they shall deliver Him to the Gentiles
to be mocked and scourged and crucified"
for us. These words for
us must not be forgotten; "He loved me and delivered Himself up for me; "suffered under Pontius Pilate and was buried; suffered
refers obviously to the pains of body and of mind which our Lord bore for us, the name of the governor is added to impress
the great truth on the memory of the faithful.
And was buried. The Apostles Creed says dead and buried,
the Nicene omits dead. The death of the Lord is plainly stated in the fact of His burial. By the death of Jesus Christ we
mean that the blessed Soul of our Lord, to which the Divinity clung, was separated from His Body, with which also the Divinity
remained inseparably united. He took a body capable of suffer ing. He died from violence, but when He chose and as He chose.
He allowed violence to take its natural effect. (See His own words in St. John
x. 1 7.) The Council adds buried, because burial is the strongest proof of death, and from the fact of Christ’s burial
the miracle of His Resurrection is more glorious and clear. Christ’s Body in the tomb could not suffer corruption.
And the third day He rose again
according to the Scriptures. Christ foretold that He would rise again, not vaguely some day, but the third day. This
means He was in the tomb a part of Friday, all Saturday, and a part of Sunday; He rose again by His own power and Divinity;
not by the power of another, as Lazarus and many others rose, only to die again; Christ rose to die no more; “Knowing
that Christ rising again from the dead, dieth now no more, death shall no more have dominion over Him." (Romans vi. 9.) On
the Resur rection rests the whole truth of Christianity. By that fact Christ and His Church stand or fall; the Council adds
according to the Scriptures, the inspired word has taught this great article of Faith. And ascended into Heaven and sitteth
at the right hand of the Father. The work of redemption over, Christ as Man, Body and Soul, ascended into Heaven not merely
by the power of the Divinity, but by the power granted to His glorious Soul to raise His Body to Heaven forty days after His
Resurrection; Christ is said to sit as a monarch on His Throne on the right, holding as Man the place of honour next His Father
who set Him on His right hand in the heavenly places. (Ephes. i. 20.)
And He shall come again with glory
to judge both the living and the dead. So far the Creed has spoken of our Lord’s redemption of the human race,
and of His ascent to Heaven that He may intercede; it now defines His judgment of the world on the last day. The first coming
of our Saviour was in humiliation as a Babe in Bethlehem,
the second will be in glory. He is to judge, Christ judges the world as God and Man (see St.
John v. 26), "and He (the Father) hath given Him authority to execute judgment because He is the Son
of Man." These words of St. John mean that the judicial power
like the priestly power is a portion of and in separable from our Lord’s human nature. Qnia (because) in the Vulgate
might more correctly be qua- tenns (inasmuch as He is the Son of Man). The living and the dead by the living is meant those
who are alive at the second coming. They will die and rise again. The dead at the second coming will also rise again. All
born of Adam will die and rise again. Of whose kingdom there shall be no end. These words proclaim that Christ’s reign
as Man is to con tinue after the last day. Our Lord’s Kingdom shall last for ever and ever.
And (I believe) in
the Holy Ghost the Lord and Life-giver. The Council after defining the Divinity of the Father and of the Son the
same in nature, distinct in person proceeds to define the Divinity of the Holy Ghost. The Macedonian heretics denied that
the Holy Ghost was God, equal to and of the same substance as the Father and the Son. They held that the Holy Ghost was a
creature like the angels, and a servant of the Father and the Son. The very fact that belief in the Holy Ghost is placed on
the same level as belief in the Father and the Son implies the Divinity of all three Persons. The Holy Ghost is called Lord
as having the same nature and therefore the same authority as the Father and the Son: life-giver means Sanctifier. Grace is
the true life of the soul and all gifts of grace are attributed to the Holy Ghost. We speak of the Holy Ghost as the Sanctifier
because that work of love is attributed with special fitness to Him who proceeds from the mutual love of the Father and Son,
who proceedeth from the Father and the Son. The Catholic Doctrine teaches that the Second Person proceeds from the First,
and the Third from the First and the Second by way of Communication of one and the same nature. The introduction of the Filioque
into the Creed seems to have been first adopted in Spain.
It is known to have been in use as early as 589 and possibly a century earlier. Rome, as we
have seen, adopted the test-word Filioque about 1015, and it has ever since been in regular use in the Western Church. By the Council of Florence
it was defined that this addition, Filioque, was “lawfully and reasonably" made to the Creed. Who together with the
Father and the Son is adored and glorified: the Council in these words again teaches the Divinity of the Holy Ghost. If one
and the same act of adoration be paid to the Holy Ghost as to the Father and the Son, the Holy Ghost is God as much as the
Father and the Son. Who spake by the Prophets; the duty of a Prophet was to foretell the coming of Christ and to teach Divine
truth they were inspired by God, and the Holy Ghost as the Spirit of truth spoke through them the Prophets were the mouth
piece of the Holy Ghost.
And (I believe) in
one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church: one having one head, the Pope, and one in its Doctrine the wide world over
the doctrine never changes, never increases or decreases, our knowledge of that doctrine grows wider and fuller with time
and does actually increase. The Church is one also in unity of worship for all recognize that the supreme act of worship is
the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered by a Priest, who holds authority to celebrate from a Bishop in communion with the Holy
See, and the names of the reigning Pope and of the Bishop of the Diocese are mentioned in the Canon of each Mass. The rite
of the Mass differs, the oneness of the Sacrifice is ever the same. The difference in rite is permitted by the Pope. The Church
is one in government in this sense that all Bishops receive power to rule their Diocese from the Pope, to whom at stated times
they render an account of the flock entrusted to their care. The Church is holy in its Founder Jesus Christ, in its doctrine,
and children, many of whom in every age are Saints, that is, lead lives conspicuous in virtue over the lives of such as merely
keep the Ten Commandments. Saints are heroes. They are the V.C s. and much more in the army of the Lord.
Catholic means universal, and universal
implies that the Church must subsist in all ages, teach all nations, and maintain all truths. The mission of the Church is
to all men without exception: "Going therefore," says our Lord in St. Matthew, "teach all nations," in St. Mark, "Preach the
Gospel to every creature "the Church is never limited to country or race. She must be ever conspicuous among Christian communities
by numbers and influence. She is for every place and for every man.
She must teach all her Master’s Doctrine,
inculcate all His precepts, and use all His Sacraments. She must be ready to explain and defend her Doctrine against attack,
and she must at any time and at any place furnish all that is requisite for the Salvation of men. "Were she to withhold anything
necessary for Salvation, she would be false to her mission." (See Father Gerard’s Religious Instruction, p.
The Church is Apostolic because, in the
words of the Catechism, “She holds the doctrines and traditions of the Apostles, and because, through the unbroken succession
of her Pastors, she derives her Orders and her Mission from
them." Orders confer supernatural powers as of Ordaining, Consecrating, and Absolving, etc., and Mission gives the right to exercise these powers. True Orders do not of themselves prove
the true Church. Apostolic Mission is also required. In the
Catholic Church we find both Orders and Mission. She is therefore
the one true Church.
I confess one Baptism for the remission
of sins. Baptism can be validly administered by any one, be he Catholic, Anglican, Methodist, or Jew; but by whomsoever
administered there is only one Baptism, which our Lord instituted of water and the Holy Ghost. For the remission of sins:
Baptism remits the guilt and punishment of any sin great and small and admits the soul, who dies immediately after that Sacrament
has been conferred, straight to Heaven. No man sees God face to face in Heaven without Baptism or the desire of it; the latter
is contained in an act of perfect sorrow or perfect love of God. (Baptism by blood or martyrdom also opens Heaven to souls:
only Baptism by water makes us members of the Body of the Church.)
And I look for the resurrection of the
dead we are said to look for what we are anxious to have, the resurrection of the body is human nature’s greatest triumph
through the power of God. By the resurrection is meant we shall all rise again with the same bodies we had before death though
in what the sameness consists has not been defined by the Church. Men shall be men and women shall be women. "The body shall
be the same but changed." (See St. Paul’s magnificent
description in i Cor. xv.) And the life of the world to come; the future life which we are said in the Creed to look
for is summed up in one word, Beatitude, a state, according to theologians, perfect in the possession of everything that is