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Fr. Gavin - The Sacrifice of the Mass - Dominus Vobiscum, Collect, Epistle

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Immaculate Conception 2016

CHAPTER THE EIGHTH.

 

THE DOMINUS VOBISCUM, COLLECT, EPISTLE

 

 

AT the end of the Gloria the priest kisses the altar and turning to the people, says “Dominus vobiscum,” “the Lord be with you," and the server representing the congregation, returns the salutation, saying and with thy spirit may He be with your soul or spirit also, O priest.

 

Whenever the priest turns round to salute the congregation with the Dominus vobiscum, he first kisses the altar, or more properly the altar-stone, in which repose the relics of the martyrs. The kiss is a mark of veneration to the martyrs, and much more a sign of love and reverence for Jesus Christ, who is soon to be offered in Sacrifice on that altar for the living and the dead.

 

In the earliest times, as the priest said Mass facing the people, he did not turn round at the Dominus vobiscum. At the Papal Mass said over the Tomb of the Apostles the Pope faces the congregation, and therefore does not turn to the people at Dominus vobiscum. When the position of the altar was changed the priest naturally turned to the people in saluting them.

 

The salutation, "The Lord be with thee," was used by Booz in addressing the reapers (Ruth ii. 4), "And behold he came out of Bethlehem and said to the reapers, The Lord be with thee. And they answered him, The Lord bless thee." See also Judges (vi. 12) and Gabriel's salutation to our Lady "The Lord is with thee."

 

The priest, by the salutation, wishes every grace to the people that the presence of God brings ; and the people by their et cum spiritu tuo, implore that the soul of the priest be filled with God, thus enabling him to offer worthily the Holy Sacrifice.

 

The Bishop, at a Mass in which the Gloria is said, uses the formula pax vobis instead of Domimis vobiscum. The words pax vobis are possibly taken from the Gloria. The pax vobis of the Bishop (our Lord s favourite greeting to His disciples after His Resurrection) is said to be a remnant of the privilege, according to Benedict XIV, as stated in the Introductory Chapter, which once belonged to the Bishop alone of saying the Gloria at Mass. The pax vobis, in the mouth of the Bishop, reminds us of the privilege. Pax vobis is higher than Dominus vobiscum, since the former is our Lord s own salutation, and proceeds from the Bishop, who possesses the fullness of the priesthood and a higher power to bless than a priest.

 

The Collect.

 

After the Dominus vobiscum the priest moves to the Epistle side, and bowing to the cross, says, Oremus, "let us pray." These words, as already stated, contain a distinct invitation to the congregation to join with the priest in prayer. The priest raises his hands to his shoulders. This gesture is perhaps, so some writers assure us, in memory of our Lord s outstretched arms on the Cross. Certain Religious Orders in portions of the Mass extend their arms almost to their full length. It should be remembered, however, that the Church adopts customs already existing, makes them her own, and consecrates them to the service of God. Her vestments are taken from the ordinary garments in use during the earliest stage of her existence, her Basilicas are the Roman Courts of Justice, and the method of praying with outstretched arms was and is still prevalent in the East, and to this day is seen amongst the poor in Ireland. The frescoes in the Catacombs represent saints of both sexes praying with arms outstretched. In the 14th Psalm we read, "The lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice," while St. Paul bids Timothy (i Tim. ii. 8) to pray, lifting up holy hands.

 

The word Collect has been explained in various ways. One simple explanation is that the Collect gathers, collects together in the mouth of the priest the wants and wishes of the faithful, for whom the priest at Mass pleads.

 

Many of the Collects now said were composed by St. Gelasius (492) or St. Gregory (590), while many are of a later date, and are continually added for new feasts.

Almost all the Collects are addressed to the Father and end with the words, "through our Lord Jesus Christ," etc.; only a few, and these of recent date, are addressed to the Son, and none to the Holy Ghost. Why are the Collects chiefly addressed to the Father? Because the Mass represents the Sacrifice by which Christ offered Himself to the Father, and therefore the prayers of the Liturgy are directed to the Father Himself.


A word as to the formation of the Collect. The Collects, however varied, are written more or less on the same lines. St. Paul desires that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made by men. This rule is followed in the Collects.

 

Take a few familiar instances. The Collect for the Holy Ghost: O God (lifting of the heart to God the Father) who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit (statement of a grace and thanksgiving), grant us in the same Spirit to relish what is right and ever to rejoice in His consolations (the request), through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who with Thee liveth and reigneth in the unity of the Holy Spirit through everlasting ages. These words, which end all Collects addressed to the Father, implore what is asked through the merits of the Passion and Death of our Lord.

 

Here is a Collect addressed to Christ for the feast of the Blessed Sacrament:

 

O God (the elevation of the heart to God) who under a wonderful Sacrament hast left us a memorial of Thy Passion (statement of a favour and consequently thanksgiving), grant us, we beseech Thee (the Church s favourite form of earnest petition), so to reverence the sacred mysteries of Thy Body and Blood, that we may continually find the fruit of Thy redemption in our souls (close of petition), who livest and reignest, world without end (thus ends often the Collect addressed to the Son), or the fuller form: who livest and reignest in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God through ever lasting ages.

 

The first or principal Collect is always peculiar to the Sunday or festival. On greater days one Collect only is said; on all festivals except the chief, other Collects are admissible, and these are called Commemorations a remembrance of saints and feasts. A Collect prescribed by the Bishop in some special need is called an Oratio imperata, a prayer ordered. That prayer is sometimes for the Pope, or Church, or for a temporal gain, e.g., fine weather, etc.

 

Amen gives assent to all said by the priest. In the early ages the people answered Amen at Mass. The server now answers for them.

 

The Epistle.

 

The Jews began the public service of their Sabbath by readings from Moses and the Prophets. (Acts xiii. 15.) The first Christians followed their example, and during divine worship on the Sunday read passages from the New or Old Testament.

 

The general rule is, with few exceptions, that each Mass has two Lessons from the Bible said or sung during the Holy Sacrifice, one is the Epistle, the other the Gospel.

 

The Epistle may be taken from any portion of the Old or New Testament except the Psalms and the four Gospels. It is thought that the present arrangement of Epistles and Gospels throughout the year, was made by St. Jerome, by the desire of Pope Damasus, about the year 376.

 

The Epistle is more commonly taken from the Epistles of the Apostles.

 

From the ninth century the Epistle at High Mass has been sung by the subdeacon, the Gospel by the deacon. The Epistle is read before the Gospel to mark the subordination of the former to the latter. The Epistle gives the teaching of Prophets and Apostles, the Gospel is the direct teaching of Christ.

 

The Gospel determines the choice of the Epistle; these two lessons from the Bible are in perfect harmony, they often express the same idea, seen sometimes from different points of view. (See Epistle and Gospel for the Sundays in Advent, the Epiphany, Ash Wednesday, the First Sunday in Lent, Passion Sunday, the Second Sunday after Easter, Corpus Christi, the Immaculate Conception, the Seven Dolours, the Assumption, Pentecost, St. Augustine, Apostle of England; St. Mary Magdalene, the Sacred Heart, and Masses for the Dead. The close relationship between the Epistle and Gospel is very evident in Votive Masses for the Angels, for the Holy Ghost, for the Passion of our Lord, for the grace of a Happy Death, for the Sick, for Bride and Bridegroom.)

 

At the end of the Epistle the server answers Deo gratias, to give thanks to God for the gift of His holy doctrine.

  • INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER
  • PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION
  • CHAPTER THE FIRST. The Doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass 
  • CHAPTER THE SECOND. The Essence of the Mass 
  • CHAPTER THE THIRD. The Consecration of the Altar 
  • CHAPTER THE FOURTH. The Vestments 
  • CHAPTER THE FIFTH. The Asperges
  • CHAPTER THE SIXTH. The Ordinary of the Mass. Part the First: From the Beginning to the Offertory                                    
  • CHAPTER THE SEVENTH. The Introit, Kyrie, and Gloria in excelsis
  • CHAPTER THE EIGHTH. The Dominus vobiscum, Collect, Epistle                                   
  • CHAPTER THE NINTH. The Gradual, Alleluia, Tract, and Sequence   
  • CHAPTER THE TENTH. The Gospel and the Creed                               
  • CHAPTER THE ELEVENTH. Part the Second: The Offertory to the Canon                                   
  • CHAPTER THE TWELFTH. Part the Third: The Canon of the Mass                                   
  • CHAPTER THE THIRTEENTH. Part the Fourth: From the Pater Noster to the end of Mass                                    
  • CHAPTER THE FOURTEENTH. The Ceremonies of High Mass                                   
  • CHAPTER THE FIFTEENTH. Mass for the Dead                                    
  • APPENDIX: The Language of the Mass
  • INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER
  • PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION
  • CHAPTER THE FIRST. The Doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass 
  • CHAPTER THE SECOND. The Essence of the Mass 
  • CHAPTER THE THIRD. The Consecration of the Altar 
  • CHAPTER THE FOURTH. The Vestments 
  • CHAPTER THE FIFTH. The Asperges
  • CHAPTER THE SIXTH. The Ordinary of the Mass. Part the First: From the Beginning to the Offertory                                    
  • CHAPTER THE SEVENTH. The Introit, Kyrie, and Gloria in excelsis
  • CHAPTER THE EIGHTH. The Dominus vobiscum, Collect, Epistle                                   
  • CHAPTER THE NINTH. The Gradual, Alleluia, Tract, and Sequence   
  • CHAPTER THE TENTH. The Gospel and the Creed                               
  • CHAPTER THE ELEVENTH. Part the Second: The Offertory to the Canon                                   
  • CHAPTER THE TWELFTH. Part the Third: The Canon of the Mass                                   
  • CHAPTER THE THIRTEENTH. Part the Fourth: From the Pater Noster to the end of Mass                                    
  • CHAPTER THE FOURTEENTH. The Ceremonies of High Mass                                   
  • CHAPTER THE FIFTEENTH. Mass for the Dead                                    
  • APPENDIX: The Language of the Mass