Fr. Gavin - The Sacrifice of the Mass - From the Pater Noster to the end of Mass

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From the Pater Noster to the end of Mass.




THE priest after the Amen of the server, who answers for the congregation, says Oremus, the solemn invitation to prayer, and begins the introduction to the Pater Noster. The Pater Noster is contained in all the old Liturgies and it is generally thought to have been introduced into the Mass by the Apostles, at the command, so says St. Jerome, of our Lord Himself.


Its present place immediately after the Canon is due to St. Gregory the Great. In the Ambrosian and Mozarabic rite the Pater is said after the Breaking of the Host.


The introduction runs thus: Instructed by Thy saving precepts, and following Thy divine institution, we presume to say.


St. Luke (xi. i) tells us that the disciples said to our Lord one day: "Teach us to pray as John also taught his disciples." Hence the Church says that, instructed by Christ, and following His Divine institution, we dare, we presume to call Him by a most tender and affectionate title which otherwise we could not venture to use, namely, Father.


P. Orémus.
Præcéptis salutáribus móniti,
et divína institutióne formáti, audémus dícere: S. Pater noster, qui es in cælis. sanctificétur nomen tuum: advéniat regnum tuum: fiat volúntas tua, sicut in cælo, et in terra. Panem nostrum quotidiánum da nobis hódie, et dimítte nobis débita nostra, sicut et nos dimíttimus debitóribus nostris. Et ne nos indúcas in tentatiónem:

S. Sed libera nos a malo.

P. Let us pray.
Taught by our Savior's command and formed by the word of God, we dare to say:

S. Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven, Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation.

S. But deliver us from evil.
P. Amen.

The Priest says in a low voice:






The Our Father is given by St. Matthew, in chapter vi., as a portion of the Sermon on the Mount. St. Luke gives it in chapter xi., as if it had been given for a second time and to a different audience. There is a slight variation between the form in St. Matthew and in St. Luke.

In the first portion of the prayer we regard God as our end; in the last three petitions we beg the removal of all obstacles to gaining that end.


The invocation Father is to give us hope in God as first and foremost an affectionate Father who art in Heaven. His abode brings before us the greatness and majesty of God. Hallowed be Thy name. These words with the invocation belong to perfect charity, which we love God for His own sake and desire the glory and praise of God from all creation.

In Thy Kingdom come, we pray that God may reign in our hearts and bring us to Heaven. We consider Him as the source of all good to us.


In Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven, we ask that God may give us the grace to keep from all sin by the perfect fulfillment of His will, as the blessed fulfill it in Heaven.


In give us this day our daily bread, we ask our daily nourishment for soul and body. In our English Catholic version of St. Matthew’s Gospel, we have supersubstantial, which is taken from St. Jerome’s Latin version; in St. Luke we have daily. In St. Matthew and St. Luke the Greek word is the same. It means for the day now coming upon us, as we say "for the next twenty-four hours. Daily bread may also refer to the living Bread in the Eucharist "and the bread that I will give is My flesh for the life of the world," our Lord’s words in St. John (vi. 52).


The next three petitions, as already stated, are to remove all that hinders us from gaining our end.


Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us.


St. Matthew has debts, but sins are debts for which we owe restitution to God. St. Luke’s version explains St. Matthew.


Lead us not into temptation, that is, give us grace not to yield to any temptation which you permit, and to avoid any temptation to which our corrupt nature attracts us.


But deliver us from evil, that is, from all evils of soul and body, or from the evil one, which seems the more correct translation of the Greek. To this last petition the priest answers secretly, Amen.




P. Líbera nos, quæsumus, Dómine, ab ómnibus malis, prætéritis, præséntibus, et fúturis, et intercedénte beáta et gloriósa semper Vírgine Dei Genitríce María, cum beátis Apóstolis tuis Petro et Paulo, atque Andréa, et ómnibus Sanctis, da propítius pacem in diébus nostrís, ut ope misericórdiæ tuæ adjuti, et a peccáto simus semper liberi, et ab omni perturbatióne secúri. Per eúmdem Dóminum nostrum Jesum Christum Fílium tuum. Qui tecum vivit et regnat in unitáte Spíritus Sancti Deus.
ómnia sæcula sæculórum.
S. Amen.


P. Deliver us, we beg You, Lord, from every evil, past, present, and to come; and by the intercession of the blessed and glorious ever-Virgin, Mother of God, Mary, and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, of Andrew, and all Saints. Grant of Your goodness, peace in our days, that aided by the riches of Your mercy, we may be always free from sin and safe from all disturbance. Through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, Who lives and reigns with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end.
S. Amen.




Deliver us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, from all evils, past, present, and to come.


This prayer is the Church’s addition to the Our Father. It is constantly called Embolismus, or "addition," by ecclesiastical writers. We ask to be delivered from all evils past, that is, from the punishments due even to forgiven sin, and from the weakness and tendency to sin which remain after the guilt has been removed, from present evils and from those which the future may have in store.


And by the intercession of the blessed and glorious Mary ever a Virgin, Mother of God, together with Thy blessed Apostles Peter and Paul (they are always connected in the services of the Church. Andrew is added, because to him as St. Peter’s brother, the Church pays special reverence), and all the Saints, mercifully grant peace in our days: that by the assistance of Thy mercy we may be always free from sin, and secure from all disturbance (of mind and body). The priest places the paten under the Host, uncovers the Chalice, and makes a genuflexion; then, rising, he takes the Host, breaks It in the middle over the Chalice, saying: through the same Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord.




The breaking of the Host is a ceremony of great importance in the Mass. At Ordination the Bishop reminds the priest to learn carefully before celebrating Mass all that concerns the Consecration, the breaking of the Host, and the Communion. The practice of breaking the Host comes from the institution of Christ and the example of the Apostles. SS. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all refer to the breaking of bread. In the early ages of the Church the celebration of the Mass and the Holy Communion were called the breaking of bread. (Acts ii. 42; xx. 7, ii; i Cor. x. 16.)


Perhaps too the breaking of the Host brings before our minds the violent Death of Jesus Christ though it is needless to add that no bones were broken in His Sacred Body.


By the Roman rite the consecrated Host was always divided into three parts, and the priest consumes all three according to the present practice. According to ancient usage the Hosts were much larger than at present, one portion was dropped into the chalice, the second was consumed by the celebrant, deacon, and subdeacon, the third was reserved for the sick.


After the words through the same Jesus Christ Thy Son our Lord, Who with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost liveth and reigneth God, the priest places half the Host which is in his left hand on the paten, and holding the particle which he broke off in his right hand, and the Chalice in his left, he says per omnia saecula saeculorum for ever and for ever.


After the recital of the Sequel to the Pater Noster in an Episcopal Mass the Archdeacon who assisted at Mass was wont at least in some places to turn round to the congregation and intone Humiliate vos ad benedictionem Bow down for the Benediction to which the rest of the clergy answered Deo gratias. The Bishop turned to the people, blessed them and perhaps some gifts they might have brought to be blessed.


This particular or special blessing did not interfere with the general blessing to the congregation at the end of Mass. A survival of the blessing of the Bishop or priest in this place is seen in the Nuptial Blessing which is given in a Nuptial Mass after the Pater Noster and also at the end of the Mass. (See Introductory Chapter, p. xxi.)


After Amen the priest makes the sign of the Cross over the Chalice saying, May the peace of the Lord be always with you, the server answers, and with thy spirit; and the priest drops the consecrated particle into the Chalice saying, May this mingling and consecration of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ be to us that receive It effectual to eternal life.




In the separate Consecration under two kinds, the Body and Blood of our Saviour appear to us distinct, the separate Consecration represents the death of the Victim caused by the separation of the Body and Blood. The mingling of the two consecrated Elements expresses figuratively that in reality the Body is not separated from the Blood, nor the Blood from the Body, but that under each Christ is whole and entire, one Victim and one food. The mystical reunion of the Body and Blood, through the consecrated particle falling into the Chalice, is thought also to represent the glorious Resurrection of Jesus Christ, when the Soul and Body were united once again.


The priest as he drops the particle into the Chalice says, May this mingling and consecration of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ be to us that receive It effectual to eternal life. These words have been variously explained. The best explanation is to refer consecration to the thing consecrated. The sense then is may this mingling of the consecrated Body and Blood of Jesus Christ be to us effectual in gaining life. In the Ambrosian rite, the priest says, May this mingling of the consecrated Body and Blood of Jesus Christ be to us who eat It and drink It unto life and joy everlasting.




The priest covers the chalice, genuflects, and rises to say three times the Agnus Dei.


Since the Canon no prayer has been addressed to our Lord, because in this portion of the Mass He is a Victim. We offer a victim we do not pray to it. The words Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world are taken from the Baptist’s description of our Lord in John (i. 29). Compare the Preface for Easter; "He is the true Lamb who has taken away the sins of the world." The Paschal Lamb was the type Christ is the reality. Lamb of God means either Divine Lamb or Lamb destined by God for the Sacrifice. The priest asks for mercy twice, striking his breast in sign of sorrow, and the third time he asks for peace: an appropriate request as he is on the point of receiving the Author of peace.


In Mass for the Dead the Church, instead of mercy, implores rest, and everlasting rest instead of peace for the faithful departed, who are restless in their yearning for God.




The following prayers up to the Communion are addressed to Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament on the altar and not to the Father. The first is the prayer for Peace.


Domine Jesu Christe, qui dixisti Apostolis tuis: pacem relinquo vobis, pacem meam do vobis: ne respicias peccata mea, sed fidem Ecclesiae tuae: eamque secundum voluntatem tuam pacificare et coadunare digneris. Qui vivis et regnas Deus, per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.


Lord Jesus Christ, who saidst to Thy Apostles, Peace I leave to you, My peace I give unto you; look not on my sins, but on the faith of Thy Church; and vouchsafe to it that peace and unity which is agreeable to Thy will. Who livest and reignest God for ever and ever. Amen.


Domine Jesu Christe, Fill Dei vivi, qui ex voluntate Patris, cooperante Spiritu Sancto, per mortem tuam mundum vivificasti: libera me per hoc sacrosanctum Corpus et Sanguinem tuum ab omni bus iniquitatibus meis, et universis malis: et fac me tuis semper inhaerere mand- atis, et a te nunquam separari permittas. Qui cum eodem Deo Patre, et Spiritu Sancto vivis et regnas Deus in sae cula saeculorum. Amen.


Perceptio Corporis tui, Do mine Jesu Christe, quod ego


Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, who according to the will of the Father, through the co-operation of the Holy Ghost, hast by Thy death given life to the world; deliver me by this Thy most sacred Body and Blood from all mine iniquities and from all evils, and make me always adhere to Thy commandments, and never suffer me to be separated from Thee. Who with the same God the Father and Holy Ghost livest and reignest God for ever and ever. Amen.


P. Percéptiocome, Córporis tui, Dómine Jesu Christe, quod ego indinus súmere præsúmo, non mihi provéniat in judícium et condemnatiónem; sed pro tua pietáte prosit mihi ad tutamentum mentis et córporis, et ad medélam percipiéndam. Qui vivis et regnas cum Deo Patre in unitáte Spíritus Sancti Deus, per ómnia sæcula sæculórum. Amen.


P. Let not the partaking of Your Body, Lord Jesus Christ, which I, though unworthy, presume to receive, turn to my judgment and condemnation; but through Your goodness, may it become a safeguard and an effective remedy, with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever. Amen.




Lord Jesus Christ. The full title; Lord, means Supreme Master, Jesus Saviour, Christ the Anointed, Who saidst to Thy Apostles, Peace I leave to you, My peace I give unto you. St. Augustine defines peace as tranquillitas ordinis the calm where order reigns. There is perfect peace and perfect order in Heaven, imperfect on earth: none in Hell, nullus ordo, no order there. Look not on my sins, but on the faith of Thy Church. The faith referred to here is in its fullest meaning, faith perfected by charity. And vouchsafe to it that peace and unity (amongst its members) which is agreeable to Thy will, who livest and reignest, God, for ever and ever. Amen.




These two prayers are addressed to our Lord on the altar by the priest for whom they are specially meant, and form his preparation for Communion. Their beauty and tenderness cannot be surpassed. Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God. Again our Lord’s full title is given, Living God, compare St. Peter’s Confession and our Lord’s blessing for that Confession, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona" (Matt. xvi. 16). Living God means true God, the Source of all life and truth, who, according to the will of the Father, through the cooperation of the Holy Ghost, hast by Thy death given life to the world.


The work of our redemption has been accomplished by our Lord Jesus Christ with the co-operation of the Father and of the Holy Ghost. The Father gave His only-begotten Son to redeem the world; Jesus Christ, out of love to His Father, was obedient unto death; the Holy Ghost formed the Sacred Body of our Lord from a Virgin’s flesh and inspired the human will of Christ to offer His life for us, and by His death Christ gave life to the world.


Deliver me the priest prays for himself by this Thy most Sacred Body and Blood, which are present to the eye of faith, from all mine iniquities past and present sins, in themselves and in their consequences and from all evils, now and in the future.


The first request, Deliver me, is made in view of the Eucharist as a Sacrifice. Make me always adhere to Thy commandments, and never suffer me to be separated from Thee. The second request is in virtue of the Eucharist as a Sacrament. Who, with the same God the Father and Holy Ghost, livest and reignest God for ever and ever. Amen.


Let not the receiving of Thy Body, O Lord Jesus Christ, which I, unworthy, presume to receive, be to me unto judgment and condemnation.


Judgment here means unfavourable judgment (compare St. Paul i Cor.xi. 29), "For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily eateth and drinketh judgment to himself;" also our English expression, that man will rise in judgment against you. But through Thy goodness may it be to me a safeguard and remedy both of soul and body the Eucharist consecrates the whole man, not merely the soul but the body also. Six Sacraments sanctify the body indirectly through the soul; the Eucharist directly and immediately sanctifies the flesh of man, hence the Eucharist is the best remedy against impurity and the best guardian of chastity. Who with God the Father, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, livest and reignest God for ever and ever. Amen.


In the above prayer the priest first confesses his own unworthiness and then he earnestly begs our Lord to save him from the misfortune of a sacrilegious Communion and to grant him in abundance the graces of a fervent Communion.




Before communicating the priest says: I will take the Bread of Heaven and call upon the name of the Lord (the Eucharist is called the Bread of Heaven compare our Lord’s words: "I am the Living Bread which came down from Heaven "). Next the priest takes the Host and paten in his left hand, and striking thrice his breast with his right, he says three times the words of the Centurion, in Matt. (viii. 8): Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.


He then takes the Host in his right hand, and making the sign of the Cross with the Host, says: May the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve my soul unto life everlasting. Amen. The priest communicates himself. He collects on the paten any particles of the Sacred Host that may have fallen on the corporal, and with his fingers transfers them into the chalice. Next with his right hand he takes the chalice, saying the words from the 115th and 17th Psalms: What shall I render to the Lord for all He has rendered to me? I will take the Chalice of Salvation and call upon the name of the Lord; I will call upon the Lord and I shall praise Him and shall be saved from my enemies (that is, from all three, the world, the flesh, and the devil).


He makes the sign of the Cross with the chalice, saying: The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve my soul to everlasting life. Amen.


He receives the Precious Blood with the particle, and next communicates the faithful who may present themselves at the sacred table.


The Communion of the priest under both kinds belongs to the completeness, not to the essence of the Sacrifice. The Communion of the priest is a grave obligation and can never be omitted. Should the priest die or faint at the altar after the Consecration, the Mass, as we have seen, must be continued if possible by a priest who has not broken his fast; where this is impossible, a priest even after food should finish the Mass and receive under both kinds.




The ablutions are the wine and water poured into the chalice by command of the Church out of reverence to the Eucharist, so as to secure the priest receiving any portion of the Sacred Host or any drop of the Precious Blood which may have clung to the chalice.


While the wine is being poured into the chalice the priest says the following prayer:


P. Quod ore súmpsimus, Dómine, pura mente capiámus, et de múnere temporáli fiat nobis remédium sempitérnum.


P. What has passed our lips as food, Lord, may we posses in purity of heart, that what is given to us in time, be our healing for eternity.


At Holy Communion we eat and drink the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The Eucharist is called "a temporal gift " both as a Sacrifice and as a Sacrament. The Sacrifice is offered on earth: the Eucharist as a Sacrament, that is, our Lord under the appearance of bread and wine, does not exist in Heaven, only on earth hence temporal. Nevertheless it is an eternal remedy, because it preserves us from evil and gains for us eternal life.


Wine and water are next poured into the chalice and the priest says:


P. Corpus tuum, Dómine, quod sumpsi, et Sanguis quem potávi, adhæreat viscéribus meis et præsta, ut in me non remáneat scélerum mácula, quem pura et sancta refecérunt sacraménta. Qui vivis et regnas in sæcula sæculórum. Amen.


P. May Your Body, Lord, which I have eaten, and Your Blood which I have drunk, cleave to my very soul, and grant that no trace of sin be found in me, whom these pure and holy mysteries have renewed. You, Who live and reign, world without end. Amen.




The Body and Blood of Jesus Christ remain in us so long as the sacramental species are not destroyed. The Church asks that the sacramental grace may not pass rapidly as earthly food, but cling to us, filling us with Jesus Christ, and she prays that no stain or shadow of sin may remain in the heart that has been refreshed by the holy sacraments. The plural form sacraments is supposed by some to indicate the two species of bread and wine. Sacraments, however, in the language of the Church often mean sacred mysteries. We do not find sacrament in its technical sense of an outward sign of an inward grace before the twelfth century. In various Postcommunions we find the Eucharist called mysteries, divine sacraments, gifts of a sacred mystery, heavenly gifts, heavenly nourishment, etc.






The antiphon or verse which the priest reads from the Missal at the Epistle side of the altar after communicating is called the Communion. Like the Offertory before the Oblation of bread and wine, the Communion is the remnant of a much longer psalm which was formerly chanted (from the days of the Apostles to the twelfth century) while Holy Communion was given to the clergy and the faithful. After the twelfth century hymns were sung after the Communion and became a part of the priest’s thanksgiving. In process of time these psalms or hymns were cut down to a single verse which still keeps its name of Communion thus indicating its origin and use.


The verse in the Communion is usually taken from the Bible, not always from the Psalms. The Communion is sometimes composed by the Church, as in the feast of the Seven Dolours. Happy the feelings of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who without dying hath merited the palm of martyrdom beneath the Cross of the Lord. The Communion (in spite of its name) does not at all necessarily refer to the distribution or receiving of the Eucharist. The Communion, like other variable portions of the Mass, bears on the feast of the day or the ecclesiastical season. The allusion to the Eucharist is rare and seems almost accidental.


We may cite here a few examples of the Communions from the Missal to illustrate the truth of what has been said regarding the peculiar character of the prayer.


The Communions for the four Sundays in Advent indicate the Church’s spirit during that season.


First Sunday. The Lord will give goodness and our earth shall yield her fruit.


Second Sunday. Jerusalem, arise and stand on high and see the gladness which shall come to thee from thy God.


Third Sunday. Say to the faint-hearted: Take courage and fear not; behold our Lord shall come and save us.


Fourth Sunday. Behold a Virgin shall conceive and bring forth a Son and His name shall be called Emmanuel.


For Easter. Christ our Pasch is sacrificed, therefore let us feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.


For the feast of St. Aloysius there is an allusion to the Blessed Sacrament. He gave them the bread of Heaven: Man has eaten the bread of angels.


The Requiem Mass preserves its primitive form. Eternal light shine upon them, O Lord. With Thy saints for ever, because Thou art merciful. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them. With Thy saints for ever, because Thou art merciful.


The Postcommunion is a prayer which immediately follows the Communion and ends the Mass. In earlier times up to the eleventh century it was called Oratio ad Complendwn prayer at the finish because this prayer with the Ite Missa est ended the Mass. The Postcommunions correspond in number, form, and ceremonies with the Collects and Secrets for the day. There is, however, a characteristic difference; the Collect relates exclusively to the feast of the day, and the Secret mainly to the Sacrifice (oratio super oblate), while the Blessed Eucharist, as a Sacrament, forms not unfrequently the subject of the Postcommunion.


In the Postcommunion the plural form is always used, for this prayer is said for those or in the name of those who have assisted at Mass. This assumes that at least a great proportion of the congregation at Mass have, as in the primitive Church, communicated.


Here are examples of Postcommunions taken from different feasts:


The Second Sunday in Advent. Filled with the food of spiritual nourishment, we humbly implore of Thee, O Lord, to teach us by sharing in this Mystery to despise earthly and to love heavenly things.


The Vigil of Christmas. Grant us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, to draw the breath of life in the meditation of the Nativity of Thy only-begotten Son, by Whose heavenly mystery we are fed and given to drink.


The feast of the Precious Blood. Admitted to the holy table, O Lord, we have drawn waters in joy from the fountains of the Saviour. May His Blood be for us, we implore, a fountain of water springing up unto everlasting life.


The feast of St. Catharine of Sienna. May the heavenly banquet, wherein we have been fed, obtain for us eternal life, as it also nourished the life of the body for the holy virgin Catharine.


The feast of St. Aloysius. Grant, O Lord, that we who have been nourished by the bread of angels may live with angelic purity, and that we may ever be constant in thanksgiving, after the example of him whom we honour to-day.




After the Postcommunion the priest says, The Lord be with you, and the server answers, and with thy spirit. Next follow three different conclusions for the Mass: Ite Missa est, go, it is the dismissal; or Benedicamus Domino, let us bless the Lord; or Requiescant in pace, May they rest in peace. Ite Missa est is said facing the people, because it is the dismissal; Benedicamus Domino facing the altar, because our Lord dwells there; Requiescant in pace also facing the altar, because the words refer to the absent remembered by our Lord. The Ite Missa est is said at Mass whenever the Gloria in excelsis is said. The Benedicamus Domino is reserved for penitential seasons. The words were perhaps originally an invitation to the faithful to remain in church for the Canonical Hours which followed Mass during times of penance. The rubric prescribes a joyful chant for the Ite Missa est, while that of the Benedicamus Domino is more grave and solemn.


In the Requiem Mass all signs of joy are inappropriate; therefore the Ite Missa est is omitted; and from the twelfth century the custom arose of saying the last fervent prayer for the dead in the form of May they rest in peace, to which the server, representing the congregation, says Amen. Requiescant in pace is the shortened form of Fidelium anima pev misevicovdiam Dei requiescant in pace. Up to the tenth or eleventh century the Mass ended with one of the formulas already quoted. The prayer Placeat, the priest’s blessing, and the Gospel St. John, are additions which found their way into the Roman Missal from different churches. Pius V., in 1570, in revising the new Missal, prescribed the Placeat, blessing, and St. John’s Gospel for the end of Mass. The prayer runs thus:


P. Pláceat tibi, sancta Trinitas, obséquium servitutis meæ: et præsta, ut sacrificium quod oculis tuæ majestatis indignus óbtuli, tibi sit acceptábile, mihíque, et ómnibus pro quibus illud óbtuli, sit te miseránte propitiábile. Per Christum Dóminum nostrum. Amen.


P. May the tribute of my worship be pleasing to You, most Holy Trinity, and grant that the sacrifice which I, all unworthy, have offered in the presence of Your Majesty, may be acceptable to You, and through Your mercy obtain forgiveness for me and all for whom I have offered it. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.




O Holy Trinity, may the obedience of my service be pleasing to Thee. The obedience of my service means the absolute dependence of the creature on the Creator, and is expressed by the very nature of the Sacrifice which is offered to God alone. And grant that the Sacrifice which I, unworthy, have offered in the sight of Thy Majesty, may be acceptable to Thee, and through Thy mercy be a propitiation. Propitiation is mentioned as most necessary; we first appease God’s offended Majesty, and then implore the graces we need through His mercy. For me and all those for whom I offered it. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.


The prayer Placeat is a compendium of the previous petitions of the Mass. The priest for the last time humbly asks of God for himself and the people the graces he needs. This prayer naturally leads to the blessing that follows, for every blessing comes from the Sacrifice of the Mass, and the priest is in every case the channel. After the prayer Placeat the priest kisses the altar and pronounces the blessing: Benedicat vos omnipotens Deus, Pater, et Filius, et Spiritus Sanctus.


This custom of the priest’s blessing at Mass is not very ancient. There is no proof up to the eleventh century of a blessing at the end of Mass. From the tenth century many Bishops in various places began to give the blessing at the end of Mass instead of before the Communion. By degrees priests also began to bless at the end of Mass. At one time priests gave the blessing with the triple sign of the Cross, as Bishops do now. Pius V. restricted priests to a blessing with one sign of the Cross, except at High Mass, when he allowed them the triple sign. At the revision of the Roman Missal the rule was at length firmly established that Bishops at the end of Mass bless with a triple sign of the Cross (An allusion to the withdrawal of the permission for the triple sign of the Cross is seen in the Rubric of the Roman Missal, "et versus ad populum,senifl tantum benedicem etiam in Missis Solemnibus.") and priests with a single. Clement VIII. made the rule absolute which forbids a priest to bless with the triple sign of the Cross. The Requiem Mass without a blessing at the end reminds us of the centuries when no blessing was given by priest or Bishop.


The custom of reading the beginning of St. John’s Gospel at the end of Mass dates from the thirteenth century, and that only in certain places. Pius V., in revising the Missal, imposed on all priests the obligation of saying St. John’s Gospel at the end of Mass except on certain days when the rubrics prescribe another Gospel.


In principle erat Verbum, et Verbum erat apud Deum, et Deus erat Verbum. Hoc erat in principle* apud Deum. Omnia per ipsum facta sunt, et sine ipso factum est nihil, quod factum est. In ipso vita erat, et vita erat lux hominum; et lux in tenebris lucet, et tenebrae earn non compre- henderunt.


Fuit homo missus a Deo, cui nomen erat Joannes. Hie venit in testimonium, ut testi- monium, perhiberet de lum- ine, ut omnes crederent per ilium. Non erat ille lux; sed ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine. Erat lux vera, quae illuminat omnem hominem venientem in hunc mundum.


In mundo erat, et mundus per ipsum factus est, et mun dus eum non cognovit. In propria venit, et sui eum non receperunt. Quotquot autem receperunt eum, dedit eis potestatem filios Dei fieri, his qui credunt in nomine ejus; qui non ex sanguinibus, neque ex voluntate carnis, neque ex voluntate viri, sed ex Deo nati SUnt. Et VERBUM CARO FAC TUM EST, et habitavit in nobis; et vidimus gloriam ejus, gloriam quasi unigeniti a Patre, plenum gratiae et veritatis.


R. Deo gratias.


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the begin ning with God. All things were made by Him, and with out Him was made nothing that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men; and the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.


There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the light, that all men might believe through him. He was not the light, but was to give testimony of the light. That was the true light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them He gave power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in His name; who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH, and dwelt among us; and we saw His glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.


R. Thanks be to God.




1. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.


2. The same was in the beginning with God.


3. All things were made by Him and without Him was made nothing that was made.


4. In Him was life: and the life was the light of men.




1. In the beginning, that is, in the beginning of time as in Genesis, "in the beginning God created Heaven and earth:" when God first created—the Word, or the Second Person of the Trinity, already existed. With God does not mean separate existence from Godas there is only one God; it means only such distinction as exists between Producer and Produced, a distinction of Person necessary because of the unity of the same nature.


2. St. John repeats and inculcates the same truth the Son—the Word was in the beginning with God—one in nature, different in person.


3. All things were made by Him, that is, by the Son. The Father creates through the Son in this sense, that He communicates to the Son the essence and power wherewith He creates along with the Father.


All creation capable of life was by the Son made living, and apart from the Son no single thing was made.


4. In Him was life, that is, the true life of grace and glory in its source and origin which by His Incarnation He gives to us. "For the life was manifested and we declare unto you the life eternal which was with the Father and appeared to us." (i John i. 2.)


The life was the light of men: the life was the true light of faith and grace, which proceeds from that life.


5. And the light shineth in darkness: and the darkness did not comprehend it.


6. There was a man sent from God whose name was John.

7. This man came for a witness, to give testimony of the light, that all men might believe through him.


5. Darkness means not so much the ignorance or absence of light from the hearts of men as the antagonism of the world to the truths of faith. (Compare St. John Hi. 19.) " Men loved darkness rather than the light, for their works were evil." They pulled down the curtains over the soul they hated the light.


The darkness did not comprehend it. The darkness did not overtake the light. The meaning is the darkness did not subdue the light. The sins of men could not quench the light of Christ, the darkness could not subdue it, or overcome it. (Compare Wisdom ch. vii. 10, 30: "I loved her (wisdom) above health and beauty, and chose to have her instead of light: for her light cannot be put out. . . . For after this cometh night, but no evil can overcome wisdom.")


The more common interpretation followed by Father Knabenbauer in his Commentary on St. John’s Gospel, p. 71, is that wicked men (the darkness) ignoring God and the way of salvation, refused to accept the light, or to acknowledge it; as stated in v. 10, the world (men whose lives are in opposition to the teaching of our Lord) knew Him not. But the first explanation is preferable.


6. The reference is to John the Baptist, appointed to prepare the way for the coming of Christ. The word Baptist is never given to John by the author of the Fourth Gospel.


7. John was the witness appointed by God to testify to all the Jews that Jesus Christ was the true light, that the Jews might believe in their Saviour through the word of John. Remember St. John’s description of Jesus Christ: "Behold the Lamb of God; behold Him who taketh away the sin of the world." (i. 29.)


8. He was not the light, but was to give testimony of the light.


9. That was the true light which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world.


10. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.


11. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.


12. But as many as received Him to them He gave power to be made the sons of God, to them that believe in His name.


8. John the Baptist confessed in v. 20, "I am not the Christ," and therefore he was not the light. Our Lord said of John the Baptist, "He was a burning and shining lamp." (v. 35.) John was the lamp, the artificial light kindled by another: he was not the light, for the light is Christ. John was to point out the light.


9. Christ is called the true light because He is substantial, unveiled light that shines of itself others shine with a light borrowed from Him another kind of light altogether. Christ was the true light coming into this world, which enlighteneth every man to whom the Gospel of His coming is preached. No one, says St. Augustine, is enlightened except by Christ.


10. He was in the world as God and Creator from the beginning of time, and the world was made by Him (that is, earth and sky and all creatures) and the world, that is, the multitude of men whose lives are in opposition to God’s law, knew Him not.


11. He came unto His own, into His own land, the Holy Land and His own Jewish people; and His own Jewish people received Him not.


12. But as many as received Him Christ gave power to be made the sons of God by adoption in Baptism; He gave them power He did not force them He gave them the means on condition of believing in Christ, of becoming sons of God by adoption through grace.


See i John v. i. Every man who believes that Jesus is Christ, is born of God."


To them that believe in His name literally believe unto His name. (Compare Acts viii. 16) "baptized unto the name of the Lord Jesus."


Both expressions mean the making over of oneself as to a Being who is the Son of God, the Messiah who came to save His people from their sins.


13. Who are born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.


14. And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.


13. St. John draws a comparison between natural birth and sonship by grace. "Who are born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, the prompting of appetite, nor of the will of man, but are born of God by Faith and Baptism and therefore coheirs with Christ to the vision of God in Heaven.


14. The Word was made Flesh that is, He became Man. Without ceasing to be what He was from all eternity, the Word who in the beginning was with God has become flesh; God is Man: and that Man is God. Here in a nutshell we have the whole doctrine of the Incarnation.


And dwelt among us, or as in the original, pitched His tent amongst us. These words mean that Christ came to be for ever one of our kith and kin, to form an alliance with mankind and to stay amongst us as the Head of our race. He became Man in time He will remain Man for all eternity.


We saw His glory that is, we the Apostles saw His glory, all the mighty deeds by which He showed forth His Divinity amongst men.

The glory as of the only-begotten means such glory as becomes the
only-begotten. Full of grace, as author of the grace that works perfect
redemption, and full of truth as Author of perfect revelation.
(See Father Rickaby’s Gospel of St. John and Cornelius a Lapide).

  • 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