B. The Origin of the Mass. — The Western Mass, like all Liturgies, begins, of course, with the Last Supper. What Christ then did, repeated as he commanded in memory of Him, is the nucleus of the Mass. As soon as the Faith was brought to the West the Holy Eucharist was celebrated here, as in the East. At first the language used was Greek. Out of that earliest Liturgy, the language being changed to Latin, developed the two great parent rites of the West, the Roman and the Gallican (See LITURGY). Of these two the Gallican Mass may be traced without difficulty. It is so plainly Antiochene in its structure, in the very text of many of ifs prayers, that we are safe in accounting for it as a translated form of the Liturgy of Jerusalem-Antioch, brought to the West at about the time when the more or less fluid universal Liturgy of the first three centuries gave place to different fixed rites (See LITURGY; GALLICAN RITE). The origin of the Roman Mass, on the other hand, is a most difficult question. We have here two fixed and certain data: the Liturgy in Greek described by St. Justin Martyr (d. c. 165), which is that of the Church of Rome in the second century, and, at the other end of the development, the Liturgy of the first Roman Sacramentaries in Latin, in about the sixth century. The two are very different. Justin's account represents a rite of what we should now call an Eastern type, corresponding with remarkable exactness to that of the Apostolic Constitutions (See LITURGY). The Leonine and Gelasian Sacramentaries show us what is practically our present Roman Mass. How did the service change from the one to the other? It is one of the chief difficulties in the history of liturgy. During the last few years, especially, all manner of solutions and combinations have been proposed. We will first note some points that are certain, that may serve as landmarks in an investigation.
Justin Martyr, Clement of Rome, Hippolytus (d. 235), and Novatian (c. 250) all agree in the Liturgies they describe, though the evidence of the last two is scanty (Probst, "Liturgie der drei ersten christl. Jahrhdte"; Drews, "Untersuchungen über die sogen. clement. Liturgie"). Justin gives us the fullest Liturgical description of any Father of the first three centuries (Apol. I, lxv, lxvi, quoted and discussed in LITURGY). He describes how the Holy Eucharist was celebrated at Rome in the middle of the second century; his account is the necessary point of departure, one end of a chain whose intermediate links are hidden. We have hardly any knowledge at all of what developments the Roman Rite went through during the third and fourth centuries. This is the mysterious time where conjecture may, and does, run riot. By the fifth century we come back to comparatively firm ground, after a radical change. At this time we have the fragment in Pseudo-Ambrose, "De sacramentis" (about 400. Cf. P.L., XVI, 443), and the letter of Pope Innocent I (401-17) to Decentius of Eugubium (P.L., XX, 553). In these documents we see that the Roman Liturgy is said in Latin and has already become in essence the rite we still use. A few indications of the end of the fourth century agree with this. A little later we come to the earliest Sacramentaries (Leonine, fifth or sixth century; Gelasian, sixth or seventh century) and from then the history of the Roman Mass is fairly clear. The fifth and sixth centuries therefore show us the other end of the chain. For the interval between the second and fifth centuries, during which the great change took place, although we know so little about Rome itself, we have valuable data from Africa. There is every reason to believe that in liturgical matters the Church of Africa followed Rome closely. We can supply much of what we wish to know about Rome from the African Fathers of the third century, Tertullian (d. c. 220), St. Cyprian (d. 258), the Acts of St. Perpetua and St. Felicitas (203), St. Augustine (d. 430) (see Cabrol, "Dictionnaire d' archéologie", I, 591-657). The question of the change of language from Greek to Latin is less important than if might seem. It came about naturally when Greek ceased to be the usual language of the Roman Christians. Pope Victor I (190-202), an African, seems to have been the first to use Latin at Rome, Novatian writes Latin. By the second half of the third century the usual liturgical language at Rome seems to have been Latin (Kattenbusch, "Symbolik", II, 331), though fragments of Greek remained for many centuries. Other writers think that Latin was not finally adopted till the end of the fourth century (Probst, "Die abendländ. Messe", 5; Rietschel, "Lehrbuch der Liturgik", I, 337). No doubt, for a time both languages were used. The question is discussed at length in C. P. Caspari, "Quellen zur Gesch. des Taufsymbols u. der Glaubensregel" (Christiania, 1879), III, 267 sq. The Creed was sometimes said in Greek, some psalms were sung in that language, the lessons on Holy Saturday were read in Greek and Latin as late as the eighth century (Ordo Rom., I, P.L., LXXVIII, 966-68, 955). There are still such fragments of Greek ("Kyrie eleison", "Agios O Theos") in the Roman Mass. But a change of language does not involve a change of rite. Novatian's Latin allusions to the Eucharistic prayer agree very well with those of Clement of Rome in Greek, and with the Greek forms in Apost. Const., VIII (Drews, op. cit., 107-22). The Africans, Tertullian, St. Cyprian, etc., who write Latin, describe a rite very closely related to that of Justin and the Apostolic Constitutions (Probst, op. cit., 183-206; 215-30). The Gallican Rite, as in Germanus of Paris (Duchesne, "Origines du Culte", 180-217), shows how Eastern -- how "Greek" -- a Latin Liturgy can be. We must then conceive the change of language in the third century as a detail that did not much affect the development of the rite. No doubt the use of Latin was a factor in the Roman tendency to shorten the prayers, leave out whatever seemed redundant in formulas, and abridge the whole service. Latin is naturally terse, compared with the rhetorical abundance of Greek. This difference is one of the most obvious distinctions between the Roman and the Eastern Rites.
If we may suppose that during the first three centuries there was a common Liturgy throughout Christendom, variable, no doubt, in details, but uniform in all its main points, which common Liturgy is represented by that of the eighth book of the Apostolic Constitutions, we have in that the origin of the Roman Mass as of all other liturgies (see LITURGY). There are, indeed, special reasons for supposing that this type of liturgy was used at Rome. The chief authorities for it (Clement, Justin, Hippolytus, Novatian) are all Roman. Moreover, even the present Roman Rite, in spite of later modifications, retains certain elements that resemble those of the Apost. Const. Liturgy remarkably. For instance, at Rome there neither is nor has been a public Offertory prayer. The "Oremus" said just before the Offertory is the fragment of quite another thing, the old prayers of the faithful, of which we still have a specimen in the series of collects on Good Friday. The Offertory is made in silence while the choir sings part of a psalm. Meanwhile the celebrant says private Offertory prayers which in the old form of the Mass are the Secrets only. The older Secrets are true Offertory prayers. In the Byzantine Rite, on the other hand, the gifts are prepared beforehand, brought up with the singing of the Cherubikon, and offered at the altar by a public Synapte of deacon and people, and a prayer once sung aloud by the celebrant (now only the Ekphonesis is sung aloud). The Roman custom of a silent offertory with private prayer is that of the Liturgy of the Apostolic Constitutions. Here too the rubric says only: "The deacons bring the gifts to the bishop at the altar" (VIII, xii, 3) and "The Bishop, praying by himself [καθ εαυτον, "silently"] with the priests . . ." (VIII, xii, 4). No doubt in this case, too, a psalm was sung meanwhile, which would account for the unique instance of silent prayer. The Apostolic Constitutions order that at this point the deacons should wave fans over the oblation (a practical precaution to keep away insects, VIII, xii, 3); this, too, was done at Rome down to the fourteenth century (Martène, "De antiquis eccl. ritibus", Antwerp, 1763, I, 145). The Roman Mass, like the Apostolic Constitutions (VIII, xi, 12), has a washing of hands just before the Offertory. It once had a kiss of peace before the Preface. Pope Innocent I, in his letter to Decentius of Eugubium (416), remarks on this older custom of placing it ante confecta mysteria (before the Eucharistic prayer -- P.L., XX, 553). That is its place in the Apost. Const. (VIII, xi, 9). After the Lord's Prayer, at Rome, during the fraction, the celebrant sings: "Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum." It seems that this was the place to which the kiss of peace was first moved (as in Innocent I's letter). This greeting, unique in the Roman Rite, occurs again only in the Apostolic Constitutions (η ειρηνη του θεου μετα παντων υμων). Here it comes twice: after the Intercession (VIII, xiii, 1) and at the kiss of peace (VIII, xi, 8). The two Roman prayers after the Communion, the Postcommunion and the Oratio super populum (ad populum in the Gelasian Sacramentary) correspond to the two prayers, first a thanksgiving, then a prayer over the people, in Apost. Const., VIII, xv, 1-5 and 7-9.
There is an interesting deduction that may be made from the present Roman Preface. A number of Prefaces introduce the reference to the angels (who sing the Sanctus) by the form et ideo. In many cases it is not clear to what this ideo refers. Like the igitur at the beginning of the Canon, it does not seem justified by what precedes. May we conjecture that something has been left out? The beginning of the Eucharistic prayer in the Apost. Const., VIII, xii, 6-27 (the part before the Sanctus, our Preface, it is to be found m Brightman, "Liturgies, Eastern and Western", I, Oxford, 1896, 14-18), is much longer, and enumerates at length the benefits of creation and various events of the Old Law. The angels are mentioned twice, at the beginning as the first creatures and then again at the end abruptly, without connection with what has preceded in order to introduce the Sanctus. The shortness of the Roman Prefaces seems to make it certain that they have been curtailed. All the other rites begin the Eucharistic prayer (after the formula: "Let us give thanks") with a long thanksgiving for the various benefits of God, which are enumerated. We know, too, how much of the development of the Roman Mass is due to a tendency to abridge the older prayers. If then we suppose that the Roman Preface is such an abridgement of that in the Apost. Const., with the details of the Creation and Old Testament history left out, we can account for the ideo. The two references to the angels in the older prayer have met and coalesced. The ideo refers to the omitted list of benefits, of which the angels, too, have their share. The parallel between the orders of angels in both liturgies is exact:
ROMAN MISSAL APOST. CONST. . . . . cum Angelis . . . . στρατιαι αγγελων, et Archangelis, cum Thronis αρχαγγελων, . . . . θρονων, et Dominationibus, cumque κυριοτητων, . . . . omni militia cælestis exercitus . . . . στρατιων, αιωνιων, . . . . . . . . sine fine dicentes. λεγοντα ακαταπαυστως.
Another parallel is in the old forms of the "Hanc igitur" prayer. Baumstark ("Liturgia romana", 102-07) has found two early Roman forms of this prayer in Sacramentaries at Vauclair and Rouen, already published by Martène ("Voyage littéraire", Paris, 1724, 40) and Delisle (in Ebner, " Iteritalicum", 417), in which it is much longer and has plainly the nature of an Intercession, such as we find in the Eastern rites at the end of the Anaphora. The form is: "Hanc igitur oblationem servitutis nostræ sed et cunctæ familiæ tuæ, quæsumus Domine placatus accipias, quam tibi devoto offerimus corde pro pace et caritate et unitate sanctæ ecclesiæ, pro fide catholica . . . pro sacerdotibus et omni gradu ecclesiæ, pro regibus . . . " (Therefore, O Lord, we beseech Thee, be pleased to accept this offering of our service and of all Thy household, which we offer Thee with devout heart for the peace, charity, and unity of Holy Church, for the Catholic Faith . . . for the priests and every order of the Church, for kings . . .) and so on, enumerating a complete list of people for whom prayer is said. Baumstark prints these clauses parallel with those of the Intercesison in various Eastern rites; most of them may be found in that of the Apost. Const. (VIII, xii, 40-50, and xiii, 3-9). This, then, supplies another missing element in the Mass. Eventually the clauses enumerating the petitions were suppressed, no doubt because they were thought to be a useless reduplication of the prayers "Te igitur", "Communicantes", and the two Mementos (Baumstark, op. cit., 107), and the introduction of this Intercession (Hanc igitur . . . placatus accipias) was joined to what seems to have once been part of a prayer for the dead (diesque nostros in tua pace disponas, etc.).
We still have a faint echo of the old Intercession in the clause about the newly-baptized interpolated into the "Hanc igitur" at Easter and Whitsuntide. The beginning of the prayer has a parallel in Apost. Const., VIII, xiii, 3 (the beginning of the deacon's Litany of Intercession). Drews thinks that the form quoted by Baumstark, with its clauses all beginning pro, was spoken by the deacon as a litany, like the clauses in Apost. Const. beginning υπερ (Untersuchungen über die sog. clem. Lit., 139). The prayer containing the words of Institution in the Roman Mass (Qui pridie . . in mei memoriam facietis) has just the constructions and epithets of the corresponding text in Apost. Const., VIII, xii, 36-37. All this and many more parallels between the Mass and the Apost. Const. Liturgy may be studied in Drews (op. cit.). It is true that we can find parallel passages with other liturgies too, notably with that of Jerusalem (St. James). There are several forms that correspond to those of the Egyptian Rite, such as the Roman "de tuis donis ac datis" in the "Unde et memores" (St. Mark: εκ των σων δωρων; Brightman, "Eastern Liturgies", p. 133, 1. 30); "offerimus præclaræ maiestati tuæ de tuis donis ac datis", is found exactly in the Coptic form ("before thine holy glory we have set thine own gift of thine own", ibid., p. 178, 1. 15). But this does not mean merely that there are parallel passages between any two rites. The similarities of the Apost. Const. are far more obvious than those of any other. The Roman Mass, even apart from the testimony of Justin Martyr, Clement, Hippolytus, Novatian, still bears evidence of its development from a type of liturgy of which that of the Apostolic Constitutions is the only perfect surviving specimen (see LITURGY). There is reason to believe, moreover, that it has since been influenced both from Jerusalem-Antioch and Alexandria, though many of the forms common to it and these two may be survivals of that original, universal fluid rite which have not been preserved in the Apost. Const. It must always be remembered that no one maintains that the Apost. Const. Liturgy is word for word the primitive universal Liturgy. The thesis defended by Probst, Drews, Kattenbusch, Baumstark, and others is that there was a comparatively vague and fluid rite of which the Apost. Const. have preserved for us a specimen.
But between this original Roman Rite (which we can study only in the Apost. Const.) and the Mass as it emerges in the first sacramentaries (sixth to seventh century) there is a great change. Much of this change is accounted for by the Roman tendency to shorten. The Apost, Const. has five lessons; Rome has generally only two or three. At Rome the prayers of the faithful after the expulsion of the catechumens and the Intercession at the end of the Canon have gone. Both no doubt were considered superfluous since there is a series of petitions of the same nature in the Canon. But both have left traces. We still say Oremus before the Offertory, where the prayers of the faithful once stood, and still have these prayers on Good Friday in the collects. And the "Hanc Igitur" is a fragment of the Intercession. The first great change that separates Rome from all the Eastern rites is the influence of the ecclesiastical year. The Eastern liturgies remain always the same except for the lessons, Prokeimenon (Gradual-verse), and one or two other slight modifications. On the other hand the Roman Mass is profoundly affected throughout by the season or feast on which it is said. Probst's theory was that this change was made by Pope Damasus (366-84; "Liturgie des vierten Jahrh.", pp. 448-72). This idea is now abandoned (Funk in "Tübinger Quartalschrift", 1894, pp. 683 sq.). Indeed, we have the authority of Pope Vigilius (540-55) for the fact that in the sixth century the order of the Mass was still hardly affected by the calendar ("Ep. ad Eutherium" in P.L., LXIX, 18). The influence of the ecclesiastical year must have been gradual. The lessons were of course always varied, and a growing tendency to refer to the feast or season in the prayers, Preface, and even in the Canon, brought about the present state of things, already in full force in the Leonine Sacramentary. That Damasus was one of the popes who modified the old rite seems, however, certain. St. Gregory I (590-604) says he introduced the use of the Hebrew Alleluia from Jerusalem ("Ep. ad Ioh. Syracus." in P.L., LXXVII, 956). It was under Damasus that the Vulgate became the official Roman version of the Bible used in the Liturgy; a constant tradition ascribes to Damasus's friend St. Jerome (d. 420) the arrangement of the Roman Lectionary. Mgr Duchesne thinks that the Canon was arranged by this pope (Origines du Culte, 168-9). A curious error of a Roman theologian of Damasus's time, who identified Melchisedech with the Holy Ghost, incidentally shows us one prayer of our Mass as existing then, namely the "Supra quæ" with its allusion to "summus sacerdos tuus Melchisedech" ("Quæst. V. et N. Test." in P.L., XXXV, 2329).
The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume IX, pp. 792-794
Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, Censor
Imprimatur. +John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York