...the anamnesis follows, and still includes within it the institution narrative, as we have seen in the ancient Egyptian tradition represented by Seraphion. The redemption's application to us through the Holy Spirit evolves from this. Wherefore we, having in remembrance the things which He for our sakes endured, give thanks unto Thee, O God Almighty, not such as are due but such as we can, and fulfill His injunction. For He in the same night that He was betrayed, took bread into His Holy and blameless hands, and looking up to Thee His God and Father, brake it, and gave it to His disciples, saying: This is the mystery of the New Testament, take of it, eat; this is My Body which is broken for many for the remission of sins. Likewise also He mixed the cup of wine and water, and sanctified it, and gave it to them saying: Drink ye all of it; this is My Blood which is shed for many for the remission of sins; do this in remembrance of Me: for as oft as ye eat of this bread and drink of this cup, ye do show forth My death until I come.
The following is a reformatted version of a paper that was here; a copy of the original file is here. It was published by the Society of Clerks Secular of Saint Basil, a small order associated with the "Orthodox Catholic Church of the Americas". The OCCA is not accepted as a "Canonical Eastern Orthodox Church" by other Orthodox. The Society appears to have disbanded in 2002.
THEOLOGY AND SPIRITUALITY
OF THE EUCHARISTIC PRAYER
MAR RAMON ALLEE
HOLY ORTHODOX CHURCH
THE KINSHIP BETWEEN THE EGYPTIAN AND
ROMAN EUCHARISTS AND THE PRIMITIVE
FORM OF THEIR EPICLESES
If we compare the plan of the Eucharist of St. Mark with that of the Roman Eucharist, rescinding from the Memento of the Dead and the Nobis quoque we can see that they agree exactly, with the exception of this one difference, that instead of coming before the Sanctus the body of intercessions and commemorations immediately follows it. The schema of this body itself is exactly the same as in the Alexandrian rite: first, what we might call the pre-epiclesis (Te igitar), then the intercessions (Memento of the living), then the commemorations of the Saints (Communicantes), and finally the first Epiclesis. As at Alexandria, this latter is composed of two prayers (Hanc igitur and Quam oblationem). But obviously, since the Sanctus was already recited, they follow one another immediately.
To this structural analogy, we must add a whole series of verbal parallelisms, which exclude any assumption that it could be merely coincidental. Only in Egypt and Rome does the introductory dialogue begin with" "The Lord be with you" (or, in Egypt: "with all"). Similarly in both of these rites there follows simple "Sursum corda". At Rome the Eucharist begins with: "It is truly meet and right, equitable and availing unto salvation", and at Alexandria: "It is truly meet and right (Alexandria adds: holy), equitable and availing unto salvation ..." Only in these two cases do we make the immediate transition from the motives for the thanksgiving to the expression of the worship given to God with the words: "Christ, through whom ..." The same is true for the mention of the Angels which follows, without connective, and the introduction of the Sanctus by the petition that our own praise be accepted together with theirs. Similarly, only in these two cases are the gifts of the faithful from this moment on called sanctified gifts (qui tibi offerunt hoc sacrificum laudis ...), in the intercession preceding the consecration. In the Roman institution narrative, the mention that Jesus raised His eyes ad te Deum patrem suum has an exact parallel in the narrative of the Liturgy of St. Mark. In the anamnesis, the formula offerimus praceclarae majetati tuae de tuis donis ac datis corresponds exactly and exclusively. The parallelism that is most striking is that the first part of the first Egyptian Epiclesis asks for the presentation upon the heavenly Altar "through the Archangelic Liturgy (service)" of the sacrifice offered on earth, and it continues "as Thou hast accepted the gifts of Thy righteous man Abel, the sacrifice of our Father Abraham", expressions which are found exactly in the Supra quae and the Supplices (we shall see that they furthermore were to form one sole prayer in the fourth century) of the Roman Mass, where they constitute the equivalent of the second Epiclesis.
Furthermore, with the exception of the special position of the body of intercessions in the Roman Canon, it seems indeed that the other apparent differences between Rome and Alexandria are merely differences between two variants of the same tradition, and the "Roman" tradition must have existed at Alexandria at an early time just as it did at Rome. Actually, if we compare not the Eucharist of St. Mark but that of Serapion with the Roman Canon we discover: 1) that as at Rome, at Alexandria two Epicleses must have been known (although they were not preserved after the fourth century) and neither of them expressly evoked the Holy Spirit, 2) that Alexandria also knew a mention of the Angels at the end of the last Epiclesis, 3) that Alexandria also had a Memento of the dead, with the reading of their diptychs after this Epiclesis and 4) that Alexandria ultimately connected this Memento with its conclusion through a formula coming from the prayer for those who offer the sacrifice, in a manner that is very similar to what we still have in the Nobis quoque in the Trindentine Liturgy. Let us then read the end of the Eucharist of Serapion:
... May the Angels attending the people crush the Evil One and build up the Church.
We beseech Thee also for them that rest whom we commemorate.
Here the names are recalled.
Hallow these souls for Thou knowest them all. Hallow all them that sleep in the Lord. Number them among Thy holy Powers. Grant them a place and a dwelling in Thy Kingdom.
Receive also the thanksgiving of the people. Bless those who have brought the oblations and the eucharists Grant health, wholeness, joy and every progress of soul and body to all here present, through Thy only-begotten Son, etc. ...
Not only is the parallelism in the succession of ideas striking but here again there are analogies, if not identity, in the wording. The dead are those "who rest", "those who sleep", or qui dormiunt in somno pacis. Their admission into beatitude in both cases is expressed as a special transfer: God is asked to give a "place" for them in His Kingdom, or to put them "in loco lucis, refrigerii et pacis."
The "also" connecting a final evocation of the offerers with that of the dead also has its parallel in the "quoque" of the nobis quoque peccatoribus. It is not true that the fact that the Memento of the Dead was sometimes present and sometimes absent at this place in the manuscripts of the Roman Canon indicates that there did not seem to have been a parallel situation in Alexandria, as the divergence between the usages of Serapion and St. Mark shows.
For its part, the comparison with the Der Balizeh Anaphora shows that at Alexandria also the petition for the transformation of the oblations could be attached to the first Epiclesis as well as to the second, just as at Rome.
Finally, there is perhaps one last apparent difference between Rome and Alexandria, although Serapion allows us to suppose that it corresponds to what could have been also the practice at Alexandria at an earlier period. The intercessions for the living at Rome are all brought together in one prayer, which is furthermore very compact, while at Alexandria, as in all of the East, they are extended into a long series of petitions which are in a state of constant expansion. But with Serapion, as in the Roman Canon, we find them compressed into one prayer, one that is even shorter in Serapion than the Roman Memento.
The only major difference remaining then is the position of the intercessions and commemorations. The problem of the original place and of the exact interpretation of the prayer invoking the bringing of the offerings to the heavenly Altar by the Angels will also concern us, but from now on we can observe that the mention of the Angels at the end of the last Epiclesis in Serapion leads us to think that this mention could have been found at that place in Egypt as well as in Rome.
The difference between the respective positions of the Sanctus and the group of intercessions and commemorations, at Rome or at Alexandria, seems necessarily to be explained simply by the two different places in which the Qedushah was recited in the Synagogue ritual, either with the Shemah before the Tefillah or in connection with the Tefillah. In the 7th book of the Apostolic Constitutions, there is reason to believe that the Jews of Alexandria were already reciting it only once, in the Tefillah, but with the Shemah along with it. This seems furthermore to justify the Jewish liturgiologists who think that its recitation in conjunction with the Shema is the most ancient. At Rome, where there must have been a large proportion of Alexandrian Jews, it is likely that the Synagogues used a liturgy translated into Greek together with the Septuagint, before it served as a basis for the old Latin versions, built their own liturgy upon it, based on the same version of the Jewish liturgical texts as at Alexandria. This explains the common origin of the Christian Liturgies of Alexandria and Rome in the beginning. The constant contacts between the two capitals were to continue. This state of affairs throughout the whole development of the liturgies up to the fourth century, when the Roman Liturgy (like the other Liturgies of the West) passed from Greek into Latin.
But undoubtedly the presence of a considerable number of Eastern and particularly Palestinian Jews in Rome preserved there a great conservatism than at Alexandria. The Qedushah with the Shemah following it, was kept in its original place before the Tefillah and not right in the middle of it. It is from such a custom that the only marked difference in the structure of the Eucharist in Rome and Egypt must have resulted.
All that remains for us to do is to examine the problem posed by the original place of the mention of the heavenly Altar, with the Angels who are called upon to bring our sacrifice to it, and the resulting recall of the previously accepted sacrifices of "Abel the righteous" and our "father" or "patriarch" Abraham. This question, which could appear to be minimal, actually raises the whole problem of the meaning and the content of the original Epiclesis or rather Epicleses. The evidence from Alexandria coincides with that we have in the most ancient remodelings of the most archaic Eucharists, and shows us that there was indeed an Epiclesis, following the anamnesis, which if not original was at least relatively ancient. This Epiclesis, however, even when we see it already directed to the Holy Spirit, began by being merely a development added to the conclusion of the anamnesis, which was always, even in Judaism, a petition that the object of the "memorial" might have its fulfillment in those who celebrated it: either the eschatological construction of the eternal Jerusalem or the building up of the Church as the Body of Christ. There are good reasons for thinking that this idea, the unity of the Body of Christ being fulfilled in the final glorification of the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit, causes the first mention of the Spirit at this point. In a second stage, it developed into a formal invocation of His descent upon us and upon our celebration. As is shown in what we have today in the Liturgy of Addai and Mari and of Hippolytus, the Epiclesis in the beginning was nothing else but this, and not a word was said about the transformation of the oblations.
Moreover, this idea seems to have arisen in the first Epiclesis with the Quam oblationem, as is evidenced in both the Der Balizeh Liturgy and the Roman Canon. This prayer is but the result of an evolution of the Abodah prayer (combined with the preceding prayer, Tefillah) which concluded the imperative part of the Shemoneh Esreh, and which in the beginning was a prayer for the acceptance of the sacrifices of Israel, which the Rabbis tell us was itself taken from the Temple Liturgy. Let us notice here the outcropping of a second source of sacrificial expressions in the Christian Eucharistic Liturgy, starting from the moment that it acquired its full development. Even at the time when it was still necessary to translate the "memorial" for non-Semitic Christians, sacrificial expressions had made their appearance in the anamnesis in order to explain its meaning. In this case they were present from the very beginning in the prayer in question. Encouraged by the fact that this prayer follows the Tefillah blessing, which recommends the prayers of Israel, there was a tendency even in the synagogue usage to understand this also as the acceptance of her sacrifices, and not only the ritual sacrifices of the Temple, but also, and perhaps even more so, the manifold berakoth which made the entire life of the Jewish people one priestly action. Taken over and adapted by the Christians, as is so obvious in the Liturgy of St. Mark, not to mention Serapion, this recommendation of the sacrifices is understood as a consecratory prayer, not only of the oblations of the sacred meals, but also with them and through them, of the whole life of the Church.
Nevertheless, it is in this first Epiclesis, it seems, that the petition for the acceptance of the sacrifice came to be specified as a petition for the transformation of the oblations. This idea in the first Egyptian Epiclesis, was prepared for by the idea of an interchange between the material earthly, temporal gifts that we bring and the spiritual, heavenly, eternal gifts we await from God. This first idea is formulated here in terms that come from St. Paul, not in regard to the Eucharist, in regard to offerings of charity (cf. Romans 15:27). The transpositions are perfectly explained by the fact that he himself interpreted these offerings in a liturgical sense. Then too, with the Christian the Eucharistic celebration was also connected from the beginning with a common meal, a fulfillment of charity through the community of the faithful's offerings.
But the first part of the prayer of recommendation of the Eucharistic sacrifice, what precedes the Sanctus in the Liturgy of St. Mark, where this basic idea is expressed, expresses in a parallel way another notion whose roots are still more ancient and come directly from Judaism. It is the idea that our offerings are accepted by God if they are joined to the Angelic worship: hence the petition made to God to send an Angel to bring our prayers and sacrifices from earth to Heaven. In Revelation, the Elders (who are heavenly priests, in other words, Angels) offer to God cups of gold filled with perfume, which are the prayers of the Saints (Revelation 5:8, cf. also 8:4). Peterson saw very well the importance of the notion for the early Christian following in the steps of the Jews, that the earthly worship which God accepts joins us with the heavenly worship of the Angelic powers This is obviously what is behind the visions of Isaiah 6 and Ezekiel.1. connected with the Qedushah and the accompanying blessings in Jewish worship. Even earlier, we have the ancient priest tradition, recorded in the Pentateuch, according to which the Mosaic worship with its Altar and sacrifices was only a copy of the worship of Heaven, and therefore a means of associating men with it (Cf. Exodus 25:8 and 40).
But Peterson gets completely off the track when he asserts that the idea that the Angels themselves present our own payers and sacrifice to God is a purely Christian notion unknown to Judaism. It is true that it is not mentioned in the most ancient Jewish prayers. But it is already quite evident in the Book of Tobit. Raphael said to Tobit: "And so, when you and your daughter-in-law Sarah prayed, I brought a reminder of your prayer before the Holy One," i.e. God (12"12) and he added a few verses later: "I am Raphael, one of the seven holy Angel who presents the prayers of the saints and enter into the Presence of the Gory of the Holy One." In the text of St. Mark this evocation is in all likelihood the direct result of the citation from Malachi 1:11, on the pure sacrifice offered in every place to God among the nations. What follows shows that this is not the case with the present sacrifices of Israel which were defiled by the unfaithfulness of the people. but chapter 3 adds: "Behold, I send My messenger to prepare the way before Me, and the Lord who you seek will suddenly come to His Temple ... And he (it is still the messenger or Angel to whom the text refers) will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the Lord. Then the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years" (3:1-4).
This is evidently the source of the reference to the "service of the Angels and the heavenly Altar on which they are to present our offerings. But the manner in which it is formulated in the text of the Roman Canon has every chance of being the most primitive: i.e. the petition that an Angel (or the Angels) be sent by God to accomplish this transfer from earth to Heaven. Before the notion of asking for the special sending of a Divine Person, whether the Logos or the Spirit, it was most naturally in line with primitive Christian thought, as well as with the Jewish thought from which it proceeded. With this purpose in mind it invokes the"Angelic" ministry, that is spirits whose characteristic is precisely that of "being sent" in order to establish connection reciprocally between Heaven and earth. It can be very well understood that it seemed necessary for a more evolved theology to appropriate a directly divine intervention to this consecration of the Eucharist, and that a prayer for a mission of the Logos or the Spirit should be substituted for the petition for the sending of the Angels. On the other hand, it would be totally incomprehensible, if such a petition were original, that it would have been removed from the Roman Liturgy and an Angelic mission substituted in its stead.
This brings us to touch upon an aspect of a lively argument that was the subject of discussion some years ago. Dom Cagin, and then Fr. de la Taille, maintained that the Angel of the Roman Epiclesis was in fact only a figure designating the Holy Spirit or the Word. To this Dom Botte rightly replied that the known text of St. Ambrose mentioned not one particular "Envoy" but the Angels in general. In any case, the fact that he speaks of Angels in the plural at this point shows very well that it was a question of an angelic "ministry", for him as in the text of the Liturgy of St. Mark.
Yet, we should not simply oppose the idea of invoking in a special way the Logos and then the Holy Spirit, which seems to have appeared in the fourth century to the idea of invoking the mission of the Angels which must indeed be more ancient and even very close to the beginnings. As we see from the text of Malachi 3 that we have quoted, and since it is a general fact in the Bible when the "Angel of the Lord" is mentioned, neither the Old Testament nor ancient Judaism ever established the clear-cut distinction which we make between the presence of the Angels and the Presence of God Himself. The "Angel" makes God present in a particular place, while still reserving His transcendence. This notion may seem strange to our modern theology, but - and this is the point - the theology of primitive Christianity was no more "modern" in this sense than the Judaism from which it emerged. Our Christian Apocalypse describes the Logos exactly as it describes the Angels (Revelation 19:11 ff.). What is perhaps even stranger, it enumerates a singular Trinity in which the third term is "the seven spirits who are before the throne of God" (Rev. 1:4-5 and 4:5). It is quite true that it elsewhere mentions the "Spirit" in the singular (Rev. 5:2; also 22:17), but, if we ask what its relationship to these "seven spirits" may be, the only possible answer is either that He is one of them or that for the Prophet they are only one reality with Him.
To present the matter in another way, in the eyes of the first Christians as for the Jews, the heavenly world was an inseparable whole. When the Angels came down to earth, the presence of the Shekinah came down with them, borne upon the wings of the Cherubim, the "wheels" of fire that are the Ophanim, and glorified by the flight and the singing of the Seraphim. Similarly, in the Gospel narratives, when the Son of God comes down on earth at the Nativity, He is accompanied by all the Angelic Hosts (Luke 2:8 ff.). In the tomb His body is accompanied by two Angels who must be the same as the Cherubim of the Temple who spread their wings on either side of the mercy-seat (John 20:12;cf. Luke 24:4).
In evoking the angelic ministry to bear our offering to the Altar of heaven, the ancients were therefore well persuaded that what they were petitioning was not only the analogue of Christ's going up to Heaven and the correlative descent of the Spirit, but that it was in a certain way the very same thing. The Spirit, as the Paraclete sent to the Church between the Ascension and the Parousia, far from being in opposition to the descent of the Angels, was in their eyes preeminently the "Angel of the Lord", inseparable, moreover, from all those "who stand before the face of God" and who present our prayers and sacrifices, just as they comfort us on His behalf. According to certain forms of primitive christology, Jesus Himself is conceived as an "Angel", i.e. the "Envoy" of the Lord in whom the Lord Himself would purify His Temple and re-establish the identity between the sacrifices on earth and the worship in Heaven, as in Malachi's vision (Malachi 3).
Such expressions became suspect only after the struggles with Arianism. In the apparent confusion between the Angels and their ministry, Christ or the Spirit and their respective missions, we can discern an ambiguity that ran the risk of being useful to the heretics. It is at this time, during the first phase of the Arian conflict, as we see with Serapion, that the Logos must have been introduced into the Epiclesis, as the only one in whom the earthly sacrifice can become one with the heavenly sacrifice. When the controversy turned from Him and focused on the divinity of the Spirit, they came to pray that the Spirit be sent upon the oblations, as He was went to the Virgin's womb (Luke 1:35), so that these oblations might "manifest", as a number of Epiclesis say, the Presence of the very Body and Blood of the redeeming Logos.
At this time, at Alexandria, the angels were retained only in a general formula in the introduction of the first Epiclesis, while its main import was reserved for a Divine Person who alone is capable, as we thought from then on, of effectuating the transition from the earthly to the heavenly sacrifice in the transformation of the gifts offered.
At Rome, the local conservatism always resisted this modification of the formulas. They did indeed allow the admission of the formal expression of the transformation of the oblations in the first Epiclesis where it must have originated, but they retained the invocation of the Angels or the Angel in operating the transfer of the sacrifice of our world to the heavenly world. The only thing further that they could do was to let the sought after transformation remain anonymous, although it was obviously looked upon as a specifically divine work and one that could not be attributed to any creature. They therefore transferred the Angels, from the first to the second Epiclesis together with the remembrance of the sacrifices accepted in the past which must have been the cause of their being introduced in the first place. An examination of the different forms of the Alexandrian Liturgy has shown how very frequent were the exchanges between the two Epicleses. And this must have made it easy, first of all in Syria, it seems, to concentrate all the themes of the different Epicleses into one, the last one. But that the original position of this recommendation of the Eucharistic sacrifice, in reference to the ancient sacrifices, was certainly the first and not the second Epiclesis, results from the fact that the first Epiclesis had its origin in the Abodah blessing at the conclusion of the Tefillah. Given the character, of the notions about the Angels that we find there, which is not only primitive in christianity but actually pre-Christian, we may even think that it comes from a Jewish formula that has not come down to us, in which the Angel (or Angels) accompanied Abel and Abraham. (In fact was not Abraham's sacrifice enough to evoke the Angel?) In the ancient Roman Liturgy there is a likely chance that there was no Epiclesis at all after the anamnesis, but that the anamnesis ended simply with the petition that our sacrifice be accepted, as the representation to God for what comes from Him; and that we in turn be "filled with every grace and heavenly blessing". The removal of Abraham and the Angel along with Abel at this juncture may have been the cause of the fluctuations in the definitive composition of the formulas, as evidenced by the divergences between St. Ambrose's text and the one handed down to us in the final form of the Canon. Since the Quom oblationem from now specified the original prayer for the acceptance of the sacrifice as a prayer for the transformation of the oblations, the transfer to Heaven of the earthly sacrifice came fortunately to be resented as the counterpart of the "blessing" that "fills us", in the perspective of the exchange between the gift received from God and the one which we make to Him, which is still His alone.
The Liturgy of Serapion allows to us suspect that in Egypt also they might have transferred the Angels from the first to the second Epiclesis, since he omits them in the first and reintroduces them after the second, but only to give them the role of repelling the incursions of the Demon in the people of God.
And Melchizedek? He appears in the Roman Canon, it might be said, once again "without either father or mother:, in the sense that it is not possible for us, contrary to the case of Abel, Abraham and the Angel, to outline the genealogy of his presence in this text from related and prior texts. We may believe that, as the Epistle to the Hebrews invites us to think, he was already an object of speculation for certain groups of Jews, contemporary to the beginnings of Christianity. In this light, then, he may have been introduced like the other names of the Patriarchs into certain forms of the Abodah blessing. If, on the other hand, it is from the Epistle to the Hebrews itself that his introduction into Christian prayer comes, we do not know whether the Roman Epiclesis was preceded by others in this regard. Up to the present, along with the Eucharist of the Apostolic Constitutions, it is the sole prayer of this type that is truly ancient and where we see him make an appearance.
These various interconnections and the enlightenment which they produced have cleared the way for a reading of the Roman Canon which will require only a minimum of commentary. The economy of its structure and the exact sense of its formulas are now ready to be shown to us in all their particularly venerable antiquity.
THE STRUCTURE OF THE ROMAN CANON AND ITS EXPLANATION
The Lord be with you.
---And with your spirit.
Lift up your hearts.
---We have lifted them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
---It is right and just.
This form of the introduction dialogue, whose first two verses and their responses are so purely Semitic, and which are found in this precise way only in Hippolytus and the Egyptian Liturgy (the latter has the word "all" instead of "you"), must be considered as the most primitive form that has come down to us. Yet, it is quite meaningful that the third verse gives us the form "to the Lord our God", and not merely "to the Lord" as in Hippolytus. This latter formula seems to be a survival of the primitive Eucharist which, according Dom Gregory Dix was still a private meal of the Christians, through which they were completing the public Synagogue worship which they still attended with the Jews. In accordance with Jewish use, it was suited to the meal of a small group which was less than the minimum number of participants required for a Synagogue congregation (the Rabbis say ten). On the other hand, the Roman formula is the one prescribed since Jewish days for an assembly equivalent to that of the Synagogue. That it was preferred is perhaps the indication that the joining of the sacred meal to the service of readings and prayers came about rather early at Rome so that the original meaning of the use of one formula rather than another was still known.
For the beginning of the Eucharist, we shall quote the text of the "Preface" reserved today for the Easter season:
It is truly right and just, proper and helpful toward salvation, that we always praise Thee, O Lord, but roe especially so at this season, when Christ our Pasch was sacrificed.For He is the true lamb who has taken away the sins of the world, who overcame death for us by dying Himself and who restored us to life by His own resurrection. Therefore with the Angels and Archangels, the Thrones and Dominations, and all the militant hosts of Heaven, we continuously praise Thy glory in song and say:
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Hosts.
Heaven and earth are filled with Thy glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
X Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.
The Preface, as we are accustomed to call it in the Roman Liturgy, remains variables we know, like the Communicantes in a certain extent, and the Hanc igitur itself has long displayed this trait. We shall return more at length to this variability in the Eucharistic prayers when we speak of the Gallican and Hispanic Liturgies, where it has been preserved for all and not only some of the prayers of the Eucharist. Certain liturgists suppose, quite gratuitously: that in fact at Rome and elsewhere there would have been a fixedness for the whole text of the Eucharist, which followed the period of improvisation, and then the fixedness hardly in operation, a new variability would have appeared in the keeping with the liturgical year. But, in the texts we possess of the Western Liturgies, we cannot anywhere find this intermediary phase in which the whole had become fixed between two periods of variability. It seems than that we must rather say that the variability, which has been preserved integrally down to our own day for the Preface (we still have a few vestiges in the Communicantes, and in some Hanc igiturs most of which have long ago fallen into disuse), is merely a survival of the ancient improvisation. naturally, once the liturgical year developed, new composition tended to be modeled on various phases. but the ancient Roman sacramentaries offer us a superabundance of "extras" which surely all do not come from a desire to express the characteristics proper to the various times of the liturgical year which by this time had become more or less fully developed. We must go even further and say that many of the prayers that are classified in our collections as belong to the liturgical year are actually connected with it only by such a loose bond that there is every reason to believe that they were merely appropriate to it after the fact, with hardly any modifications or no modifications at all. If we remove the phrase "but more especially ..." (which furthermore gives the effect of being an addition) from the Preface just quoted, it would be perfectly applicable originally to any Sunday celebration, before having been reserved for the Easter season.
As a general rule, the more ancient the Roman Prefaces are, the more the compact fullness of their working makes them inter-changeable. Let us again quote the present Prefaces for Christmas and Twelfthnight:
It is truly right and just, proper and helpful toward salvation, that we always and everywhere give thanks to Thee, O Lord, holy Father, Almighty and eternal God; for the brightness of Thy glory has made itself ma nifest to the eyes of our mind by the mystery of the Word made flesh, and we are drawn to the love of things unseen through Him whom we acknowledge as God, now seen by men. Therefore, etc. ... for Thy only begotten Son restored our human nature by the new light of His immortality when He appeared in the substance of man's mortal nature, etc. ..
If we were accustomed to using the first for Christmas and the second for Twelfthnight, there could be nothing unsuitable about interchanging the two. Both express the restoration of creation through the redemptive incarnation in terms where the interweaving of the light of divine glory and the "knowledge" of God, which is one with immortality, is a direct echo of the Jewish daily prayers.
From these examples it should be easy to understand the reason why the Roman Liturgy, even after it had fixed the following prayers in the Canon, left the celebrants free to improvise in the beginning. This is undoubtedly because they wished to stay close to the brevity of the ancient prayers handed down from the Synagogue and their themes which are found just as they were in the examples we have just given, while still wanting to preserve the capacity for expressing successively the manifold aspects of the one saving Mystery. Far from the liturgical year's complexity being the cause of the variability of these prayers, it rather grows out of the same cause that maintained it. This is why this variability consequently come to be adapted to the themes that were successively distinguished in the rhythm of seasons and holy days. But in our opinion, in many relatively late Prefaces this process did not escape weakening this one and total expression of the Christian Mystery that is found in the most ancient Prefaces, to the great harm of the later Roman Eucharist.
The Sanctus itself appears here for the first time in the form that has become practically universal almost as it stands. In the Alexandrian Liturgy we have already witnessed the disappearance of the blessing taken from Ezekiel 1, and we have explained it by the fact that the ancient Christians were still close enough to the Jews to understand that in the Jewish liturgy it was a blessing for the Divine Presence in the Jerusalem Sanctuary. Once this blessing had been dropped at Alexandria, it was not possible to substitute another one because the attaching of the Epiclesis to the end of the Sanctus through the idea of fullness prevented it. Yet, whenever this connection did not exist, as at Rome or in Syria, we see the phrase: "Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord" being introduced very early between the two Hosannas. Of course, this formula was suggested by the disciples' use of it to hail Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. But in order to understand all its meaning, and especially the sense it has taken on in the Christian Eucharist, we must go back to the 118th Psalm from which it was taken. For Christians, this became the paramount Easter Psalm. But for the Jews it was first a Psalm of enthronement, glorifying in the Messiah-King's entry into the Temple the entry of the Lord Himself into His Sanctuary. On the lips of the celebrants of the Eucharist then, it is a confession of the divine Shekinah entering into the eschatological Sanctuary of the Church. The eucharistic consecration not only given us the glorified Body and Blood of Christ, under the forms of bread and wine but by this very means, the definitive Divine Presence of God with His people in the Church, the Body of Christ.
Therefore, we come to Thee, Father most merciful, through Jesus Christ Thy Son, our Lord. Through Him we beg and beseech Thee to accept and bless these gifts, these tokens, these holy and spotless offerings. We offer them for Thy Holy Catholic Church. Watch over it and guide it; grant it peace and unity throughout the world. We offer them for N. our Pope, for N. our Bishop, and for all the orthodox and those who teach the Catholic and Apostolic Faith.
Remember, Lord, the servants of Thy household N. and N., and al l who are gathered around Thy Altar. Thou knowest their faithfulness and their dedication. (We offer to Thee for them) or they offer to thee this sacrifice of praise for themselves and for all whom they cherish. They pray to Thee for the redemption of their souls, for the hope of salvation and safety (incolumitas).
In the fellowship of communion, celebrating the most holy day when Jesus Christ our Lord rose from the dead according to the flesh, we honor the memory first of all of the glorious Mary Ever Virgin, Mother of t he same Jesus Christ our Lord. Then we honor blessed Joseph, spouse of the same Virgin and Thy blessed Apostles and Martyrs, Peter and Paul, Andrew, James and John, Thomas, James, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Simon and Jude, Linus, Cletus, Clement, Sixtus, Cornelius, Cyprian, Lawrence, Chrysogonus, John and Paul, Cosmas and Damian, and all Thy Saints. Through their intercession help and guard us in all things. Through the same Christ our Lord. (Amen.)
This then is the offering which we Thy servants and Thy whole family owe and give to Thee, also for those whom Thou hast been pleased to bring to new birth by water and the Holy Spirit. Grant forgiveness of all their sins. Establish our days in Thy peace, save us from eternal damnation, and count us among those Thou hast chosen. Through Christ our Lord. (Amen.)
As for this whole offering, O God, please bless it; make it proper, perfect, spiritual (rationabilem) and acceptable: so that it may become for us the Body and Blood of Thy beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
This group of five prayers forms a whole which what became of the Tefillah in Roman Tradition. We must go back to the more developed text of the pre-epiclesis in the Liturgy of St. mark and beyond it to the first prayer of the 7th Bok of the Apostolic Constitutions, in order to understand how the evocation of the "fathers and their devout actions, in the expectation of the Messaih whom their children await, led first to the evocation of the pure and spotless worship offered in every place by the faithful Jews in their berakoth, and then by the Christians in their Eucharist. Thus they came to beseech the "most merciful" Father (a modifier already used of Him in the Jewish prayer at this point) to accept the present offering through this Messiah who has now been given to them, as the "pure and spotless" oblation. In the prayer from St. Mark the idea of man's renewal brought about by Christ led subsequently to the glorification of the Divine Name, just as in the Jewish Tefillah, the evocation of the hoped for resurrection of the fathers led to this same glorification. Here, the transition has disappeared (although a memory of it can be found in the gathering in of the Church which is mentioned straight away), and the invocation of the Name seems also to be absent. In fact, this is not the case. What this invocation signified for the early Christians, that is, the revelation of God as the Father, in His Son given to the world, is found in the solemn invocation at the beginning of the prayer, to God, as the Father, through Jesus Christ His Son. The sense of this offering of the Eucharist, materialized here in the oblations (although they can be called "holy and spotless" offerings only by reference to the Eucharist of which they are the object), is given to us by the goal assigned to it: peace, protection, and the final gathering of the whole Catholic Church throughout the world, and no longer Israel alone. The Pope is first named among those to whom the prayer will be explicitly extended. The name of the Bishop, when this Liturgy was celebrated outside of Rome, was included with him. Following them, the name of the emperor used to be mentioned, and when relevant, that of the King. The end of the formula does not refer, as it has at times been interpreted, to all the faithful, but rather to all the other heads of the Church who have a part in this work of gathering together the one people of God in the "orthodoxy" of the Apostolic Faith. Leading the people of God to unity, in so far as they are successors of the Apostles, take the place held by the "fathers" in the mind of the Jewish people.
The Memento makes the transition from the people taken in its totality and unity to all its members and their individual needs. Hence the introduction at this point of the diptychs mentioning the living for whom we wish especially to pray . We have put in brackets the phrase "We offer to Thee for them" since it does not appear before the ninth century. It misrepresents the transition from a notion of the common offering of the Eucharist, the "sacrifice of praise", on the part of all who surround the Altar to that of an offering that the ministers make for "offerers" supposed to be absent or who are mere passive witnesses of the Eucharist. What is asked for the members of the people of God is very interesting: it is redemption which includes penance, forgiveness and ransom, which were successively petitioned for in the fifth, sixth and seventh blessing of the Tefillah. The "salvation" that follows corresponds similarly to the healing which is the object of the eighth prayer and the "incolumitas" to the peace and prosperity which are the objects of the ninth. If we observe the prior reference to the faith and the devotion of the offers, we see that the "knowledge" of God, the object of the fourth, has also left its trace. The "dispersed" who came right at this point (and whom the Egyptian prayer still mentioned) have disappeared, along with the persecutors (also found in Egypt) and the faithful who stood in opposition to them. The authorities (figuring in the eleventh blessing) were already mentioned, and therefore did not have to be mentioned again.
The Communicantes, with the commemoration of the Saints now follows the intercessions as in the Egyptian prayer. We might be tempted to ask why these commemorations were not introduced at the beginning in order to correspond to the detailed mention of the "fathers" given to us in the Tefillah, with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and all the other names which developed forms, like those of the 7th Book of the Apostolic Constitutions, might have added to them. But we must not forget that these same Hellenistic forms of the Jewish Tefillah introduced a second list of holy persons after the intercessions in conjunction with the prayer for the acceptance of the sacrifice. It is from this, undoubtedly, in both Roman and Egyptian Liturgies, that the commemoration of the Saints came to have the same position. The mention of the Apostles must be the most ancient, and that of the Virgin was very soon to be joined with it. The martyrs that follow are either Roman martyrs or martyrs venerated at Rome. We have inserted the reminder of the Easter commemoration, corresponding to the Preface quoted.
In the ancient sacramentaries these statements of the aspect of the Christian Mystery celebrated on this day, before the mention of the Saints were much more numerous than in the Latin Tridentine. To some extent they correspond to the variable forms of the "memorial" that the last of the "blessings" at the end of the meal also introduced on Jewish holy days. Perhaps these reminders, placed here, before the "memory" of the Saints, may help us to interpret this enigmatic Communicates" used at the very beginning of the prayer. What makes the whole people of God live in one fellowship, with the living and the dead (which was already so strongly inculcated by the whole first part of the Tefillah), is that altogether are made one in the Eucharistic "memory" of the saving Mystery, upon which has been grafted, so to speak, the "memory" of the Apostles and martyrs. Thus, for the Jews, the "memory" of God's great deeds in the past, the "memory" of the "fathers" who were witnesses of these deeds, and the anticipated "memory" of the expected Messiah were all one "memorial" presented to God in the berakah.
The last two prayers which we have quoted, Hanc igitur oblationem and Quam oblationem together, form the first Epiclesis of the Roman Liturgy. The first Epiclesis of the Egyptian Liturgy was also, as we have seen, formed from two distinct prayers, the first, like the Hanc igitur, developing in an enumeration of the more special intentions for which the sacrifice was being offered. But, in Egypt, the Sanctus and its introduction were inserted between the two, producing the need of the connection, taken from the idea of fullness, in order to link up with the second. Here the two prayers remain distinct, but they are joined immediately, as in the Tefillah where the sixteenth blessing (in which all of Israel's petitions were brought together to be recommended to God) was joined to the Abodah which recommended to Him her sacrifices themselves.
We have given here once again the special formula, which is still preserved, for the Eucharist offered for the intention of the neophytes who had just been baptized at Easter. It was in antiquity and even much later in the Middle Ages only one among innumerable other special intentions that could be formulated at this point. "Establish our days in Thy peace seems originally to have been a simple special intention of this kind which St. Gregory the Great permanently included.
The Quam oblationem is properly the presentation of the Eucharistic sacrifice to God for His acceptance. Among the adjectives with which it qualifies the oblation, rationabilem is obviously the transition of "logical worship", i.e. offered in the Logos who is the Word made flesh. But it also brings to mind the "word" with which man, in the same Jesus Christ, responds to it, here identified with the Eucharist. Let us recall that at Alexandria it was in the pre-Epiclesis that "logical worship" was mentioned.
In telling us that the praise at the beginning of the Eucharist was followed by the intercessions, St. Ambrose gives evidences at least in its general lines, of the beginning of the Roman Canon as it was in the second half of the fourth century. But with this last prayer, we arrive at the part of the Canon which he quotes practically in its entirely and more or less literally. It seems, actually, that he is no longer merely willing to give an explanatory paraphrase, but that he is quoting textually in the midst of his explanation the very words that he used in the Eucharistic prayer from then on.
The form he gives of the prayer corresponding to our restored Gregorian Quam oblationem is this:
Make this offering for us orderly (scriptam) spiritual (rationabilem), worthy to please Thee, this offering which is (or because it is) the figure of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ ...
The rest of the commentary, which of a most decided realism, shows very well that figura instead of being opposed to the reality of the Presence, means to indicate that the visible elements are becoming its efficacious sign. In this regard, the Latin Roman formula: "so that (this offering) may become for us the Body and Blood of Thy beloved son, our Lord Jesus Christ" means the same thing in a form which is clearer for present day Roman Catholic understanding, but which was not any clearer for the ancients in the Western Church.
If what we have suggested about the original place of the references to the heavenly Altar, the Angel and the Patriarchs, had to be the same at Rome as at Alexandria, it is from the first words of the Hanc igitur oblationem that these references must have arisen (moreover, St. Ambrose's text, while placing them after the anamnesis, has them connected with a repetition of the expression Hanc oblationem). In this case it appears that the petition for the acceptance of the sacrifice, enveloping the one for the transformation of the oblations, flowed directly from this.
We now come to the institution narrative, the anamnesis and the second Epiclesis, which make up one closely connected whole (with St. Ambrose the connection is so continuous that the last phrase, which includes the Epiclesis within the anamnesis, becomes very overloaded - which explains why the Tridentine version, which cuts the Epiclesis into two sentences and separates it from the anamnesis, was ultimately preferred).
And He, on the day before He suffered, took bread into His holy and venerable hands, looking up to Heaven, to Thee, God, His Almighty Father, He gave thanks to Thee, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to His disciples, saying: Take and eat this, all of you, for this is My Body. Likewise when supper was ended He also took this glorious Cup into His holy and venerable hands, gave thanks to Thee again, blessed the Cup and gave it to His disciples, saying: Take this and drink from it, all of you: This is My Blood, of the new and everlasting Covenant, the Mystery of Faith, which will be shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you do this, you will do it in memory of Me.
Wherefore, Lord, we Thy servants and also Thy holy people, recall the blessed Passion of the same Christ, Thy Son, our Lord. We remember His resurrection from the dead and His glorious Ascension. From among the gifts Thou gavest us (de tuis donis ac datis) we offer to Thy radiant Majesty (praeclarae majestatis), a victim pure, holy, spotless, the Sacred (sanctum) Bread of Life eternal, and the Cup of eternal salvation. Look with a pleased and serene countenance upon these gifts. Accept them as Thou didst the gifts of Thy just servant Abel, the sacrifice of Abraham, our Patriarch, and the offering of Melchizedek, Thy priest: a holy sacrifice and a spotless victim.
Humbly we ask Thee, Almighty God, to bid Thy holy Angel to carr y these gifts up to Thy heavenly Altar, in the sight of Thy Divine Majesty. This we ask so that whoever shares in receiving the most Holy Body and Blood of Thy Son from this Altar here below may be filled with every heavenly blessing and grace. Through the same Christ our Lord. (Amen.)
We have already pointed out the peculiarities of the institution narrative in the Egyptian Liturgy, where the amplifications and harmonizations customary in the formulas of this time come very close to the text of the Tridentine Missal. The insertion mysterium fidei is a unique peculiarity of the Roman Rite. All sorts of unverifiable hypotheses have been trotted out to explain how it could have come to be inserted into the formula relating to the Cup. Its meaning is clear: it is the Pauline mystery, which is one with the New Covenant in Christ, that is referred to here.
The anamnesis concludes with the Ascension, and indication of its antiquity. The mention "we Thy servants", as opposed to "Thy holy people", obviously refers to the officiants to whom all the faithful are joined in the representation of the sacrifice to God. The formula explicating the "memorial" in sacrificial terms is practically word for word the one which we have explained in the Liturgy of St. Mark. The two connected formulas which unfold the second Epiclesis were already abundantly commented upon. It is enough to add to what was aid before that the last words of the first: sanctum sacificium, immaculatam hostiam, added by St. Leo, and
which are a last allusion to the pure offering of the nations in Malachi, in their primary intention apply to the sacrifice of Melchizedek which is the last mentioned.
Then before the great concluding doxology, there comes a series of prayers which, after the mentioned of the Angels, shows an obvious parallelism with the end of the Eucharist of Serapion, as well as with the end of the commendations in that of St. Mark.
Remember, too, Lord the servants of Thy household N. and N. who have gone before us with the Sign of Faith and who sleep the sleep of peace. Grant, O Lord, to these and to all who are at rest in Christ a refreshing place of light and peace. Through the same Christ our lord. (Amen.)
For our selves, too, who are sinners, Thy servants who trust in the multitude of Thy mercies, give us part and fellowship with Thy holy Apostle s and martyrs, with John, Stephen, Matthias, Baranabas, Ignatius, Alexander, Mar cellinus, Peter, Felicity, Perpetua, Agatha, Lucy, Agnes, Cecilia, Anastasia and all Thy Saints. We beg you to let us share their company, not in view of our merits but because of thy mercy, through Christ our Lord. Through Him Thou makest good, Thou makest holy, Thou makest alive, Thou makest blessed, and Thou givest to us all these things. Through Him and with Him, and in Him is given to Thee, Father Almighty, together with the Holy Spirit, all honor and glory, forever, and ever. Amen.
Since the Memento of the dead is absent from many of the most ancient manuscripts, some have drawn the conclusion that it was only a late addition. This quite unlikely since the Nobis quoque, which is never missing, was obviously attached to it. This omission must be explained by the fact that at a certain time, as we know, it was not recited at Sunday Mass. The sequence of ideas, so striking at this point where they are quite uncommon, is the same as in Serapion from the end of the Epiclesis to the end of the Eucharistic Prayer. And the end of the commemoration of the Liturgy of St. Mark, where there is also a transition from a prayer for the dead to a final supplication for the offerers themselves, presents still more emphatic coincidences in wording with the Latin Western text. The make-up of this Memento is of a particularly arachic language, with its mention of the "Sign of Faith" (the Seal of Baptism), the refigerium, and the passing over into everlasting life described as the transfer from one place to another.
The Nobis quoque, with its felicitous final formula on gratuitousness of our admission into the company of the Saints, this heavenly Jerusalem in the vision of which the Jewish berakoth ended before returning to praise in a final doxology, has a final enumeration of the Saints. It is very variable in medieval manuscripts, which include all those to whom local devotion might be more especially attached.
In the Roman text, Ignatius is the martyr of Antioch, Alexander, Marcellinus and Peter, martyrs about whom we know little, Felicity and Perpetua the two famous African martyrs, Agatha and Lucy two Sicilian martyrs, Agnes and Cecilia two Roman martyrs, and Anasatasia the possibly legendary person after whom the basilica at the foot the Aventine hill was named.
The blessing for "all these things" that follow, seem originally to have been directed toward all the gifts from which the matter of the Eucharist had been drawn; what was left over would serve for the charitable distributions that in antiquity were always connected with the celebration. It should be noted that in certain Hispanic formularies this blessing seems to have come to absorb the final doxology.
If we wonder why the Memento of the dead at Rome and, in certain archaic cases at least, in Alexandria, came thus to be put between the end of the Epiclesis and the doxology, it seems that the answer must be found in the character of this conclusion (which has been strongly eschatological from the beginning). Since those who have died in the Faith have gone before us, as the prayer says, into the heavenly Jerusalem, it was logical that a final prayer be devoted to them, before asking for ourselves our own anticipated entry into the choir of everlasting glorification through the Eucharist.
Finally, it may have been noted that we put the Amens within the Canon in brackets because they appear only very late in the manuscripts. In fact, this simply means that from the high Middle Ages there was no longer any way for the faithful to respond to prayers now said in a low voice, although the bizarre custom of having the celebrant answer himself was not yet introduced. But, once again, the distinctness of the prayers with their separate conclusions is perhaps the best indication of the very great antiquity of the Roman Canon. and when everyone was able to hear what was being read, there is every reason to think that the faithful punctuated these conclusions with an Amen, just as in the Liturgy of Addai and Mari.
Put back thus in its true context, the Roman Canon appears then as one of the most venerable witnesses of the oldest tradition of the Eucharistic Prayer, at least contemporary in its totality with the most archaic forms of the Alexandrian Eucharist. There is every reason to think that the succession of these prayers and their content with many expression go straight back to the assuredly very ancient time at which the Eucharist at Rome as everywhere else was definitively connected with the service of readings and prayers. This is to say that Hippolytus, far from being its originator - a man who still wished to ignore this connection - must have propagated his own rite in Rome, if he ever did so, only in a vain attempt to dislodge a Rite which must have already been very like the one that has come down to us known as the Tridentine Mass, with the exception that the language was still Greek and not Latin.
THE WEST SYRIAN LITURGY:
THE APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTION
and the LITURGY OF SAINT JAMES
Starting with the moment when the service of prayers and reading and the Eucharistic meal were combined into one, the type of Liturgy that subsisted in Rome and Alexandria, except for a few local peculiarities, must have been practically universal in the Church. But in the fourth century, under the influence of Antioch, we see appearing in Western Syria a Eucharistic Liturgy of a profoundly different type, even though the same elements are found in it. The first modern scholars to discover it at the end of the Renaissance in the Liturgy of the 8th Book of the Apostolic Constitutions, and then soon afterward in the Jerusalem Liturgy of St. James, were all quite literally dazzled. Among Anglicans in particularly, a whole series of attempts at restoring of a traditional Eucharist in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was inspired by it. This was because the Eucharist of the Apostolic Constitutions, attributed to Clement of Rome (hence the name Clementine Liturgy, by which it was known for a long time) was provided with the prestige of Apostolic authority, like the Liturgy of St. James which was attributed to the brother of our Lord. But it is also because these texts are compositions of an excellent arrangement, of great richness of thought and expression, and set in the eloquence of an accomplished rhetoric. These texts' claim to apostolicity has not been taken literally by anyone for a long time. But even so, they are far from having lost their prestige. In the twentieth century there are still theorists who look upon it as the most ancient and pure form of the Eucharist, and try to show the hypothetical evolutionary process by which the Roman Liturgy itself must have originated from it. One of the greatest Anglican liturgists of the last century, Bishop Walter Howard Frere, in his book The Anaphora, more subtly, and much more prudently maintained that this was the ideal liturgy, conceived and developed on a plan which is substantially primitive, even if its working from represents an undeniably advanced evolution. The continuity of its development and the logical unity of the Trinitarian structure in which it is inscribed seem to him to be guarantees of the quasi-apostolic antiquity of this Eucharistic schema, whatever we might say about the variation in detail of the formulas with which it may be clothed. Out of this conviction there grew, and are still growing more or less concordant attempts in the Anglican Communion but also in many other Churches, at constructing an ideal Eucharist that is presented as basically original.
THE LATE CHARACTER OF THE WEST SYRIAN
EUCHARIST AND THE FACTORS IN ITS FORMATION
We will not deny that the West Syrian Eucharist can be considered ideal, at least in the sense that nowhere else has the whole traditional content of the Christian Eucharist been expressed with such fullness and in such a satisfying framework for a certain logical type of mind. But that this Eucharist can be considered original, even with all the reservations possible on the details of expression with which we find it clothed in the Apostolic Constitutions or the Liturgy of St. James, is, we must say frankly, the most curious aberration conceivable. The unfailing logical unity, the continuity of its development, and the impeccable Trinitarian schema in which people are so happy to find it inscribed, are all irrefutable signs not only a late dating, but of a well thought-out structure, that remodeled the traditional materials with hardly believable daring. Actually, if ever the original Eucharist were taken apart in order to be put back together again piece by piece after an untraditional as possible a pattern, it is here in the West Syrian Eucharist. All of this work bears on its date and its original stamp. It supposes both the very advanced evolution which Trinitarian theology only attained in the fourth century, and the last Greek rhetoric for which Antioch, as if by chance, was to be the home. There is no question of shedding doubt upon the legitimacy or even the excellence of the theology of the Greek Fathers of the fourth century. Nor would we dream of not acknowledging the literary accomplishments of the Hellenism of their time. We may judge that Libanios, the Antiochian teacher of St. Basil and of the two Gregorys, brought into focus a remarkable type of culture, and prepared literary forms of a stunning versatility and richness, which lacked only the content of a substantial thought that these Christian writers were to give them. But, we must say all of this gets us further and further away from the world of thought and the forms of expression known to the first Christians.
The first Christian prayers, from their content, however renewed it may have been by the "newness" of the Gospel, and from their spontaneous form, are still deeply Semitic, even when they are formulated in Greek. Now, in this framework, even the possibility of a long and eloquent prayer, developed systematically, is impossible. The thought animating the Jewish prayers and the first Christian prayers in no way moves to the rhythm of the steps of Greek logic. And it would not have had at its disposal the literary molds without which a thought of this other type could not even be formulated.
In the Bible or in the ancient Synagogue literature, there are no long prayers. and if there are none, it is because there hardly could be. Semitic languages, like Hebrew, which had only a few prepositions, two or three conjunctions, and no relative pronouns, do not permit them. Chains of prayers, connected by the themes running through them, can be composed, but not prayers that are developed logically and at length, since they demand a complex syntax provided with an abundant variety of connective terms.
The exceptions are quite apparent. Leaving aside the prayers of the Book of Esther (which were added at a late date in its translation into Greek), most the long Psalms are not long prayers at all, but rather, as the Scandinavian exegetical school has shown, Liturgies arranging different prayers end to end. The prayers correspond to the successive phases of a sacrifice, a procession, or some other type of complex service. Hence the seeming non-sequiturs, the abrupt transitions from one subject to another, that have been the despair of the exegetes, for as long as they stubbornly wished to analyze then as one might a Homeric hymn.
Let us back track for a moment and consider the Psalms as a liturgical form. In Genesis, when Eliezer meets Rebekah and becomes aware of the way in which the God who revealed Himself to Abraham managed everything, he cries out: "Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken his steadfast love and his faithfulness toward my master. As for me, the Lord has led in the way to the house of my master's kinsmen." (Genesis 24:27). In other words, God is praised for having kept His promises toward one who had believed in His Word. The object of this blessing of God, as rudimentary as it is, is already the gratitude about which St. Paul was to say: "In everything God works for good with those whom He loves." (Romans 8:28).
Perhaps even more striking is the berakah uttered by Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, especially if looked at in its whole context. Jethro sees as with his own eyes that God actually did speak to Israel through Moses and that he fulfilled His promises. Then he cries out: "Blessed be the Lord, who has delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of Pharaoh. Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods, because He delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians." The text goes one: "And Jethro, Moses; father-in-law, offered a burnt offering and sacrifices to God; and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses' father-in-law before God." (Exodus 18:9-10).
This berkah from the mouth of a stranger to God's people is therefore the expression of his association with their faith. Jethro acknowledges here that the divine Word has made itself heard in Israel and that it kept its promises toward them. This proclaiming of God, acknowledged in his mirabilia, resulted in the offering of the sacrifice, and as a consequence, his entrance into fellowship with the people which the Word has formed, in the Presence of God.
A number of psalms are just amplified berkoth of this kind. They manifest the full sense of these expressions: bless (benedicere), sing (cantere), avow (confiteri), proclaim (praedicare) when applied to the mirabilia Dei, (confessing of God), as announced, manifested and produced by the Almighty Word. Whether their specific object is creation in general or some benefit received by an individual, Israel's own experience is always implied in their praise: God who is first of all manifested in the history of His People and who will then be acknowledged everywhere and in all things. This is so true that everything for the believing Israelite is but an echo of His Word, the work that bear witness to it.
Those psalms which are prayers of petition always presuppose the background of this praise; it is the basis for every prayer: the God to whom Israel prays is in no way unknown. He is the God who is well known through His Word, the God who is acknowledged in the great deeds accompanying it and resulting from it. Even when this presupposition is still implicit, it always underlies the entreaty: the God who has done these wonders, in whom we believe, is the only one from whom we may expect everything.
But many of them already given a glimpse and often more than a glimpse of a development of the schema which was to become definite in the great liturgical berakoth of the synagogue. Particularly in the psalms composed to accompany the sacrifices (and these seem to be one of the oldest and most constant types in its structure), there is a primary phase which joyfully evokes the great deeds God has performed int he past for His People in a confession of jubilant faith. Then, the sacrifice is offered amid supplications that He renew and thereby confirm His past wonderful works. Frequently, a priestly oracle, undoubtedly arising from omens detected during the curse of the rite, appears at this point and promises deliverance or the hope for favor. Therefore the psalm which begins in praise and develops in supplication, ends with a doxology: God is always the same; today and tomorrow, as in the past, He will gratify His People.
This schema is particularly obvious in a psalm like the 40th. It opens with the announcement of past deliverances:
I waited patiently for the Lord; He inclined to
me and heard my cry.
He dew me up from the desolate pit,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my step secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Then comes the sacrificial offering with the prayer that God always show Himself in a like manner, that He continue to do and to accomplish what He began for the person who invokes Him. But at the same time it is a consecration of the one praying, in his sacrifice, and above and beyond the material oblation which merely represents the gift or rather the abandonment of self to the Divine will.
Sacrifice and offering Thou dost not desire;
but Thou hast given me an open ear.
Burnt offering and sin offering
Thou hast not required.
Then I said, "Lo, I come;
in the roll of the book it is written of me;
I delight to do Thy will, O my God;
Thy Law is written in my heart.
I have told the glad news of deliverance
in the great congregation;
Lo, I have not restrained my lips,
as Thou knowest, O Lord.
I have not hid Thy saving help within my heart,
I have spoken of Thy faithfulness
and Thy salvation; ...
Do not Thou, O Lord, withhold
Thy mercy from me,
Let Thy steadfast love and Thy faithfulness
ever preserve me!
It is on this basis of a consecration to God's will that the prayer is sent up to Him. It does so with such certitude that the supplication, of itself, turn into renewed and definitive praise.
... Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me!
O Lord, make haste to help me!
Let them be put to shame and confusion altogether
who seek to snatch away my life; ...
But may all who seek Thee
rejoice and be glad in Thee;
may those who love Thy salvation
say continually, "Great is the Lord!"
The core of this psalm is a thought which recurs many times in the psalter, and which is a central teaching of the Prophets, and Isaiah in particular. It is not the material substance of any offering that can satisfy the Lord, but the offering of one's self. Only a consecration of our will to this, acknowledged in His Word, gives meaning to our sacrifices (cf. Isaiah, 1).
Under the influence of Protestant prejudices, nineteenth century exegesis wished to see a repudiation of sacrifice in these formulas, which would be expressed with greatest clarity in the phrase of Hosea which Jesus was to use again: "I desire steadfast love, and not sacrifice." (Hosea 7:6 in Matthew 9:13). But as the contemporary Scandinavian school has well shown, this is false literalism, and misunderstands the deliberately paradoxical style of the Prophets. They are not premature Protestants or anticlericals who wished to substitute the idle dream of a secular religion for the unavoidable ritual reality of the actual religion. They simply state the meaning that sacrifice must assume in the religion of the Word: a consecration of man and his entire life through the ritual itself. The result is not a mortality into which religion is absorbed to the point of disappearance. but a religion which consecrates moral requisites in such a way that it makes one's whole life one act of religion.
What remains true in this perspective is that the consecratory prayer accompanying the sacrifice assumes a place of increasing importance in proportion as it expresses more forcibly the consecration of man himself. There is nothing more typical in this regard than the evolution of the sense given to a liturgical expression: sheva todath ("sacrifice of praise", or "of thanksgiving"). In the beginning it designated a special kind of sacrifice whose meaning was expressed by the accompanying psalm of praise. But little by little the "sacrifice of praise" came to mean the praise itself, which became not only an integral part of the sacrificial ritual, but the pre-eminent sacrifice. Hence we have such telling expressions as that which we find again in Hosea: "sacrifice of out lips: (Hosea 14:2). This "sacrifice of the lips" where the heart's oblation is expressed, is one with the "broken and contrite heart" that the conclusion of Psalm 51 opposes to empty ritualism.
Nothing voices the sentiment that this is not an outgrowing but an interiorization of sacrifice better than a particular expression of St. Paul. It comes so naturally to him that it must have already passed into common usage among the Jews, despite the fact that its very paradoxical character verges on misconstruction. In one of the oldest texts expressing the sacrificial sense given by Christians to the Cross, he says that Christ handed Himself over for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God (Ephesians 5:2). The reference to the 40th Psalm which we have quoted is obvious. But the psalm says literally: "sacrifice and offering Thou dost not want", but acceptance of the Divine Will. St. Paul translates, or rather transposes the sense by saying something which in its expression is almost the contrary: this accepting of the Divine Will is the offering that God desires.
The progressive introduction into the heart of the sacrifice of the prayer of offering of one's self, under the specific form of a berakah, will draw its ultimate inferences in the synagogue worship. Since the Jews of the exile and the diaspora could no longer offer sacrifices, a prayer of this type, as a response to the reading of the Word, came to take the place of sacrificial worship. When the Temple was rebuilt, it accompanied the morning and evening sacrifices. And in all the synagogues it will be pronounced facing Jerusalem, or more precisely, facing the Holy of Holies where the high priest once a year brought the Blood of Atonement.
All this sheds light on the description given in the Book of Nehemiah of the qahal, i.e. the liturgical assembly of the people back from captivity in the ruins of the Temple (Nehemiah 8-9). At the first qahal when the Covenant was made on Sinai, the people had responded with unanimous acceptance of the ten sentences of the basic Torah, and then the first sacrifices of the Covenant were offered (Exodus 19 ff.). At the scarcely less solemn qahal which marked Josiah's reform, after the reading of Deuteronomy, i.e., the Law enlightened by the Prophets and renewing the prohibition of idols, this acceptance was similarly renewed, and the renewed Covenant was sealed in the Passover sacrifice, the memorial of the deliverance from Egypt (2 Kings 22 ff.). At the third great qahal, of the Scribe Ezra, which the Synagogue of latter Judaism was to look upon as its foundation or consecration (see Nehemiah, 8-9), it is the whole priestly Torah of the Scribes which is read, the Pentateuch completed in its definitive form in exile. At this time it was still not possible to offer sacrifices: there was no longer any Temple, nor Altar, nor undoubtedly any victim that could be found to be offered. But in committing themselves to the rebuilding of the Holy Place and to the restoration of its service, the "elders" pronounced the berakah which is the most explicit in its form and the most exhaustive in its content found in the Bible.
The Levites began by exhorting the people to thanksgiving:
Stand up and bless the Lord your God
from everlasting to everlasting.
Blessed be Thy glorious Name
which is exalted above all blessing and praise.
Thereafter follows a great prayer which passes the entire history of creation in review and then the whole history of the People of God up to the present. It concludes with a formal consecration to God's plans together with an emphatic supplication that He accomplish His work for and in His People.
Here we have the two great prayers of the Synagogue service: the blessings which lead to the Qedushah and the recitation of the Shemah, and later the great prayer of the Amidah or Tefillah (the pre-eminent prayer). Throughout the entire life of the pious Jews the piety of Judaism extends the ramifications of these berakoth, which are found in detail in the tractates with this title in the Mishnah and Tosefiah. From the time he awakens, through each of his actions of the day, to the moment of his retirement and falling asleep, they consecrate the totality of his acts. And at the same time they consecrate the world in restoring it in praise to the Word which created it in the beginning, for each and every one of them are but so many acts of "acknowledgement" of this Word as being the beginning and the end of all things. As Rabbi Trypho, echoing the whole of rabbinical tradition, told St. Justin, it is through the constant offering of these berakoth that the Jews in diaspora among the Gentiles are conscious of offering everywhere to God the "pure offering" spoken of by the Prophet Malachi (Malachi 1:10-12). And it is thus that all of Israel believes it is accomplishing the promise of the Book of exodus: they will be made an entirely priestly people, a kingdom of priests, of consecrators of the entire universe to the One Divine Will revealed in the Torah (cf. Exodus 19).
With this ultimate understanding that Israel came to have of its own role, it is certain that we have gone definitively past the old ritual borrowed from Canaan. Whatever transformations in meaning and content that it may have undergone, it has now been surpassed. And this is why the destruction of the Temple and its sacrifices in the year 70 of our era can no longer destroy Israel nor the Torah worship.
But, as we have emphasized, this means not so much a moralization of the sacrifices as a sacralization of morality, or rather of the "righteousness" of the Torah. It would be a mistake to believe that this religion of the ultimate Israel would have escaped every particular ritual act, and more especially every definitive sacrifice. Nothing is more significant than to observe the new ritual which, on the contrary, was then to arise spontaneously, and to which the ritual communities awaiting the Messiah, the haburoth as they were later to be called, were to give its full meaning. We mean the meal rituals, particularly the community meals on the evening of the Sabbath or a feast day. For the priests of Qumran or Damascus, as for the Essenes or the Therapeutes mentioned by Philo or Josephus, this meal came to constitute not only new equivalent of the old sacrifices, but ultimately the only sacrifice remaining in the execution of the new and eternal Covenant. The great berakah pronounced by the president of the assembly over the last cup, which was to be shared by all, invoked the imminent coming of the Messiah and consecrated in this expectation the "remnant" which had remained faithful to the hoped for Kingdom. With this new sacrifice we arrive at the Last Supper, and the immediate prehistory of the Christian Eucharist.
Thus the only long Psalms that cannot be put into this category are the sapiential Psalms which are later meditations on sacred history. With these we may connect the great prayer of Nehemiah. We find there a source of the developed Eucharists, although it is not a true antecedent of them. For all these texts remain profoundly different from the form that these Eucharists were to receive in the Hellenic world. Their meditations remain on a purely narrative plane. History is not reconstructed in accordance with a rational synthesis. As long as the sapiential meditation remained in a Semitic context, it limited itself to punctuating a series of facts, looked upon as typical in their diversity, with one refrain such as "For this steadfast love endures forever" in the 136th Psalm, or "Let them thank the Lord for His steadfast love, for His wonderful works to the sons of men" in the 107th. Most often it does not even go that far in its organization, and merely accumulates successive evidences of God's steadfast love (Psalm 105) or renewed examples of man's unfaithfulness (Psalm 106). Or else, if it does outline a structure, it will be with a totally Eastern literary device, as in the composition of the alphabetical psalms.
We must arrive at a decidedly Greek form of thought in a literary world inherited from Hellenism, before we can see the sapiential meditation become synthesized in the Eucharistic framework in accordance with the articulated lines of a systematic theology. Here less than ever, can we separate content and form: this content involving a vision of salvation history organized from the starting point of a synthetic theology could appear only in a Greek form.
Yet even in the New Testament, we see a first indication of the transition in St. Luke which was to be made from one stylistic form (and at the same time from one form of thought) to another. The Canticle of Zachary, at first glance, is still a Psalm. But when it is read carefully in Greek, we see that it is not. The use, however rudimentary, of particles and the employment of varied conjunctions turn it into a Greek period, collecting and fusing the independent parts of a Semitic Psalm.
The same thing can be observed, as we have pointed out, when the transition is made from the Eucharist of Addai and Mari to that of St. Hippolytus. It is quite evident that the former was composed in a Semitic language. It is no less evident that Hippolytus, despite his careful concern to keep ne varietur the most ancient schema of the Eucharistic Prayer, composed his in Greek, and as Greek, at least by adoption.
The great West Syrian Eucharistic prayers exhibit still more clearly what the last Greek rhetoric could produce, when it was used to give the Eucharist a formula that conformed to its Canons. As a result, it began by rethinking the content itself in order to rewrite it. Once again, it was not by chance that these prayers were written at Antioch or its environs. They could never have been composed elsewhere, nor at any other time but when Libanios was teaching there.
Actually, the last Greek rhetoric is no longer merely an "Asiatic" rhetoric, but a Syrian one. Although it imagined itself to be only the ultimate perfection of the art of Demosthenes or Aeschilnes, in reality it had become something quite different. It retained its concern for a rational deductive development of thought in a strict grammatical form, making full but discreet use of all the resources of Greek vocabulary and syntax. But to this it added an oriental taste for profuse and striking imagery, for balancing idea and sonorities, and above all for a whole amplification of rhythm. Greek monody was transposed here into a kind of completely Hellenistic symphony, which would have seemed the height of bad taste and barbarism, not only to Demosthenes but even to Cicero. The result was that no matter how long and obligingly the phrase was drawn out, it still could ont contain the full periodic thought. This therefore took on an oriental and more definitely Semitic element, and became a torment of successive sentences. But the whole still remained Greek, not only in the structure of each of its sentences, but also because they were chained together, if not by means of express syntactical connectives, at least by the continuity of a rhythm which by balancing words and images always retained the thread of one and the same directional thought.
To Greeks molded in the school of the fourth or fifth century before our ear, Semitic literature would have seemed not only untranslatable but inassimilable. On the other hand, to these pseudo- Greeks it offered choice material for amplification, which was the last word of their evolved rhetoric. Were we to judge it in accordance with classical Canons, we could call it decadent. But obviously, in order for its Hellenic veneer not to fall to pieces, it was necessary for them to assimilate this literature at the cost of a digestive process that rendered it unrecognizable.
The first condition sine qua non would be a redistribution of the matter which would conform it to the development of Greek thought and language, through an analysis of each idea in its parts in order to reconstitute a whole in which particular and partial ideas would become synthesized of themselves into one general idea.
The Trinitarian schema, as it was worked out in the fourth century by a Greek speaking Christian theology, supplies the desired framework in which to display the most sumptuous rhetorical orchestration of the traditional Eucharistic themes. The result was the Liturgy of Antioch and Jerusalem. It was inevitable that it charmed the whole Byzantine Church, even to the extent that Byzantium adopted the whole rhetoric (and more generally the esthetics) of Antioch, along with the theology of St. Basil and that of the two Gregorys.
It seems the we found the first and most exuberant product of this work in the Eucharistic Liturgy of the 8th Book of the Apostolic Constitutions probably at Antioch itself. Somewhat later, at Jerusalem, an analogous composition, but one that was more sober and more polished, appeared with the so-called Liturgy of St. James. The Liturgies attributed to St. Basil and St. John Chrysostom were reworkings and by-products of this which brought the prototype to its classical form.
THE STRUCTURE AND THE SOURCES OF THE
EUCHARIST OF THE APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTIONS
It is customary for the commentators on the Eucharist of the 8th Book of the Apostolic Constitutions to assert that it is a Liturgy-on-paper which could never have been used as it stand on account of it prolixity. This would mean forgetting what St. Justin tells us about the ancient celebrants who gave thanks "as much as they could." There is every reason for believing that at Antioch in the fourth century, more than in any place in the world at any other time, there were men who "could" very well. Uttered by a celebrant in a hurry the Eucharist of the 8th Book of the Apostolic Constitutions would take hardly more than a quarter of an hour. If the modern liturgists were not generally clergymen belonging to churches where liturgical improvisation was nothing more than a memory, they would know by experience that a prayer of such length is not unusual in churches where ex tempore prayer is still the practice. The faithful are too accustomed to it to bother complaining, and the pastors would never dream of asking their opinion, even though these churches generally consider themselves among the most democratic. We may think that this was the case in the ancient Church for as long as improvisation remained the rule. We may even assume that the unspoken dissatisfaction of the faithful in regard to the verbal intemperance of certain clergy might have been behind the progressive disappearance of this wordy freedom. This factor, at the very least, must have added to the fears of the authorities, in the face of many improvisations where prolixity of formulas may have been on a par with inconsistency in thought. The Liturgy of the 8th Book of the Apostolic Constitutions seems to be the result of an attempt at delimiting as exactly and as widely as possible the content and the progression which were considered ideal by its author for a good Eucharist. But it profits thereby from a loquacity of which people must have begun to tire, but which must not yet have appeared as intolerable as we might imagine.
Despite its loquacity, it is still one of the most beautiful Eucharistic text of antiquity, and is undoubtedly in any case the one which expresses as completely as possible everything that the ancient Christians could find in, or put into a Eucharistic Prayer. It is generally admitted that its author must have been an Arian, or at the very least a Semi-Arian. Yet, we should not forget that many expressions which today might appear to be the result of this school are found with many Ante- Nicean Fathers. There is hardly anything that can express an embryonic theology so well as a positively defective theology. The Semi-Arians were so numerous only in so far as the Arians, when their language was prudent, limited themselves to using expressions which were current for a long time without anyone seeing anything wrong in them. These Semi-Arians, surrounding Basil of Ancyra, would have had no difficulty in accepting Nicean orthodoxy when the consubstantiality of the Son was sorted out from a declaration that was equally strong on the distinction of hypostases and lost any appearance of Sabellianism.
When we compare the end result with the Liturgies we have found in Egypt or in Rome, there are two things which we should note immediately. The first is that this pseudo-Clementine Liturgy is made up of the same elements as the Roman or Alexandrian Liturgy. Everything we have found in these, and only that, is also found, merely in a more generally (although not universally) detailed form, as if the compiler had wished to leave nothing implicit. The second is that it is impossible to suppose that the Egyptian or Roman type could proceed from this Antiochian type. This later represents a maturely conceived and deliberately applied synthesis and it would be inconceivable that one could have ever dreamed of taking it apart in order to rebuilt it in accordance with the other order. As we have seen, this other order is explained very well historically, if we begin with the antecedents supplied by the Jewish synagogue and table prayers. But on the other hand, we do not see how it could have resulted from a dissociation from the Eucharist of the Apostolic Constitutions. It seems incontestable, furthermore, that this Syrian Liturgy is an intentional rearrangement of an earlier local Liturgy which must have been very analogous to the Roman and Egyptian Liturgy. We shall see its verification later, when we return to the lengthy form of the Liturgy of Addai and Mari, in which it seems that we find a complete Syrian Liturgy that is slightly or not at all rearranged.
We shall give the text of the 8th Book of the Apostolic Constitutions in three successive fragments, and comment on it. The division corresponds to the Trinitarian plan of the whole composition. But is seems suitable to delay once again over the introductory dialogue.
The grace of Almighty God and the love of our Lord Jesus
Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
--- And with your spirit.
Lift up your minds.
--- We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord.
--- It is meet and right.
Here as with Hippolytus, and perhaps under the influence, we find again the short formula: "Let us give thanks to the Lord," whose origin and first meaning we have seen. But the two preceding verses have been completely Hellenized. The replacing of the salutation: "The Lord be with you" with the blessing drawn from 2 Cor. 13:13 became universal in the Syrian East and in all the countries to which its Liturgy was transported. But it was not adopted without a significant transformation. There was a concern for establishing the Trinitarian hierarchy in it by placing the "Almighty God" first and qualifying Him with "grace", while Christ takes the second place and consequently received the attribute of Word of God, in the sense of Messenger of the Father's great counsel, (which is a marked departure from the constant use of St. Paul). Similarly, it is no longer the "hearts" that are to be lifted up to God but the mind, the most spiritual part of the soul in Hellenic anthropology (for the Greek mind the heart is only the seat of the emotions).
Then comes the first part of the Eucharist, which leads us up to the Sanctus:
May it be truly meet and right before all things to hymn Thee who art indeed the living God, who art before the beginning of create d thi ngs, of whom the whole family in Heaven and earth is named; who art alone unbegotten, without beginning, paramount, supreme, the giver (choregos) of all good things, above all cause and origin, ever unchangeable and immutable. Thou art the knowledge without beginning; the Invisible Light, the Uncreated Hearing; the Untaught Wisdom, the first in Thine Essence; Alone in Thy Being; and above all number, who broughtest all things out of nothingness into existence by Thine Only begotten Son, whom Thou didst before all worlds beget, without intermediary, by wisdom, and might, and goodness, the Only Begotten Son, the Word of God, the Living Wisdom, the first-born of all creation, the Messenger of Thy great counsel, the High Priest, the King and Lord of all rational and sentient nature, who is before all, by whom all things are. For Thou, O Eternal God, hast by Him made all things, and dost by Him bestow upon all an apposite providence: for by Whom Thou didst gracious give existence, by Him also Thou gavest to fare well. O God and Father of Thine Only Begotten Son, who by Him madest first Cherubim and Seraphim, and Aeons, and Hosts, and virtues, and Powers, and Principalities, and Thrones, and Angels, and Archangels, and after that madest by Him all this visible world and all things therein.
Thou didst set up the heaven like an arch, and spread it forth like a covering, and by Thy will alone didst found the earth upon nothing. Thou dids't fix the firmament, and prepare night and day. Thou br oughtest the light out of Thy treasures, and by its limitation didst restore the darkness for the repose of the creatures which move in this world. Thou didst appoint the sun to rule the day in heaven, and the moon to rule at night, and didst inscribe the chorus of the stars for the praise of Thy magnificence. Thou madest water for drink, and for ablution; and the vital air, for respiration, and for the transmission of the sound of the voice, by means of the tongue striking the air, and for hearing, which cooperated with the air, so as by reception to perceive the speech lighting upon it. Thou madest fire for a consolation in darkness, and for relief of necessity that we might thereby be warmed and enlightened. Thou didst separate the great sea from the land, and didst render the one navigable, and madest the former multitudinous with small and great beasts, and filling the latter with creatures tame and wild, crowning it with different plants, garlanding with herbs. adorning it with flowers, and enriching it with seed. Thou didst constitute the abyss, setting it in a great hollow, the seas of salt waters leaped together,and didst hedge it around with bounds of fine sands; and sometimes with the winds archest its crests to the height of mountains, and sometimes smoothest it as a plain, and sometimes makest it rage with storms, and sometimes stillest it with a calm, so as to make it easily navigable for mariners on ship board. Thou didst gird with rivers the world created by Thee, through Christ, and didst water it with brooks, and irrigate it with perpetual springs; and closely boundest it around with mountains for a most sure immovable foundation of the earth. Thou didst replenish Thy word and adorn it with sweet smelling and medicinal herbs, and with many and different creatures strong and weak, for food and for work, tame and wild. Thou didst variegate it with hissing of creeping things, with songs of birds, with revolutions of years, with numbers of months and days, with successions of seasons, with courses of rainy clouds, for the production of fruits, for the support of living things, for the regulation for the winds that blow when they are commanded by Thee, for the multiplication of plants and herbs.
And Thou didst not only create the world, but madest in it man, the citizen of the world, displaying him as an ornament of the world. For thou sa idst in T hy wisdom, Let us make man in our own image and likeness, and let h im have do minion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of heaven. Therefore also Thou hast made him of immortal soul and perishable body, the former out of nothing and the latter of the four elements. Thou hast given him, in his soul, reasonable discernment, discrimination between religion and irreligion, and observation of justice and injustice, and bestowest upon his body five fold perception and power of motion. Thou, O Almighty God, by Christ didst plant a garden eastwards in Eden, adorned with all plants good for food, and didst introduce man into it, as into a magnificent habitation; and when making him gavest him a law implanted in him, so that he might naturally and of himself possess the principles of the knowledge of God. And when bringing him on to the paradise of delight Thou didst accord him power to partake of all, but forebadestt he taste of one (tree) alone, holding out the hope of yet better things, so that, if he kept the commandment he should for that receive immortality as a reward. But when he neglected the commandment, and through the deceit of the serpent, and by the counsel of his wife, tasted the forbidden fruit, Thou didst justly drive him out of Paradise, yet, in Thy goodness, didst not despise him when he was utterly lost. For he was Thy creature. Subjecting the creation to him, Thou hast given him to procure himself food by his own sweat and labor, Thou Thyself planting and increasing and fastening all thing (for him). And, causing him to fall asleep for a short time, Thou callest him by an oath to a renewal of being, and loosing the sentence of death didst promise life by the resurrection. Nor was this all; for Thou didst pour forth his progeny in an innumerable multitude glorifying those who clung to Thee, didst punish those who revolted from Thee. Thou didst accept the sacrifice of Abel as one who was holy, and turnedst away the gift of Cain, the murderer of his brother, as of one accursed. Furthermore Thou didst accept Seth and Enos, and didst translate Enoch. For Thou art the Creator of men, the Dispenser of life, the Provider in want, and the Giver of Laws, and the rewarder of those who keep them and the avenger of those who transgress them. Thou didst bring the Great Flood upon the world on account of the multitude of the ungodly, and, in an ark, didst rescue from the deluge righteous Noe, together with eight souls, the last of those who had gone before, to be the beginning of those who were to come after. Thou didst kindle the fearful fire upon the five cities of the land of Sodom, making a fertile land into a salt lake, for the wickedness of those who dwelt therein, and didst snatch holy Lot from the conflagration. Thou didst rescue Abraham from ancestral impiety, didst appoint him heir of the world, and revealedst Thy Christ unto him. Thou didst ordain Melchizedek high priest of Thy worship. Thou didst show Thy patent servant Job victor of the serpent, the beginner of wickedness. Thou madest Isaac a son of promise, and Jacob the father of twelve sons, and pouring forth his progeny in a multitude broughtest them down into Egypt five-and-seventy souls. Thou, O Lord, didst not forget Joseph, but, as a reward of his chastity for Thy sake, gavest him to rule over Egypt. Thou, O Lord, didst not forget the Hebrews when they were in bondage under the Egyptians, but on account of Thy promise to their fathers didst rescue them and punish the Egyptians. And when men corrupted the natural law, and sometimes esteemed the creation fortuitous, and sometimes honored it above measure and made it equal unto Thee, the God of all, Thou sufferedst them not to wander in error, but didst raise up Thy servant Moses and gavest by him a written Law to confirm the Law of Nature. Thou showest the creation to be Thy work, and expelling the error of polytheism didst glorify Aaron and his posterity with the priesthood. Thou punishedst the Hebrews when they sinned, and receivedst them again when they returned (to Thee). Thou didst torment the Egyptians with a tenfold plague. Thou, dividing the sea, didst lead the Israelites through it, and didst chastise the Egyptians, submerging them in the water when they pursued after them. Thou sweetenedst the bitter water with the wood. Thou pourdest forth water from the precipitous rock. Thou didst shed manna from heaven, and food of quails from the air, and a pillar of fire by night for light, and a pillar of cloud by day, for a shade from the heat/ Thou didst raise up Joshua as a general, and by him overthrowest seven nations of the Canaanites. Thou didst divide Jordan. Thou didst dry up the rivers of Etham. Thou without engines or human hands didst cast down walls. Thine be the glory for all, O Master Almighty. The innumerable hosts of Angels, Archangels, Thrones, Dominations, Principalities, Powers, Virtues, Hosts, Aeons, Cherubim and six winged Seraphim (who with twain cover their feet, and with twain their heads, and with twain fly), worship Thee, saying with thousands or thousands of Archangels, and ten thousands of ten thousands of Angles, crying without interruption of voice, unceasingly: Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord of Sabaoth: heaven and earth are full of His glory: blessed be He for ever. Amen.
This first part concentrates ont he father, but it states from the very first that is through Christ that the Father created all things, and man especially, since the Old Covenant with Abraham was founded upon an anticipated vision of the Christ who was to come. And the conclusion of the narrative of the Old Covenant, with the arrival in Canaan, following the Passover, and the Exodus, and the establishment of the people in Palestine, emphasizes that it was the work of "Jesus", a variant form of Joshua, which in the mind of the writer is obviously very meaningful.
The knowledge theme remains predominant, as in the Jewish berkah leading up to the Qedushah. But in this text it develops within a clearly sapiential context (as was the case with the Jewish prayers of the 7th Book). As in them, Christ is introduced as the"Only Begotten Son", the "God Logos" (which is identified with the "Living Wisdom") and at the same time He is proclaimed "First Born of all creation, the Messenger of Thy great counsel, the High Priest, the King and Lord." In the expression "Messenger of the counsel" we can see Hippolytus' influence.
The creation theme, still as in the Jewish prayers, remains inseparable from that of the active providence which sustains and gives existence ("faring well"). Hence a great vision of all creation, described from the outset as tending towards man and being fulfilled in man's coming, created as he was in the image of God, in a dialogue between the Father and Wisdom, and brought into agarden planted by Christ "eastwards in Eden."
This description, with its fusion of the remembrances of the first chapters of Genesis and Psalm 104, closely follows and combines the first three prayers of the Hellenistic Jewish Tefillah which we found in the 7th Book. It is still very Jewish, even though its Judaism is evidently Hellenized, on account of its insistence upon the radical distinction of creator and creature, and the gratuitousness of creation. The conclusion of the narrative with the mention of the Tree of Good and Evil furnishes the occasion for a transition from the knowledge theme to the theme of life, and most precisely, the theme of immortality which had been prepared for by the assertion of man being created as an immortal soul in a perishable body.
In this way, we also make the transition from creation to the history of sin and the first redemption in the first Covenant. From the beginning of sacred history, i.e. immediately after sin, the writer of this Eucharist seems to see a call to a new birth, to resurrected life. He even goes so far as to declare that death's power was already broken by this promise made at the beginning of salvation history. From this context, he selects Abel and his sacrifice as the
principle of a saved mankind, in contradistinction to the descendants of Cain. Salvation is continued through Seth, Enos and Enoch who was "translated" into Heaven. The history of Noah and the Flood, and the fire that came down on Sodom and Gomorrah became the first effective sign of separation, both a judgment and a deliverance, between the two lines of Adam's descendants. Abraham is then mentioned, as the one who was freed from the ungodliness of his ancestors, set up the heir of the universe, and given a primary vision of the Christ. Melchizedek and his sacrifices are connected with him, as well as Job who is declared the conqueror of the ancient serpent. In Isaac, Jacob and the twelve Patriarchs,we see the promised people being constituted, and then led into Egypt by Joseph. The deliverance wrought by Moses, when this people had been reduced to slavery by the Egyptians, appears as the initial victory over the idolatry of polytheism, in the revelation of the "Law to confirm the Law of Nature." With Moses, Aaron appears as the principle of the levitical priesthood. The whole account of the Exodus (given through the Passover is not expressly mentioned) is then given, with the ten plagues and the toppling of Jericho before "Jesus, chief of the army", the changing of the bitter waters into sweet, the water from the rock, the manna and the quail, the pillar of fire and the cloud. Here again, although the dependence is not as pronounced as above, the salient points are practically the same as in one other Jewish prayer from the 7th Book, the one which corresponds to the
final petitions of the Tefillah. There is an astonishing similarity between the whole recounting of sacred history and those which are to be found in the amplifications of the Tefillah and Abodah blessings proper to the Day of Atonement.
It should be noted that this initial evocation and redemption is included in an evocation of the Angelic universe. The Angels appear, immediately after the Firstborn, the Only-Begotten Son, the Word and Wisdom, as the first creation which was followed by the visible world and everything in it. Symmetrically, after the redemptive work, when Jericho had fallen and "Jesus" led the redeemed people into its inheritance, the Angels reappear: "Thine be the glory for all, O Master Almighty. The innumerable hosts of Angels, Archangels, etc. ... worship Thee ..." In the first enumeration of the Angels, the mention of the Aeon and the Hosts comes after the Cherubim and the Seraphim; they are the Angels that govern the successive and conflicting dispensations.
The second part introduces the Sanctus, which, as we see, has an archaic form, in certain ways intermediary between the Egyptian version (hardly more than the Jewish version without the blessing from Ezekiel) and the later forms. Here, we do not yet have the blessing and the Hosannas of Psalm 118, but rather a general blessing instead: "Blessed be He for ever." It should be noted also that the quote from Isaiah, even though it includes the addition "Heaven" still has "full of His glory", instead of "full of Thy glory: which was later to prevail.
After the Sanctus, the Eucharist concentrates on the Son and the fulfillment of salvation history in his Passion-Glorification.
For Holy indeed art Thou, and all-Holy, the Highest and most Exalted for ever. And Holy is also Thine Only-begotten Son, our Lord and God Jesus Christ, who in all things, both in manifold creation, and in commensurate providence, ministering unto thee His God and Father, did not overlook the lost race of men, but, after the Natural Law, after the legal ordinance, after the prophetic warnings, after the tutelage of Angels, when men had corrupted both the positive and Natural Law, and had cast out of their recollection and deluge and the conflagration (of Sodom, and the plagues of the Egyptians, and the slaughter in Palestine, and were on the point of universal destruction, was Himself pleased, according to Thy will, the creator to become man, the Law-giver to become subject to laws, the High Priest to be come a victim, the Shepherd a sheep; and propitiated Thee, His God and Father, and reconciled Thee to the world, and delivered all men from the impending wrath; being born of a Virgin, and becoming flesh, of the seed of David, and of Abraham, of the tribe of Judah, according to the prophecy spoken of beforehand by Himself, God and Lord, the Beloved Son, the firstborn of all creation. He, who fashioneth all that are born, was born of a Virgin womb, the Fleshless became flesh, and He that was begotten before all worlds was born in time. Living among men holily, and having been brought up according to the precepts, driving away every disease and very sickness from men, doing signs and wonders amongst the people, and partaking of food and drink and sleep (being He who nourisheth all who have need or nourishment, and filleth every living thing with satisfaction), He revealed Thy Name unto those who knew it not, put ignorance to flight, rekindled godliness, fulfilled Thy will, and accomplished the work which Thou gavest Him to do. All which things being completed, being taken by the hands of sinful priests and high priests, falsely so-called, and of a law-breaking people, and by the treachery of him who was diseased with iniquity, suffering many things at their hands and enduring every indignity, according to Thy permission, being handed over to Pilate the governor, He, the Judge, was judged, the Savior was condemned, the Impassible was nailed to the Cross, the essentially immortal died, and the Life-giver was buried that He might release from suffering and deliver from death those for whom He came, and might break the chains of the Devil, and recuse men from his deceit. And on the third day He rose from the dead, and after continuing forty days with His disciples was taken up into Heaven, and was set at Thy right hand, who art His God and His Father.
We see that this Eucharist of Antioch, like that of Alexandria, connects it second part to the Sanctus by means of a link that will be found to be the same in all the texts derived from them. But at Antioch it is no longer the idea of fullness but that of holiness which supplies it. Praised in the Father, this holiness is proclaimed in the Son also, which leads to a second recall of His association with the Father in the sustaining and preserving of every creature. The evocation of sacred history is then resumed; the gift of the Natural Law, the written Law, the preaching of the Prophets, the wonder works of God for His People, attributed to Angelic interventions, are all presented as so many preludes of the Incarnation. Following a line of thought which will be found again in the Cappadocian Fathers, particularly in St. Gregory of Nazianzum, the Law-Giver submits to the Law, the priest makes Himself a victim, the Shepherd a sheep, the God the Word becomes flesh, the author of all things is born of a Virgin, the fleshless takes on a body, the eternal is born in time. The Incarnation is redemptive first of all insofar as it brings about reconciliation with the Father.
We now go on to a succinct account of Christ's earthly life: living in holiness and teaching with authority, freeing men from all infirmity, while submitting Himself to the same necessities that we have, He nourishes all that lives. In all of this and through all of this Christ reveals the Divine Name to those who do not know it, putting ignorance to flight, rekindling godliness and fulfilling the Divine Will.
This fulfillment culminates in the supreme contraction of the ungodliness of the priests, the faithlessness of the people who betrayed Him, the injustice suffered by the Judge of all things, the Savior condemned, the impassible nailed to the Cross, the immortal undergoing death. But the burial of the Author of Life frees from suffering and death, breaks the chains of the Devil and liberates men from his wickedness (another phrase which seems to betray Hippolytus' influence). He finally rises, and after the forty days with His followers, He ascends into Heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father.
The thanksgiving for redemptive history is now complete, in and through the thanksgiving for the history of the word made flesh in order to reconcile and deliver us, the anamnesis follows, and still includes within it the institution narrative, as we have seen in the ancient Egyptian tradition represented by Seraphion. The redemption's application to us through the Holy Spirit evolves from this.
Wherefore we, having in remembrance the things which He for our sakes endured, give thanks unto Thee, O God Almighty, not such as are due but such as we can, and fulfill His injunction. For He in the same night that He was betrayed, took bread into His Holy and blameless hands, and looking up to Thee His God and Father, brake it, and gave it to His disciples, saying: This is the mystery of the New Testament, take of it, eat; this is My Body which is broken for many for the remission of sins. Likewise also He mixed the cup of wine and water, and sanctified it, and gave it to them saying: Drink ye all of it; this is My Blood which is shed for many for the remission of sins; do this in remembrance of Me: for as oft as ye eat of this bread and drink of this cup, ye do show forth My death until I come.
Therefore, having in remembrance His passion and death, and resurrection, and His return into Heaven, and His future second advent, in which He shall come to judge the living and the dead, and to give to every man according to his works, we offer unto Thee, our King and our God, according to His injunction, this bread and this cup, giving thanks to thee through Him that Thou hast counted us worthy to stand before Thee and to sacrifice unto Thee (i.e. to perform a priestly function). And we implore Thee, who art the God who hast no need of aught, and to be well pleased with them to the honor of Thy Christ, and to send down upon this sacrifice Thy Holy Spirit, the witness of the sufferings of the Lord Jesus, that He may declare this bread the body of Thy Christ, and this cup the Blood of Thy Christ, and that who partake thereof may be strengthened in godliness, may receive remission of their sins, may be rescued from the Devil and his deceit, may be filled with the Holy Spirit, my become worthy of Thy Christ, and may obtain eternal life, Thou being reconciled unto them, O Master Almighty.
Moreover we pray Thee, O Lord, also for Thy Holy Church from one end of the world to the other, which Thou hast purchased with the Precious Blood of Thy Christ; that Thou wouldest keep it unshaken and untroubled unto the consummation of the world; and for every episcopate rightly dividing the word of truth.
Moreover we implore Thee for my unworthiness who am now offering unto Thee, and for the presbytery, for the Deacons and for all the clergy, that Thou wouldest instruct them all and fill them with the Holy Spirit:
Moreover we implore Thee for the King, and those in authority, and for all the army, that they be peaceably disposed towards us, that passing all the time of our life in peace and concord we may glorify Thee through Jesus Christ our Hope:
Moreover we offer unto Thee also for all who have from the beginning pleased Thee, the holy Patriarchs, Prophets, Righteous men, Apostles, Martyrs, Confessors, Bishops, Priests, Deacon, Subdeacons, Readers, Singers, virgins, widows, laity, and all whose names Thou knownest:
Moreover we offer unto thee also for all this people, that, for the praise of Thy Christ, Thou wouldest make them a royal priesthood, a holy nation; for those in virginity and purity; for the widows of the Church; for those in holy matrimony for women laboring of child; and for the babes of Thy people; that Thou wouldest cast none of us out:
Moreover we beseech Thee for this city, and for those that dwell therein; for the sick; for those who are in bitter slavery; for those in exile; for those in prison; for those who travel by sea of by land; that Thou wouldest be a Helper unto all, a Strengthener of all.
Moreover we implore Thee for those who hate us and persecute us for Thy Name's sake: for those who are without and are wandering; that Thou wouldest turn them unto good, and soften their wrath against us.
Moreover, we implore Thee for the catechumens of the Church, and for those who are afflicted by the enemy, and for our brethren who are doing penance; that Thou wouldest perfect the first in the faith, and wouldest purify the seco nd from the influence of the Evil One, and wouldest receive the repentance of the last, and forgive them and us our transgressions:
Moreover we offer unto thee for seasonable weather, and for the copious produce of the fruits; that receiving abundantly of Thy good things we may ceaselessly praise Thee, who givest food to all flesh.
Moreover we implore Thee for those who are for reasonable cause absent; that thou wouldest preserve us all in godliness, and gather us together, steadfast. blameless. and without reproach in the Kingdom of Thy Christ, the God of every sentient and intelligent creature, our King.
For unto Thee is (due) all glory, worship and thanksgiving, honor, and adoration, to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, both now, and ever and unto all perpetual and endless ages of ages. Amen.
As we see, it in the third part of the prayer, the part in which the present and future fulfillment of the Mystery in us is mentioned, that the institution narrative is placed in this Eucharist. As in the Anaphora of Serapion, the anamnesis does not follow it; the narrative is included int he anamnesis itself. It is the "memorial" which He has commanded us to celebrate in our thanksgiving recall His own actions and words at the Last Supper.
To these words "do this in remembrance of Me" is added St. Paul's statement: "for as often as ye eat this bread and drink of this cup, ye show forth My death until I come," just as we saw in the Eucharist of St. Mark. As a consequence of this the anamnesis unfolds in a commemoration as of one Mystery, of the Passion, death, resurrection and Ascension of Christ, and of His ultimate return for the judgment. We should note the very special form of the words of institution which put the proclamation of the Mystery on Christ's lips at the very beginning.
It is at the conclusion of this anamnesis that the sacrificial formulas make their appearance: "we offer unto Thee, our king and our God, according to His injunction this bread and this cup, giving thanks unto Thee through Him that thou hast counted us worthy to stand before Thee and to sacrifice unto thee" (a formula that could well have come from the Greek text of Hippoilytus). We pass immediately afterward to the first part of the Epiclesis: "And we implore Thee to look graciously upon these gifts lying before Thee, who art the God who hast no need of aught and to be well pleased with them to the honor of Thy Christ ..." Let us stress the moderation and at the same time the exactness with which these expressions interpret the precise sense od the memorial for a Hellenistic context. It is the divine injunction of Christ which allows us to present the memorial, established by Him, before God, and also to present ourselves to Him in the act of thanksgiving. These gifts are then only an acknowledgement of the fact that we receive everything from Him who has need of nothing, and it is upon His One Gift that we base the hope that our sacrifice, and ourselves with it, may be pleasing to Him.
There follows the second part of the Epiclesis, in which there is the mention of the Holy Spirit. It is asked that He be sent upon the sacrifice so that He might declare (or manifest) that it is the Body and Blood of Christ. The foundation of the this invocation is a curious formula in which the Holy Spirit is called "the witness of the sufferings of the Lord Jesus." We have here a remind of the Epistle to the Hebrews (9:14) where Christ is spoken of as offering Himself through the eternal Spirit, together with an implicit citation from the First Epistle of St. Peter (5:1), where he speaks of Himself as a "witness of the sufferings of Christ."
The third part of the Epiclesis asks finally that all partakers in this Eucharist "be strengthened in godliness, receive remission of their sins, be rescued from the Devil, filled with the Holy Spirit, become worthy of Christ, obtain eternal life, and that the Almighty Master might be reconciled to them."
Thus we see the ancient and original invocation for the accomplishment in us of the Mystery commemorated give rise to the prayer for the acceptance of the sacrifice, very skillfully connected with the expression of the sacrifice that arose out of the memorial. The link between the two original Epicleses is made through the request that the Spirit, who is to accomplish the Mystery in us, manifest (undoubtedly by that very fact) that the memorial is indeed the Body and Blood of Christ.
After this, the prayer is broken up into a litany of intercessions, involving the Church and the whole world: the universal Church, the episcopate, the presbytery and clergy, the king, those in authority or who have charge of the army that they might maintain peace and tranquility. It commemorates the Patriarchs, the Prophets, the righteous, the martyrs, the Confessors, Bishops, Priests and Deacons and all the faithful departed, the particular community assembled and the city in which the Eucharist is being celebrated, all men, including those who hate us or who have gone astray, the catechumens, the demoniacs, the penitents, and ends with a petition for reasonable weather and fruitful harvests. These are the themes encompassed by this new Tefillah in which there is a constant reference in each petition tot he realization of a universal praise. Note that here the prayer against the persecutors is not only omitted, as in Rome, but replaced by a prayer for them, and that the Jewish prayer for the proselytes which followed it has been transformed into a prayer for the catechumens.
If one has to sum up the excellence of this prayer, we can only say that it manifests, a sense that is still very aware of the whole content of the key notions of this original Eucharist, in its transcription into Hellenistic context of a Eucharist whose first framework was basically Jewish. Thus, in this interpretation and rearrangement, dictated by a theology and a literary aesthetic that were so deeply Hellenized, the substance of the Judeo-Christian Eucharist was retained with hardly a loss or an alteration. This is surely quite a remarkable feat. But, in order to accomplish it, the primitive data of the Eucharist were broken up and then reassembled with astounding ingenuity in a mosaic that is so well pieced together as to appear as one single piece. The creation and redemption themes are connected through the master idea of the provident and wise God whose word is the eternal Wisdom which is inscribed in time. Salvation history is outlined in the Old Covenant and fulfilled in the New, and the anamnesis of the Saving Mystery is recognized as the perfect sacrifice. Its acceptance is sought from the very One who brought it about, and the Holy Spirit is asked to come upon these gifts which He has given us, so that we, and the whole world about us, may be presented to Him in the praise of His glory. All of these ideas are ordered with a mastery and a finesse that are indeed one of the greatest triumphs of the Hellenic clarity of mind applied to the Mystery of a Christianity that is completely biblical in its origins.
THE FINAL SYNTHESIS OF THE EUCHARIST OF ST. JAMES
This very successful result was to be perfected in another text which undoubtedly came not too many years after. This is the so-called Liturgy of St. James, Brother of our Lord (or of St. James of Jerusalem). When we compare it with the Liturgy we have just studied, we can think that all the secondary elements of the later were felicitously removed in a series of anecdotes and of drawing out the summary of the Divine Mysteries into a mere enumeration. But also, the stylization and the fusion of the original element is such that more than one of them has become unrecognizable. Irreducible factors are reduced for the sake of the unity of a development that is faultless and without repetition at the risk of at least a partial evaporation of their content.
Yet in the economy and the balance of this composition, the Liturgy of St. James nonetheless remains the most accomplished monument of perhaps the whole of liturgical literature.
Even if St. James is assuredly not its author, this Liturgy represents a Jerusalemite tradition, as is shown by the many allusions to the holy places that it includes, and the role played by the constant evocation of the heavenly Jerusalem. It very quickly became widespread, undoubtedly as a result of all the pilgrims who came to the Holy city from all over to visit the Constantinian basilicas. Not only Syria and Arabia, but also Greece, Ethiopia, Armenia, Georgia and the Slavic countries, through the manuscripts and the translations found there, attest to its extraordinary diffusion. Nevertheless it was soon to be supplanted by the two abridged formularies that are currently attributed to St. basil and St. John Chrysostom. Their adoption by Byzantium caused it replacement throughout the whole East. It has been celebrated in Greek in recent times only as an exception, at Jerusalem and in a few other pales such as the Island of Zakynthos. But various Orthodox prelates have authorized and encouraged its revival in recent years. The Syrians, whether "Jacobites" or Catholics, are the only ones still using it habitually in an ancient Syriac version.
Here is the Eucharistic part of the Liturgy, following the very valuable critical text established by Basilee Mercier:
The Love of God and Father,
the grace of the Lord and God and Son,
and the communication and the gift
of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
---And with thy spirit.
Lift up the minds and hearts
---We have (lifted them up) to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord.
--- that it is meet and right.
This dialogue, once again, presents a significant modification of the Pauline formula, for the purpose of molding it to the schema of the Trinitarian theology of the fourth century. But in the present case, instead of changing the attributes of the Father and the Son (respectively love and grace), they are retained, but not without modifying the order of the Persons. Other slight changes will be noted, the most important being that the "gift" of the Spirit is placed in apposition with its "communication".
In the same spirit of compromise retained "hearts" in the second formula, and introduced the word minds, as the Apostolic Constitutions had done, although they had replaced the former with the later.
Here again, it is the brief formula which won out for the invitation to the act of thanksgiving.
How truly might and right, equatable and availing to salvation it is, to praise Thee, to hymn Thee, to adore Thee, to glorify Thee, to give Thee thanks! Thou, art the creator of every creature, whether visible or invisibl e, the tre asury of eternal good things, the source of life and immortality, the God and the Master of all things, who are hymned by the heavens and the heavens of the heavens, and all their powers, the sun and the noon and the whole choir of stars, the earth, the sea and all that is found therein, the heavenly Jerusalem, the assembly of the elect, the Church of the First Born whose (names are) inscribed in Heaven, the souls of the righteous and the Prophets, the souls of the martyrs and the Apostles, the Angels, the Archangels, the Thrones, the Dominations, the Principalities and the Authorities and the awesome Powers, the Cherubim with the countless eyes, the six winged Seraphim, who with two wings hide their face, with two their feet and fly with the two others, crying out one to the other with unceasing voices and in incessant theologies, the victory hymn of the majesty of Thy glory, with one great voice, singing, proclaiming, glorifying, crying out and saying: Holy, holy, holy, Lord Sabaoth, Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed (is) He who has come and who comes in the Name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
This first part, which mentions the Father only, is unified by a summary of the whole creation, which is invited to join unanimously in the hymn of the Seraphim. All creation is, as it were, summed up in the heavenly Jerusalem, the festal assembly, the Church of the First Born who names are written in Heaven (we recognize the term form the Epistle to the Hebrews), the spirits of the righteous and the Prophets, to whom are joined the souls of the martyrs and the Prophets. The Sanctus is found in the same completed form that the Roman Liturgy has given us, and which we have commented upon it its regard (note, however, the addition "who has come" to the biblical "who comes").
The second part, as always in Syria is connected to the first by the idea of holiness, taken from the Sanctus.
You are holy, King of Ages and Lord and Giver o f all holiness, and holy is Thy Only-Begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom Thou hast made all things, and holy is Thy All-holy Spirit who pro bes all things, and Thy own depths, O God and Father; holy art Thou, Almighty, who can do all things, awesome, good, merciful, Thou who show special compassion to Thy work, who made from the earth man in Thy image and likeness, who gave him the enjoyment of Paradise and who, when he broke Thy commandment and fell, did not abandon him, but instructed him by the Prophets. Finally, Thou sent Thy Only-Begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, into the world, so that He might renew and revivify by His coming Thine own image; He is the one who came down from Heaven, and having taken flesh from the Holy Spirit and Mary, the holy Ever- Virgin, Mother of God, and having lived among men, arranged everything for the salvation of our race. As He who is without sin was about to suffer for us sinners a voluntary and life-giving death by the Cross, on the night he was betrayed, or rather when He handed Himself over, for the life of the world and its salvation, He took bread into His Holy, pure, spotless and immortal hands, and having raised His eyes to Heaven, and presenting it to Thee, God and Father, giving thanks, He blessed it, hallowed it, broke it and gave it to His holy disciples and Apostles, saying: Take, eat, this is My Body, broken for you and given for the remission of sins (People: Amen). Likewise, after having supped, taking the cup, and having mixed into it wine and water, rasing His eyes to Heaven, He presented it to thee, God and Father, giving thanks, blessed it, hallowed it, filled with the Holy Spirit and gave it to His holy and blessed disciples and Apostles, saying: drink of this all of you, this is the Blood of the New Covenant, shed for you and for many, and given for the remission of sins. Do this as a memorial of Me: as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you announce the death of the Son of Man and you proclaim His resurrection until He comes (another Amen of the people follows).
The initial reference to the divine holiness passes to the mercy whereby God having created man in His image and brought him into Paradise, did not desert him after his fall, but like a compassionate Father, called him by the Law, taught him through the Prophets, and finally sent His own Only-Begotten Son to restore and revivify this lost image. The narrative of the redemptive dispensations given in one sole mold. To do this the narrative of the Eucharistic institution was detached from the anamnesis, in which it must originally have been incorporated, and inserted in its place in the evocation of the Passion. The anamnesis thus simple became the conclusion of the relating of the mirabilia Dei. Note in this passage the twofold insistence upon the voluntary character of the Passion and the immortality of the One who hands Himself over to death (even His hands, in this text, are called immortal). Let us also notice that if the Pauline conclusion of the Last Supper narrative is connected with the narrative itself, it is nonetheless left in the third person.
The Deacons reply to the anamnesis with the words: "We do believe and we do proclaim", and all the people (as in the Eucharist of Serphion) join and say with the priest:
We announce Thy death, Lord, and we proclaim Thy resurrection ...
Then the priest continues alone:
... we, sinners, being mindful of His life-giving sufferings, His saving Cross, and His death, and His burial, and His rising f rom the dead on the t hird day and His return to Heaven and His sitting at Thy right hand, God and Father, and His second glorious and awesome parousia when he will come in glory to judge the living and the dead, when He will render to each according to his works, - spare us, Lord our God! - or rather, we offer in accordance with Thy mercy, to Thee Master, this awesome and unbloody sacrifice, beseech Thee not to deal with us in accordance with our sins and not to render to us according to our inequities, but according Thy mildness and Thy unutterable love for men, abrogating and blotting out the document that accuses us, to grant to our entreaties Thy heavenly and eternal gifts which eyes has not seen nor ear heard and which had not entered into the heart of men, (gifts) which Thou hast prepared, O God, for those who love Thee: do not reject Thy people on account of men and my sins, Lord, friend to me, for Thy people and Thy Church beseech Thee (the people: Have mercy upon us, Lord, God the Father, the Almighty); have mercy, and sent upon us and upon these gifts which we present to Thee, Thy All-Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who shares the throne with Thee, and who reigns with Thee, consubstantial and coeternal, who spoke through the Law and the Prophets and in the New Covenant, the One who came down in the form of a dove upon Our savior Jesus Christ in the river Jordan, and who remained with Him; the One who came down upon Thy holy apostles under the appearance of tongues of fire, in the Upper Room of the holy glorious Zion the day of the holy Pentecost; send down Thy All-Holy Spirit Himself, Master, upon us and these holy gifts which we present to Thee, so that by visiting them with His holy, good and glorious presence He may sanctify them and make this bread the Holy Body of Christ (the people: Amen), and this cup the precious Blood of Christ (the people: Amen), so that they may be for all those who partake of them for the remission of sins and for eternal life, for the sanctification of souls and bodies, for the fruitfulness of good works, for the strengthening of Thy Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church which thou hast founded upon the rock of faith so that the Gates of Hell may not prevail against her, delivering her from every heresy and scandal of the workers of iniquity, preserving her until the end of the ages. We make this offering to thee, Lord, of Thy holy places which Thou hast glorified by the theophany of Thy Christ and the visitation of Thy All-Holy Spirit, especially for the Holy and glorious Zion, the mother of all the churches, and for all Thy holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, throughout the whole word; grant her abundantly from this moment the gifts of Thy All-Holy Spirit, O Master.
Note the transition from the anamnesis to the epiclesis, which is made in the very touching and dramatic style of this whole prayer. The mention of the judgment elicits a fervent entreaty to the divine mercy. Form it flow immediately the other explicitly sacrificial phrase of the whole text: "We offer to the ... Master, this awesome unbloody sacrifice." But is copiously filled out by an appeal to divine grace, which is expected to destroy and wipe out the act of our condemnation (allusion to Col. 2:14) and grant us the heavenly gifts. Here the particularly elaborate Epiclesis which turns into an encomium of the Spirit, parallel to those of the Father and the Son in the first two parts. It has evidently influenced the text of the Liturgy of St. Mark, in the relatively late form in which it has come down to us. Here the precise petition is not only that the Spirit manifest that the sacramental bread and wine are the Body and Blood of Christ, but that he make them the Body and Blood. What follows opens out into a prayer for the Church, which becomes concertized first in a special supplication for the holy places. As in the Liturgy of the Apostolic Constitutions, but in an already more highly developed form, a whole Christian Tefillah follows, in which each petition is connected with the "memorial" by the word "remember" constantly repeated:
Remember, Lord, all our holy fathers and bishops, who dispense the word of Thy truth in an orthodox manner throughout all of the land.
Remember, Lord, our holy father N., all his clergy and all his priests, grant him an honorable old age, preserve him for a long time in feeding Thy people in all godliness and holiness.
Remember, Lord, here and everywhere, the honorable presbytery, the diaconate in Christ, and every other ministry and ecclesiastical order and our brotherhood in Christ as well as all the people who love Christ.
Remember, Lord, according to the multitude of Thy loving kindness and Thy steadfast love, me also, lowly and sinful, Thy unworthy servant, and protect me in Thy mercy and Thy compassion, deliver me and free me from my persecutors, Lord, Lord of powers, and since sin has abounded in me, let Thy grace superabound.
Remember also, Lord, the Deacons that stand around Thy holy Altar and grant them a life without reproach, keep their deaconship spotless and obtain for them a good promotion.
Remember also, Lord, this holy city, which is yours, O our God, and that city which holds the power, every city and town and all who dwell therein in the orthodox faith and godliness, their peace and their security.
Remember, Lord, our most godly and Christ-loving king, his godly and Christ-loving Queen, their whole palace and army, their assistance from on high, and their victory; take hold of the great and small buckler and rise up to help him, submit all warlike and barbarian nations, who wish for war, to him, rule over his counsels, that we may have a calm and tranquil life in all godliness and holiness.
Remember, Lord, the Christians at sea or on a journey, who are in foreign lands, those who are in chains and in prison, those who are captives in exile, those who are in difficulties, in torments and bitter servitude, our fathers and our brothers, and the peaceful return of each to his home.
Remember, Lord, those who are old and powerless, the sick, the manned and those who are afflicted by unclean spirits, their quick return to health coming from Thee, O God, and their salvation.
Remember, Lord, every Christians soul that is afflicted and in trail, in need of Thy mercy and Thy help, O God, and the conversion of the wayward.
Remember, Lord, those who live in virginity, godliness an asceticism, our holy fathers and brothers who struggle upon the mountains, in caves and the holes in the earth, as well the orthodox communities and this one which is here, in Christ.
Remember, Lord, our fathers and brothers who work and who serve us for Thy Name's sake.
Remember, Lord, the welfare of all, have mercy upon all, Master, be reconciled with all, give peace to the multitude of Thy people, dispel scandals, wipe out wars, bring a halt to the schisms of churches, dissolve speedily the heresies that appear, break down the barrier between nations, raise up the horn of Christians, grant us Thy peace and Thy love, O God, our savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth.
Remember, Lord, seasonable weather, peaceable showers, beneficent dews, the plenty of fruits, a favorable conclusion crowning the year with Thy goodness, for the eyes of all hope in Thee and do Thou give them their food in due season, open Thy hand and satisfy all who live in their desires.
Remember, Lord, those who brought fruit, and who being fruit in Thy holy churches, O God, who are mindful of the poor and those who have asked us to make memory of them in prayers.
Again, remember, Lord, those who have brought offerings today to Thy holy Altar, and the intentions for which each has made his offering or has in mind, and all those whom we mention to you ...
Remember also, Lord, our won relatives, friends, acquaintances and the brothers who are here.
All those whom we have remembered, remember, Lord, and all the orthodox whom we have not remembered, give them in exchange for earthly goods heavenly ones, for corruptible gifts, incorruptible ones, for temporal gifts, eternal ones, in accordance with the promises of thy Christ, since Thou hast authority over life and death.
Deign again to remember, Lord, those also who have been pleasing to Thy over the ages, generation upon generation, the holy Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, martyrs, Confessors, holy Doctors and every righteous spirit consumed in the Faith of Thy Christ. (Here a list of commemorations was introduced, beginning with the Virgin, the Baptist, the Apostles, and then it continues at great length. after which the celebrant goes on:)
All these, remember, God; the spirits of every flesh, of those whom we have commemorated and the orthodox whom we have not commemorated, grant them resting the land of the living, in Thy kingdom, in the delights of Paradise, in the bosom of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, our holy Fathers, where there is no pain, sadness or weeping, where the light of Thy face, which is everywhere resplendent, shines and for us, Lord, dispose in a Christian way of the last of our life, that it may be pleasing to thee, that it may be sinless and peaceful; gather us beneath the feet of Thy elect, when and as Thou will, provide that it be without shame or sin, through Thy Only-begotten Son, our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ, for He is the only one without sin that has ever appeared upon earth, ... with whom Thou art blessed and glorified, together with Thy All-Holy and Life-giving Spirit, now and always, world without end. Amen.
This form of the final intercession is the most elaborate that we found in any liturgy of the Patristic age. As we have already said in regard to the Egyptian Eucharist, whose later forms (particularly in the Epiclesis and in those intercessions and commemorations that follow it in Syria) were certainly influenced by the West Syrian Eucharist, these intercessions are the element of the Eucharistic Prayers which for long had remained the most malleable (as in the Jewish Liturgy). But the state in which the Liturgy of St. James was handed down to us, including this part, had already been reached by the middle of the fifth century, for the Syriac translations used by the Monophysite "Jabocites" of Syria attest to it in practically all its details. This great supplication, through the influence of Syria on all the pilgrims (to whom, as we saw, this prayer alludes) even more developed that of the Apostolic Constitutions, seems to have left its mark everywhere on the litanies of intercession which the Roman West itself was consequently to borrow from the East. But the Jersualemite formula, in this latter part as in the preceding ones, retains its own coloration, resulting from a particularly warm rhetoric, with a very biblical tone.
Yet if we look at the Eucharist of St. James as a whole, we are especially struck by the clarity of its Trinitarian theology, which is expressed with much more exacting precession in it structure than could be seen in the Liturgy of the 8th Book of the Apostolic Constitutions. All the duplications and all the repetitions in thought have been definitively removed. The Father is praised for all creation, gathered together into this "Church of the First-Born" which is designated as the heavenly Jerusalem. The Son is acclaimed as the one in whom and through whom the divine economy of infinite mercy has brought to fruition the plan to bring together and restore all things for the purpose of this glorification. The Spirit is invoked as the one through whom the work of the Son finds it ultimate fulfillment in us now and for eternity.
But we must look at the price for this synthesis. The anamnesis, which is the core of the primitive Christian Eucharist becomes somewhat amorphous because of it and runs into the thanksgiving for the history of salvation, which originally was its introduction.
The result is that the Epiclesis, which at first was merely a development of the anamnesis, became detached from it, and acquired an importance and an independence which puts it on full par with the evocation of the Father as creator and the Son as redeemer. We think of the formula of St. Gregory of Nazianzum, saying that the revelation of the Father was the accomplishment of the Old Testament, that of the Son of the New, and that of the spirit of the Church. The idea is a beautiful one, but it still remains somewhat artificial. In fact, the Divine Persons reveal themselves as one. The Father is revealed as Father only in the New Testament and the history of the Church. On the other hand, once the divine work is accomplished, the spirit is revealed in the work of creation and redemption, the Spirit is revealed in the work of creation and redemption from the very beginning, and the Son was already latent in all things, in a sort of foreshadowing, even before taking flesh and transfiguring them by His Presence. Consequently, however, satisfying such dioctomies or trichotomies may be for a logical mind, they are dangerous for a living theology and spirituality. This is already somewhat applicable in the case of the Liturgy of the Apostolic Constitutions. But this defect is still more apparent in the case of the Liturgy of St. James, which forces the schematicism to reserve creation alone to the Father, redemption to the Son, and sanctification to the Spirit.
It remains no less true that this latter Eucharist itself, despite the accomplished Hellenization of its form and of the though beneath it, is still astonishingly close to the original Eucharist. Up to the expansion of the prayer of intercession in the third part, the note of doxology, which is so basic to every Eucharist, is felt throughout. Nowhere else is the them of the universal glorification of God so powerfully expressed from the very beginning, nor so consistently maintained throughout the whole development. No less remarkable, from the viewpoint of original fidelity, is the way in which everything remains centered on the joyful acclamation of the divine mercy, up to the point of the Epiclesis and the intercessions. The in the of the Jewish prayer "For abounding love" which followed the 'Qedushah seem to find a surprising resurgence in this text. This love, this mercy, culminating in the manifestation of the Fatherhood of God in regard to His elect, become the key that introduces the Savior and His work into the heart of the Christian Eucharist.
We must also underline a paradoxical fact, that shows admirably how the most forthright Hellenization of the form and substance of a traditional text in no way means the evaporation or transmutation of its primary content. Hellenic or Hellenized spirituality, centering on knowledge is too facilely opposed to Jewish spirituality which is centered on life. It is a keen observation, but one which requires great prudence in generalities of this kind, that all the ancient Christian prayers of the Eucharist, following the Jewish prayers, are acts of thanksgiving for knowledge in the praise before the Sanctus,and that they return to the praise theme before the anamnesis, even though this second thanksgiving is dominated by life, connecting with it the themes of the knowledge of the Divine Law and the Divine Nature. On the other hand, as Hellenized as it is, the Eucharist of St. James from one end to the other, and right from the beginning, is an act of thanksgiving for life, in which knowledge appears only in fleeting allusions, and solely in the second part.
It is true nonetheless that it has moved away from the Jewish or Judeo-Christian models which gave it its substance much more than was the case with the Eucharist of the Apostolic Constitutions. The pseud-Clementine Eucharist, in its first part, still retained, along with the predominance of the light and knowledge themes, an act of thanksgiving for the history of salvation in the Old Testament, connected with the thanksgiving for creation. Likewise, its second part, giving thanks for the renewed life in the accomplishment of the history of salvation leading to the redemptive Incarnation, still avoided connecting the institution narrative with it. This remained incorporated in the anamnesis, and the Epiclesis, as finely worked out as it had become, was still only an appendix to it. On the other hand, in the Eucharist of St. James, the institution narrative was absorbed in the act of thanksgiving for the Incarnation, and it is the anamnesis that is now merely an appendix at the point where the thanksgiving ends, and the starting point for an Epiclesis that has become practically independent. Yet here as in the 8th book of the Apostolic Constitutions, following the anamnesis with all the sacrificial formulas, which were brought together merely to be an xpression of the original Jewish "memorial", restores the original unity of perspective of the Eucharist: not a sacrifice and a memorial, but a sacrifice a memorial.