Communion, Holy

Communion, Holy.

We excerpt the following particulars concerning the celebration of this rite in primitive times from Walcott, Sac. Archaeol. s.v.:

"In early times, after the benediction by the bishop, which followed the Lord's Prayer, the deacon called the people to communion, saying 'Attend;' and then the celebrant said, 'Holy [things] for holy [persons];' to which the answer was, 'One holy, one Lord Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father, blessed forever, amen;' followed by the Gloriae in Excelsis. The encharistic bread was broken before the ministration, and in the Greek Church immediately after the consecration. The Latins divided each bread into three, the Greeks into four segments. The latter used two fractions; one before consecration, into three parts, at the words 'He brake it;' and the second, properly so called, when each part was subdivided, before the Lord's Prayer and after the reading of the diptychs. The Mozarabic rite prescribes nine parts to be made; in allusion to the nine mysteries of the life of Christi the conception, nativity, circumcision, transfiguration, passion, death, resurrection, glory, and kingdom. The fraction was succeeded by the mixture mentioned by the fourth Council of Toledo and that of Orange in 441. After the call 'Holy for the holy,' the congregation communicated, the bishop, priests, clergy, ascetics, women, deaconesses, virgins, widows, children, and then the rest present. The distribution was made by deacons, but in later times the priest ministered the bread, and the deacon the chalice. Deacons sometimes administered the bread, with the restriction that they were not to do so to priests or to the people without the order of a priest. In Spain priests and deacons communicated at the altar, minor clerks within the choir, and the people at the chancel. The Greeks also allowed only the former within the sanctuary. Persons in the East received either prostrate, kneeling, or standing, bowing the head at the ministration. In the West priests alone received in the latter posture. The words of ministration were at first The body of Christ, and the blood of Christ; to which the faithful replied, 'Amen.' In the time of Gregory the Great they were expanded thus, 'The body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve thy soul;' and in the age of Charlemagne, 'The body of our Lord Jesus Christ preserve thee to everlasting life.' Men received in the hollow of the right hand, bare, crossed over the left, throne-like, as Cyril of Jerusalem says; and women in a linen cloth, called the dominical, from which they raised the element to their lips. The chalice was administered by the deacon, who held it by its two handles, and at length the calamus was used by the people."

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