Page images
PDF
EPUB

We think it may be confidently affirmed, that such a being as man, replete with animal feelings and desires, and dim, unconscious memories of ancestral brute experiences, but with an intellect endowed with a perception of truth, goodness, and beauty, would hardly fail to show, in his tastes and perceptions, just those mingled and more or less discordant and varying mental phenomena which we find mankind do exhibit. We find, in fact, just those facts and conditions of thought and feeling which the theory of evolution would lead us to expect. We find what that theory would lead us to anticipate when it is applied, not only to explain the genesis of our animal nature, but also the perfecting and development of that intellectual nature of ours which, ages before the twilight of history, first made its unnoticed and mysterious appearance in the world. Underlying or accompanying the multifarious and conflicting changes of taste and feeling due to heredity, association and environment, we find that progressively clearing perceptions of true beauty have been gained, the manifestation of beauty in fields where it was before invisible having again and again taken place for us through the progressive development of our faculties by culture. But these perceptions ever tend to be obscured, and are almost always more or less disguised for us by the effects of our animal organization and prehuman antecedents.

This, then, is why tastes differ. They differ because we human, intellectual animals vary as to the peculiar influences we have received from parents, family and tribe, from the diverse associations of feelings to which we have been severally exposed, and from the action upon us of the tastes and feelings of our friends and fellow tribesmen. As to such matters of mere feeling, there will probably ever be a wide divergence of tastes.

On the other hand, we agree largely as to our intellectual perceptions of beauty, and we tend to agree more and more, because of our possession of an intellectual nature, which is fundamentally one and the same in all men, and has the power of perceiving, more or less imperfectly, objective "beauty" as well as “ truth" and "goodness." Education will enable us, and above all religious education, to emerge, by more and more successful struggles, from the obscuring influences of animality towards as clear a vision of these highest qualities as may be possible for the future of our race in this world, and for ourselves individually in that life in a world to come which the Church sets before us, and about which even unbelievers, though they may with truth say they have necessarily no power to imagine it, yet must admit that reason by no means forbids their entertaining a fruitful hope.

SOME PECULIARITIES OF THE SYRIAC OFFICE.

Officium Feriale juxta ritum Ecclesiæ Syrorum Maronitarum, Innocentii

X., Pont. Max., jussu editum, denuo typis excussum regnante Pio
VIII. Editio Tertia. Romæ, ex typographia Sac. Cong. de

Propaganda Fide, 1830.
Idem . . . denuo typis excussum regnante Pio IX. Pont. Opt. Max.

Editio Quinta. Ibid., iisdem typis, 1863. Officium Feriale, juxta ritum Ecclesiæ (Antiochenæ) Syrorum, S. Con

greg. de Propaganda Fide jussu editum. Romæ, 1853 (iisdem typis). Breviarium Chaldaicum in usum nationis Chaldaicæ a Josepho Guriel.

Secundo Editum. Romæ : Typis Sac. Congr. de Prop. Fide, 1865.

T is not necessary here, nor is it our intention, to go into a full

explanation of the liturgical elements and structure of the Breviary used by the clergy of the Syrian Church. Its substance comes down to us from the earliest times, and bears ample witness to the great body of Catholic truth handed down from the Apostles to their successors. And, strange to say, nowhere is the testimony stronger than on those distinctive points in which it has pleased the modern heresies of Europe to reject, as opposed to the Bible, the Apostolic teaching of primitive Christianity. Among these are the infallibility of the Church, the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Penance, the honor paid to the Cross, to the Mother of God, to the Saints and their relics, prayers for the faithful departed, etc. So true is this that when a considerable portion of the Syrian Church abandoned the heresy of Eutyches and became once more orthodox, they were able to retain their Breviary unchanged, merely wiping out a few, very few, stains of Eutychian error, and these for the most part not doctrinal statements, but loose or ill-defined expressions and references to miscalled Doctors and Saints, who had lived and died outside of Catholic communion.

1 The first edition was printed in Rome about the middle of the 17th century (between 1650 and 1655). The second edition was printed in the same place in 1787. Of the fourth we have never seen a copy. The first was used by Castell in the Dic. tionary to his Polyglot Bible. That it had no vowel points is evident from the way in which he explains the imaginary word gumio fons, puteus,” and quotes Off. Mar., p. 473. The true reading (as may be seen in the edition of 1863, p. 459, line 16) is men gau majo, “ from the midst of the waters ” (of baptism). The edition of 1830 is used by Payne Smith in his Thesaurus, of which about two-thirds has been published, seven letters yet remaining to complete the alphabet,

2 This has been done already in the pages of the Review. See vol. iii. (1878), pp. 327-354.

The Eutychian heresy did not gain much of a foothold among Syrian Christians until about forty years after the Council of Chalcedon. Xenaias, Bishop of Mabug (or Hierapolis), who was consecrated in 488, propagated his false doctrine for more than thirty years quite successfully by imperial favor and under cover of defending the Catholic faith against Nestorianism. His wicked work was continued so skilfully by James (or Jacob) Baradæus that he fastened his own name upon the adherents of the new doctrine and perverted many in Mesopotamia and eastern Syria. He was, for some thirty-seven years, Bishop of Edessa, or rather, as his admirer, Barhebræus, acknowledges, a Bishop without a See, commissioned by no lawful authority, but sent by his fellow-heretics of Constantinople to be general superintendent of the Eutychians in Syria, Mesopotamia and the adjacent countries, and having probably his headquarters in Edessa.? The unholy work of Xenaias and Baradæus was completed during the desolation of Mohammedan rule, which made it impossible for the Holy See to exert its influence over that distant Church. The return of many of these heretics to Catholic unity began at the time ofthe Council of Florence under Eugene IV., in 1438. The first step having been once taken, their numbers began to grow, and the gradual accession of converts has continued to the present. The first-fruits of conversion from Nestorianism were gathered a century later, about the time of the Council of Trent; and the illustrious John Sulaka, who was consecrated by Pope Julius III., and who heads the list of recent Patriarchs in communion with Rome, attested the sincerity of his faith by martyrdom. Two of his predecessors' are mentioned as having written to Innocent IV. and Benedict XI., respectively, to solicit communion, but with what result is not stated. Their professions of faith may not have been satisfactory, or perhaps they were not sincere, and wished to retain Nestorian error while in communion with Rome. This was the case with some of their successors, as Elias V. in the days of Gregory XIII., and Hurmez (Hormisdas) in 1781 under Pius VI.'

The liturgical books of the Jacobites, as has been already said, were without any difficulty restored to their original purity. Those of the Nestorians needed sharper revision. They had been scattered over such a large territory, Syria, Chaldea, even China and India, that many errors, changes and even wide differences must

.

1 This roving commission is disguised under the high-sounding title of (Ecumenical Archbishop (mitropulito Tibeloyo). Barhebræi Chronicon Ecclesiasticum. Ediderunt et illustrarunt. J. B. Abbeloos et Thomas I. Lamy. Lovanii, 1872. Vol. i., col. 216.

2 See his life in Assemani Bibliotheca Orientalis, Romæ, 1719. Tom. i., p. 523.

3 Machica in 1247 and labalaha in 1304. See Guriel, in Chronotaxis Patriarch. Chaldæor. Rom., 1860, p. 188.

4 Guriel, Ibid., pp. 196, 210.

have crept into both Mass and Divine office, especially when we consider that, at one time, these heretics were seized with a mania for composing new liturgical books. Add to this, that the distinctive teaching of Nestorius, by attributing to Christ our Lord a twofold personality, does away with the mystery of the Incarnation, and destroys the title on which rests the veneration due to the superhuman dignity of His blessed Mother. And when one considers how largely her cultus enters into the devotional portion of the Liturgy, it is readily seen what ample room there must have been for wholesome remedy and reformation in the books of the Nestorians. Yet the innate force of general tradition and the deep roots that devotion to the Blessed Virgin had taken in the minds of all, were a safeguard against wholesale corruption of the original texts, and the innocent multitude was not entirely led astray by the cunning or malice of their leaders. We have seen Nestorian hymns in praise of the Blessed Virgin, which any Catholic reader (unless he knew their origin) would find it hard to attribute to any pen but that of an orthodox poet.

How precious is the testimony given by these separated Churches in the liturgy they carried out with them when taking leave of the Universal Church and have retained, though sunk in schism, heresy and the darkest ignorance, for the last fourteen hundred years, or, say the eleven centuries that elapsed between Nestorius and Luther. Its value consists in this, that it is an echo loud and clear, of what the Universal Church believed and how she felt and spoke, while all her children were yet of one mind; before intellectual pride and headstrong will had led any of them to deny their mother, abandon her house, and set up altar against altar. Besides, prayer has an intrinsic value of its own. It is no formal teaching or expounding of doctrine. It is the natural effusion of the soul's devotion, when out of the fulness of the heart the mouth must speak; in other words, when the heart is overladen with joy, sorrow, contrition, thankfulness, or other deep feeling so intense that it can be no longer restrained by the barriers of mere inner sense, but must overleap them and burst into the outward life of jubilant hymn or plaintive chant, if not in the hearing of men, at least before God and his heavenly host. But as faith is the life of the Christian soul, and as the Church comes nearest on earth to the high standard of perfection proposed by our Father in Heaven, it is Faith that inspires her prayers, and they can breathe naught else but holiness and truth. She prays be

1 Assemani uses this as a critical test to determine the age in which some writers lived.

2 “The just man shall live by faith,” Rom. i., 17. “ Be ye therefore perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect,” Math. v., 48.

cause she believes, and the fervor of that prayer is in proportion to the depth and strength of her faith. Hence, from whatever she says in her prayers, however unconscious and unstudied in expression, however varied in form, whether plain and childlike in their simplicity, or poetic and noble in their triumphant array, we may clearly learn the faith that prompted them. And it is in this sense that we should understand the famous saying of the holy Pope, Celestine I.: "Legem credendi lex statuit supplicandi." The doubting skeptic and the honest inquirer will feel more secure in discovering the faith of Ambrose and Leo, of Ephrem and Balæus, from what they said in prayer and song, than from what they uttered in the pulpit or discussed in learned volumes against the enemies of the Church.

Who can fail to recognize the wisdom of the Church and her Pontiffs in refusing to adopt, as a general rule, the policy recommended by the Synod of Diamper, that the Roman Missal should be translated into Syro-Chaldaic for the use of the Christians of Malabar? Zeal, rather than prudence, seems to have prompted those who made the suggestion. It was carried out, and, it must be feared, not with the happiest results. If there be one distinctive element in the character of Eastern Christians it is assuredly an unfounded, overweening jealousy of their Latin brethren, a blind, unreasoning fear which makes them perpetually suspect that the latter are anxious to obtrude on them, by fraud or force, the rites and discipline of the Western Church. This feeling pervades the minds of all, whether estranged from the Holy See by schism and heresy or united to it by bonds of faith and communion, and of every nationality, Greek, Syrian, Chaldean, and Armenian. And herein shines conspicuously the apostolic zeal, the wise discretion, of Leo XIII., who from the very beginning of his pontificate has done all in his power to soothe this senseless jeal

1 The very expression of the Breviary of Antioch: “ With triumph-clad hymn (bkinto tiphat zocuto) come and praise our king.” Off. Syr., p. 487, 493.

Her form of belief is determined by her form of prayer." In other words, how the Church prays gives the clew to what she believes.

$ The synod was held in 1599 under Portuguese dominion. See Io. Facundi Raulin, Historia Ecclesiae Malabaricæ cum Diamperitana Synodo . . . nunc primum e Lusitano in Latinum versa. Romæ (Mainardi), 1745, pp. 107, 154-155, 273, 282, 408. The book is rare. The Archbishop of Goa, Don Alexius de Meniezes, presided over the synod.

+ “ Ctob tucose w'kerione,” etc., or “Order of Lessons from the Old and New Testament for the Festivals, Sundays, Commemorations and Serial days of the whole year, according to the Rite of the Chaldees of Malabar. Press of the Sacred Congregation in the blessed city of great Rome. In the year of Christ, 1844.” Guriel, in his Chronotaxis, mentions an edition of 1767, under the auspices of the patriarch Joseph. The earliest editions seems to have been published, probably at Goa, by F.F. Francis Roz,

« PreviousContinue »