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where a death-bed communion--even of a repenting, believing person -was discouraged, for fear it should be viewed as a passport.
A. Reaction from the good old name of Viaticum, for the journey over the dark river of Jordan. The Greek Church consecrates on Maunday Thursday a store, which is reserved through the entire year for the dying. And the Roman Church makes the exception to her rule of morning hours and fasting the communicating of the sick.
S. I remember. I think it was Maurice de Guerin who thus first realised that he was dying. Why is there that rubric commanding that several persons should communicate at the same time, making it indeed an absolute necessity.
A. That is in the same spirit, enhancing the fact of a Communion, rather than that of a Eucharist.
S. Let me see. You mean that the eating together of the One Bread and drinking of the One Cup was more to them than the participating in the One Great Sacrifice once offered.
A. In fact, the desire was to prevent the sick person from dwelling on the idea of the holy Eucharist being an actual sacrifice, offered for him (and no doubt the distinction between the commemoration joining the Original Sacrifice), and the sacrifice was often lost to the ignorant. The joining the feast of that last Thursday night was instead to be made the prominent thought, and therefore other communicants were required both in church and in the house.
S. And why does the sick person come last?
A. For fear of infection. It might be alarming if the precaution were taken in some particular case, so it was charitable to make this, once for all, the universal rule.
S. Is the Collect a new one?
A. So far as I can make out, it was writen in 1549; it was preceded then by the sentence : O praise the Lord, all ye nations, laud Him, all ye people, for His merciful kindness if confirmed towards us, and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever,' then the Doxology, the Kyrie, and the Lord be with you,' and its response. It is hard to say why this beautiful cheering opening was omitted.
S. The Collect, Epistle, and Gospel chime together beautifully. But there is no opening for an offering.
A. I suppose because the sick person has already been exhorted to remember the poor, and besides, a rubric might call for offerings from the needy at a time when they could least afford it. The harpy assemblage of priests and monks and friars round dying beds was one of the worst mediæval abuses; and even now, in Roman Catholic countries, where the clergy themselves are poor and of a low stamp, there are instances of sad exactions, and I have no doubt that the absence of an offertory was to guard against this. But many personsdo voluntarily make an offering at private Eucharists, especially when the case is of a permanent invalid in no pressing danger, but never able to come to church.
S. And certainly it would be right, where there are the means. One question more, why did housel mean to receive the Blessed Sacrament?
A. Here is Mr. Evans's note, hunsl or husl was old Northern for a sacrifice; hunsljan, old Gothic for to offer sacrifice, no doubt from the same root as the Latin hostis, a victim, whence, as you know, Host.
S. I see that when there is no Communion at the time of the visitation, the seventy-first Psalm is to follow the Collect of Reconciliation.
A. Yes. It is one of. King David's last Psalms, composed in the time of illness and old age, and is distinctly prophetical of our Lord's Passion, and persecution by His enemies,
S. I see, in the 10th and 11th verses.
A. So that the sufferer not only has David's words of prayer to express his own wants, but is joined with the Son of David in what otherwise might not be applicable.
S. What is meant by “I am become as it were a monster unto many'?
d. The Bible version has a wonder. The proper meaning of monster, monstrum, is something to be shown. It applies most fully to our Blessed Lord on the cross, and if properly understood would often express the feelings of a patient in a very distressing state, wondered at and pitied by all around. The last four verses are omitted as too exultant in recovery. I think the Psalm is a suggestion in case of need that the priest or attendants may continue repeating Psalms.
S. As Archbishop Wintgift did for Queen Elizabeth.
A. Yes. Generally the penitential Psalms. As St. Margaret died with the fifty-first on her tongue, and in time of sickness of our own or other people, there is nothing more precious than such familiarity with the Psalms as to be able to call them to ourselves, or repeat them without hook fearlessly and expressively. I have known a lady say how much she regretted being unable to do so; and on the the other hand, I knew a clergyman who said there was nothing for which he was more thankful to his mother than for his thorough meinory of them, and a dear young scholar, who died of decline in the Bournemouth Home, used to solace her sleepless nights with them. It is a sad pity that people in the silly fear of boring children do not get them gradually learnt by heart at the best time. But if they have not been thus taught, it would be well each day to learn a verse or two. i S. I learnt a good many as a child, and I am trying to learn others.
4. The sentence, which follows the Psalm is the old Antiphon, drawing out the full Christian spirit of the Psalm. The first and beautiful benediction that ensues, was a gem added in 1549. . S. The other is, the High Priest's blessing to the Israelites, with the threefold repetition of the Holy Name (Num. vi. 24-26).
with the people, there iber tongue,
A. Yes, that was added in the revision of 1662. Bishop Cosin having taken it from the old Irish and Gallican rituals.
S. I like that. And there are four more prayers.
A. All added in 1662. The American Prayer-book has two more. One for the mourners around, one in case of sudden surprise or danger, and a thanksgiving in the beginning of recovery. All which might be very helpful, though they have not the flow of our own Prayer-book.
S. I have been very glad to use that for the sick child at home by myself.
A. Yes; it seems to be meant for that, or for cases when the little creature cannot take part in the prayers around him.
S. Those intercessions for the person with small hope of recovery, and for the one troubled in mind, can also be used in private, and at a distance. How beautiful the Commendatory Prayer is.
A. Ah ! my dear, by the time people are as old as I am, that prayer gets associations that make it not easy to discuss it. It is one substitute for the old form of Commendation. Depart, O Christian soul, from this world, in the Name of God the Father, Who made thee, of God the Son, Who redeemed the, of God the Holy Ghost, Who sanctifieth thee.
S. May I read it from the Dream of Gerontius,' whicb, I suppose, is as nearly a translation as making it into blank verse will allow.
* Profiscere, anima Christiana, de hôc Mundo,
Was that the old English commendation ?
A. I do not think it was; at least I cannot find it in any of my books; but it is certainly in use in the Roman Church, and it is a beautiful gathering of the soul to the multitudes awaiting it in Paradiso.
S. Was not the knell rung for the dying, not the dead, that every one might be warned to pray for the departing soul ?
A. Yes; and thus it was called the passing bell. I have heard my good old grandmother exclaim at the first toll, “God have mercy on his poor soul,' and I think that was the remnant of one of the pious customs that were done away with, partly because of the rapacity of the mediæval clergy, partly because of the Calvinistic dread of encouraging the doctrine of Purgatory, and lastly, because of the evil revelry that ir rude and course families survived all that was pious and reverent.
S. Yes ; in accounts of old times, it is plain that a death led to a perfect orgie of the worst sort of priests, monks, friars, and beggars of all sorts.
A. Who came under plea of praying for the soul of the deceased, and to enjoy the alms that the family gave to secure their prayers. There were regulations of the Church from the first for the Lyke wake, or watch around the corpse. The wailing of professional mourners was discouraged in the Latin Church from the first, thus interpreting St. Paul's recommendation not to sorrow as those who bave no hope; but where the national character is demonstrative, as in the East, the Greek Church only regulated the lamentations.
S. And in Ireland, they have always been kept up.
A. The Western Church directed the clergy and deaconesses reverently to wash and lay out the dead, and sing Psalms around them, especially the De Profundis. Synod after synod enforced that only pious hymns sbould be sung, tried to stem the worldliness of the clergy who only thus attended the rich, and commanded that if only the relations were left to keep watch, and they were too ignorant to repeat Psalms, they should sing the Kyrie Eleison alone.
S. Ought there to be the watch?
A. Some people keep watch and pray round their beloved dead in loving tender reverence. It is not needful. We know that the Temple whence the Spirit has fled is safe, and when all things are done decently and in order, there is no necessity to strain feelings, or the often exhausted physical powers; but we can leave the mortal frame in its Maker's keeping.
BY ELIZABETH M. SEWELL.
A STRANGE thing it is to know that one is growing old—in fact, that one is old, having reached the natural term of man's life—and yet not to feel old. Jeremy Taylor gives striking and distressing details of the signs of age, some not pleasant to quote; but I suppose all persons who have reached the age of threescore years and ten must be aware of the presence of grey hairs. Wrinkled skin, dim eyesight, with an occasional perception of short memory, are also among the earliest tokens, but they do not actually touch the mental powers, neither do they affect mental enjoyment. And in the rush of life, as it is now constituted, they may appear, and yet be unnoticed by ourselves, and by those nearest to us. 'How aged such an one is!' we say of others. There is so much alteration since last year.' But those who live with the person of whom we are speaking, probably see no change. Photographs, indeed, are tell-tales and reminders; but then it is easy to smooth wrinkles, and soften down hard lines; and even when the likeness is too obviously old, those who love us can trace in the withered features the life and brightness of years gone by. Wordsworth, it is said, was shown the likeness of his wife as an old woman, and was told that it was considered very good, but he shook his head, and answered: 'I cannot see it; to me she is still what she was when I married her. The extent of this loving delusion as to the ravages of time is sometimes singularly exemplified by our own experience. A relation of my own was expecting to meet her brother at a railway station. He did not appear, and when looking for him, she described him to the porter as a gentleman with dark hair and grey eyes. His hair really was silvery grey, but to her he was still what he had been as a young man.
The growth of the rising generation is perhaps the most startling reminder of the fact that one is old. Great-nephews and nieces, like grandchildren, unconsciously preach many a sermon. Their young lives are stretching out into a region lying so far beyond our ken that we can in no way picture it to ourselves. The dawn is breaking, but the noonday is beyond the reach of our imagination, and so at every turn we, the old, are brought, as it were, to a standstill. Our thoughts and hopes run on into the distant future, even as they did twenty years ago, but they rest, where? And then we say