Gemma Animae (39-40): The Offertory and Secret

Ch. 37
On the Subdeacon

The subdeacon carries the chalice in his left hand, the paten in his right, and the corporal above, because at this point the subdeacon signifies Christ, the chalice his Passion, the left the present life, the paten the Cross, the right eternal life, and the corporal the Church. And Christ drinks the chalice of the Passion in the present life, though he first asked the Father to take it from him. Through the Cross he entered into the glory of the Father, and the Church does not cease to imitate his Passion. The corporal is made white by much labor, and the Church is conformed to Christ through many tribulations. Our subdeacon Christ in a manner carried the paten with the chalice, when he carried the Cross to his Passion.

Holy Sepulchre_Crucifixion Chapel
The Crucifixion Chapel, Holy Sepulcher. The icon screen behind seems to depict Christ in a dalmatic.

Ch. 38
On the Cantors

One cantor offers an oblation on honeycomb and wine in a cruet, a second provides the water to be mixed in the wine. The one who offers wine signifies the Church of the Jews, which exchanged the rite of the law into the sacrifice of Christ; he who offers water, the Church of the Gentiles, which sacrificed the gentile people to Christ. These two also put forward a type of Enoch and Elias, who will offer the Jewish people to Christ in sacrifice. They make this offering not with their bare hands, but with honeycombs made white by much labor, because the body of Christ is worthily received only by those who crucify their flesh to vice and concupiscence. The cruet in which the wine is offered signifies our devotion, which is carried in the vessels of the heart. The archdeacon, pouring all the water into the chalice offers it to the bishop, because Christ, whom the deacon signifies here, mixed the Church with himself in his Passion, offered it to the Father on the Cross, and at the last joined the head to the body when he handed over the kingdom to his God and Father.

Ch. 39
On the Prayer of the Priest

[I.e. the Offertory]

After receiving the sacrifice, the bishop bows before the altar saying the prayer Suscipe, sancta Trinitas, because Christ bowed to the feet of the Apostles after handing them the sacrifice at the Last Supper, and standing before the table he made a prayer to the Father. Then he says Orate [Fratres] because Christ told the Apostles to pray. Then he says the prayer super oblata in secret [the Secret], because on the Mount of Olives Christ prayed secretly at great length, and at that time an angel appeared to comfort him. The period of silence after the Offertory signifies that time in which Christ was in Jerusalem before his Passion, just as the Paschal Lamb the Jews sacrificed on the fourteenth day of the month, having reserved it since the tenth.

Ch. 40

On the Secret

The sacrifice completed [i.e. the Offertory], the priest recites a prayer in silence, for the same sacrifice lay hidden in the sacrifice of the Fathers. For he lay hidden in Abel’s lamb, and concealed himself in the ram, taking Isaac’s place. In the Paschal Lamb, in the red calf, and in the scapegoat he was disguised (Levit. 16). Then the pontiff offers the sacrifice for the people, because Christ offered himself for the Church. Then the sacrifice is incensed, because when Christ is offered to God he is accepted as a pleasing odor.

 

paschal-lamb3

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