Project Canterbury




translated from the Sarum Missal.









Transcribed by Peter Owen, 2006

It is believed that the careful study of these Cautels of the English Church used in times of old, will be the means of wakening many Priests to a sense of what is due on the score of reverence and decency to so great a Mystery. It should also be remembered that very nearly the whole of the following are to be found in the Provisions of the Canons and Constitutions of the Church of England passed before the sixteenth century, and that such of them as are consistent with the structure of our Service Book have the force of statute law in virtue of 25 Henry VIII. c. 19, § 7, and 35 Henry VIII. c. 16, § 2. They may most conveniently be found in Perry’s “Lawful Church Ornaments,” pp. 472—482, where those which are statutable are indicated.


June 2, A.S. 1858.



§ Here follow directions and cautels to be observed by the Presbyter wishing to celebrate Divine Service (Divina.[1])

THE first Cautel is: that the Priest about to celebrate Mass shall seasonably prepare his conscience by a pure confession, (or) that he shall greatly desire that Sacrament and intend to confess. That he shall know by heart and well the order of performing the function. That his actions be very self-possessed and reverent. Whoever loves GOD, loves Him with all his heart, with all his soul, and with all his strength. He is proved not to love GOD, who at the table of the Altar where the King of kings and LORD of all is handled and taken, appears irreligious, irreverent, indevout, unseemly, confused, wandering in his thoughts, or slothful. Therefore let each (Priest) mind that he tarries at an august Table. Let him think how it behoves him to be prepared. Let him be cautious and self-possessed. Let him stand erect; not lounging on the Altar. His elbows should touch his sides. When he lifts up his hands, the extremities of his fingers should be just seen above his shoulders.

He should suit his understanding to the signs and words, since great things are latent in signs, greater things in words, and still greater things in intention. He should join three[2] fingers together with which he will make the sign (of the cross); the other two he will lay together in his hand. He will make the sign directly over the chalice, not obliquely; and sufficiently high, lest he upset it. He must not make circles for crosses. When he inclines, he must not do it obliquely but right before the altar, and in inclining must bend his whole body.


The second Cautel is: that he must not think, but know for certain, that he has the appointed matter (debitas[3] materias); this is wheaten bread, and wine (mixed) with a modicum of water. Of the wine and water he will be able to be certified after this fashion. Let him test it by his minister[4] who will taste both the wine and the water. But the Priest himself ought not to taste it.[5] Let him pour a drop upon his hand, rub it with his finger, and smell it, so that he may be the more certified. He must trust neither the mark (signature[6]) upon the cruet, nor the colour of it: since both often deceive. He must see that the chalice be not broken. He must look to the wine; if it is corrupted he must in no wise celebrate; if it is sour he must in no wise pass it by. If it is too watery,[7] he must not use it, unless he knows that the wine exceeds the water. And in every case where there is a doubt either in regard to the sourness or the mixture,[8] or the excessive thickness of the wine, whether it can be used, we counsel the Priest not to use it: because in this Sacrament nothing must be done concerning which there is any doubt, where most explicitly (certissime) it is to be said; HOC EST ENIM CORPUS MEUM, et, HIC EST ENIM CALIX SANGUINIS MEI. Let him also see that he offer the oblations conveniently and that he pour out the wine discreetly, because this Sacrament ought to be appreciable by the senses, to be seen, touched, and tasted, in order that the sense may be refreshed by the species, and the intellect be nourished (ex re contenta). Also the water must be poured[9] in the smallest possible quantity, so that it may be absorbed by the wine and receive the savour of the wine. For there is no danger, however small be the modicum of water that is mixed, but there is risk if it be much. Moreover, the water is mixed solely as a symbol, and one drop is as symbolical as a thousand. The Priest should, therefore, take heed not to pour the water with an impetus, lest too much should fall into the chalice.

The third Cautel is: to read the Canon in a lower tone (morosius) than the other parts of the Liturgy. And especially from the place: Qui pridie quam pateretur accepit. For then the Priest ought to fetch a breath and concentrate his attention, and to intend to collect his whole self (if he has not been able to do so before) upon each separate word. And whilst he shall say: Accipite et manducate ex hoc omnes; he shall fetch a breath and with one inspiration shall say (the words), HOC EST ENIM CORPUS MEUM: so that any other train of thought shall not intermingle with them. For it seems not reasonable to interrupt a form so short, so important, and so efficacious whose whole virtue depends on the last word, viz., MEUM, which is said in the person[10] of CHRIST. Wherefore a point ought not to be placed at any word whatsoever. So that by no means should it be said: HOC EST ENIM, CORPUS MEUM; but should be pronounced altogether at the same time. In like manner the same rule should be observed in the consecration of the Blood.

Also in pronouncing the words of consecration over any matter, the Priest should always intend to perform that which CHRIST instituted, and the Church does.

The fourth Cautel is: That if he has to consecrate more hosts (than one) he ought to elevate that one of those which he has determined upon with himself from the beginning of the Mass; and should hold it in regard to the others so that he may direct his sight and intention to all at the same time. And in signing it (with the sign of the cross) and in saying: HOC EST ENIM CORPUS MEUM: he should think upon all which he points at.

We counsel also that the Presbyter should know the Canon by heart, in order that he may say it more devotionally; yet he should always have the Service-Book that it may be referred to to help his memory.

The fifth cautel is: That whilst he communicates he should never take the chalice at one draught,[11] lest by reason of the impetus (of the wine against his fauces) he should unadvisedly cough, but twice or thrice he should take It warily, that no impediment occur. But if he must take more Hosts than one, as when the Host is renewed,[12] let him first take that which he has used as the Priest’s Host (confecit) and (also) the Blood; after them the others which remain. He should take his own (Host) before the others, because of his own he believes and has knowledge,[13] (that the matter is without defect), of the others he indeed believes, but has not certain knowledge. After that the Ablutions, and not before.

The sixth Cautel is: That he burdens himself with names of few[14] in the Canon; not always, but when he wishes it he may make mention of them, when he wishes he may omit them, because the Canon is made prolix by a multitude of names, and hence thought is distracted. Yet it is honourable that father, mother, brother, and sister should there be named; and specially those in whose behalf the Mass is celebrated. Not, however, that the expression thereof should be vocal, but mental.

The seventh Cautel is: That before Mass the Priest do not wash his mouth or teeth, but only his lips from without with his mouth closed as he has need, lest perchance he should intermingle the taste of water with his saliva. After Mass also he should beware of expectorations as much as possible, until he shall have eaten and drunken, lest by chance anything shall have remained between his teeth or in his fauces, which by expectorating he might eject. But though a Mass be most devoutly celebrated when an opportunity for contemplation is afforded, yet a measure is to be kept therein, that a man be not notable either for prolixity or haste; for haste is a sign of carelessness; prolixity is an occasion of distraction. The middle course will be safest. But each Mass is to be said by each Priest with disposition, as if it were the first he was to say, and never was to be repeated, for so great a gift ought always to be new.

Therefore let the Priest have diligence in performing It; reverence in handling It; and devotion in taking It. So will the Sacrament be worthily treated in thought and action; the office will be performed rightly, and dangers and scandals avoided.

Also in saying the collects the Priest should observe always to say an unequal number.[15] One collect on account of the Unity of the Godhead., Three on account of the Trinity of Persons. Five on account of the five-fold Passion of CHRIST. Seven on account of the seven-fold grace of the HOLY GHOST. It is not lawful to exceed the number seven.

Also; when a collect is directed solely to The FATHER, at close shall be said: “through our LORD JESUS CHRIST.” But if it is directed to the FATHER, and mention is made of the SON in the same collect, at the close shall be said: “through the same our LORD JESUS CHRIST.” But if the collect is directed solely to the SON, at the close shall be said: “Who with the FATHER and the HOLY GHOST, &c.” And if mention be made of the HOLY SPIRIT in any collect, at the close shall be said: “of the same HOLY SPIRIT, GOD for ever and ever. Amen.”

Here begin Cautels to be observed, as to what is to be done in regard to defect, or accident, which may possibly arise in the Mass, and especially in regard to the consecration of the Eucharist.

First what is to be done if a Priest faints.

If a Priest faints or dies before the Canon, it is not necessary for another Priest to complete[16] the mass. If, however, another Priest is willing to celebrate, he ought to recommence the Mass from the beginning, and go through the whole rightly.

But if he faints in the Canon,[17] some actions having been already performed, yet before the transubstantiation and consecration of the Sacrament, then another Priest ought to recommence from the place where he left off and to supply just so much as is omitted.

But if a Priest faints in the act of consecration,[18] some words being already said in part, but not altogether completed, according to Innocent, another Priest ought to begin from the place, qui pridie.

But if a Priest faints when the Body is consecrated, but not the Blood, another Priest may complete the consecration of the Blood, beginning from the place, simili modo. If after the consecration of the Body, the Priest perceive there is no wine in the chalice, the Host ought to be directly replaced upon the corporal, and when the chalice is rightly prepared, he will begin from the place, simili modo.

If before the consecration of the Blood he perceive there is no water in the chalice,[19] he ought forthwith to put some in, and go on with the function.

But if after the consecration of the Blood he perceive that water is wanting in the chalice, he ought nevertheless to proceed; he ought not to mix water with the Blood, because in part would follow the corrupting of the Sacrament: but the Priest ought to grieve and to be punished.

If after the consecration of the Blood he perceive that no wine, but only water, has been put into the chalice, if indeed he perceive this before communicating of the Body, he ought to put out the water,[20] and to put in wine with water, and to resume the consecration of the Blood from the place, simili modo.

If he perceive this after taking of the Body, he ought to take another host de novo, again to be consecrated with the Blood, according to the doctors in the sacred page;[21] but he ought to resume the words of consecration from the place, qui pridie. But in the end he ought again to take the Host last consecrated, and it must not hinder him if he has before taken the water and even the Blood.[22] Innocent, however, faith, that if the Priest fear scandal from prolixity, those words shall suffice by which the Blood is consecrated, sc., Simili modo, &c., and so to take the Blood.

But the question arises, if after having communicated of the Body, he shall have the water already in his mouth, and shall then for the first time perceive that it is water—whether he ought to swallow it or to eject it. Refer in summa Hostiensis in titulo de celebr. missa. It is, however, safer to swallow than to eject it; and for this reason, that no particle of the Body may be ejected with the water.

Also: if the Priest after the consecration call to mind that he is not fasting, or has committed some sin, or is excommunicated, he ought, nevertheless, to proceed with the determination to make satisfaction and to seek absolution.

But if he call to mind any of the aforesaid, before consecration, it is safer to leave off a begun Mass and to seek absolution, unless a grave scandal should thence arise.

Also: if a fly or spider or any such thing should fall into the chalice before consecration, or even if he shall apprehend that poison hath been put in, the wine which is in the chalice ought to be poured out, and the chalice ought to be washed, and other wine with water put therein to be consecrated. But if any of these (contingencies) befal after the consecration, the fly or spider or such-like thing should be warily taken,[23] oftentimes diligently washed between the fingers, and should then be burnt,[24] and the ablution, together with the burnt ashes, must be put in the piscina. But the poison ought, by no means, to be taken, but such Blood, with which poison has been mingled, should be reserved in a comely vessel, together with the relics. And that the Sacrament do not remain imperfect, the Priest ought to prepare rightly a chalice de novo, and resume the consecration from the place, simili modo. And note that according to the doctors, nothing abominable ought to be taken by reason of this Sacrament.

Also: if the Priest does not recollect that he has said some of those things which he ought to have said, he should not be troubled in his mind; for he who says many (prayers) does not always remember which he has said. If even he knows for certain that he has left out some, if they be such as are not necessary to the validity of the Sacrament, such as the secretae, or some words of the Canon, let him go on, and not begin anything over again. If, however, he is convinced of the probability of his having omitted something which is necessary to the Sacrament, as the form of words by which it is consecrated, he ought to say again all the words of consecration over the matter (materiam—the technical theological term for the elements,) because there has been no consecration. It does not, however, signify if the conjunction enim has been omitted, or other words which go before or follow after the form, (viz., the words of consecration,) for they are not of the substance of the Sacrament itself.

But if the Priest doubt whether or no he hath left out some word pertaining to the substance of the form, by no means ought he to use any conditional form; but without rash assertion he ought to resume the whole form (of consecration proper) over each matter (viz. the elements of bread and wine), with this intention: that if consecration hath taken place, by no means doth he wish to consecrate; but if consecration hath not taken place, he wishes to consecrate the Body and Blood.

Also: if during the time of consecration, any distraction should occur from his actual[25] intention and devotion, nevertheless he must still proceed with the consecration; whilst habitual intention remains in him; for the great High Priest, CHRIST, will supply the defect of His Priest.

But if in too much distraction, his habitual intention be withdrawn as well as his actual intention, it seems he ought to resume the words of consecration with actual intention, with this proviso, that he is unwilling to consecrate, if consecration has taken place.

Also: if the consecrated Host on account of cold, or any other cause, slips from the Priest’s (hands) into the chalice, whether before or after the dividing of It; he ought not to take It out of the Blood, nor to reiterate any thing by reason of this, or to change ought concerning the celebration of the Sacrament; but he must proceed in making the sign of the cross and in other matters, as if he held It in his hands.

If the Eucharist hath fallen to the ground, the place where It lay must be scraped, and fire kindled thereon, and the ashes reserved beside the altar.[26]

¶ Also: if by negligence any of the Blood be spilled, upon a table[27] fixed to the floor, the Priest must take up the drop with his tongue, and the place of the table must be scraped, and the shavings burnt with fire, and the ashes reserved with the relics beside the Altar, and he to whom this has befallen must do penance forty days.

But if the chalice have dropped upon the altar, the drop must be sucked up, and the Priest must do penance for three days.

But if the drop have penetrated through the linen cloth to the second linen cloth, he must do penance for four days. If to the third, nine days. If the drop of Blood have penetrated to the fourth cloth, he must do penance for twenty days, and the Priest, or the Deacon, must wash the linen coverings[28] which the drop has touched three times, over a chalice, and the ablution is to be reserved with the relics. Also: if anyone by any accident of the throat vomit up the Eucharist, the vomit ought to be burned, and the ashes ought to be reserved near the altar; And if it shall be a cleric, monk, presbyter, or deacon, he must do penance for forty days, a bishop seventy days, a laic thirty.

But if he vomits from infirmity, he must do penance for five days.

But who does not keep the Sacrament well,[29] so that a mouse or other animal devoured It, he must do penance forty days.

But whoever hath lost It, or if part thereof hath fallen and cannot be found, he must do penance thirty days. That Priest is worthy of the same penance by whose negligence the consecrated hosts have become corrupted. But during the aforesaid days the penitent ought to fast, and to abstain from communion and celebration. However when the circumstances of the fault and person have been weighed, the aforesaid penance can be diminished or increased according to the judgment of a discreet confessor. But this is to be observed, that wherever the species[30] of the Sacrament are found in their integrity, they are severally to be consumed: but if this cannot be done without risk, they are still to be reserved for relics.

Also: if a host, or part of a host be discovered under the pall[31] or under the corporal, and there is a doubt whether or no it is consecrated, (the Priest) ought reverently to consume it after the taking of the Blood, as you will find more fully set down in titulo de celebratione missarum.

Also: in respect to the matter of the Blood see that it be not home-made, or wine so weak, that by no means it hath the nature (species) of wine. It must not be water red from being strained through a cloth which has been steeped in red wine. It must not be vinegar, or wine at all corrupted; nor must it be claret[32] (claretum), or wine made of mulberries or pomegranates[33] (malogranates); because they retain not the nature (species) of wine.

He who performs the function with wine that is on the way to corruption, or having a tendency to corruption, sins very grievously (should he use such wine) since it retains not the nature (species) of wine.

Also: care must be taken, that only a modicum of water be put (into the wine), because if so much is put in as to take away the species of wine, it must not be used.

Also: if anything be wanting here, it must be looked for in summa et lectura Hostien. in titul. de celebr. missarum.

[1] The celebration of the Eucharist being the Divine Service of the Church.

[2] This is usually the episcopal usage in blessing: a simple Priest ought more properly to bless with the whole hand. See Directorium Anglicanum, Parr. 44, note ‡, subnote 1, and 122, note †.

[3] “Rightly and duly administer Thy Holy Sacraments.” Prayer of Oblation.—Book of Common Prayer.

[4] Who would not communicate.

[5] Because it would break his fast.

[6] Probably alluding to the letters V. and A. with which the wine and water cruets are usually marked, or to some such device.

[7] This evidently refers to the mixed chalice. See infra, note 8.

[8] If the Priest (or Subdeacon at High Mass,) had accidentally poured too much water into the wine in preparing the chalice.

[9] See supra, note 8.

[10] Cf. 2 Cor. ii. 10.

[11] This, of course, is inapplicable to us—the privilege of communion in both kinds being invariably restored to all who communicate.

[12] See p. 8, “If he perceive this after taking of the Body,” &c.

[13] The Priest, through the medium of his minister, would have tested the Priest’s own breads by eating one or two of the wafers made at the same batch—besides the hosts intended for the Priest were probably made under his own eye, if not actually with his own hands, as the Cautels evidently imply. See “On the Celebration of the Holy Eucharist,” pp. 5—7, a paper reprinted from the Ecclesiastic.

[14] The names of those his piety may prompt him to commemorate whether living or dead. All long pauses and prolixity of every kind should be carefully eschewed.

[15] See “Directorium Anglicanum,” Par. 20.

[16] Before the Prayer for the Church Militant in our Service Book when the oblations are made.

[17] In our Service Book—from the Prayer for the Church Militant inclusive to the Prayer of Consecration exclusive.

[18] In our rite—either during the consecration proper, viz., the words of consecration, or during the first part of the Prayer of Consecration.

[19] I.e., recollect that the chalice had not been prepared; he could not tell the absence of a few drops of water by his vision.

[20] By giving it to the Deacon, who hands it to the Subdeacon to empty into the piscina at solemn Service; or by emptying it himself at low Service—for the server, under such circumstances, must not touch the chalice, unless he be in Holy Orders. See “Directorium Anglicanum,” Par. 78.

[21] The decrees of councils and written opinions of doctors and canonists.

[22] It is not clear how he could have taken the Blood in the case contemplated, without he communicated himself of the chalice before taking the second Host.

[23] Scil. with a perforated spoon—there should always be one on the credence.

[24] The Subdeacon should be sent for a covered chalice, he will pour a little water in, and also over the Priest’s fingers. The Priest will leave the fly or suchlike thing and spoon with the ablutions in the chalice; the Subdeacon will cover the chalice, and place it on the credence. After service the insect must be burnt and the ashes and ablutions thrown down the piscina.

[25] “Habitual intention” is the frame of mind which has a general and pervading intention to do what CHRIST did, and so fulfil the mind of the Church—“actual intention” is the consciousness of “habitual intention” directed to a particular action or thing.

[26] In a similar case we should put the ashes down the piscina.

[27] Either the credence, or any fixed table, ledge, or stand.

[28] The parts of the linen coverings which the Sacrament has touched are to be washed over a chalice three times with fresh water each time, the ablution to be poured down the piscina.

[29] Viz. the reserved Sacrament.

[30] The “form” or outward part of the Sacrament.

[31] This probably does not refer to the fourth linen cloth which was dyed purple and called the pall (see “Church of our Fathers,” vol. I. p. 266) but is most likely used in a general sense—meaning any of the altar-cloths, or chalice veils, &c.

[32] “Wine mixed with honey and spices, and afterwards strained till it is clear. It was otherwise called Piment; as appears from the title of the following receipt, in the Medulla Cirugiae Rolandi. MS. Bod. 761. fol. 86. ‘Claretum bonum, sive pigmentum—Accipe nucem moschatam, cariofilos, gingebas, macis, cinnamonum, galangum; quae omnia in pulverem reducta distempera cum bono vino cum tertia parte mellis: post cola per sacculum, et da ad bibendum. Et nota, quod illud idem potest fieri de cerevisia.’ And so in R. 5967. Clarré is the translation of Piment. Orig. 11450.”— Glossary to Tyrwhitt’s Chaucer, London, Moxon, 1843.

[33] Or a wine made from apples—perhaps cider.