WHAT little is known in our communion of the Mozarabic Rite, so called, is generally derived from the genuine erudition of Neale, from what Palmer less accurately tells us, and from an inspection of the material preserved in Migne's Patrologia. It is surprising how little has been wrought out from this field, and with how little success the learned have tried to account for the name itself. To call it "The Gothic Rite," as many do, is very misleading. It is, in its essential and original parts, the ancient Spanish Liturgy, as Neale has lucidly shewn; and it is interesting more especially for two reasons: (I) it is akin to the ancient Gallican Rite, and (2) it so far partakes of an Ephesine spirit, as to be justly styled a link between the usages of East and West.
From the time, when, in God's Providence, I was called to a place on "the Mexican Commission," it has been my ardent hope and desire to see the attention of the reformed Mexican Church, turned to these ancient sources of her own historic faith; and to induce her divines to use them, precisely as our reformers used the old Anglican offices, in renewing the Primitive Worship and its simply but sublime ceremonial. Whatever concession have been made pro tempore to present exigencies and difficulties, I am justified by the Reports, now published, in saying that the Commission itself has, over and over again, recognize the principle thus expressed, and cherishes the hope that it will yet be accepted by the Mexican "Old Catholics" as their true policy, on every account; but, also, as due to the terms of their "Covenant" with our Catholic and Apostolic Church. We have no right to impose on them our convictions, however; and we must wait till the Holy Spirit, whose presence and power are so evidently with them, enables them, by study and larger commerce with loving hearts among us, to "work out their own Salvation," in the practical way we suggest.
Absorbed in the pressing duties of my Episcopate, I have from the first, relied on my beloved brother Dr. Hale, whom I have known and conferred with, from the days of his pupillage, to work in this old mine for me and with me; and I am pleased with this opportunity of thanking him for his unwearied labours, in bringing forth treasures "new and old," from Spanish Antiquity: they are old and primitive in themselves: they are largely new to his brethren.
He has compiled an admirable office for the Holy Eucharist; and a Baptismal Office, also, from such materials; and I trust they may soon see the light, with an introductory Excursus and with the Notes with which he is so capable of enriching the work. The COLLECTS herewith presented are a mere specimen of their Editor's entire work, but they are not an inconsiderable portion of it, and they may, by God's blessing, awaken attention to the subject, and thus promote his ultimate desires and purposes, with which I sympathize, ardently; not only because of my respect for him, but rather because of the importance of the subject to Catholic Reconstruction and Reform in Mexico and elsewhere.
I have before me the important work of Lorenzana, published in 1770, with the probably design of favouring the introduction of the Old Spanish Rite into Mexico. He had been one of the Canons of the Royal Foundation, in Toledo, which preserved the Ancient Spanish Liturgy (interpolated indeed by Cardinal Ximenes) and was made Archbishop of Mexico. With him, one of his fellow-canons, who had become Bishop of Los Angelos, was a fellow labourer, in the same cause. By the aid of Neale's criticisms, and the general principles of Primitive Worship so admirably expounded by the late Archbishop Freedman, it would not be a difficult task for our Mexican brethren, to make this work of Lorenzana a most useful instrument of influence with their unreformed countrymen.
It is Dr. Hale's idea, and I sincerely share it with him, that the Commission of our own Church, now engaged in Liturgical Inquiry, might not improbably find some material for their labours in the same direction. Nor do I overlook the practical object he has kept in mind, of enriching the devotional resources of pious members of the Church, for their private communings with God, in the fellowship of His Saints.
But, in any case, the labours of Dr. Hale will be most useful to some; and I trust this publication may, by God's blessing, lead to such great results as His blessed Spirit delights to produce, from ventures of faith the most humble and unpretending.
A. CLEVELAND COXE,
Bishop of Western New York.
BUFFALO, FEAST OF THE PURIFICATION B.V.M., 1881.