Did early monks, 3-4th century, attend Mass daily?


#1

Does anyone know if monks around years 251-356 had a daily Mass?

I just wondered because I am reading about a hermit who lived at that time, Antony of the Desert, by St. Athanasius. Thanks for any replies.


#2

I think you can find your answer at the link below to a book excerpt on the reception of the eucharist in early monasticism:

books.google.com/books?id=Y21eT9dhxkoC&pg=PA367&lpg=PA367&dq=pachomius+eucharist&source=bl&ots=JjYSf2oOAD&sig=ty_H-wrooDrfbP1gQ0XFoBQDgz0&hl=en&sa=X&ei=LscSUIVNy_CJAuHVgbAN&ved=0CFcQ6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q=pachomius%20eucharist&f=false

For a little background, at least in the deserts of Egypt and Syria, many monks in the 3rd-4th century were solitary (anchorites) or lived in small groups. Few were ordained to the priesthood and daily reception of the eucharist was infrequent. Pachomius founded monasteries in which monks could live in community (cenobites). If daily reception of the eucharist was practiced at all, it would be more likely in the monasteries.

I am less familiar with monasticism in urban centers, where monks would have better access to churches. Perhaps someone else has additional information.


#3

[quote="Alan55, post:2, topic:293110"]
I think you can find your answer at the link below to a book excerpt on the reception of the eucharist in early monasticism:

books.google.com/books?id=Y21eT9dhxkoC&pg=PA367&lpg=PA367&dq=pachomius+eucharist&source=bl&ots=JjYSf2oOAD&sig=ty_H-wrooDrfbP1gQ0XFoBQDgz0&hl=en&sa=X&ei=LscSUIVNy_CJAuHVgbAN&ved=0CFcQ6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q=pachomius%20eucharist&f=false

For a little background, at least in the deserts of Egypt and Syria, many monks in the 3rd-4th century were solitary (anchorites) or lived in small groups. Few were ordained to the priesthood and daily reception of the eucharist was infrequent. Pachomius founded monasteries in which monks could live in community (cenobites). If daily reception of the eucharist was practiced at all, it would be more likely in the monasteries.

I am less familiar with monasticism in urban centers, where monks would have better access to churches. Perhaps someone else has additional information.

[/quote]

Thanks so much, this is what I was thinking they did. Such holy men.


#4

You may already be familiar with the basic works on the Desert Fathers, but my favorite books on the subject are:

Lives of the Desert Fathers: Historia Monachorum in Aegypto

amazon.com/gp/product/0879079347/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_2?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0879079592&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=1CJQ6297JH50BP7PBGZ9

Sayings of the Desert Fathers

amazon.com/Sayings-Desert-Fathers-Cistercian-studies/dp/0879079592

The Life of Antony by St. Athanasius

amazon.com/Athanasius-Life-Antony-Letter-Marcellinus/dp/0809122952/ref=pd_sim_b_4

The Word in the Desert: Scripture and the Quest for Holiness in Early Christian Monasticism, by Douglas Burton-Christie

amazon.com/Word-Desert-Scripture-Christian-Monasticism/dp/0195083334/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1343759764&sr=1-1&keywords=the+word+in+the+desert

I plan to read, but haven’t yet read, two of the most famous books about the Desert Fathers, which had a profound influence on western Christian monasticism, the Institutes and the Conferences of John Cassian

amazon.com/Institutes-St-John-Cassian/dp/0809105225/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1343759989&sr=1-1&keywords=john+cassian+the+institutes

amazon.com/John-Cassian-Conferences-Ancient-Christian/dp/0809104849/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1343759989&sr=1-2&keywords=john+cassian+the+institutes

Happy reading!


#5

[quote="pollycarp, post:1, topic:293110"]
Does anyone know if monks around years 251-356 had a daily Mass?

I just wondered because I am reading about a hermit who lived at that time, Antony of the Desert, by St. Athanasius. Thanks for any replies.

[/quote]

Probably not.


#6

Many people then did not have access to daily Mass or even Sunday Mass on a regular basis - especially not if you lived in the middle of a desert!

Like people in rural areas now, they had to wait until a priest was there. Which may have been once a week or once a year or something in between. Talk to some folks on this forum who live in rural Canada, Alaska, Australia, or South America - even today priests travel between parishes (poulation centers) and so Mass is only once a circuit for each location.

Today we have a formal rite of Sunday Celebration in Absence of a Priest. Basically it is the Liturgy of the Word, lead by a lay person, followed by distribution of the reserved Blessed Sacrament. Monks and others in past times did basically the same thing (if they could reserve the Blessed Sacrament).


#7

Funny coincidence, some years ago we were studying Saint Anthony of the Desert in college. I asked the professor if Saint Anthony was a priest; he was not. So I asked how did he receive Eucharist. (Pollycarp you and I are of the same mind!) His answer to me was this was why monks figured out the need to form communities.

Anyway that would seem to answer your question: No, those types of monks back then didn't have Mass daily.


#8

[quote="PazzoGrande, post:7, topic:293110"]
Funny coincidence, some years ago we were studying Saint Anthony of the Desert in college. I asked the professor if Saint Anthony was a priest; he was not. So I asked how did he receive Eucharist. (Pollycarp you and I are of the same mind!) His answer to me was this was why monks figured out the need to form communities.

Anyway that would seem to answer your question: No, those types of monks back then didn't have Mass daily.

[/quote]

Indeed.

The value people put on daily Mass is something that arose later.

It is not even possible to say Saint Anthony attended Mass weekly, at least for those many years he was a solitary. None of the accounts mention it, and from the circumstances of his story it seems unlikely.


#9

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