Offering the host

David Ganz (essay in The Languages of Gift in the Early Middle Ages , 21) quotes this from the decree of the Council or Synod of Macon, 585: “We have learned from the report of the brethren that some churches in some places have deviated from the divine command in not offering a host at the altar. Wherefore we decree that on every Sunday an offering of both bread and wine be made to the altar by all men and women, that by these oblations they may obtain the remission of their sins.”

That might be taken simply as a mandate to offer the Mass every week, a complaint about the absence of a hostia at the altar. But it’s something else. The solution to the absence of a hostia is a decree that an oblation be offered by all men and women ( oblatio an omnibus viris vel mulieribus offeratur ), consisting of bread and wine. This offertory gift from the people is given so that through it ( per has immolationes ) their sins might be remitted. No doubt, it is the gathering up of the communal oblation in the Mass that has this effect, but the point is that the people participate in offering the host by providing the materials for the immolation of the Mass.

(The Latin text is in Friedrich Maassen, ed., Concilia aevi Merovingici , p. 166, available at GoogleBooks.)

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