Monday, March 03, 2008

Sacrifice of the Mass in the Book of Concord

Some time ago, Pastor Weedon asked me to outline what articles of faith in the Book of Concord I don't have any truck with any more. Off the top of my head, I said their rejection of the Petrine Ministry of the Bishop of Rome and the rejection of 4 or 5 of the seven Sacraments. I forgot the big one, of course, the Sacrifice of the Mass. Thanks to Christine and PE slogging it away in the combox of a previous post for mentioning this one. Here it is from the Epitome:
On the other hand, we unanimously reject and condemn all the following erroneous articles, which are opposed and contrary to the doctrine presented above, the simple faith, and the [pure] confession concerning the Lord's Supper;...2. The papistic sacrifice of the Mass for the sins of the living and the dead.
I guess the Sacrificial aspect of the Mass isn't upper most in my thinking when I contrast Lutheran and Catholic theologies--and I am not quite sure why that is. Perhaps because the whole doctrine of the Sacrifice is so much better integrated into current liturgical theology than it was at the time of the Reformation. Both Lutheran and Catholic theology has advanced many degrees toward a common understanding in the last 100 years or so. I will cite the example of the Australian Catholic Lutheran common statement "Sacrament and Sacrifice" as an example.

Nevertheless, the difference is there. And it is one area of Luther's theology which I cannot in any sense share. Here I stand with Ratzinger (pun intended) as his position is described in Tracey Rowland's new book, "Ratzinger's Faith":
While Martin Luther said that to speak of sacrifice in the context of the Mass was 'the greatest and most appalling horror' and a 'damnable impiety', Ratzinger has quipped: "I certainly do not need to say that I am not one of those who consider it the most appalling horror and a damnable impiety to speak of the sacrifice of the Mass." (p136)
Of course, the whole question of the sacrifice of the mass is intimately related to the faith and works question. To the degree that Catholics and Lutherans agree or disagree on the latter, it seems to me that we agree or disagree on the former.


At Monday, March 03, 2008 2:39:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

Yes, it's the Mass that matters.

Now, WHY was it thought by Luther et al. that the Mass could not be a sacrifice, and why would the idea be blasphemous?

The idea never arose in the East, and yet all the heretics of the Middle Ages likewise denied the idea of Mass as anything but a Communion service, rejecting it as a sacrifice. Why?

Was it their idea that Christ so committed Himself into the hands of men that, when "doing in His memory" what He did at the Supper, they would only (!) be able to make present His Body and Blood, but not to hold that Presence in their hands and truly offer it to God the Father as a propitiation, just as He Himself offered Himself, Priest and Victim, upon the Bloodsoaked Wood?

St Cyril of Jerusalem: "Then, we pray [in the anaphora] for the holy fathers and bishops who have fallen asleep, and in general for all who have fallen asleep before us, in the belief that it is a great benefit to the souls on whose behalf the supplication is offered, while the holy and tremendous Victim is present.... By offering to God our supplications for those who have fallen asleep, if they have sinned, we . . . offer Christ sacrificed for the sins of all, and so render favourable, for them and for us, the God who loves man."

Christ is one, His priesthood is one, and His sacrifice is one; but what is to prevent Him being present in many places in the Sacrament, yet not be present as Victim in these many places?

Is not the Lord Christ the Lamb once slain who lives for ever, and hence the ever-glorious Victim and Sacrifice? Therefore, when in His Sacrament He is made really present, is He not present precisely as the uniquely pleasing Victim?

Is this making-present of the Victim a derogation from the Cross, or rather a making present of the Cross hic et nunc, for our endless comfort? "What have we to do with a Christ Who died at Jerusalem" once asked some doubtful Quakers - but if He is alive yet slain, present in our midst as the one crucified Lord, is not His power to save utterly certain?

Did His command to "do this in My memory" imply not only 'do', but 'offer'? For if He truly commanded it, then He truly gave mortals the power to do and offer Himself.

Can the Greek ποιειτε (I Cor. xi, 24. 25; St Lk xxii, 19) bear this meaning? Can καταγγελλετε (I Cor. xi, 26)?

This would be the greatest of all good works wrought in us by Christ, and most definitely meritorious, but not as merely human acts, rather as only achievable by Christ's power acting in His ministers, being absolutely above all merely human ability: by speaking the Verba, to make true what they say - that mere bread and wine become in all truth "My Body" (St Matt. xxvi, 26 & St Mk xiv, 22) "which is being given [διδομενον] for you" (St Lk xxii, 19) "which shall be given up for you" (I Cor. xi, 24) and "My Blood of the new covenant, which is being shed [εκχυννομενον] for many" (St Mk xiv, 24) "which shall be shed [εκχυννομενον] for you" (St Lkxxii, 20) "unto the forgiveness of sins" (St Matt. xxvi, 27-28). There is of course a wealth of important textual criticism to be attended to here!

Can man be said to offer God any sacrifice? Of course!

After all, New Testament Scripture clearly refers to a verbal sacrifice of praise (Heb 13:15 - this is often extended to thanksgiving and contrition of heart, based on the Psalms, e.g. 116:17 and 51:17), just as it does to the giving of money as an offering, an acceptable and pleasing sacrifice (Rom. xv, 16 - a very liturgical passage! - and Phil. iv, 18; Heb. xiii, 16 - directly after reference to the verbal sacrifice - and cf. II Cor. ix, 1), just as it states that St Paul, approaching his martyrdom, is as a libation poured out (Phil. ii, 17), about to be sacrificed (II Tim. iv, 6). The faithful are to present their bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, a rational [λογικην] worship (Rom. xii, 1), and be a priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices and worship acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (I Pet. iii, 5; Heb. xii, 28).

So far, these references have been to the sacrifices of the sons of men - may we claim to offer (by His command alone) the Sacrifice of the Son of Man? The use of exactly the same terms as used for Christ's own sacrifice (cf. Eph. v, 2; Heb. ix & x) gives one reason to think that, at His command, He could give the power to men to offer sacrifice.

As Malachi (i, 11. 14b) prophesied of old: "From the rising of the sun to its setting My Name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to My Name, and a pure offering; for My name is great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts. For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and My Name is feared among the nations."

At Monday, March 03, 2008 3:03:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

I can only think (as I suggest in the post) that the reason is for the radical disjunction between what God does for us in Christ and our response to this gift of grace in faith, ie. the old "Faith and Works" thing. In other words, a good and true insight (the priority of grace over any human work) is taken and applied in the extreme to a doctrine that is well founded in the Tradition of the Church. I cannot think how Lutherans well grounded in the doctrines of the Fathers, for eg., Pastor Weedon, can square this absolute rejection of the sacrificial nature of the eucharist with their contention that it is their formulation of the faith, and not ours, which is true to the Tradition.

I think where the reproachment is being secured between Lutherans and Catholics today is precisely in the area of reflection on the teachings of the Fathers regarding the sacrifice of the Mass. And I think, if we were honest, we would say that there were forms of the doctrine getting around in Luther's day that were not faithful to the tradition and that it is against these deformations that Luther was railing.

Thank God that we are not trapped in the 16th Century, but today are able to reflect together more broadly on the whole treasury of the faith of the first millenium and thus come to an understanding on this one.

Thanks for your in depth analysis, Joshua.

At Monday, March 03, 2008 3:35:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

I understand that Luther was quite indebted, in his early days, to Gabriel Biel for his understanding of the Mass. There is a divergence of opinion over to what extent Luther et al. reacted against late medieval excesses and distortions of the theology of the Eucharist, and to what extent Luther et al. also rejected what Catholics confess as the true theology of the Sacrament. For instance, someone is alleged to have claimed that the Cross atoned for original sin, and the Mass for actual sin (!!!), which is clearly deranged and blasphemous. Trent and Luther are at one in rejecting such nonsense. What I am interested in is the extent to which Lutheran theologians - the Petri brothers in Sweden, Martin Chemnitz, etc. - tried to achieve some rapprochement with sacrificial notions of the Eucharist. As my contribution (too long to post here), I'm putting up an essay on this topic on my own blog, Psallite Sapienter, about the liturgy of the Eucharist in the Swedish Reformation, which I submitted as part of my B.Theol. some years back. "Come and see."

At Monday, March 03, 2008 5:13:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

Here's the link:

At Monday, March 03, 2008 5:17:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

I used to believe all that stuff.

It was on the basis of believing all that stuff that I left the Catholic Church after years of trying to endure the novus ordo and believed it for some time after I left.

Don't you get tired of belonging to a church where you have to always say "Oh, that wasn't/isn't really Catholicism" or "Oh, that was an earlier understanding" or "Oh, it's the same teaching but now we understand it better"?

I'll leave it to Pastor W or another of our pastors who may jump in to better address this than I can. I'll just say I don't think it's so much about sacrifice per se, but whose sacrifice and what is being offered to whom and by whom.

Yes, it isn't in the Book of Concord, and yes, those are our confessional documents, not Luther's writings or Luther himself, but I will say again that reading his treatment of the Eucharist in Babylonian Captivity was THE crucial moment for me, when I knew I was "Lutheran" and with it (as you say, it is the mass that matters) so much else answered too -- who indeed would not but faint for joy at the thought of such a Saviour!

Hey, didn't he say "Take and eat" not "Take and offer"?? (I'm sure Der Schuetzinger caught the paraphrase!)

At Monday, March 03, 2008 6:13:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

Well, by the measure of official church teaching, such as the Catechism, or JP II's annual Holy Thursday Letters to Priests, what Trent said still goes. Likewise the new Eucharistic Prayers quite explicitly offer the sacrifice for the living and the dead (no. II says so implicitly, and read in light of the others its meaning is clear). As for those academics and priests who try and play fast and loose with the truth, insofar as they stray into heresy, they will get their comeuppance, and those who follow them not Rome are going astray *just as all heretics and schismatics have done in the past*.

Remind me what Luther wrote about the Eucharist in the Babylonian Captivity?

What of the (in)famous claim against Luther that it was only when the devil appeared to him and explained his machinations (a la those talkative James Bond villians) that shrewd Dr Martin realized the Mass was all a satanic plot?

"Take and eat" = Sacrament; "This is" = Real Presence; "Do (i.e. Offer) this" = Sacrifice.

At Monday, March 03, 2008 6:18:00 pm , Blogger Peter said...

David, Check out Chemnitz on this, I believe he lists 14 or so ways in which the Mass can be considered a sacrifice, and proposes that Lutherans agree with all but 2 of them. His (and Luther's I understand) opposition to the term sacrifice was supposed to last only until those few false views had past into history.

I can't recall the details but I think it had to do with merit etc.

I would check it, only I gave my 4 volumes of Chemnitz to a Lutheran professor.

At Tuesday, March 04, 2008 2:00:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

And I think, if we were honest, we would say that there were forms of the doctrine getting around in Luther's day that were not faithful to the tradition and that it is against these deformations that Luther was railing.

Oh very much so. I remember a conversation with a Baptist friend and how difficult it is to explain the essence of sacramental worship to someone raised in a "Word" centered tradition.

She held the idea that the "dead" Jesus is crucified again and again in the Mass. I tried to explain the concept of a "re-presentation" of that one, complete Sacrifice and how in the Mass the veil of time and space is pulled back and we enter into the Paschal mystery of Christ's dying and rising with the Church of all ages.

Joshua, very well put.

It is "Take and Eat" AND "Offer -- DO this (make present) in remembrance of me."

At Tuesday, March 04, 2008 8:36:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

Amen, Peter. And, David, you will recall the citations I gave you before the from two eminent dogmaticians, Johann Gerhard and David Hollaz, that show a much more nuanced approach. The Formula rejects what it terms "the papistic sacrifice" of the Mass; it does not reject the sacrifice of the Mass as understood in the Apology, and Ratzinger at any rate seems to acknowledge that the way that the Church at Luther's time in fact taught about the sacrifice evidenced very little understanding of what the eucharistic sacrifice was all about.

For what it's worth, here are the two citations from the Lutheran dogmaticians again:


In the celebration of the Eucharist ‘we proclaim the Lord’s death’ (1 Cor. 11:26) and pray that God would be merciful to us on account of that holy and immaculate sacrifice completed on the cross and on account of that holy Victim which is certainly present in the Eucharist…. That he would in kindness receive and grant a place to the rational and spiritual oblation of our prayer. (Confessio Catholica, vol II, par II, arti xiv, cap. I, ekthesis 6, 1200-1201)
It is clear that the sacrifice takes place in heaven, not on earth, inasmuch as the death and passion of God’s beloved Son is offered to God the Father by way of commemoration… In the Christian sacrifice there is no victim except the real and substantial body of Christ, and in the same way there is no true priest except Christ Himself. Hence, this sacrifice once offered on the cross takes place continually in an unseen fashion in heaven by way of commemoration, when Christ offers to His Father on our behalf His sufferings of the past, especially when we are applying ourselves to the sacred mysteries, and this is the ‘unbloody sacrifice’ which is carried out in heaven. (1204)


If we view the matter from the material standpoint, the sacrifice in the Eucharist is numerically the same as the sacrifice that took place on the cross; put otherwise, one can say that the things itself and the substance is the same in each case, the victim or oblation is the same. If we view the matter formally, from the standpoint of the act of sacrifice, then even though the victim is numerically the same, the action is not; that is, the immolation in the Eucharist is different from the immolation carried out on the cross. For on the cross an offering was made by means of the passion and death of an immolated living thing, without which there can be no sacrifice in the narrow sense, but in the Eucharist the oblation takes place through the prayers and through the commemoration of the death or sacrifice offered on the cross. (Examen theologicum acroamaticum, II, 620)

And finally, the prayer that concludes Hollaz' meditation:

Almighty Lord Jesus Christ, as often as I shall come to Your holy table to refresh my spirit, I pray You to make me, unworthy as I am, worthy through Your grace; impure as I am, to make me clean; naked as I am to clothe me, so that Your Body, so full of divine power, and Your most precious Blood may not become for me, Your servant, the occasion for judgment or punishment, but a memorial of the death You underwent for me, a strengthening of my faith, a proof of the taking away of my sins, a bond of closer union with You, an increase of holiness, the basis of a glad resurrection, and a pledge of everlasting life. Amen.

At Tuesday, March 04, 2008 8:53:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...


Very interesting! At first glance the ideas of Gerhard and Hollaz seem not dissimilar to the idea of the heavenly sacrifice propounded by Maurice de la Taille (fl. 1920) - when did they write? Are they 20th C. authors, or from the age of Lutheran scholasticism?

Having read Yngve Brilioth, I don't recall him mentioning these two nor this very vigorous language of the Eucharistic sacrifice.

So I suppose the issue is not so much, Is Christ as Victim and Sacrifice present in the Eucharist (of course He is), but, May we say "offerimus", let alone "offerimus pro" - are we restricted to making intercessions, or may we in the anaphora add impetrations, begging things of God by the merits of the Victim offered up (as St Cyril of Jerusalem describes)?

Also, what of the Tridentine notion of the Victim being one and the same (OK so far), the Same now offering by the hands of priests (I take it this is the issue) as once offered Himself, then offered once and for all bloodily and really on Calvary, now offered at all times and all places unbloodily and sacramentally?

At Tuesday, March 04, 2008 8:58:00 am , Blogger Schütz said...

Thanks for putting that up again, Pastor. I had forgotten that we have already covered this ground. And all this shows why it perhaps did not occur to me initially to note the sacrifice of the mass as one of the essential differences between my beliefs as a Catholic and my beliefs as a Confessional Lutheran.

I think the one question that remains is to what extent we might say that we--the priest and the gathered congregation (each in their own particular manner)--can be said "to offer" the sacrifice that is present here in the Sacrificial Victim and which is offered (presented) by Christ in heaven on behalf of the living and the dead.

The question is very similar to the faith/works issue, as there the issue is to what extent we can say that the merits of Christ are our merits.

At Tuesday, March 04, 2008 9:12:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

I think the question then becomes what is meant by "offer." Gerhard, you will recall, repeatedly prays like this:

"For this and all my sins and failures, I offer to you, my God, the faultless and perfect obedience of Your Son, who, in the days of His flesh, loved You perfectly with His whole heart and completely depended on You... Because of Your beloved Son, have mercy on me, Your servant, O Lord." (p. 39)

If the "we offer" is meant in such a sense, I do not see how it can be problematic.

At Tuesday, March 04, 2008 9:17:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

The Lutheran concern, I think I would be justified in saying, is that neither the priest nor the people enter into the oblation in the strict sense - that it is our Lord offers Himself as the sacrifice. We plead mercy and ask for all grace on account of that very sacrifice, the Victim who is present before us on the altar.

At Tuesday, March 04, 2008 3:45:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Joshua, some excerpts:

"According to its substance, then, the mass is nothing but the aforesaid words of Christ, Take and eat etc, as if he were saying:

Behold, O sinful and condemned man, out of the pure and unmerited love with which I love you, and by the will of the Father of mercies, apart from any merit or desire of yours, I promise you in these words the forgiveness of all your sins and life everlasting. And that you may be absolutely certain of this irrevocable promise of mine, I shall give my body and pout out my blood, confirming this promise by my very death, and leaving you my body and blood as a sign and memorial of this same promise. As often as you partake of them, remember me, proclaim and praise my bounty toward you, and give thanks.


Who would not shed tears of gladness, indeed almost faint for joy in Christ, if he believed with unshaken faith that this inestimable promise belonged to him. How could he help loving so great a benefactor, who of his own accord offers, promises and grants such great riches and this eternal inheritance to one who is unworthy and deserving of something far different.

Who in the world is so foolish as to regard a promise received by him, or a testament given to him, as a good work which he renders to the testator by his acceptance of it. What heir will imagine he is doing his departed father a kindness by accepting the terms of the will and the inheritance it bequeaths him? What godless audacity it is, therefore, when we who are to receive the testament of God come as those who would perform a good work for him! The ignorance of the testament, the capticity of so great a sacrament -- are they not too sad for tears? When we ought to be grateful for benefits received, we come arrogantly to give that which we ought to take. With unheard-of perversity we mock the mercy of the giver by giving as a work the thing we receive as a gift, so that the testator, instead of being a dispenser of his own good works, becomes the repipient of ours. Woe to such a sacrilege!"

At Tuesday, March 04, 2008 9:05:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

Pastor Weedon, I think you have, in a sense, answered your own question. The sense in which Gerhard said "I offer" is precisely the sense in which we say that the Church today offers Christ's sacrifice upon the Cross. Just as Gerhard would agree that Christ's "faultless and perfect obedience" is "strictly" Christ's act alone, nevertheless, since Christ did it on our behalf, we are able to offer his sacrificial obedience in reparation and as satisfaction for our lack of obedience. Because he did it "for us" and "for our sake", we can claim his action, his sacrifice as our own. In fact, the Gospel insists that the only sacrifice we can offer for our sins is the sacrifice that Christ offered in our stead upon the Cross.

I don't really see why there is any issue about this.

At Wednesday, March 05, 2008 2:30:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

I think the issue persists because Lutherans tend to react to what was common teaching in the Roman communion in the formative years of the Reformation. But once it is clear that there is no "entering into" the unique self-oblation of the Lamb of God, but rather asking all good things for all on account of this oblation, the difficulty recedes enormously. That's what I tried to indicate on my paper on the Sacrifice of the Mass that you commented (mostly favorably) upon a while ago in your blog.

Something, though, that the Lutherans do hold onto that should not be neglected is the essentially directionality of the very Words that constitute the Eucharist: from God to us. "Take and eat, take and drink, for you, for the forgiveness of sins." The gift He was about to offer to the Father in sacrifice, He reaches his disciples (and through them to us) to partake of. The Cross and the Altar are connected in that the same gift was upon them both, but in the first the directionality was primarily from Man to God (the perfect Man offering the perfect obedience, the true Adam) and in the other primarily from God to man (the perfect Man offering His life to the fallen race of men). That's not to argue that there's a place for the Church's eucharistia and intercessions based upon this perfect life and sacrifice - there is - but the main thing is the main thing. "Take and eat; take and drink." Gift given!

At Wednesday, March 05, 2008 10:37:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

I do wonder, David, if we Romans are not full-blooded enough in these posts in our avowal of the real oblation of Christ the Divine Victim (Theothyte) in the sacrifice of the Mass.

If, as Trent puts it, the same Christ now offers, by the ministry of priests, the same sacrifice of Himself, numerically one with His one oblation of Himself on the Cross, in no way derogating from its salvific power, but on the contrary the more glorifying it by making present its power to save, then it is conversely true that Christ has truly given Himself in the Sacrament into the hands of men, graced by the gift of Holy Orders, standing as alteri Christi before the throne of grace, to offer up the same saving Victim for us men and for our salvation, that God would stand propitious to our prayers, and that moreover the whole Church, as the Body of Christ, needs must unite in being offered up with her Head as the one offering of all redeemed mankind, in St Augustine's felicitous words.

Furthermore, it is for the priest to offer up the Mass in the proper sense, as a minister of the New Testament, a living icon of Christ the Liturgist (cf. Heb. viii, 2), while the laity co-offer it with him.

But what would a Lutheran make of:

1. Mass stipends - whereby I, giving Fr X a donation maybe (the labourer is worthy of his hire - but in no way may the whiff of simony be admitted into this), have him offer up a Mass for a particular intention, as, for instance, for the forgiveness of my sins (as I have had done in the past).

2. The theory related to this practice, of Mass-fruits: the general fruit of each Mass being the bounteous showers of grace, begged of the Almighty through each such Mass, which God pleases to bestow on all the world, having resolved from all eternity to hearken unto this re-presentation of the saving Passion of His Son; the special fruit, being the special graces given to such as attend, or provide for the celebration of, or are intended to be the recipients of the particular offering up of each Mass, over and above the blessings all receive as part of the general fruit; and the most special fruit, which is the grace the celebrant himself receives as the result of the Divine good pleasure in seeing this pleasing oblation being made by a priest in obedience to the command to celebrate this sacrament down the ages.

At Thursday, March 06, 2008 1:20:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

We would call them an abuse of the Mass, contrary to its specifically mandated use, as defined by the very words constituting and instituting the Sacrament.

At Thursday, March 06, 2008 1:57:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I, too, am puzzled by the paradigm of grace as a "created substance." What I hear at my parish is that grace is God's completely unmerited favor towards us, freely given because of the sacrifice of Christ.

As for the Fathers, one simply can't read parts without taking into account the whole of their commentary on Mary, the Saints, the Eucharistic Sacrifice, etc.

I do wonder, David, if we Romans are not full-blooded enough in these posts in our avowal of the real oblation of Christ the Divine Victim (Theothyte) in the sacrifice of the Mass.

Agreed. As well as emphasizing that unlike the sacrifices of the Old Covenant, we sacramentally re-present all the saving events of Christ on our behalf, culminating in Holy Communion with the risen and glorified Redeemer who has conquered death forever.

At Thursday, March 06, 2008 2:16:00 am , Anonymous Christine said...

Anonymous = Christine

At Thursday, March 06, 2008 9:17:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...


Now, why so? If we had found agreement on an acceptable statement of what "to offer", even "to offer for" means, then to beseech special favours of God at a particular Mass is no more or less than to offer up the Mass for that intention, that God might hear our pleading and answer it for the sake of the Passion of His Son.

Obviously God pours out boundless graces in response to prayer, both respecting our general intentions for the whole world and for those for whom we specially intercede, for He is a good God, Who delights to hear and answer prayer; how much more so in this case?

I think our apparent agreement about "offerimus (pro)" may have been found to have been insufficient.

At Thursday, March 06, 2008 3:34:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

How amazing it is, that the Sacrament he left us as the pledge of his giving himself totally for us, should be turned into something we offer him to persuade him to look upon us benevolently!

At Thursday, March 06, 2008 10:02:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...


You've confused God the Father with God the Son:

1. God the Son (at the behest of His Father), incarnate for us, left us the Sacrament-Sacrifice as pledge of His self-giving to us and as His self-oblation for us;

2. God the Father is pleased to receive the offering, sacramentally re-presented, which His Incarnate Son commanded us to celebrate, for the Father determined from all eternity to answer such requests of Him as are made in the name of His Son Crucified.

Of course, ultimately the Will of the Father is identical with that of the Son and with that of the Spirit, for the Trinity has only one Will. Christ, being incarnate, has also a human will.

Similarly, the Trinity, being God, is the recipient of all sacrifice and adoration, and the Son as God is as much the receiver of the oblation as is the Father and the Holy Ghost, while, as man, He is the Victim and the Priest.

The Eucharist is NOT only and solely the New Testament and bequest of the dying Christ, just as Holy Communion is NOT only and solely an absolution of sins.

At Friday, March 07, 2008 1:52:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...


The "why so" goes back to the directionality. Indeed, we plead all mercy for all on the basis of that completed sacrifice which is upon the altar, but we engage in utter speculation if we "celebrate the Mass" in order to obtain favor from God for X, X, or Y. The Mass doesn't obtain favor - the Mass manifests the favor of God. The sacrifice didn't "change" the Father's heart toward the race of fallen men; it manifested that heart with supreme and utter clarity. And the point of the Mass at its very heart is this: the life that is in His Son, who IS the Forgiveness of all sin and the destruction of death, GOD reaches US in the Eucharist to "take and eat." A celebration of the Eucharist where the people do not "take and eat, take and drink" is simply a use of the Eucharist that our loving Savior did not institute.

At Friday, March 07, 2008 3:00:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

There is never a mass where the body and blood of Christ are not "taken and eaten" at least by the priest, Pastor.

At Friday, March 07, 2008 5:08:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Well reception in both kinds by the priest only is a problem all its own, and not the one being pointed out, it seems to me.

What did he say, which will be shed for you unto the remission of sins, and also as a new Law to replace and improve the old one as a way to get stuff?

If there's a confusion, I would say it's the Mass with prayer which is always offered in the name of Christ, and for the sake of his Passion.

The theological algebra by which take and eat, take and drink, becomes take and offer or take, eat/drink and offer just isn't there anywhere except in the algebra, theological speculation.

Directionality, as Pastor put it.

For all the Luther-light reforms of the novus ordo, they didn't move the Roman Mass an inch closer to the mass of Christ's institution, just miles away from the Roman Mass. Which I could never understand until seeing that neither is the mass of Christ's institution, and Vatican II leaves one with neither the mass of Christ's institution nor the Roman Mass, an orphan twice over.

At Friday, March 07, 2008 7:47:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

The Mass is a sacrifice in the true and proper sense, period. The Fathers (e.g. St Cyprian) certainly testify to this, as do all the ancient liturgies. I think Luther (and earlier, medieval Western heretics) were the first to claim otherwise. So I plead continuity. After all, the Orthodox have the same conception of the Divine Liturgy as a holy and mystic sacrifice. How to square this with the truth that Christ offered Himself once for all is the matter that Trent dealt with.

I reject a hermeneutic of discontinuity, whether one applying 500 years ago, or 40 years ago. If either would be right, neither Catholicism nor Lutheranism would be true.

As for the nonsense that the new version of the Roman Mass is neither that instituted by Christ nor that manifested in the Traditional Latin Mass, I refer anyone questioning the latter to a previous post of mine that details the minute changes to the text and rubrics of the Canon of the Mass. It is OBVIOUS that the small variations made do not effect the substitution of one concept for another. (Whether the new mode of celebration has adversely affected piety is another matter, as is whether priests and theologians have been faithful to the Deposit of Faith or gone off on their own tangents.) As for the former claim, see my comments above about continuity.

What is the issue at base is that it must be realized that Christ could - and, I hold, did - give such power to men, because ennobled by grace to be members of His Mystical Body, and furthermore consecrated priests of the new testament, so as to be able to offer up the selfsame Victim of the selfsame Sacrifice, making present the power of the Cross down the ages. Some might say, Does not grace already do so? - but in that case, what need of the other sacraments? The Eucharist of course is a sacrament manifesting the all-merciful heart of the Father, and moreover it explodes our categories as is God's wont, by being also a most wonderful and holy oblation, since He Who is made present is made present as Victim and Priest.

At Saturday, March 08, 2008 12:15:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...


The verbs our Lord mandated were not "take and offer" but "take and eat, take and drink."

At Saturday, March 08, 2008 11:16:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...


He also said, Do this...

He taught us what Doing this meant by Himself being crucified, hanging between heaven and earth as the Priest and Victim reconciling all by the price of His Blood.

The Eucharist is an Action.

I refer you to Dix, The Shape of the Liturgy for a a beautiful passage on this. Unfortunately I don't have my copy to hand, but here is an extract:

"Was ever another command so obeyed? For century after century, spreading slowly to every continent and country and among every race on earth, this action has been done, in every conceivable human circumstance, for every human need from infancy and before it to extreme old age and after it, from the pinnacles of earthly greatness to the refuge of fugitives in the caves and dens of the earth. Men have found no better thing than this to do for kings at their crowning and for criminals going to the scaffold; for armies in triumph or for a bride and bridegroom in a little country church; for the proclamation of a dogma or for a good crop of wheat; for the wisdom of the Parliament of a mighty nation or for a sick old woman afraid to die; for a schoolboy sitting an examination or for Columbus setting out to discover America; for a famine of whole provinces or for the soul of a dead lover; in thankfulness because my father did not die of pneumonia; for a village headman much tempted to return to fetish because the yams had failed; because the Turk was at the gates of Vienna; for the repentance of Margaret; for the settlement of a strike; for a son for a barren women; for Captain so-and-so, wounded and prisoner of war; while lions roared in the nearby amphitheatre; on the beach at Dunkirk; while the hiss of scythes in the thick June grass came faintly through the windows of the church; tremulously, by an old monk on the fiftieth anniversary of his vows; furtively, by an exiled bishop who had hewn timber all day in a prison camp near Murmansk; gorgeously, for the canonization of Saint Joan of Arc—one could fill many pages with the reasons why men have done this, and not tell a hundredth part of them. And best of all, week by week and month by month, on a hundred thousand successive Sundays, faithfully, unfailingly, across all the parishes of christendom, the pastors have done this just to make the plebs sancti Dei—the holy common people of God. "

At Saturday, March 08, 2008 12:03:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...

I am familiar with Dix, and that is a particularly lovely quote. But the "do THIS" of the Supper was clearly what He had just done: taking bread, blessing, breaking and giving it as His body, and similarly with the cup. Dix's four-fold action makes this clear.

At Saturday, March 08, 2008 1:36:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...


Doing in Christ's anamnesis what He did, making present His Body and Blood, makes present His Sacrifice. The Dix quotation makes more sense when understood as many, many instances down the ages of the Mass being offered up for a particular intention.

I refer now to Abbot Vonier's "A Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist".

Vonier begins from the axiom that sacraments effect what they signify. Now, at Mass, there is a dual consecration, the bread and wine being changed into the Body and the Blood, first the one, then the other. The separation of these, on Calvary, occasioned the death of Our Lord, consummating His Sacrifice. Likewise, the fact that Christ's Body and Blood are separately consecrated sacramentally signifies, and thus effects, the presence of Christ as Victim.

"The non-Catholic frame of mind which in a way is nearest to Catholicism is that which admits all, or nearly all, of th Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence, and yet denies the Eucharistic sacrifice. The earlier periods of Protestantism, chiefly of Lutheranism, exhibited that attitude of an almost total faith in the Eucharistic realities combined with a fierce denial of the Eucharistic sacrifice. ...the Eucharistic doctrine, as it stands, as the Scriptures reveal it, as those very Protestants of the less agressive type hold it, with the dual consecration, must be a sacrifice if it has any meaning at all; ...the Church, in her Eucharistic liturgy as handed down from the Apostles, is a sacrificant as well as a communicant, from the very nature of the case." (end of Chapter XII)

"The Eucharist is essentially a gift to the Church, not only of Christ, but of the sacrifice of Christ; so that the Church herself has her own sacrifice, nay, every Christian has his own sacrifice. To participate in Christ's great Sacrifice on the Cross in a merely utilitarian way, by receiving the benefits of such a sacrifice, is only one half of the Christian religion. The full Christian religion is this, that the very sacrifice is put into our hands, so that we, too, have a sacrifice; and we act as men have at all times acted when they walked before God in cleanness of faith and simplicity of heart: we offer to God a sacrifice of sweet odour." (start of Chapter XX)

As Aquinas put it, "In the New Law the true sacrifice of Christ is communicated to the faithful under the appearance of bread and wine." (S.T., III, 26, 6) This is the sacrosanctum commercium of the Roman liturgy: Christ willed to hand over His very sacrifice to the faithful, that they might truly take part in His oblation, doing what He commanded, in memory of Him.

At Saturday, March 08, 2008 3:03:00 pm , Blogger William Weedon said...

When the directionality is Christ giving His sacrifice to the faithful (as in the Aquinas quote) there is no conflict with Lutherans. When the directionality is the Church offering the sacrifice of Christ to the Father, this cannot be the primary emphasis because it conflicts with our Lord's mandated instruction. Christ nowhere, and the NT nowhere, commands the Church to present the sacrifice of Christ Himself in the Eucharist. But the NT does command us to offer ourselves as a living sacrifice.

At Saturday, March 08, 2008 5:45:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

"We have an altar" (Heb. xiii, 10), implying that we have therefore a true and proper sacrifice to offer upon it (altars are useless otherwise), and I contend, with the Catholic Church, that when Christ our Lord commanded His Apostles to "Do this in my anamnesis," He constituted them priests of the New Testament, to perform the memorial of His sacrifice until He come again.

The Eucharist is simultaneously sacrifice and sacrament, and sacrifice because sacrament: thus as Vonier happily puts it, half of the Christian religion is to receive this gift, and the other half is to return it as our offering to God, not by any power of our own, but solely by the grace of God Who has given such power to men, who must therefore unite their own holocaust of themselves to this pure sacrifice of Christ their Head, if they are to prove true members of His Body, which is the Church.

St Augustine well describes this in his celebrated passage from "The City of God", Book X, Chapter 6:

"...the whole redeemed city, that is to say, the congregation or community of the saints, is offered to God as our sacrifice through the great High Priest, who offered Himself to God in His passion for us, that we might be members of this glorious head, according to the form of a servant. For it was this form He offered, in this He was offered, because it is according to it He is Mediator, in this He is our Priest, in this the Sacrifice. Accordingly, when the apostle had exhorted us to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, our reasonable service, and not to be conformed to the world, but to be transformed in the renewing of our mind, that we might prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God, that is to say, the true sacrifice of ourselves, he says, “For I say, through the grace of God which is given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For, as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another, having gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us.”[Rom. xii, 3-6] This is the sacrifice of Christians: we, being many, are one body in Christ. And this also is the sacrifice which the Church continually celebrates in the sacrament of the altar, known to the faithful, in which she teaches that she herself is offered in the offering she makes to God."

But of course I do not expect to persuade a greater scholar than I, who adheres to a communion whose views of this matter are different, and who would no doubt read the last sentence of St Augustine quoted above rather differently than I. Nor is he likely to persuade me of Rome's folly!

Perhaps we must leave our discusssion here.

At Saturday, March 08, 2008 8:12:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

What in the wide world of sports are you thinking Aquinas meant by communicated?

Minute changes? Small variations?


One can only maintain the changes were minute and the changes small by buying into the cloud of lies peddled by an anachronism seeking to retain its power.

To do that I would have to say I was not taught what I was taught by either "Catholic Church", and did not see what I saw and hear what I heard as the mitred hounds from hell and their vomiting henchmen murdered their victim then assumed its identity.

But then, some people think "professional wrestling" is real too.

To "prove" the Roman Church is the true church of Christ or the church in which its fulness subsists is to prove Jesus was not the Christ.

At Sunday, March 09, 2008 12:42:00 am , Blogger William Weedon said...

"We have an altar" but you didn't finish it: "from which those who serve the tent have no right TO EAT." And when sacrifice is mentioned in the same context it is this: "through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, *the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name. Do not neglect to do good, and to share what you have, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.*" THESE are the sacrifices of the NT priestly people of God - there is, I will say it again, in the NT simply no command, promise, or example of anyone using the Eucharist to offer Christ to the Father, but rather BECAUSE the Eucharist is the one Sacrifice which He Himself offered once and for all upon the cross, it is the sharing out of that Sacrifice from God to us - precisely following the models of the OT.

At Sunday, March 09, 2008 10:00:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...

Well, we don't hold to sola Scriptura - though, again, I emphasise that the command to "Do this" implies "offer", since it constituted the Apostles priests - and I take my stand by the traditions of the Church, whereby the priesthood has been understood as offering the clean oblation foretold by Malachi since the earliest times. As I said before, it is unlikely we can further argue this point.

At Sunday, March 09, 2008 6:26:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

I'd have said that myself earlier in my life!

Bless us and save us, Mrs O'Davis.

I could handle the Catholic Church not holding to *sola* Scriptura, but it doesn't hold to Scriptura at all! Scripture becomes one more thing along with Sacred Tradition, liturgy, tradition in the usual sense, and everything else it lays it hands on to be developed, deepened, hermeneuticed and aggiornamentoed into whatever it wants from age to age all the while claiming it's the same thing because it's the same institution doing it, an institution which believes then in nothing but itself.

"Come out from her, my people!"

At Sunday, March 09, 2008 10:31:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...

I just knew you wouldn't let me have the last word without repeating that very tiresome denunciation of yours!

Get over it. It's obviously your own psychological hang-up at being raised a strict Catholic and then giving it over in the face of post-Conciliar madness.

I have got very sick of baby-boomers whinging about how hard they have had it, when it is their own generation that has fouled their own nest.

End of MY rant.

At Sunday, March 09, 2008 11:22:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

Ah yes, the ultimate argument, tiresome.

Here's what's tiresome -- the same old post-conciliar crap that black is white and white is black because and if we say so, and any questioning of that is "tiresome".

I realise facts mean little in Catholic thought, nonetheless --

I wasn't raised strict Catholic. It was just Catholic. That was when Catholic was Catholic, and something else was something else.

When did I ever say how hard I've had it? I'm quite glad there was a Vatican II. Without it, I might never have seen the Catholic Church for what it is and been open to the Holy Spirit leading me to the catholic church.

It wasn't my generation that brought about Vatican II. It was the one you now see creaking into oblivion in their mitres. Enjoy your run because they'll be gone in a decade or so and "Catholic" will morph again into something else as it always does.

At Monday, March 10, 2008 9:04:00 am , Blogger Joshua said...


1. Apologies for getting angry and leaving an unworthy comment.

2. I dispute your notion that over time the Church will morph into something else. I still have seen no proof from you of substantial change - which, BTW, you might have had much more ease in attempting to demonstrate had you, say, brought up the Syllabus of Errors versus Dignitatis humanæ, since to shew the tortuous path between them is a very nice task (though doable, of course). Yes, strange to say I too have looked into these issues, but came to a different conclusion. Only time will tell if your prediction is correct - for myself, given the liberal fall-away from active membership, on the contrary I see the restoration of orthodoxy coming up around the corner, though it will be retarded by some of the oafish clergy.

At Monday, March 10, 2008 2:12:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

No worries, mate.

I never came to this blog to offer proof of anything. There are sources far better than I can offer, especially in a combox. For that matter, I've never seen a combox conversation end with "Hey, you're right, I've changed my mind" anywhere.

This blog's host is relocating the discussion to the most recent post. I don't think I'll continue to participate. Originally, I came here to speak as a Catholic, which according to the RCC I still am, not as a Lutheran, because I left the RCC not because I became convinced the Lutherans were right, though that happened twenty some years later, but because it became impossible for me to continue to pretend, to borrow Frank Sheed's phrase, that it is the same church, and as nearly all of the Catholics I encounter are converts, they missed how this new religion evolved from the old and I don't think they would as easily assume an essential identity between them if they really knew what happened.

This time around, which I started in reaction to the host's call to one of our pastors who comments here from time to time to become Catholic, I have not been able to separate why I am not Catholic from why I am Lutheran. There are two reasons, now, why I am not Catholic, one and for many years the only being I believed what the Catholic Church taught me in what seems like, to borrow another phrase, long ago in a galaxy far, far away, and I would still not be a Catholic on those grounds even if the second reason, that I now hold to Lutheran belief, were to vanish. IOW, were I to have that "you're right, I've changed my mind" about the points you and others make that are Catholic -- and I do not say, either as a Catholic or as a Lutheran, that the RCC is bereft of any truth whatsoever -- I would still avoid the RCC as the place to go to be Catholic.

I had hoped to stick to the Catholic side alone here, which point was never grasped, and now I find it hard myself not to offer both my Catholic and Lutheran grounds for rejecting the RCC.

So fare well, that restoration of orthodoxy has been just around the corner for forty some years now. It ain't gonna happen. Nor can it. What is being "restored" has no "re" about it, nor is it orthodox, so whichever side wins in the intramural Catholic slugfest, the Catholic Faith loses, and those who have mistaken Catholic in any version for catholic have some rough times ahead, to say the least.

At Monday, March 10, 2008 10:06:00 pm , Blogger Joshua said...


I seem to recall ages ago asking the question as to what your point of view was, since it was unclear to me, and I think I've come to realize that your very particular experiences and movements in belief over time have given you a fairly unique background, which many others find hard to fathom - and fair enough! Thanks for your continued detailings of all this; it makes for an interesting foil to our host's retro-blog!

At Tuesday, March 11, 2008 1:45:00 pm , Blogger Past Elder said...

I can understand how it could be confusing -- I was a Catholic, I am a Lutheran, so if I'm against Catholic it must be from being Lutheran. And so it would usually be, except as you understand I did not convert from Catholic to Lutheran, there was twenty some years in between when I was not Christian at all but a hanger-around Orthodox Judaism. I was hoping to be a Stranger Within the Gate but my rabbi informed me I wasn't however I was a Righteous of the Nations. True to form, he discouraged any thought of conversion. He used to gesture with his hands as imaginary weights, and go "7" with one hand and "613" with the other -- the number of Noahide Laws incumbent on all men and the number of commands in the Law incumbent on Jews -- and wryly say "Now which should I do?".

I encountered the host for the first time on Pastor Weedon's blog, where I some time ago mentioned a point in Catholic faith that might clarify things, but added my usual disclaimer that this may bave been overturned by the revolution, er, Vatican II, and this guy chimed in to say no, it was still so -- maybe the last time we agreed on anything. I came to his blog and discovered he was a bloody post conciliar convert, and thus began the sorry story of posting here to point out why I had left the Catholic Church he joined on the grounds of the faith taught me by the Catholic Church!

Certainly feel free to drop by Past Elder any time!


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