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Friday, October 21, 2005

E.L. Mascall and the Sacrifice of the Church

I often wonder why men such as Fr. Eric Mascall do not receive the recognition that one would think would obviously come with a man who was so blessed with the knowledge of sacramental grace that one reads in his works. That seems how it usually is with those who go on to make great marks in the Church, which are usually the greatest after they have gone on to meet their Creator. In his work, Corpus Christi, Mascall speaks of the offering that the Church is able to make to God and unites the gifts of bread and wine to the offering of Christ's Body and Blood that Jesus himself united at the institution of the Eucharist. Mascall puts it like this:
All that the Church can do of her own initiative, if the phrase may be allowed, is to bring to God the fruits of the earth as they have passed through the hands of man, the priest of the natural order. She brings them to God, as his Son brought them to him at the Last Supper, and in obedience to the command that he there; she brings them to God to be transformed and made a sacrifice by God's acceptance. And if man was unfallen Adam, that would be the whole story. Man is not, however, unfallen Adam; he is fallen and redeemed by and in the New Adam, who at the Last Supper declared that the bread and wine were his Body and Blood. Man's sin-stained gifts of bread and wine are totally ineffective, but they are all that he has to offer. He cannot bring a worthy offering of the fruits of God's creation, yet he must bring what he can. He brings his bread and wine into the realm of redemption and does with it what the Redeemer has commanded him to do. He speaks of it as if it were in that pristine state in which unfallen Adam might have offered it. He puts it into the hands of God to be transformed by God's acceptance. And lo! when God accepts it, it is transformed into the one offering which is unstained and worthy, the offering of the Body and Blood of Christ. God has, as it were, slipped underneath man's stained and inefficacious offering the pure and altogether sufficient offering of his Son. Taking the fruits of creation from the hands of his Church he has re-created, redeemed and restored them. So, in the Eucharist, not only the redeemed community but also the redeemed material order is offered to God the Father in the ascended Christ. 181 l82

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    O God, most glorious, most bountiful, accept, we humbly beseech thee, our praises and thanksgivings for thy holy Catholic Church, the mother of us all who bear the name of Christ; for the faith which it hath conveyed in safety to our time, and the mercies by which it hath enlarged and comforted the souls of men; for the virtues which it hath established upon earth, and the holy lives by which it glorifieth both the world and thee; to whom, O blessed Trinity (+), be ascribed all honour, might, majesty and dominion, now and for ever. Amen.
    --Bishop Lancelot Andrewes

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