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Monday, March 13, 2006

Eucharist and Sacrifice



Now that I have pretty much completed my opening chapter of my dissertation, I am now working on the chapter that covers the Eucharist as a Sacrifice. I am presently reading a number of books. One is Jungmann on the Mass, de la Taille on the Mystery of Faith, Frere on the Anaphora, and Powers on the Sacrifice We Offer: the Tridentine Dogma and Its Re-Interpretation. Andrewes states a number of very interesting things concerning the Eucharist as Sacrifice that are in maintaining the Tradition of the Church’s teaching on this and what I will argue can be used as a catalyst for the ecumenical enterprise. One such question that Trent set out to answer in the 1562 session was whether the mass was merely a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving or was it a propitiatory sacrifice. In a number of places, Andrewes answers that question according to the view of the English Church. In one place where he discusses the imaginations creeping in from the Continent to the English Church, Andrewes writes,
Contrary to St. Luke here, who calleth it fractionem panis, and to St. Paul who saith, Panis quem frangimus [1 Cor. 10.16]. As these are their imaginations, so we want not ours. For many among us fancy only a Sacrament in this action, and look strange at the mention of a sacrifice; whereas we not only use it as a nourishment spiritual, as that it is too, but as a mean also to renew a “covenant” with God by virtue of that “sacrifice,” as the Psalmist speaketh [Ps. 50.5]. So our Saviour Christ in the institution telleth us, in the twenty-second chapter of Luke and twentieth verse, and the Apostle, in the thirteenth chapter of Hebrews and tenth verse. And the old writers use no less the word sacrifice than Sacrament, altar than table, offer than eat; but both indifferently, to shew there is both.

Christ is our Passover for Andrewes but He is not that until He is offered Et oblatus est. Christ was immolatus offered in sacrifice. Christ is the Lamb slain, said Andrewes, “and the sprinkling of His blood in Baptism, maketh the destroyer pass over us.” As there are many offerings in scripture, Andrewes sees Christ as the peace-offering upon whom we must feast. Bringing this to the essence of sacrifice in the Eucharist Andrewes said, “Christ’s blood not only in the basin for Baptism, but in the cup for the other Sacrament. A sacrifice—so, to be slain; a propitiatory sacrifice—so, to be eaten.” Therefore, Andrewes see Christ in this light as a Passover. He is this Passover for us. All of this was for the quitting us of our sins. That is passing our sins over and transferring them to Christ, (transferendo abstulit). The action of the passing of our sins to Christ and the wrath of God over us makes this feast-day a memorial. Therefore we are called to celebrate. The feast is celebrated with joy for two particular reasons. One Christ passed from life to death for our sins and secondly, He rose for our justification. Andrewes goes on to say,

From the Sacrament is the applying the Sacrifice. The Sacrifice in general, pro omnibus. That Sacrament in particular, to each several receiver, pro singulis. Wherein that is offered to us that was offered for us; that which is common to all, made proper to each one, while each taketh his part of it; and made proper by communion and union, like that of meat and drink, which is most nearly and inwardly made ours, and is inseparable for ever. There, celebremus passeth with the representation; but here epulemur, as a nourishment, abideth with us still. In that we “see,” and in this “we taste, how gracious the Lord is,” and hath been to us. Will ye mark one thing more, that epulemur doth here refer to immolatus? To Christ, not every way considered, but as when He was offered. Christ’s body that now is. True; but not Christ’s body as now it is, but as then it was, when it was offered, rent, and slain, and sacrificed for us. Not, as now He is glorified, for so He is not, so He cannot be immolatus, for He is immortal and impassible. But as then He was when He suffered death, that is, passible and mortal. Then, in His passible estate did He institute this of ours, to be a memorial of His passible and Passio both. And we are in this action not only carried up to Christ, (Sursum corda) but we are also carried back to Christ as he was at the very instant, and in the very act of His offering. So, and no otherwise, do we represent Him. By the incomprehensible power of His eternal Spirit, not He alone, but He,as at the very act of His offering, is made present to us, and we incorporate into His death, and invested in the benefits of it.

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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

Societas Sanctae Crucis

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