Thursday, April 20, 2006

de La Taille SJ on Eucharistic Sacrifice

I know I have recently said a lot here about Eucharistic Sacrifice and I hope that these frequent posts on it are not boring the readers and sending them away. I am simply working on that chapter in my dissertation now so a lot of my thoughts are focused in that area presently. So please forgive me until I finish this chapter!! I have just finished the first volume of de La Taille's SJ volume on the Mystery of Faith. Now it is important to read Eucharistic Sacrifice in the Roman Catholic Tradition prior to Vatican II as well as post Vatican II to see if the language and theology might not be a bit more nuanced in how the teaching in explained in the Second Council. La Taille's work is published in 1941 so it is obviously pre-Vat. II. He was Professor of Theology in the Pontifical Gregorian University of Rome. This volume focused on the sacrifice of our Lord and the next volume which I will begin after posting this entry will focus on the Mass itself. I leave a quotation from the conclusion of volume one for your thoughts on the teachings of the Sacrifice of Christ in the Eucharist according to the Church of Rome. La Taille SJ writes,
Hence we see how we can offer Christ in the sacrament as our Victim. For in the first place, had not Christ made the active offering of Himself in the past, we could not offer Him now, because our sacerdotal power is simply a participation in, and an instrument of, the priesthood of Christ. Secondly, did not the Body of Christ immolated in the past, and the Blood shed in the past, remain sacred to God, we could not have in the sacrament a true sacrifice, for we would not have a true victim. For we cannot make Christ a victim by the sacrament really, but only symbolically;16 in spite of the fact that He becomes truly present by the consecration. Thus in that event we should offer be in the reality of the Flesh and Blood, present under the species, the likeness of a victim but not a victim. We know however that in the Mass we do offer a victim, and that our sacrificial action is sacramental or representative, in such manner how ever as to be real. How is this if not because in the sacramental immolation we really offer Christ in a sensible manner (i.e. under the species) as one who (in virtue of His own offering of Himself to the immolation of the Passion) abides as sacred to God for all eternity? This is lot to make Christ a victim, but to make of the Victim of our High priest the Victim of His people whom Christ has commissioned to be priests to God and the Father; He who is Victim does not need to be made Victim; but He who is His own Victim is made ours, as will be explained in its proper place." 254 255

note 16: The reason of course is, as we have repeatedly said, that Christ is not offered to a real immolation (as Christ offered Himself to a real immolation in the Supper) by our symbolical immolation. Therefore take away from Christ His enduring condition of immolation, and you will find in our consecration no element in virtue of which Christ could be called a true victim. 255
What La Taille is referencing here is the eternal priesthood of Christ that goes on in the present in Heaven. His view describes that priesthood as one that is fulfilled by the glorified presence of the Incarnate Christ in Heaven where no prayers or petitions from Him are necessary. Simply His presence with His scars and the acceptance of the One sacrificial offering on the Cross seen by His glorification and sitting at the Right Hand of God is the ongoing Intercessory role of Christ. Within that context of Christ's intercessory role as eternal priest does he define the Eucharistic offering of the Church. This is exactly the theology and teaching of the Early Church and specifically that of St. John Chrysostom. Therefore, could Andrewes tell St. Cardinal Bellarmine SJ that there really was no difference between the Church in England during Andrewes' day and that of Rome's teaching on Eucharistic Sacrifice save the doctrine of Transubstantiation. Presence will be my next chapter to write on Andrewes' theology of the Eucharist so you will have to wait until the end of the Summer for those thoughts to be put forth! What do my readers think? You don't have to agree to put your opinion here; all are welcome!


Anonymous Antonio said...

As usual, I can only post questions...

Why did the Roman Church start using the word "transubstantiation"?
To defend what?
Against who?

I think that new "terms" and new "explanation" are always given to presserve "the theology and teaching of the Early Church". (Well, I guess that's why I'm a "Roman").

By the way, why Anglicanism is today SO FAR from Andrewes? Things ("dialogue") will be much easier if only...

4:13 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Antonio these are great questions. I think Andrewes is simply not read due to the lack of availability of his works unless you are near a library or have purchased your own copy. Some in Anglicanism like to keep Andrewes is a dark corner and hail Hooker as the authority during the period but it was Andrewes who was looked on as the theological giant and not Hooker. Interesting indeed.

4:34 pm  
Blogger lexorandi2 said...

Jeff, I think you will find that Andrewes' comment to Bellarmine that the difference between the two churches lies in the doctrine of transubstantiation to be more than just a small quibble over how Christ is present in the elements. The later Non-Jurors who shared with Andrewes a rich understanding of eucharistic sacrifice were insistent that Rome's doctrine of transubstantiation was what distorted the Roman understanding of eucharistic sacrifice. That's one of the major reasons the Non-Jurors insisted on a post-institution narrative (and post-oblationary prayer) epiclesis. Whether they were correct or not is another matter. But that's what they thought.


8:56 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


True enough. But, it is ridiculous to argue that Rome believed in some sort of a physical presence on the altar and therefore the logic that there was a further immolatation of Christ there. That simply is not what Transubstantiation teaches and many Reformers tried to stick Rome with that error. What the real problem in the Mediaeval world was the extreme to which they took allegory and the 'miracles' at the Eucharist that were expressed. What Andrewes believed about presence in his day would please many Catholics today though he would reject the term transubstantiation because it is not used by the Fathers or Scripture. But different from Cranmer, Andrewes, and King James I for that matter, both believed in a presence within the elements themselves. Andrewes' arguement against Transubstantiation was a Christological problem that he saw the philosophical conclusion of the dogma ending up embracing a quasi-Eutychianism. I think at some points Andrewes falls into the same trap of making claims that the Church of Rome openly denied and was also guilty of reductio ad absurdum. Yet at other places, Andrewes was willing to grant the right of individuals to hold on to Transubstantiation as an opinion of the Schoolman so long as it was not made dogma. Yet what is true of Andrewes' position on presence was that in the Eucharist there is an objective presence of Christ after the consecration that remained after the liturgical use of the Sacrament. That was a distinctive change from C16 writers and thinkers.

11:13 pm  
Blogger lexorandi2 said...

Yes I agree that this is not what Transubstantiation teaches, at least as Thomas articulated it and Trent re-affirmed it. But I'm not at all convinced that the typical Catholic churchman of the time didn't nonetheless fall into the error of "physical presence" as you term it. If you have the time, you should read the proceedings of Cranmer's trial. It's difficult to read the statements of his accusers concerning presence and not conclude that "carnal" presence was the default stance of many a Roman churchman, albeit not the official stance of the Roman church. That being the case, the Reformers were not simply reacting in ignorance, but rather to real abuse.

Also, perhaps you can confirm this, I believe Andrewes was (typical for his period) committed to a western view of consecration via the words of institution. This was where the Non-Jurors parted company with their Caroline predecessors, though ironically appealing to them for their dismissal of transubstantiation. For the Non-Jurors "real presence" was not effected by the priest for the purposes of oblation (the Roman view), but rather by the Holy Spirit in response to the oblation. Hence, they considered a post-narrative epiclesis to be a non-negotiable and transubstantiation a definite no-no.

Good talking to you.


1:52 am  
Anonymous William Tighe said...

There is an extremely good article on "consecration by the words of Institution" vs "consecration by the epiklesis" in Anglican thought in *Liturgical Studies* by E. C. Ratcliff, ed. A. Couratin and D. Tripp (London, 1978: SPCK): the book is long out-of-print, but there were a couple of copies listed on www.abebooks.com last time I checked. As I recall, it was Charles Wheatley who first advocated ca. 1700 that it was the epiklesis that was consecratory, in opposition (as Ratcliff) claims to all previous Anglican thinking.

Ratcliff (1896-1967), Regius Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, was, btw, on the verge of converting to Orthodoxy at the time of his sudden death.

8:06 pm  
Blogger lexorandi2 said...

Indeed, I'm familiar with the book. And yes that's the era in which the change in consecration views took place within Anglicanism. The Non-Jurors tended to revere John Johnson's work on the Eucharist, who argued the same position and demonstrated the rationale of the Eastern model of Eucharistic prayer (all the while continuing to use 1662 since he was an established churchman). I believe his work was called The Unbloodly Sacrifice.


12:21 am  

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