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Monday, September 04, 2006

Robert Daly, S.J. on the Power of Sacrifice

I just finished reading an article by Robert Daly, S.J., titled THE POWER OF SACRIFICE IN ANCIENT JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY JOURNAL OF RITUAL STUDIES: 4/2 (SUMMER 1990) 181-98. He had some interesting conclusions in here and even referred to himself once as a "Reformed Catholic". Note the below issues concerning sacrifice that he claims the Roman Catholic Church has yet to recover from during the Medieval Church.
The Christian church never reverted to material sacrifice, but it nevertheless so thoroughly institutionalized and routinized what came to be called the "sacrifice of the mass" that specially in popular piety, it absorbed many of the characteristic abuses of a material sacrificial cult. A key development in this process was the gradual replacement of the idea quite widespread among the fathers of the church, that Jesus Christ is the principal agent in the sacrifice of the mass with the notion that the celebrating priest is the principal agent. The twelfth-century medieval Latin commentaries on the mass provide fairly clear witness to this development (Schaefer 1983). 191

From a theological perspective this was a massive alteration from which the Roman Catholic Church still has not yet fully recovered. Its disastrous consequences are known to all familiar with the history of medieval and Reformation Christianity and they are still at work today as can be seen, for example, in the debate over women's ordination. An extraordinary power-accompanied in the popular mind, which often enough included the mind of the priest himself, by blatant semi-magical connotations—was put into the hands of he priest: the power to forgive sins through the sacramental ritual of confession and absolution and thus to save from the threat of eternal damnation; and the power through the ritual of the mass to "confect" the Eucharist and make Christ present by changing bread and wine into his body and blood and to offer this sacrifice, in the words of the Council of Trent, as an effective sacrifice of propitiation for the living and the dead. [Denzinger and Schonmetzer 1965.-no.l753). 191

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