Saturday, March 25, 2006

is the Mass a sacrifice??

This article is a classic example of awful catechesis.

It starts out with saying that the Mass should be considered both meal and sacrifice. Then it spends the rest of its time talking about how it’s a meal. Why is this?

Just a guess, but I would wager that the author of this article is old enough to remember the Vatican II changes and thus identifies with them. He spends all his time talking to a reader who apparently thinks the Mass is just a sacrifice. The problem for someone who, like me, came after Vatican II is that I was never taught that the Mass is a sacrifice. Even in college, our (actually fairly conservative) chaplain told us that the Mass is a re-enactment of the appearance of Jesus to the two women after the Resurrection: they meet, he opens up Scripture to them, they have a meal.

Imagine my surprise to read the words of (someday St.?) Pope Pius XII in Mediator Dei:
114. They, therefore, err from the path of truth who do not want to have Masses celebrated unless the faithful communicate; and those are still more in error who, in holding that it is altogether necessary for the faithful to receive holy communion as well as the priest, put forward the captious argument that here there is question not of a sacrifice merely, but of a sacrifice and a supper of brotherly union, and consider the general communion of all present as the culminating point of the whole celebration.
In typical style, P12 then proceeds to denounce the idea that a private Mass is invalid, based on the idea that it is sacrifice, not meal.

The powers-that-be are still more concerned about skirting around traditions of faith than they are about imparting that faith to us.

It did explain a lot, when I learned that the Mass is a sacrifice - for example, why we have a “Mass of the Lord’s Supper” on Holy Thursday. (I used to think, “but isn’t every Mass a re-enactment of the Last Supper?”)

So, the list of (Protestant) hymns that this strikes out from the Mass:
Alleluia, sing to Jesus (“ the Eucharistic feast”)
At That First Eucharist
....any others?

I mean, am I missing something here?

The old Catholic Encyclopedia to the rescue, at least partly. The Mass is definitely a sacrifice.....and it definitely was instituted at the Last Supper. (That’s a very long, thick article.....)

The verdict seems to be that the Mass is a sacrifice that takes the form of a ritual meal. Not unlike how the Eucharist is Christ in the form of ordinary bread and wine, perhaps?

The two hymns I mentioned, it should be borne in mind, were authored by Anglicans. That being said, “At That First Eucharist” is off the hook, it seems. “Alleluia, Sing to Jesus”....not as sure. Episcopalians seem to be more meal-oriented in their definition of Eucharist.


At Saturday, March 25, 2006 6:37:00 PM, Anonymous CastCantor said...

Hi there, found you through Christus Vincit, enjoy your blog. This is an interesting post. I remember when I was a music teacher, having a fight with a school nurse who was in charge of childrens' liturgy at our parish school (don't ask). I wanted to program something that she thought was too somber for kids. I said, "It's a song about sacrifice. The Mass is a sacrifice." She said through gritted teeth, "But there has to be JOY in the sacrifice!"
I am stricken at the thought of losing Hyfrydol and Unde Et Memores, because there ain't much else in my hymnal. Perhaps those two could be salvaged by the references to "Jesus out of every nation has redeemed us by his blood/Earth's redeemer, plead for me/priest and victim" and "At that First Eucharist before you died," for those are references to sacrifice. I gotta keep these, for all that's left in my hymnal is Haugen/Haas. Singing those is an altogether different sacrifice. . .

At Saturday, March 25, 2006 8:18:00 PM, Blogger Cantor said...

Which hymnal, if I may ask?

Update to the article would seem things aren’t as I’d feared after all.

At Saturday, March 25, 2006 9:28:00 PM, Blogger PrayingTwice said...

Without checking any sources (due to lethargy), I believe that the VII documents say something to the effect of ," primarily a sacrifice, but also a meal."

I wouldn't chuck those hymns just yet.

At Sunday, March 26, 2006 5:54:00 AM, Blogger Cantor said...

PT - I’d be very interested to know your source there.

At Sunday, March 26, 2006 4:08:00 PM, Blogger Daniel Muller said...




47. At the Last Supper, on the night when He was betrayed, our Saviour instituted the eucharistic sacrifice of His Body and Blood. He did this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross throughout the centuries until He should come again, and so to entrust to His beloved spouse, the Church, a memorial of His death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity (36), a paschal banquet in which Christ is eaten, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us (37).

(36) Cf. St. Augustine, Tractatus in Ioannem, VI, n. 13.

(37) Roman Breviary, feast of Corpus Christi, Second Vespers, antiphon to the Magnificat.

At Sunday, March 26, 2006 5:05:00 PM, Blogger Cantor said...

Daniel: Touché! Interesting - I hadn’t thought of the “O sacrum convivium” antiphon, though I know it well.

So the question becomes: what was Pius XII talking about, then? Surely he knew the “O sacrum convivium”, and presumably he didn’t take issue with such a fundamental text as what had been there for hundreds of years (and that Aquinas authored).

Maybe it’s the “of brotherly union” part that’s the trick....except the strict-worded meaning of Pius’s document is that the Mass is a sacrifice merely.

At Sunday, March 26, 2006 11:58:00 PM, Blogger ScholarChanter said...

Mass is _certainly_ a sacrifice. Christ giving himself to us in sacrifice transcends time and space, and whenever we are at mass, we are very much present at the last supper, at calvary, and the resurrection. We enter into that one, same sacrifice of Christ where he gives himself to us as food. Sacrifice and meal really should not be thought of as separate functions: the Israelites ate the sacrifical lamb - I think here they are one and the same.


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