Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Some thoughts on a few phrases. . .

The Roman Canon begins:

Te ígitur, clementíssime Pater, per Iesum Christum, Fílium tuum, Dóminum nostrum, súpplices rogámus ac pétimus: uti accépta hábeas, et benedícas hæc + dona, hæc + múnera, hæc sancta + sacrifícia illibáta: in primis quæ tibi offérimus pro Ecclésia tua sancta cathólica; quam pacificáre, custodíre, adunáre, et régere dignéris toto orbe terrárum… 
We humbly pray and beseech Thee, most merciful Father, through Jesus Christ Thy Son, Our Lord, to receive and to bless these gifts, these presents, these holy unspotted sacrifices, which we offer up to Thee, in the first place, for Thy holy Catholic Church, that it may please Thee to grant her peace, to guard, unite, and guide her, throughout the world…
While Lutherans rightly bristle at these words that announce what is happening at the hand of the priest, there is another dimension in which the offering is true -- the mistake lies in the one doing the offering.  It is not we who offer to the Father the sacrifice, unspotted and holy, but Christ who offers Himself on our behalf -- the once for all sacrifice now made present for us as the holy food of the baptized.  Any Lutheran knows this.  But there is something here we often miss.  The sacrifice of Christ once offered continues to plead for us and Christ continues to point to what He has accomplished to the Father, on behalf of His Church.  The Church remembers this and rejoices at the Word and the Meal in which the offering becomes the voice in our ear bestowing that which is spoken of and the food upon our lips bestowing the flesh and blood of the sacrifice with all its fruits.

Lutherans are rightfully wary of the idea that we are the offerers and Lutherans are rightfully wary of that the force of this offering is heavenward to the Father instead of directed to us but we should not fear and ought to rejoice that the bread we eat is His sacrificial flesh and the cup we drink is His sacrificial blood and that by this blessed communion we are swept up by Christ to the Father to be received by God as His own baptized, believing, restored, forgiven, and declared righteous children.  We are being offered; we are not doing the offering.  Christ is presenting us as those who for the joy set before Him He endured the cross and scorned its shame and in whom the Father, because of Christ, is well pleased.

Later is another truth so sorely missed in our own day and time.  That is, how this canon defines the Church.
…una cum fámulo tuo Papa nostro N., et Antístite nostro N., et ómnibus orthodóxis, atque cathólicæ et apostólicæ fídei cultóribus.
…in union with Thy servant N., our Pope, and N., our Bishop, and with all orthodox men: indeed, with those who cultivate the Catholic and apostolic faith.
Orthodox doctrine is not incidental to the church nor to the faith itself.  Indeed, this emphasis on doctrinal orthodoxy is central to the church.  Our social media world is filled with pious platitudes that disdain the church and worship and emphasize moral behavior.  Now far be it from me to suggest that moral behavior is not a good thing.  But the central focus of the faith lies in confessing and worshiping rightly who God is and what God has done (the Athanasian Creed gets it just right in its first words).  The central focus here is does the person confess to the true faith -- not is that person nice, does he pay his taxes, care for his neighbor, and is he a credit to himself, his family, and his community.  None of those things are bad nor should we distance ourselves from them but communion with the church is communion in the faith -- doctrine confessed and lived out in the worship life of the baptized gathered around the Word and Table of the Lord.  What we need to be concerned about is whether the person professes the catholic {universal} and apostolic faith, born of the Scriptures and faithfully bestowed as the sacred deposit from the Apostles?  True charity does not exist apart from this orthodoxy nor in opposition to it -- not even in competition with it.

This faithful and orthodox confession lies not simply in checking off doctrinal boxes (okay, yeah, I believe in God, that He made all things, in original sin, in Christ my Savior, etc...).  Doctrine and practice are not different things joined together but different sides of one thing.  Rome seems to have forgotten this (perhaps because the Roman Canon is largely forgotten in favor of other options) and Lutherans, among others, are also tempted to disconnect them.   No one can love what he or she does not know.  To love God is to love the only God as He has made Himself known—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — if you do not believe in the Most Holy Trinity.  Again, the Athanasian Creed puts it right -- whoever desires to be saved must confess the Trinity and worship the Trinity aright.  In a small but profound phrase the Roman Canon emphasizes orthodoxy as the basic condition of Church membership.  This is not only something we can and should affirm but this is the cause which must be recovered not only in Rome but among us Lutherans as well. 


Anonymous said...

" receive and to bless these gifts, these presents, these holy unspotted sacrifices,..." Where in the mass do these words occur and what gifts are they addressing? If the prayer is about the sacrifice/offering of the gifts of bread and wine, no need to "brisstle". Lutherans in thanksgiving sacrifice/offer the gifts of bread and wine to the Father who then gives them back to us as His Son, no?

Anonymous said...

The Canon of the American Missal (used by many Continuing Anglicans) is similar (not identical) to the Roman Canon. I think that Pastor Peters is missing the point. In the Canon, we are asking for a miracle, the transformation of ordinary things of this world into the Body and Blood of Christ to become the sacrifice of Calvary for us.

If you recall the various miracles of Christ, they usually begin with the ordinary things of this world, brought by ordinary people. In the feeding miracle, there was a small boy with five barley loaves and two small fishes. In the miracle at Cana, it was ordinary water, brought by the household servants, that became the finest wine. In the Last Supper, it was the ordinary bread and wine of the meal, made by ordinary people, that Christ made to become His Body and His Blood. This is exactly what the beginning of the Canon of the Mass is about. We only bring to God the things of this world, which is all we have in our control. It is Christ who works the miracle in every case.


Daniel G. said...

Fr. D+,

Well said.

Unknown said...

Lutherans frequently choose to make mountains out of mole-hills. There is nothing wrong or even remotely controversial about the words of the ROman missal. Christ is the Offered and Offerer but that does not, in any way, negate our part of working in communion with him as offerer. We have brought forth the elements to be consecrated which in no way detracts from Christ and His Holy Work. Frankly, the Lutheran hang-up on the word sacrifice just because it connotes, to them, the ideas of works being needed for salvation and works are bad really is unnecessary. Sacrifice can mean more than simply a blood offering at the altar. In the anaphora we Orthodox respond to "Let us offer the HOly Oblation in peace" with "A mercy of peace, a SACRIFICE of praise." Even in the psalms we see that we offer a sacrifice of praise. In Psalm 50, we recognize that a sacrifice unto God is a broken spirit. Lutherans need to expunge these hang ups.

Daniel G. said...

To my Orthodox brother/sister who wrote this, THANK YOU for that!!

Anonymous said...

So if the prayer refers to the bread and wine, what does it mean these holy blemished sacrifices? Really good bread and wine? Or does it refer to Christ's body and blood which will be offered?

So what does it mean that these are offered for Thy holy Catholic Church. . . together with the Pope, the Bishop, and all believers and members of the Catholic and Apostolic faith? Bread for them? Wine for them? Or does it refer to the body and blood of Christ offered by the priest on behalf of them all?

So what does it mean to continue in this prayer: Remember, O Lord, Thy servants and handmaids, N. and N. and all here present, whose faith and devotion are known to Thee; for whom we offer, or who offer up to Thee this Sacrifice of praise for themselves and all pertaining to them, for the redemption of their souls, for the hope of their salvation and safety, and who pay their vows unto Thee, the eternal God, living and true. What sacrifice is for the redemption of their souls? Bread and wine or the body and blood of Christ?

And what does it mean when the prayer says: Wherefore, O Lord, we Thy servants, and likewise Thy holy people, calling to mind the blessed Passion of the same Christ Thy Son, our Lord, together with His Resurrection from the grave, and also His glorious Ascension into heaven, offer unto Thy excellent Majesty, of Thy gifts and presents, a pure Victim, a holy Victim, an immaculate Victim: the holy bread of eternal life, and the chalice of everlasting salvation.

Upon which do Thou vouchsafe to look with favorable and gracious countenance, and accept them, as Thou didst vouchsafe to accept the gifts of Thy just servant Abel, and the sacrifice of our Patriarch Abraham, and that which Thy Highpriest Melchisedech offered unto Thee, a holy Sacrifice, an unspotted Victim.)

Yes, Lutherans do have a problem with sacrifice and should not shy away from the word of the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving which is legitimate. But to suggest that the Roman Canon did not and does not speak of the offering of the body and blood of Christ to the Father as some perfect unbloody sacrifice for sin, is just plain wrong.

A former Roman Catholic priest and now Lutheran pastor. . .

Anonymous said...

So if Lutherans have a problem with "sacrifice" then why do you have an altar? An altar presupposes a sacrifice. Apparently you, a former Roman Catholic priest, by virtue of your VALID consecration into the priesthood, you confect a true Eucharist albeit illicit since you jumped ship into a heretical ecclesial community. Or perhaps you were ordained a priest post Vatican 2 reforms and really didn't know your theology both sacramental and biblical. What a shame. Make amends and come back home to the True Church. We need good priests.

Anonymous said...

You also will have on your conscience the scandal of desecrating the Eucharist given to those Lutherans who do not share the same beliefs as we Catholics do about who we are receiving. Also not to mention the fact that Lutherans do not have sacramental confession and are in danger of receiving Christ with mortal sin on their souls. What are you doing?

Anonymous said...

And another thing, former Roman Catholic Priest now Lutheran Pastor,

You stated, "... to suggest that the Roman Canon did not and does not speak of the offering of the body and blood of Christ to the Father as some perfect unbloody sacrifice for sin, is just plain wrong." Really? What confuses you about these words, emphasis mine:Be pleased, o God, we pray,
to bless, acknowledge,
and approve this offering in every respect; make it spiritual and acceptable,
so that it MAY become for us
the Body and Blood of your most beloved son, our Lord Jesus Christ."

So how can you say that we are offering Jesus Christ anew when what we are offering are bread and wine so that they BECOME the Body and Blood of our Lord? Again, bad theological training brought you to your position. To reiterate, the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass brings what is Eternal; that is Christ's once for all Sacrifice of Calvary into our temporal world. And as Catholics we hold firm to that teaching in light of the Eucharitic Discourse of John 6 and to the words of Christ to, "Do this in memory of Me."