Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Of Cranmer, Eucharistic Sacrifice, Problems in the Mass, and Students Writing Papers

I had the following two responses to my entry on Cranmer and his elimination of the idea of Sacrifice from the Eucharist, especially in reference to the secondary sacrifice of bread and wine at the Offertory.  This was a particularly inflammatory blog as Father Anthony Ruff picked up on it in his blog, Pray Tell, and it set of a bit of a firestorm as one of the bones that defenders of the “old Mass” love to pick is the changed offertory rites of the Mass of Pius V (1570) and the Mass of Paul VI or the Novus Ordo,(1970)  The liturgical revisions of Paul VI reduced the rite from an “offertory” where bread and wine were offered to God to a “Preparation of the Gifts” where the bread and wine were prepared for the Eucharistic Rite which followed.  Cranmer, because of a faulty understanding of Eucharistic Theology common in the sixteenth century among both Catholics and Reformers, would have denied that the Eucharist was a sacrifice in any sense.  Most Catholics of the time had a very exaggerated—exaggerated to the point of heresy—understanding of the “Sacrifice” of the Mass to which the reformers reacted strongly—too strongly by the standards of modern scholarship.  In other words there were serious theological problems on both sides of this debate.  Over the course of the Council of Trent and subsequent Catholic theology, especially since the time of Leo XIII and most especially with the biblical research initiated by Pius XII, a sound theology of Eucharistic Sacrifice has been recovered in the Catholic tradition.  Similarly, contemporary scriptural scholarship among those Protestant denominations that invest in scriptural scholarship (as differentiated from fundamentalist ravings) has opened an ecumenical dialogue in which all parties have come to a mutual understanding of the relationship of the Eucharistic celebration and the One Eternal Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.  Of course, just as there are those on the Protestant side who reject serious theological scholarship in favor of biblical fundamentalism, so too there are those on the Catholic side who are stuck in the exaggerated pieties and theological aberrations of ages past.  Those who argue against the “validity” of the current liturgical rites do so, in part, because of the scaled down offertory rites and the absence of a notion of the bread and wine being sacrificed. 
This  has taken me far from the two comments sent me by a student with a paper due.  And given the tardiness of my response, I probably have not been much help.  I regret that, but it has taken me awhile to get back with the information that might help. 
Here are the student’s responses/requests
No worries. That was the first suggestion that I read somewhere on how to contact a blog author. I am writing a college paper for a theology class and would like to quote part of this blog as it is brilliant research. Profs don't look highly on uncredited references. I am most intrigued by the multiple sacrifices considered before Vatican II as opposed to the ONE sacrifice understood by 1970. If you could devise a credible way for me to quote your work in my class paper, without disturbing your privacy, I would appreciate it very much! Thank you!
Thank you.Consolamini. I understand. I am trying to figure out how to cite this page for a paper I am writing for a class. Can you help me with that?

I must admit that I might over-react a bit as I am amazed at how often people contact me during my day job and want me to do their research for them.  Ordinary grad students aren’t too bad at this, Law students are outrageous—but the worst are often full professors who will contact me and ask me to research a topic for them.  Excuse me: do your own research.  I see professors abusing their teaching assistants all the time by assigning them research projects.  It makes me lose respect for many of my colleagues.  There are a lot of lazy people in academia these days.  However, while I will not do research for other people, I am willing to point out to people where they might look, at least at the beginning, for further information. 
Regarding the idea of the double sacrifice: that is the lesser sacrifice of bread and wine at the offertory and the greater Sacrifice of the Eucharist in the Canon of the Mass, you want to look first and foremost at the text of the prayers.  For the offertory rite, the idea of the bread and wine being sacrificed is found very clearly in the prayer
Suscipe, sancte Pater, omnipotens aeterne Deus, hanc immaculatam hostiam, quam ego indignus famulus tuus offero tibi, Deo meo vivo et vero, pro innumerabilibus peccatis, et offensionibus, et negligentiis meis, et pro omnibus circumstantibus, sed et pro omnibus fidelibus Christianis vivis atque defunctis. ut mihi, et illis proficiat ad salutem in vitam aeternam.
The corresponding prayer for the chalice
Offerimus tibi, Domine, calicem salutaris tuam deprecantes clementiam: ut in conspectu divinae majestatis tuae, pro nostra et totius mundi salute com odore suavitatis ascendat. Amen.
Also contains this idea but it is not as vividly and explicitly expressed as it is in the bread prayer.
If you want a secondary source to confirm this interpretation, let me refer you to the 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia that says in its article “The Sacrifice of the Mass. 
The question therefore arises first: Is the sacrifice comprised in the Offertory? From the wording of the prayer this much at least is clear that bread and wine constitute the secondary sacrificial elements of the Mass, since the priest  in the true  language of sacrifice, offers to God bread as an unspotted host (immaculatam hostiam) and wine as the chalice of salvation (calicem salutaris).
I will pick up on this in my next posting and give you sources for Cranmer and his theology, but I am under the gun right now for time and am racing the clock to get this posted asap.

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