Fr. Richard L. Stewart, Professor of Theology and Liturgy at St.
John's Seminary, Wonersh, replies to the controversial article we published on November 28
Asks Hugh Ross Williamson MY dear Hugh Ross Williamson.
I was really distressed to read your article "Am 1 a Priest?" in the CATHOLIC HERALD of November 28. 1 was distressed because I remember your book on the Canon of the Mass. The Great Prayer, and recall with gratitude the profit I derived from it. both as a preacher and in my own celebration of Mass. I was distressed because your obviously deeply felt convictions about the "neo-Cranmerian" content of the new Ordo Missae must be a source of profound unhappiness to you.
I was distressed when I thought of so many of your readers who have not yet seen the text of the further Ordo Missae or attended its celebration, and who will surely have been profoundly disturbed by what you had to say. I might add that I was also distressed by your personal attack on Fr. Bugnini: it was not of a piece with the rest of your argument. and I wish you hadn't put it in.
Anyway, as a result I felt I ought to put forward a few considerations on the orthodoxy of the Eucharistic doctrine that is contained in the new Ordo Missae.
In your desire for an authoritative answer (and I fear I can't claim much authority in that sense of the word) you say that. you don't mean "a non-theo logical answer like: 'The Pope says so, so it must be all right'.' A pity—since the same number of the CATHOLIC HERALD reports an allocution given by Pope Paul in his audience on November 19. admittedly one of the non-infallible occasions to which you refer.
Still the same mass
In the full text of this allocution (0.sservatore Romano, English edition, November 27. 1969) speaks "theologically." as well as "authoritatively." as he sets out to assure his hearers that "the Mass of the new rite is and remains the same Mass we have always had. If anything, its sameness has been brought out more clearly in some respects. The unity of the Lord's Supper, of the Sacrifice on the Cross, of the re-presentation and renewal of both in the Mass, is inviolably affirmed and celebrated in the new ritc just as they were in the old."
Since so overtly authoritative an argument is outside the terms of reference that you set. perhaps I can try to do my hest in the light of your own article and of the whole text of the Ordo itself. But first 1 had better say a word about myself : I believe wholeheartedly in the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. in the dogma of Transubstantiation. in the unique powers proper to the ordained priest, in the sacrificial character of the Mass and its applicability to the living and the dead.
When we seek to interpret the doctrinal implications of the new Ordo we have an advantage denied us when we study the Missal of St. Pius V. namely the catechetical introduction that forms the major part -of the second chapter of the Institutio Gcneralis of the new Missal. Since I read your article I have re-read that chap ter with 'particular care, and have generally refreshed my memory concerning the rest of the rite and its rubrics. I must say quite frankly that 1 find it hard to see how you come to your conclusions, harder still to see the evidence for the various "implications" of which you speak.
If I read you aright. your principal conclusions are that the new rite is essentially Cranmenan (a charge you support by some six reasons): that Canon II in particular is meant as "the bridge by which Catholicism crosses over into Protestantism"; that the role of the priest is reduced simply to that of "president of a congregation at a memorial meal," in which case Cranmerian ordination would be valid: and that there is need for an authoritative statement to reaffirm that the development of the Mass, by which the priest accompanied only by a server. can offer the Holy Sacrifice on behalf of the living and the. dead, is to be commended as combating the equivocal teaching about the 'people' having a 'supper' round a 'table."
Sacrifice and Paschal meal
Cramer certainly sought to empty the Mass of its sacrificial significance in many ways: to these you liken first of all the Ordo's "obsessive emphasis on the Meal," at. I take it, the expense of Sacrifice; and with this I would link your recurrent reference to the idea of "table."
I went into the "table" first: starting at n.49 of the Institutio. I went through the text counting the uses of the words altare and mensa (or equivalent.) respectively. At the end of n.236 I gave up. quite exhausted. having counted 88 altaria to seven mensae. Then I turned to the rubrics of the Mass it-self and found that the word ahem, is the only one used. But, of course, words alone tell us little, unless we arc awake to the doctrine they enshrine.
'The idea of "meal" is certainly there in the Ordo. as it is in our Scriptural sources. in prayer-texts such as the Laudu Sion and the 0 sacrum conrivium. anti in so many Postcommunion texts in the present Missal. And the Ordo, understandably. gives considerable emphasis to the meal-aspect when speaking of the Communion of re lest and faithful. But the notion of sacrifice (which alone gives real meaning to any idea of communionmeal) is hat dly ahsent, is it?
Look at r1.48: "The Last Supper, in which Christ instituted the memorial (and let us onee for all remember the tech nical sense the words tnemoria and memoriale have always had in sound eucharistic theology) of His death and Resurrection, is constantly rendered present in the Church. when the priest, representing Christ our Lord, does exactly what the Lord Himself did and entrusted to His disciples to be done in His memory. instituting a sacrifice and paschal meal."
Or take n.2: "It is therefore of utmost importance that the celebration of the Mass or Supper of the Lord be so order ed that both ministers and faithful who take part in it according to their status should henceforth draw from even more fully those fruits for which Christ our Lord instituted the eucharistic sacrifice of His Body and Blood, and entru.sted it to His beloved Spouse. the Church, as the 'memorial' of His Passion and Resurrection." (This hurried translation is, like the italics, mine.) If we look at the Prayers of the Mass we find the word 'sacrifice' explicitly in the Roman Canon (twice, in a more or less general sense, before the Consecration: and twice after the Consecration, with reference 'to the sacrifices of Abraham and of Melchisedech: but it is beyond question that all this points by implication to the truly sacrificial nature of the Mass itself), and in Eucharistic Prayers III and IV (after the Consecration in each case). I grant that the word itself is not used in Canon II (of which more anon), -but is not the reality implied, to say no more, in "we offer you. Father, this life-giving bread, this -saving cup" (tibi, Domine, panem vitae et calicem salutis oflerimus)?
Act of Christ and Church
Again it is true that the Offertory prayers. beautiful indeed but anticipatory in their very explicitly sacrificial expressions, have been changed; but the new Ordo retains at that stage of the Mass both the In spiritu humilitatis and the Orate, fratres. which hardly leave any room for doubt about the intention of the whole rite. whichever Eucharistic Prayer is used.
Cranmerian trends are likewise detected in the "implication that the people, not the priest, are the indispensable element of the celebration." Is this really so? The Ordo contains a specific rite of Mass Without a congregation, and re4 of the fristitutio says quite
clearly: "Although the presence and active participation of the faithful. which more clearly shows the -ecclesial
nature of the celebration, cannot always be ensured. the celebration of the Eucharist always retains its efficacy and dignity, namely that it is an act of Christ and of the Church, in which the priest always acts for the salvation of the people."
In n.59 we re-ad that the priest "associates the people with himself in offering sacrifice through Christ in the Holy Spirit to God the Father." Here we have a clear emphasis on the sacrificial character of the Mass, on the sacrificial function of the priest, and on his relationship to the people: he can offer Mass without their presence (though always with their salvation in mind): they are to be associated with him in every way, precisely because without him they are unable to offer this unique sacrifice.
That Body and Blood
As the Courted teaches so frequently, they have a priesthood by virtue of their Baptism they are members of Christ the Priest; but in -the Eucharist their priestly offering is valid precisely because of their association with the ordained priest who represents (in every sense of that word) Christ to them. and them to God.
Insofar as they are a gathering, the priest is their president, as the hierarchical nature of the Church demands. When I was ordained I heard the words sacerdotem enitn oportet . . . praeesse, -for the priest must lead (preside)," and this as well as the conferring of ministerial power to offer Christ's sacrifice is still at the centre of the new rite of Ordination.
The other mainstay in your detection of Cranmerian tendencies is the alleged absence of allusion to the Real Presence and, indeed, the implicit repudiation of belief in this doctrine. But surely each of the Eucharistic Prayers is explicit enough in its post-consecratory references to the Body and Blood of Christ, and in its pre-consecratory prayer that these gifts of ours may become that Body and Blood. The same doctrine is reinforced by the prayers before Communion.
The Institutio says explicitly that by the consecration our gifts become the Body and Blood of Christ (n.55 c), and I've already quoted n48 to the same effect. Indeed the very rubrics are equally specific: in a subtle way they are more specific than those of the Missal of S. Pius V. for that uses the one word Hostia indiscriminately, before and after the consecration, -and even at the priest's communion we read