Page 5, 7th January 1972

7th January 1972
Page 5
Page 5, 7th January 1972 — Eucharist statement and Christ's eternal sacrifice

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Locations: Rome, Canterbury, Windsor


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Eucharist statement and Christ's eternal sacrifice

THOSE of us in the Church of England who are convinced that Christian unity must mean reunion with Rome heard with enthusiasm of "An Agreed Statement on Eucharistic Doctrine" put out by the Anglican-Roman Catholic -International Commission. Enthusiasm will be modified in proportion to the degree of naive optimism with which we approach this statement. In fact, the greatest benefit will be gained from it if it is used as the basis for debate on the subject. a debate which I hope, optimistically. will prove to be progressively enlightening.

By way of contribution to this debate, I think that the section on the real presence is most helpful and hopeful, but the section on sacrifice does not answer the question which you yourself asked last week (December 31 "Opinion" )7 "How, for example, can the Mass be a true sacrifice if Christ's action on Calvary was a once-for-all and unrepeatable action?" My answer is this. Simply stated, the sacrifice of the Mass is the sacrifice of Christ. For this to be the case, we must see his sacrifice as being both in time and space. and ALSO in eternity. The historic sacrifice. in time and space, is once and for ail. As regards -his sacrifice in eternity, we cannot use ternporal and spatial terms to describe it,

The historic and the eternal

and the same; so are one ame; so the Mass is likewise the bringing of time and space into we a direct relationship with eterni ty. In the Mass are present at his sacrifice, we are in eternity, and we participate in his sacrifice through our sharing in his priesthood. I consider that the prayer "Supplices to rogamus" of the Roman Canon well expresses this relationship of time and space to eternity. Also the pseudo-problem, that the first Mass appears to have been a memorial of an event which had not then taken place, disappears. The agreed statement advances the "eternal efficacy" heresy; but every historic event is, to a greater or lesser extent, eternally efficacious, as Fr. Crehan pointed out last week in his analogy of the Old Boys' dinner (C.H. December 31). It is to be hoped that the commission will turn its attention to this inadequacy in the statement.

(Rev.) Brooke Lunn London, N.6.

IN your report "Substantial agreement on Eucharist" (December 31) it is stated that Dr. Chadwick 'and Bishop Clark both "said they expected the statement would he criticised by Right-wing groups in their churches." I would like to register the strongest possible protest against such a comment which represents an attempt to detract from the validity of possible criticisms by an implication against the persons of those making them. I would certainly resent the action of anyone pinning a label upon me as an easy way of evading arguments I might put forward on any topic. In any ease, what does "Rightwing" or "Left-wing" mean students tossing about snippets of Latin with an "as we say in theology," smacks of elevating Latin to a Divine status. "I believe in God" is sublime theology in any "Tridentine" has a special meaning for some; for many more I fear. it is a cover word for "I don't understand Latin, but I hate change." Theology of hearing — as at Pentecost — "In our own tongue, the wonderful works of God," is our privilege at Mass today. Had Cranmer and his followers not been so earnest in eradicating the Sarum Rite, it might well have been "Sarum." not "Tridentine," which we lament today.

T. E Lennox New Romney, Kent.

within the context of theology? Arguments put forward in a theological discussion must be judged not on the basis of who made them but on whether or not they are an accurate reflection of authentic Catholic teaching. It is to be hoped that both the Catholic / Anglican statement on the Eucharist and the serious criticisms of it made by the Catholic Priests' Association will treated in this manner. I would be grateful if the authors of the document could clarify a point which is basic to the whole discussion and must be puzzling other laymen besides myself. When, as an Anglican, I was receiving instruction with a view to becoming a Catholic itwas made very plain to me that I must offer the worship of 'atria, worship due to God alone, .to the only begotten Son of God present in the Consecrated Host both during or after the Mass. It was made equally clear to me by my Anglican minister that this teaching was, apart from what regarded as

he re an unrepresen

tative minority, incompatible with Anglican belief. If substantial agreement has been reached it is clear that either the Anglican side has agreed that the worship of latria must be offered to the Blessed Sacrament, whether reserved in the tabernacle or exposed for our adoration during Benediction, or than the Catholic side has agreed that it must not. If this is not the case there can be no substantial agreement and if it is the case one of the parties has clearly made a compromise which will not be acceptable to those members of their communion who refuse to confuse true

ecumenism with false irenicism.

M.1'. Davies London, S.E.6.

ONE encouraging statement at least is to be found in the agreement reached by the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission.: " . .. There can be no repetition of or addition to what was then accomplished once and for all by Christ." Perhaps this clear pronouncement will put an end to the "doctrine" still being put about by many Catholics that the Eucharist involves a "renewal" of the Sacrifice; since if there is no repetition there can be no renewal either. Indeed, the term renewal is worse than the term repetition: it implies that the "old" Sacrifice must get worn out (or something) between every celebration of the Eucharist. Then there is another "doetrine"--namely that the Eucharistic action is the. "same Seer:flee but in a different manner." I have been puzzling for years as to how the same thing can be done in a different manner. Especially a once and foe all Sacrifice. Once for all means once for all. But an event can be dommernarated in a different manner. And that is what the Mass intends-•-a Commemoration. Or what I cell an ImageCross-Experience. A sufficient Sacrifice only needs cornmemorat i ng. Eating and drinking are so fundamental to human existerce That there is no more effective way of remembering an event in perpetuity than by a perpetual meal in celebration of it, Hence the Eucharistic eating and drinking of the Lord's own (post-sacrificial) substance. This makes for Communion as well. Jesus knew what He was doing at the Last Supper: giving us a special, unique food and drink. Animals who give rarely forget those them food regularly. Similarly Our Lord Himself is the, only

food and d.rink that t soul

can get : regularly taken we cannot forget Him. But to remember Him is to be ever mindful of the Way He comes to us—through that one, only and for all-time Cross. The Mass is a perpetual pilgrimage to the Cross; not a repetition of It, To the very Shrine of Salvation.

Thomas W. Gadd Nottingham.

IWOULD be grateful if you would make it clear that the Association of Catholic Priests is a smell group which does not reflect the views of the majority of the Catholic clergy of England and Wales. I would add that the document agreed at Windsor in September was not published until December 31 in order that the final wording might be approved by Rome and Canterbury. Hence this is an official, authentic statement agreed by the two Churches. So far from the agreement being a severe blow to ecumenism I would say that it is the biggest breakthrough since the Reformation. I leave it to theologians to rebut the Association's contention that the document does not conform to Catholic theology. 1 would simply refer them to the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas ••or, more simply, to the hymn Adoro le devote when we sing "sight, touch and taste are in the Eucharist deceived; it is faith alone that perceives the reality."

Or to Lauda Sion: "When you break the host you do not break the reality; only the sign is broken."

It is the failure to distinguish a between sign and reality which is at the root of so many mistaken ideas about Christ's presence in the Eucharist.

Fr, George C. Davey Knehworth.

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