Whoever runs the blog about church history “What Sister Never Knew and Father Never Told You” knows his stuff. (I’m assuming it’s a ‘he,’ what do you think?) He tells us he’s a professional historian with a Ph.D. plus with a masters in theology from Rome. Sisters of Mercy in grade school, then Jesuit-trained in high school and college. Masters and doctorate “from a private East Coast university (where Jews teach Christianity to atheists).” He’s “thoroughly committed to the program of the Second Vatican Council as it was promulgated in 1965 (as contrasted with how it has been reinterpreted, in some cases almost out of existence) by both self-appointed and divinely anointed authorities over the last thirty-some years.”
Be all that purple prose as it may, I like what he just posted on the nature of Eucharist as sacrifice. It’s clear and to the point. The distinctions are clearly drawn, which has great pedagogical value. I’d start with an account like this, and then maybe nuance it a bit and I suppose I’d pull back from some generalizations about emotional health of some clergy. Oh, and I’d try to finesse the continuity/rupture thing to say that there are (drawing on Benedict XVI) ruptures within greater continuities, and that the reformed rite is in continuity with the core of the old rite, however much it was distorted and occluded back there. And everyone please note, he does not deny that the Mass is a sacrifice. Any comments that don’t get that will be deleted.
But enough from me. Let’s get to him. He shows why for so many of us there can’t be a going back to the old rite – no way, no how. What do you think?
Had sixteenth-century Catholicism maintained the scriptural roots of patristic theology, the second problem – the exaggerated notion of Eucharistic sacrifice in which each Mass was seen as a new and unique Sacrifice of Christ to the Father – would not have been problematic. The loss of the patristic heritage and its replacement with Scholastic theology in the thirteenth and subsequent centuries created an appalling mystique to the Mass where it was claimed that Christ died anew and again day after day upon the altars. This stands in total contradiction to the scriptures where we are told that Christ died once for all (1 Peter 3:18; Romans 6:10; Hebrews 9:28). Each Mass was seen to be in its own right a propitiatory sacrifice and each priest an Aaronic priest who offered the victim to God on behalf of the people. The priest was not seen to be a sacramental sharer in the one priesthood of the One Priest, Christ, but like the priests of the Old Law a man who approached the sacrifice in virtue of his own priesthood. (Shadows of this exaggerated – and blasphemous – claim to a particular priesthood continue to exist among some clergy today, especially those given to the pre-conciliar rites. The roots of this egoistic self-deception are psychological inadequacies that make men hide within an artificial persona that deludes them into a faux greatness that compensates for a lack of an authentic grace of knowing one’s true self in God. That is why these men usually make horrid confessors who sit in judgment rather than as channels of the compassion of Christ who was tempted in every way we are: Hebrews, 4:15.) The medieval scholastic theologians not only exaggerated the sacrificial nature of the Mass to make it repetitive of Calvary, but they invented a second sacrifice in which bread and wine were offered to God at the “offertory” of the Mass.
In the liturgical reforms of Paul VI in the 1970 Missal, the Mass was radically restructured to take away any pretense of this second sacrifice. There is no “offertory” of bread and wine, but rather a “preparation of the gifts” in which the bread and wine are prepared for the Eucharist. The only sacrifice is the sharing in the One Eternal Sacrifice of Calvary as we “proclaim the Death of the Lord until he comes in glory.” This is the major objection of those who challenge the 1970 Missal. There is a clear break here with the 1962 and earlier Missals that follow the 1570 liturgical revisions of Pius V, and indeed many of the medieval rites that had developed and on which Pius V based his reforms after the Council of Trent. And this is precisely where we see claims to a “hermeneutic of continuity” in the liturgy to be unsupported by fact. I agree with those who claim that the Novus Ordo represents a break with the past: the 1570 and 1970 Missals have very different theologies of Eucharistic Sacrifice. Where I disagree with them is that it is very clear to me that it is the 1570 Missal, not the 1970 Rite, that deviates from the Apostolic (and patristic) Tradition.