Thursday, April 09, 2020

A Latin Perspective

First Things: Go to the Altar by Jane Stannus

The cassocked one answered seriously, “A priest is one who primarily offers sacrifice.”
I'll have to see if there are any dogmatic statements by Latin churches before Trent. From the Concil of Trent, Session XXIII:

On the institution of the Priesthood of the New Law.
Sacrifice and priesthood are, by the ordinance of God, in such wise conjoined, as that both have existed in every law. Whereas, therefore, in the New Testament, the Catholic Church has received, from the institution of Christ, the holy visible sacrifice of the Eucharist; it must needs also be confessed, that there is, in that Church, a new, visible, and external priesthood, into which the old has been translated. And the sacred Scriptures show, and the tradition of the Catholic Church has always taught, that this priesthood was instituted by the same Lord our Saviour, and that to the apostles, and their successors in the priesthood, was the power delivered of consecrating, offering, and administering His Body and Blood, as also of forgiving and of retaining sins. 
 Only now do I understand the implications of what my friend said many years ago, regarding the confusion that arises from having the same word translate  ἱερεύς and  πρεσβύτερος.

1 Peter 2:9 in Greek and Latin (Nova Vulgata).
Priest: sacerdos. Priesthood: sacerdotium.

It is standard for the same word to be used for both Greek terms in English and in Latin.
I don't know when the Latin sacerdos first began to be used to translate for the Greek hiereus and prebyteros. Is this true of all of the languages (especially European) in use in the patriarchate of Rome? It is the case that the English word priest is derived from the Latin presbyter, a borrowing by Jerome from presbyteros. Somewhere along the line, ecclesiastical Latin came to prefer sacerdos over Jerome's presbyter? Even though this goes against its normative translation of Holy Scripture?



From Google:


And a related blog post by "Hadley Rectory": The Etymology of English "Priest" 

So for these languages (and French, but not necessarily the other Romance languages?) that the word used to translated presybter/presbyteros (and referring to that Holy Order) was also used to translate hiereus, rather than the word for hiereus being used to translate presbyteros as in Latin.

Denzinger (in Latin)

Let us continue with the First Things essay:
“Yes, He offered Himself for us on Calvary nearly two thousand years ago. However, in order for us to come into contact with the merits of His sacrifice, the priest renews it in an unbloody way each day.”
Merit. What Christ merited in His sacrifice are the benefits which are given to us by God. A Tridentine view, derived from Aquinas? (How dominant was this opinion about Christ's merits among the schoolmen?) Does merit imply some sort of exchange or return? Not necessarily but it does entail God giving something on condition of some requirement being satisfied. Can Latin "merit" be harmonized with the soteriology of the early Church? In a somewhat roundabout way, a way that needlessly complicates our understanding of the Divine Agape.

Writing for Rorate Caeli on March 24, Father Richard Cipolla suggested that Catholics’ greatest anxiety at this time of locked churches isn’t missing Mass per se, but rather missing an opportunity to receive Communion, overlooking, he fears, the true nature and importance of the Mass itself. This time of waiting and deprivation offers an excellent opportunity to consider the enormous significance of each Mass—with or without communion of the faithful.

Why is the Mass so important? Well, quite simply, the Mass is the sum and substance of our religion. It is the jewel that blazes at the very heart of Christianity, the unbloody renewal of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, carried out continuously in every time and place until the end of the world. It is the heart of our Christian lives, for to be a Christian, as one of the greatest missionaries of the 20th century said, is to be one “who offers himself as a victim on the altar with Our Lord.”

To assist at Mass is not merely to attend a commemoration or a memorial of an event that happened long ago. The holy sacrifice is an action that happens now, in the present. The priest, acting in persona Christi, approaches the altar—not a table, for this event is not reducible to a meal—to perform the sacrifice, accomplished in consecrating the bread and wine. When the priest pronounces the words of consecration, Saint Gregory Nazianzus tells us, he “sunders with unbloody cut the Body and the Blood of the Lord, using his voice as a sword.” The faithful assisting at Mass unite their hearts to the priest and unite their lives and sufferings to the Victim, that all may be offered to God together.

Renewal? Is that the same as "repeated"? I think Latins in general prefer a word like "re-presented." It is clear that she does not mean repeated from the second and third paragraph. As for "offering it up," how far does this go back in popular Latin piety?

Can the Mass be properly and efficaciously accomplished in the absence of the faithful? A group of progressives recently argued on blog Pray Tell that it cannot. Questioning the theological basis for Mass without a congregation, they claim that the Second Vatican Council changed the liturgy into a communal and public action of the baptized, which the priest can’t accomplish without them.

But they’re wrong. Vatican II said nothing about private Masses. Rather, we ought to look to Session 22 of the Council of Trent. As we consider the locked doors of our churches in this time of crisis, we can take comfort from one fact: Christ is both priest and sacrifice, and therefore a valid Mass is always efficacious, meaning that it always accomplishes the ends for which it is offered. Its efficacy is not determined by the presence of the faithful; the sacrifice of the Mass, Ott tells us, is the sacrifice of the Church, and in that sense is never “private.” Nor are the faithful needed to offer the sacrifice since it is Christ Himself who offers it through His priest. 

The efficacy of the Mass was so beautifully explained to me by the priest who kindly permitted me to publish the story about the construction worker that it’s worth reproducing his words here:
“The holy Mass,” he said, “is the supreme act of religion that renders to God what is due to Him: adoration, thanksgiving, and propitiation for sin, after which we can then present to Him our petitions.

“Our Lord Jesus Christ perpetuates this supreme act Himself throughout the ages, through the ministry of His priests upon our holy altars. He abases Himself in perfect adoration before the Godhead, acknowledging our utter dependence upon Him. The most perfect praise of the excellence of God above all wells up from His Sacred Heart.

“He offers nothing less than His own Sacred Body and Precious Blood, united to His Soul and Divinity, as the perfect gift of thanksgiving in the Eucharist… by which we render to God fitting and perfect gratitude for all of His goodness and mercy towards us.

“He likewise perpetuates the offering of His Sacred Body and Precious Blood in propitiation for sin. In and through the same sacrifice, Jesus presents our petitions (for we utterly depend on Him for all things)…
Has the act of sacrifice been separated from the Sacrament and its reception by the faithful, so that without the latter, it doesn't matter as it is the former that is more important?

The question is, in sacrifice do we "give" anything to God in thanksgiving, other than the thanksgiving?

No comments: