The Mass: The Presence of the Sacrifice of the Cross by Charles
Cardinal Journet (St. Augustines Press) Charles Journet, the great
Swiss theologian and cardinal of the Church, first wrote this work
on the Mass over forty years ago; yet his ever-ancient-ever-new
insights into the sacrificial nature of the Mass are most needed
today, when this aspect of the sacrament is so often misunderstood
The Mass is the "unbloody presence of the one unique bloody sacrifice of the Cross." This is the fundamental principle upon which Journet develops his theology of the Mass. Guided by the teachings of the Fathers, St. Thomas Aquinas, and the Magisterium of the Church, and supported by his own rich spiritual life, Journet plumbs the depths of this unfathomable Mystery and presents It to the reader with a clarity rarely equaled.
Journet also presents a historical survey of explanations of the Mass — both orthodox and heterodox — and against this backdrop he brings out in bold relief the identity of the sacrifice of Calvary with that of the altar. Such an identity, Journet notes, is perfectly expressed in the Church's own liturgical prayer: "As often as the memorial of this Victim is celebrated, the work of our redemption is wrought."
This classic in sacramental theology is now made available to English readers for the first time ever. Journet's original format —with its many subsections — has been retained for easy reading. Also included is a wealth of footnotes for the scholar. This English edition includes a Preface by Bishop Salvatore Cordileone, Auxiliary Bishop of San Diego.
The translator, Fr. Victor Szczurek, is a Norbertine priest from St. Michael's Abbey in Orange County, California. He is presently on the faculty of St. Michael's Abbey Seminary and is the Dean of Students of St. Michael's Preparatory School. He recently also published an English translation of Journet's Theology of the Church.
Excerpt: In the last of his fourteen encyclicals, Ecciesia de Eucharistia, our beloved late Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, spoke of his desire to rekindle a sense of profound amazement and gratitude toward the mystery which is the Eucharist. One can almost detect a certain sense of urgency in his words as he makes reference to "shadows" which have crept into certain sectors of the Church with regard to attitudes and practices related to the Eucharist. Among these, he mentions an "extremely reductive understanding of the Eucharistic mystery," that is, one which strips the Eucharist of its sacrificial meaning and celebrates it "as if it were simply a fraternal banquet".
At the same time, the Holy Father speaks of "lights" bearing witness to a renewed appreciation of and devotion to the Eucharist, such as a more conscious, active and fruitful participation of the faithful in the celebration of Mass resulting from the liturgical reforms inaugurated by the Second Vatican Council, the growing popularity of the practice of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and the revival of the Eucharistic procession on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ, which "is a grace from the Lord which yearly brings joy to those who take part in it" (n. 10). Finally, in his Apostolic Letter Mane nobiscum Domine, Pope John Paul II declared October 2004 to October 2005 to be the "Year of the Eucharist," concluding with the eleventh Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme, "The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church." The Pope's proclamation has been received with much attention and enthusiasm throughout the Catholic world, leading to a greater impetus for a renewal of Eucharistic devotion, even as the Church and the world mourned his passing away and rejoiced at the election of his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, during the very Year of the Eucharist which he proclaimed.
It is within the context of this singular historical moment of the Church's life that Fr. Szczurek's translation of Cardinal Journet's treatise on the Sacrifice of the Mass makes its appearance. Charles Journet (1891-1975) was a man steeped in the Church's Tradition; this present work demonstrates in particular just how thoroughly conversant he was in Sacred Scripture, the Fathers and Scholasticism. Yet at the same time he was sensitive to conveying the eternal truths of the faith in ways more immediately understandable to people of his time. In short, he had a true Catholic sense of continuity and development of the faith.
The availability of this scholarly work to the English-speaking world, therefore, could not be timelier. Cardinal Journet presents the great classic themes of the Catholic theology of the Eucharist in a cohesive way, explaining complicated points of doctrine in a clear and intelligible manner. He sheds light on our understanding of the Mass as a sacrifice which perpetuates in time the one historical sacrifice of Christ. His treatment of the "presences" of Christ's sacrifice provides an exceptional help to the modern mind for grasping this fundamental truth of the Catholic faith, which acknowledges the ineffable mystery of God and time: with God, all time is present.
For all of its elucidation on this great mystery, though, The Mass: The Presence of the Sacrifice of the Cross does not exempt us from considering the contemporary age in which we live and the various challenges present therein. Such would be the case, for example, with the need for the Church to teach clearly and authoritatively the Catholic understanding of this sacrament, while at the same time continuing ecumenical dialogue and working for Christian unity; and also the need for the Church to preserve the authentic historical spirit and form of Catholic liturgy, while allowing for some degree of appropriate adaptation in certain cultures. Such a balance strengthens the Church for fulfilling her mission of heralding the Good News of salvation to the world, and it necessitates knowing the Church's Tradition and being firmly rooted in it. Indeed, without this, one of two extremes would be inevitable: either closure to any notion of development whatsoever, such that the Church's liturgy would no longer communicate the immutable truths of the faith as effectively as it could and should; or, rejection of any sense of the need to respect and preserve Tradition, thus reducing what is to be worship of the one, true God to mere novelty, entertainment and self-expression. Neither would be in keeping with the mind and spirit of Cardinal Journet.
The election of Pope Benedict XVI has brought a renewed impetus to the direction set by his predecessor, and augurs well for the Church's faithful response to the Lord's call to her to sanctify all in the truth. Fr. Szczurek has done the English-speaking Catholic world a great service in making this work accessible at this time. A thoughtful reading of this text will contribute to the authentic Eucharistic renewal so desired by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Happily, it will also help promote a wider knowledge of the writings and person of Charles Cardinal Journet, a great theologian from whom we have much to learn in our own time.
The first fact of faith—without prejudice to truths or even probabilities which can conceal an evolving vision of the world—is that it is divinely certain that we live not in a universe of nature, but in a universe of redemption. The entire religious history of humanity, beginning with the morrow after the original catastrophe, is reassumed, recapitulated in the sacrifice which Christ, with tears and a great cry, would offer for it to God on the Cross. This unique sacrifice would not be able to recapitulate human destiny if it did not draw it into participation, first by anticipation during the period prior to the Cross, then more intimately, more mysteriously by derivation during the period after the Cross (Chapter I).
The redemptive sacrifice is unique: the Epistle to the Hebrews insists on this. But we find that the Savior Himself prescribed the reiteration of what He did at the Last Supper, in memory of Himself and until He returns. And what did He do? He changed bread into His Body, which was handed over for us, wine into His Blood, which was poured out for the multitude for the sake of the remission of sins. He invited the Apostles to unite themselves through Communion to His Body, which was handed over, and to His Blood, which was poured out, in the way, St. Paul tells us, that Israel united itself to the victims offered to the true God, and the Gentiles to the victims offered to idols. There was, then, a sacrifice at the Last Supper and a union with the sacrifice through Communion. Thus the Cross offers a unique sacrifice; the Last Supper also offers a true and proper sacrifice. Are these two affirmations of the Faith reconcilable? Here is the problem. One can suppress it by saying that at the Last Supper there was neither a sacrifice nor a communion with that sacrifice, but only the promise of the remission of sins; then all becomes very simple. But how does one reconcile them if one wishes to preserve the two given Scripture passages with all the depth of their mystery? (Chapter II).
The one redemptive sacrifice began the very night the Savior was handed over and the Last Supper was instituted. The words of transubstantiation at the Last Supper established not another sacrifice, but another presence of the same sacrifice. It was present naturally, under its proper appearances; in addition, it became present sacramentally, under the borrowed appearances of bread and wine. The Last Supper is a true and proper sacrifice because it renders present under unbloody appearances Christ, together with the same reality of His bloody sacrifice (Chapter III).
At the Last Supper, the same Priest, the same Victim, the same sacrificial act are present in two ways: first under their proper appearances, then under their borrowed or assumed appearances. The Council of Trent reminds us that there are equally, under the species of the unbloody sacrifice, the same Priest and Victim at the Mass as on the Cross; and is there not also the same sacrificial act as on the Cross? The explanation of the doctrine of the Eucharist has clarified that each consecrated host is Christ because transubstantiation multiplies in space the real substantial presence of the one Christ. Can it not also clarify that each Mass is a real and true sacrificial act because it multiplies in time the real efficient, operative presences of the one redemptive sacrifice? Here is how it looks from this point of view. One could say that at the Mass we have the glorious Christ Who comes to us; but He comes to meet us through His Cross. The sacramental appearances bring to us the real substantial presence of the glorious Christ and the real operative presence of His bloody sacrifice. The glorious Christ ratifies eternally in heaven the unique redemptive sacrifice by which He willed to save all men, first by anticipation in the ancient economy of salvation, then and more intimately by derivation in the new economy. When He comes to us at that very moment in which transubstantiation repeats the unbloody sacrifice of the Last Supper, it is in order to touch us through the Cross, to valorize and actualize for us His one redemptive sacrifice, always present and actual with respect to God, in which are pre-contained all the graces of the new economy of salvation. But is the redemptive sacrificial act accomplished? If it is always present in the divine eternity, can it always be present to us who are carried along in the flow of time? The response is that this act is related to us under different aspects, at once accomplished and present, in time and beyond time. In time: it is an irreversible moment of Christ's temporal life. Beyond time: touched by divinity it is capable of reaching by its spiritual power, its contact, its presence, all succeeding generations as they come into existence. Each consecration, renewing the unbloody sacrifice of the Last Supper, renders substantially present the now glorious Christ; but the sacramental species of bread and wine, which remind us of the Body of Christ handed over for us and His Blood poured out for us, show and testify that the grace hidden in each Mass is the very grace of redemption, a ray of redemption as it were. Like the Last Supper, the Mass is a real and true sacrifice: not another sacrifice than the one redemptive sacrifice, but another presence to us, a sacramental presence of that unique sacrifice. The unbloody sacrifice neither stands in juxtaposition to nor substitutes itself for the bloody sacrifice; it subordinates itself to the latter in order to transport its power to us. To multiply Masses is to multiply the points of application among us, the real operative presences among us of the one redemptive sacrifice: As often as the memoriai of this Victim is ceiebrated, the work of our Redemption is wrought (Chapter IV).
If, by repetition of the unbloody sacrifice instituted at the Last Supper, the Mass is the full existential entrance of the Church at every moment of her life into the bloody redemptive sacrifice of the Cross, where her place is marked out beforehand, then to the first question— "Who offers Mass?"—one must respond by distinguishing first of all the primordial, enveloping, infinite offering of Christ, and the secondary, enveloped, finite offering of the Church. One should insist on the distinction between the order of worship and the order of charity, both being necessary here below. On the ordering of worship to charity: When I deiiver my body over to the fiames, if I have not charity, it avaiis me nothing. In the order of worship, or the order of the validity of the offering, one finds first the ministerial hierarchical power of the priests, which alone is the "transubstantiator," then the ministerial non-hierarchical power of the baptized and confirmed. In the order of charity, or the order of the holiness of the offering, which is the superior order, all the faithful are urged to make an offering, and the last can be the first. The Church in heaven with her angels and saints is united, in a certain way, to the Church here below. To the second question—"What is offered at Mass?"—one must respond that the supreme offering is Christ Himself, into Whom the bread and wine will become transubstantiated, and Who draws unto Himself His Church and the whole world by the Cross on which He has been lifted up (Chapter V).
At each Mass, whatever be the holiness of the minister, Christ in glory comes to us in order to touch us by His Cross—the universal, superabundant, infinite cause of the world's salvation. At each Mass the Church herself enters into the drama of the redemptive Passion in a finite manner and in proportion to her faith and love. Furthermore, at each Mass the Church, thus united to the Passion of Christ, begs for the salvation of the world: that which she obtains, which she draws in, and which redounds in blessing upon men is what theologians call the fruits of the Mass. We can distinguish here the intention or general application of the Church praying at each Mass for all the living and dead among the faithful and for the salvation of the entire world (general fruit); the intention or application of the celebrant, considered not simply as a particular or immediate minister of Christ who pronounces the transubstantiating words, but as the immediate minister of the hierarchical powers who accomplishes the liturgy (special fruit); the intention or personal application of the celebrant and of the faithful (particular fruits) (Chapter VI).
The corporal presence of Christ, once capable of suffering, assembled men around the redemptive sacrifice; the corporal presence of Christ, now glorious, continues to assemble them around that same sacrifice valuable for all time. This is why before leaving us in order to pass to the Father, Jesus, on the night before He was handed over, took the bread, gave thanks, broke the bread saying: "This is My Body for you; do this in memory of Me." Before the consecration it was bread; after the consecration what is seen is still the species or appearances of bread, what is believed Is the Body of Christ. From the very beginning the Church has accepted this mystery of the Real Presence, immediately revealed in Scripture. How is it possible? Only by transubstantiation. It is still not comprehended; it must be discovered gradually. In the notion of the Real Presence is necessarily included the hidden notion of transubstantiation, a little like the way in which all the properties of a triangle, which are discovered only later, are necessarily included in the definition of a triangle. In recognizing this inclusion we see that the notion of transubstantiation was revealed from the beginning, implicitly not explicitly, mediately not immediately; and that consequently it could be defined as such by the Church. The notion of contact, of presence, taken in its proper and true sense, is, we insist, analogical, proportional: God is present to all things; an angel can be present in the place in which it acts; a body is present in a place. Even corporal presence can be analogical: one presence is the presence of bread before consecration; the other presence is the presence of the Body of Christ in the same place after consecration. Before consecration the substance of bread, sustaining the appearances of bread, exists in a place by space and dimension, each part of its proper extension being coextensive with the corresponding part of the surrounding body. After consecration the substance of the Body of Christ, with the Word Who is personally united to it, is contained under those same appearances of bread: no longer directly by sustaining the appearances, but indirectly by borrowing, as it were, the veil of those appearances; no longer by space and the coextensivity of its dimensions with that of the surrounding body, but in a totally different manner—the entire Body of Christ being present under each particle of the species or appearances and each particle of the species or appearances having reference to the entire Body of Christ. This is what is called the presence in a place by mode of substance and not of space. As the notion of transubstantiation is necessarily included, as we have said, in the notion of the Real Presence, the counter-proof is made by saying that the negation of the first notion carries with it the negation of the second. Those who deny transubstantiation ought, in effect, to hold that under the appearances of bread the substance of bread is either annihilated or remains. In both cases one must posit an adduction of Christ's Body. Two ways present themselves. According to the first, one must attribute to Christ as many bodies as there are consecrated hosts; then enclose each of these bodies in the dimensions of a small host. According to the second way, one would affirm that the Body of IChrist is one but spread out all over, although it would not be distinguishable by us except in the consecrated bread; or, that the bread joins Christ in a new body. Both ways lead to absurdity. The only way out then would be to shun the mystery of Holy Thursday: the Gospel would have spoken only figuratively. Others have also said the same of the very mystery of Christmas (Chapter VII).
One's incorporation into the Passion of Christ begins at Baptism and is consummated in the Eucharistic Communion. Baptism is the sacrament of Christian initiation. The grace which it communicates is a participation in the grace which Jesus sent forth at His Passion, Death and Resurrection. It pre-contains`in itself, as a seed does the plant, the final stages of the spiritual life. The Eucharistic Communion, the sacrament of the consummation of the spiritual life, is a more immediate invitation to enter into the drama of the Passion, Death and Resurrection. The triple symbolism of the Eucharist discloses to us its effects. The appearances of bread and wine signify that Christ, now glorious, meets us by means of His bloody sacrifice, to which one must unite oneself`not only by faith and charity but also by consuming the Victim; these same appearances signify the spiritual repast and spiritual intoxication which comes to the soul through the gift of love; they signify the unity of all those who communicate in the one Bread: There emerges from the natural Body of our Savior a stamp of unity which gathers together the Mystical Body and condenses it into one. In the measure that the Church goes forth in time she becomes always more explicitly aware of the dispensation, according to which He Who founded the Church by His corporal presence wills to accompany her by that same corporal presence, now glorious, but accessible under the mere signs of the Passion. In the relation between the Cross of Christ and the glory of Christ the Church learns to penetrate the secret of her destiny (Chapter VIII).
The work of historians and of liturgists allows us to conclude with a look at the order of the Mass in the first centuries, to introduce the question regarding the diversity of rites and liturgical languages, and to explain the order of prayers which form the present Roman rite of the Mass. The mystery of the Mass is transcendent in`relation to its liturgical expressions. Legitimate and necessary as they may be, these liturgical expressions remain inadequate. They represent but partial truths. A tension rises between them. It reappears at the very interior of each of the great rites. To the eyes of the contemplative, the mystery of redemption continued in each Mass is one, perfect and immutable; and men, surpassed by it, move about its environs. But the order of discipline and of social comportment venture forth in time and space, stressing in turn the various aspects of the unique mystery (Chapter IX).
Luther, followed by all of Protestantism, broke with the traditional doctrine of the Eucharist on two essential points: he denied the sacrificial character of the Last Supper and of the Mass; and, he denied the transubstantiation of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. He intended nevertheless to profess the evangelical and Pauline doctrine of the Real Presence; but the rejection of transubstantiation dragged immediately along with it, in Zwinglism and Calvinism, the rejection of the Real Presence.
The doctrines of transubstantiation and the Real Presence had already reached their state of clarification when they were rejected by Protestantism. The doctrine of the sacrificial character of the Last Supper and of the Mass, on the contrary, although firmly taught and believed, was still at an implicit stage. The Council of Trent—constantly cited in the pages which follow—in defining the first two points holds up as essential a doctrine which had already been clarified. On the other hand, in defining the sacrificial character of the Last Supper and of the Mass, it can be said that by making use of previous theological explanations—notably those of Cardinal Cajetan—the Council needed to proceed in a certain measure toward a first clarification. On this point the Protestant negation worked as a stimulus; it brought about the doctrinal development.
The clarification that the Council of Trent began seems in no way complete. It calls for the work of theologians; and their task is a difficult one. If St. Thomas Aquinas, while on his death bed, asked pardon of Him Whom he lovingly called the "price of his soul's redemption," the "Viaticum of his pilgrimage," for what he might have said against Him out of ignorance, and left all to the correction of the Roman Church, then how could theologians dare speak without fear of ignorance of a revelation at once so near and so hidden?
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