23 March 2014


Throughout most of the twentieth century, Catholic theological expositors of Eucharistic Dogma were concerned to deny that the Church's teaching, as expounded by Trent and subsequently, did in fact fall into one quite horrible late Medieval error. Be you a Masure or a Vonier, you constructed your theology of the Sacrifice so as to be able to plead Not Guilty to a charge that you regarded it as a New Sacrifice; that you believed in a Christ who was sacrificed anew, slaughtered upon the Altar, each day. Because ... we have to admit it ... that is what those benighted Medievals did believe.

Or did they? There have long been Catholic writers who have in fact questioned whether the medievals really did fall into that terrible error. As a matter of History, so they argue, this error was never prevalent. It is part of a Protestant determination to produce an alibi for the hysteria towards the Most August Sacrament of the Altar ... with all the concomitant vandalism and murder ... which the 'Reformers' encouraged.

What not many people tend to notice is that, according to the Rite of Sarum, when, at the Offertory, the celebrant offered (together) the charged chalice and paten, he said a prayer which began Suscipe sancta Trinitas ... and ended In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti, acceptum sit omnipotenti Deo hoc sacrificium novum. [God is asked to accept "this new Sacrifice"]. So, it seems, the Medievals were guilty.

Or were they? The 'reformers', as they harried Catholic priests to their deaths, sometimes advanced the entertaining ad hominem argument that they were self-condemned, since they actually claimed that they slaughtered Christ! ("Worse than the Jews, who only killed him once!") There are undoubtedly easy ways of avoiding this convenient conclusion. The Sacrifice of Christ upon Calvary, perpetually pleaded on high before the Throne of Grace and present mystikos upon our altars, is a new sacrifice in as far as it replaced and replaces (supersession) what some of the old secrets call the differentias hostiarum, the complex of different sacrifices prescribed by and under the Torah. Calvary ... and the Eucharist ... conjointly, in that sense, are a new Sacrifice in as far as they are the Sacrifice Novi et Aeterni Testamenti.

I most certainly intend to conclude this piece with a second half beginning "However".


Keith Kenney said...


I know both Vonier and Masure. What do you make of Maurice de Taille's exposition in Mysterium Fidei? Masure at some point simply writes off his theories with a flick of the wrist. I've been reading and re-reading Taille lately, and I find him quite excellent.

Rev. Mr. Kenney

mormorador said...

The go-to text resolving this is
Francis Clark, SJ. Eucharistic Sacrifice and the Reformation. Newman Press, 1960.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Nothing. Mormorador, is definitive!

Martin said...

It seems to be another case of the reformers misunderstanding sacramental language because of their nominalist orientation.

Eques said...

I should point out the following quote from the sentences of Peter Lombard, which does, I think, represent the standard mediaeval opinion on the question of the Eucharistic sacrifice:

The question is posed, whether what the priest does is properly called “sacrifice” or “offering” (immolatio), and whether Christ is offered (immoletur) daily, or was offered only once. The answer can be made briefly, that that which is offered and consecrated by the priest is called sacrifice and offering (oblatio), because it is the memory and representation of the true sacrifice and holy offering (immolatio) made on the altar of the Cross. And Christ died once on the Cross, and there was offered (immolatus) in Himself; but daily He is offered in the Sacrament, because in the Sacrament, there takes place the remembrance of what was done once.
(Lib. IV, Dist. 12)