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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/37

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MASS


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MASS


sacrament in the Eucharist is inseparable in idea from the sacrifice. But they entirely overlooked the fact that Christ positively prescribed the twofold consecra- tion for the sacrifice of the Mass (not for the sacra- ment), and especially the fact that in the consecration of one element only the intrinsically essential relation of the Mass to the sacrifice of the Cross is not symboli- cally represented. Since it was no mere death from suffocation that Christ suffered, but a bloody death, in which His veins were emptied of their Blood, this condition of separation must receive visible represen- tation on the altar, as in a sublime drama. This condition is fulfilled only by the double con.secration, which brings before our eyes the Body and the Blood in the state of separation, and thus represents the mystical shedding of blood. Consequently, the double consecration is an absolutely essential element of the Mass as a relative sacrifice.

(b) The Metaphysical Character of the Sacrifice of the Mass. — The physical essence of the Mass having been established in the consecration of the two species, the metaphysical question arises as to whether and in what degree the scientific concept of sacrifice is real- ized in this double consecration. Since the three ideas, sacrificing priest, sacrificial gift, and sacrificial object, present no difficulty to the understanding, the prob- lem is finally seen to lie entirely in the determination of the real sacrificial act {actio sacrifica), and indeed not so much in the form of this act as in the matter, since the glorified Victim, in consequence of Its impas- sibility, cannot be really transformed, much less de- stroyed. In their investigation of the idea of destruc- tion, the post-Tridentine theologians have brought into play all their acuteness, often with lirilliant re- sults, and have elaborated a series of theories concern- ing the Sacrifice of the Mass, of which, however, we can discuss only the most notable and important. But first, that we may have at hand a reliable, critical standard wherewith to test the validity or invalidity of the various theories, we maintain that a sound and satisfactory theory must satisfy the following four conditions: (1) the twofold consecration must show not only the relative, but also the absolute moment of sacrifice, so that the Mass will not consist in a mere relation, but will be revealed as in itself a real sacrifice; (2) the act of sacrifice {actio sacrifica), veiled in the double consecration, must refer directly to the sacri- ficial matter — i. e. the Eucharistic Christ Himself — not to the elements of bread and wine or their unsub- stantial species; (.3) the sacrifice of Christ must some- how result in a kenosis, not in a glorification, since this latter is at most the object of the sacrifice, not the sacrifice itself; (4) since this postulated kenosis, how- ever, can be no real, l3ut only a mystical or sacramen- tal one, we must appraise intelligently those moments which approximate in any degree the "mystical slay- ing" to a real exinanition, instead of rejecting them. With the aid of these four criteria it is comparatively easy to arrive at a decision concerning the probability or otherwise of the different theories concerning the sacrifice of the Mass.

(i) The Jesuit Gabriel Vasquez, whose theory was supported by Perrone in the last century, requires for the essence of an absolute sacrifice only — and thus, in the present case, for the Sacrifice of the Cross — a true destruction or the real slaying of Christ, whereas for the idea of the relative sacrifice of the Mass it suffices that the former slaying on the Cross be visibly repre- sented in the separation of Body and Blood on the altar. This view soon found a keen critic in Cardinal de Lugo, who, appealing to the Tridentine definition of the Mass as a true and jjroper sacrifice, upbraided Vasquez for reducing the Mass to a purely relative sacrifice. Were Jephta to arise again to-day with his daughter from the grave, he argues (De Euchar., disp. xix, sect. 4, n. 58), and present before our eyes a living dramatic reproduction of the slaying of his daughter


after the fashion of a tragedy, we would undoubtedly see before us not a true sacrifice, but a historic or dramatic representation of the former bloody sacrifice. Such may indeed satisfy the notion of a relative sacri- fice, but certainly not the notion of the Sacrifice of the Mass, which includes in itself both the relative and the absolute (in opposition to the merely relative) sacrifi- cial moment. If the Mass is to be" something more than an Ober-Ammcrgau Passion Play, then not only must Christ appear in His real personality on the altar, but He must also be in .some manner really sacrificed on that very altar. The theory of Vasquez thus fails to fulfil the first condition which we have named above.

To a certain extent the opposite of Vasquez's theory is that of Cardinal Cienfuegos, who, while exaggerating the absolute moment of the Mass, undervalues the equally essential relative moment of the sacrifice. The sacrificial destruction of the Eucharistic Christ he would find in the voluntary suspension of the powers of sense (especially of sight and hearing), which the sacramental mode of existence implies, and which lasts from the consecration to the mingling of the two Spe- cies. But, apart from the fact that one may not con- stitute a hypothetical theologumenon the basis of a theory, one can no longer from such a standpoint suc- cessfully defend the indispensability of the double consecration. Equally difficult is it to find in the Eucharistic Christ's voluntary surrender of his sensi- tive functions the relative moment of sacrifice, i. e. the representation of the bloody sacrifice of the Cross. The standpoint of Suarez, adopted by Scheeben, is lx)th exalting and imposing; the real transformation of the sacrificial gifts he refers to the destruction of the Eucharistic elements (in \-irtue of the transubstantia- tion) at their conversion into the Precious Body and Blood of Christ {immutatio pcrjectien), just as, in the sacrifice of incense in the Old Testament, the grains of incense were transformed by fire into the higher and more precious form of the sweetest odour and fra- grance. But, since the antecedent destruction of the substance of bread and wine can by no means be re- garded as the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ, Suarez is finally compelled to identify the sub- stantial production of the Eucharistic Victim with the sacrificing of the same. Herein is straightway re- vealed a serious weakness, already clearly perceived by De Lugo. For the production of a thing can never be identical with its sacrifice; otherwise one might declare the gardener's production of plants or the farmer's raising of cattle a sacrifice. Thus, the idea of kenosis, which in the minds of all men is intimately linked with the notion of sacrifice, and which we have given above as our third condition, is wanting in the theory of Suarez. To offer something as a sacrifice always means to divest oneself of it, even though this self-divestment may finally lead to exaltation.

In Germany the profound, but poorly developed theory of Valentin Thalhofer found great favour. We need not, however, develop it here, especially since it rests on the false basis of a supposed "heavenly sacri- fice" of Christ, which, as the virtual continuation of the Sacrifice of the Cross, becomes a temporal and spatial phenomenon in the Sacrifice of the Mass. But, as practically all other theologians teach, the existence of this heavenly sacrifice (in the strict sense) is only a beautiful theological dream, and at any rate cannot be demonstrated from the Epistle to the Hebrews.

(ii) Disavowing the above-mentioned theories con- cerning the Sacrifice of the Mass, tluMlogians of to-day are again seeking a closer approximation to the pre- Tridentine conception, having rcalize<l that post- Tridentine theology had perhaps for polemical reasons needlessly exaggerated tlic idea of destruction in the sacrifice. The old conception, which our catcchi-sms even to-dav proclaim to the people as the most nat- ural and intelligible, may be fearlessly declared the