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Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/39

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MASS


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MASS


the Mass is only a sacrifice of praise and tlianksgiving . . . , but not a propitiatory sacrifice; or, that it prof- its only the recipient, and that it ought not to be of- fered for the living and the dead for sins, punishments, satisfactions, and other necessities; let him be anath- ema" (Denzinger, n. 950). In this canon, which gives a summary of all the sacrificial effects in order, the synod emphasizes the propitiatory and impetra- tory nature of the sacrifice. Propitiation (propitiatio) and petition (impctratio) are distinguishable from each other, inasmuch as the latter appeals to the goodness and the former to the mercy of God. Naturally, therefore, they differ also as regards their objects, since, while petition is directed towards our spiritual and temporal concerns and needs of every kind, propi- tiation refers to our sins (peccata) and to the temporal punishments {poence), which must be expiated by works of penance or satisfaction (salisfactiones) in this life, or otherwise by a corresponding suffering in Pur- gatory. In all these respects the impetratory and ex- piatory Sacrifice of the Mass is of the greatest utility, both for the living anil the dead.

Should a Biblical foun<lation for the Tridentine doc- trine be asked for, we might first of all argue in gen- eral as follows : Just as there were in the Old Testament, in addition to sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving, propitiatory and impetratory sacrifices (cf. Lev., iv sqq.; II Kings, xxiv, 21 sqq., etc.), the New Testa- ment, as its antitype, must also have a sacrifice which serves and suffices for all these objects. But, accord- ing to the prophecy of Malachias, this is the Mass, which is to be celebrated by the Church in all places and at all times. Consequently, the Mass is the im- petratory and propitiatory sacrifice. As for special reference to the propitiatory character, the record of institution states expressly that the Blood of Christ is shed in the chalice "unto remission of sins" (Matt., XX vi, 28).

The chief source of our doctrine, however, is tradi- tion, which from the earliest times declares the impe- tratory value of the Sacrifice of the Mass. Accordmg to Ter'tullian (Ad scapul., ii), the Christians sacrificed "for the welfare of the emperor" {pro salute impera- toris); according to Chrysostoni (Horn, xxi in Act. Apost., n. 4), "for the fruits of the earth and other needs ". St. Cyril of Jerusalem (d. 386) describes the liturgy of the Mass of his day as follows ("Catech. myst.", V, n. 8. in P. G , XXXIII, 1115): "After the spiritual sacrifice [TrMUManicT) ^wid], the unbloody ser- vice [avalfiaKTo^ Xarpela] is completed ; we pray to God over this sacrifice of propitiation [iwl rijs dmia! ixehns Tou IXacr^O] for the universal peace of the churches, for the proper guidance of the world, for the emperor, sol- diers and companions, for the infirm and the sick, tor those stricken with trouble, and in general for all in need of help we pray and offer up this sacrifice [Tainntv wpoa-<p^po)j.ev ttjv Bviriii']. We then commemorate the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, that God may, at their prayers and intercession, graciously accept our supplication. We afterwards pray for the dead . . . since we believe that it will be of the greatest advan- tage [fieytffTTiv 6vn(Ti.v i<Tiadai\. if we in the sight of the holy and most awesome Victim [rrji 0710s Kal (ppiKoi5e<r- Tdrris 0v<rtas] discharge our ]3rayers for them. The Christ, who was slain for our sins, we sacrifice [Xpiarbf iaipay/j.^vov virip tCov j]iieT4poiii n,ixapTr]iJ.iTuiv Trpa<r(pipofuv\^ to propitiate the merciful Gotl for those who are gone before and for ourselves." This beautiful pas.sage, which reads like a modem prayer-book, is of interest in more than one connexion. It proves in the first place that Christian antiquity recognized the offering up of the Mass for the deceased, exactly as the Church to-day recognizes requiem Masses — a fact which is confirmed by other independent witnesses, e. g. Tertul- lian (De monog., x), Cyprian (Ep. Ixvi, n. 2), and Augustine (Confess., Lx, 12). In the second place it informs us that our so-called Masses of the Samts also X.— 2


had their prototype among the primitive Christians, antl for tins view we likewise find other testimonies — e. g. Tertullian (De Cor., iii) and Cyprian (Ep. .xxxLx, n. 3). By a Saint's Mass is meant, not the offering up of the Sacrifice of the Mass to a saint, which would be inipossible without most shameful idolatry, but a sacrifice, which, while offered to God alone, on the one hand thanks Him for the triumphal coronation of the saints, and on the other aims at procuring for us the saint's efficacious intercession with God. Such is the authentic explanation of the Council of Trent (Sess. XXII, cap. iii, in Denzinger, n. 941). With this threefold limitation, Masses " in honour of the saints" are certainly no base "deception", but are morally al- lowable, as the Council of Trent .specifically declares (loc. eit., can. v) ; " If any one saith, that it is an im- posture to celebrate masses in honour of the saints, and for obtaining their intercession with God, as the Church intends, let him be anathema". The general moral permissibility of invoking the intercession of the saints, concerning which this is not the place to speak, is of course assumed in the present instance.

While adoration and thanksgiving are effects of the Mass which relate to God alone, the success of inipe- tration and expiation on the other hand reverts to man. These last two effects are thus also called by theologians the "fruits of the Mass" (fructus missie), and this distinction leads us to the discussion of the difficult and frequently asked question as to whether we are to impute infinite or finite value to the Sacrifice of the Mass. This question is not of the kind which may be answered with a simple yes or no. For, apart from the already indicated distinction between adora- tion and thanksgiving on the one hand and impetra- tion and expiation on the other, we must also sharply distinguish between the intrinsic and the extrinsic value of the Mass {valor intrinsecus, exlrinsecus) . As for its intrinsic value, it seems beyond doubt that, in view of the infinite worth of Christ as the Victim and High Priest in one Person, the sacrifice must be re- garded as of infinite value, just as the sacrifice of the Last Supper and that of the Cross. Here, however, we must once more strongly emphasize the fact that the ever-continued sacrificial activity of Christ in Heaven does not and cannot serve to accumulate fresh redemptory merits and to assume new objective value; it simply stamps into current coin, so to speak, the redemptory merits definitively and perfectly ob- tained in the Sacrifice of the Cross, and sets them into circulation among mankind . This also is the teaching of the Council of 'Trent (Sess. XXII, cap. ii) : " Of which bloody oblation the fruits are most abundantly ob- tained through this unblootly one [the Mass]." For, even in its character of a sacrifice of adoration and thanksgiving, the Mass tlraws its whole value and all its power only from the Sacrifice of the Cross, which Christ makes of unceasing avail in Heaven (cf. Rom., viii, 34; Heb., vii, 25). 'There is, however, no reason why this intrinsic value of the Mass derived from the Sacrifice of the Cross, in so far as it represents a sacri- fice of adoration and thanksgiving, should not also operate outwardly to the full extent of its infinity, for it seems inconceivable that the Heavenly Father could accept with other than infinite satisfaction the .sacri- fice of His only Iiegotten Son. Consequently God, as Malachias had' already prophesied, is in a truly infinite degree honoured, glorified, and praisetl in tlie Mass; through Our Lord Jesus Christ he is thanked by men for allHis benefits in an infinite manner, in a manner worthy of God.

But when we turn to the Mass as a sacrifice of im- petration and expiation, the ca.se is different. While we must always regard its intrinsic value as infinite, since it is the sacrifice of the God-Man Himself, its ex- trinsic value must necessarily be finite in consequence of the limitations of man. 'The scope of the so-called " fruits of the Mass " is limited. Just as a tiny chip of