18 January 2011

Old Lutheran Quote of the Day

Not that we offer the sacrament, but that by our praise, prayer, and sacrifice we move him and give him occasion to offer himself for us in heaven and ourselves with him.  -- Blessed Martin Luther, Treasury, p. 1129.


Phil said...

"...offer himself for us in heaven..."

I remember reading this passage and not knowing what to make of it. Is the Church's eucharistic "praying" that which moves Christ and gives him this "occasion?" How would you explain the connection between Christ's "occasioned" offering and the Consecration in the Liturgy?

William Weedon said...

I think Gerhard explains Luther best here:

In the celebration of the Eucharist ‘we proclaim the Lord’s death’ (1 Cor. 11:26) and pray that God would be merciful to us on account of that holy and immaculate sacrifice completed on the cross and on account of that holy Victim which is certainly present in the Eucharist…. That he would in kindness receive and grant a place to the rational and spiritual oblation of our prayer. (Confessio Catholica, vol II, par II, arti xiv, cap. I, ekthesis 6, 1200-1201)
It is clear that the sacrifice takes place in heaven, not on earth, inasmuch as the death and passion of God’s beloved Son is offered to God the Father by way of commemoration… In the Christian sacrifice there is no victim except the real and substantial body of Christ, and in the same way there is no true priest except Christ Himself. Hence, this sacrifice once offered on the cross takes place continually in an unseen fashion in heaven by way of commemoration, when Christ offers to His Father on our behalf His sufferings of the past, especially when we are applying ourselves to the sacred mysteries, and this is the ‘unbloody sacrifice’ which is carried out in heaven. (1204)

Phil said...

So the connection between the Consecration and Christ's self-offering in heaven is simply coincidental and simultaneous, with no other link (causal in one direction or the other, for example)?

William Weedon said...

I wouldn't say causal, but I would say that it connects the two together. What's happening on earth comes into sync with what our Lord constantly does in heaven.

Phil said...

Ah, so just as Christ willed to sacrifice Himself on Calvary, He also willed to institute the eating of His Body and His Blood as sacrificial Victim, then? Eternal offering in heaven, and ongoing observation on earth? The unity of the two is then in the will of God?

The more I've thought about prayer, the more confused I am about it. Why do we pray? How does prayer move God? Is prayer a good work that God has commanded (Law) or is it something that God has instituted and therefore has attached promises to (Gospel), or is it both in different ways? Isn't the pastor's earthly liturgical consecration according to Christ's institution both Law and Gospel in different ways? If so, aren't attacks on Eucharistic Prayers as not "pure Gospel" (i.e. NO LAW WORKING HERE!) totally misguided?

Must we say that the Elevation is only proclamation, or can it also be to "hold up to God His commandment and promise" (LC)?

I wonder whether Rome's error isn't that they effectively say that certain things are Law and Gospel in the same way. On the other hand, a rigorist sacramental/sacrificial distinction will attempt to say that certain liturgical acts are Gospel and never Law, or vice versa. Perhaps the key is to say that certain liturgical components are both Law and Gospel (sacrificial / sacramental) but in utterly distinct ways?

William Weedon said...


I came to great peace when I stopped trying to understand prayer, and just began to practice it. I don't need to understand something that I cannot fathom. The Son prays. The Spirit prays. The Church prays. And in all we lift up the pain and grief and joys and thanksgivings of all the world to the holy Father. I don't know why it works or how it works; but I do know that it works.