27 December 2010

EWTN Thoughts...

...I had recorded the Christmas Service from the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.  Just got around to watching it.  There is nothing like a little time with the Roman canon to make me very thankful to be a Lutheran Christian.  I mean no offense to my Roman readers, but sheez!  Luther was so right about how this prayer accents the wrong sylLABle, if you will.  We offer, we present, we, we, we!  The accent is so much on our action that the Lord's action and gift is shoved to the back ground.  It is striking to me how the Lutheran Divine Service can be so similar in outward form and yet so utterly different in what is accented.  Give me the Lutheran Divine Service ANY day.  I think the Roman Canon by and large makes for a wonderful Prayer of the Church, but that it obscures the gift of the Testamental Words seems a no-brainer.  After all, our blessed Lord did not say:  "Take and OFFER" - He took care of the offering! - He did say "take and eat!"


Pr Mark Henderson said...

Ditto, William, in spades!

Scott Larkins said...

I was under the impression that the Orthodox view the Eucharist in a similar way. As an on going sacrifice for sin.

Rev Grams said...

I've always wondered why Rome says "which will be given up" for the verba. Is it because of that whole "mass being expiatory sacrifice" thing?

William Weedon said...


Similar, but not the same. For example, in the Egyptian version of the Anaphora of St. Basil there's no mention of sacrifice at all!

Pr. Grams,

I think it was an attempt to "think back" to what Jesus would have said at the Supper itself, so that his blood would be spilled the next day, if you will.

Chris said...


You are wholly mistaken. Read the anaphora prayers of both the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil the Great and find me anything in there which talks about ongoing sacrifice. Here's a sneak preview: there is none.

Scott Larkins said...


What is the Orthodox belief regarding the "Sacrifice of the Mass?" Is it the same as Roman Catholicism or different? Could you please explain the similarities and differences? Thank you.


Thank you for your inquiry.

The Divine, or Eucharistic, Liturgy of the Orthodox Church recalls, as one prayer from the Liturgy states, "all those things which have come to pass for us: the Cross, the Tomb, the Resurrection on the Third Day, the Ascension into Heaven, and the Second and Glorious Coming. ..." The Liturgy is not so much a reenactment of the Mystical Supper or these events as it is a continuation of these events, which are beyond time and space. Unlike many of the Protestant bodies, the Orthodox also see the Eucharistic Liturgy as a bloodless sacrifice, during which the bread and wine we offer to God become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ through the descent and operation of the Holy Spirit, Who effects the change.

As far as the order of the Liturgy, it follows the same basic outline as the Roman Mass -- introductory psalms, scripture readings and homily, offering, Eucharistic Kanon and Epiklesis [Consecration], commemorations, the Lord's Prayer, Holy Communion, and closing prayers with final blessing. However, the Liturgy that is generally celebrated is that of Saint John Chrysostom, which is much, much older than the order of the Mass currently in use among Roman Catholics and the Tridentine Mass that had been used prior to Vatican II.

OCA Website

Chris Jones said...

Fr Weedon,

I could not disagree more.

Not about the specifics of the Roman Canon and what its emphasis is or should be; I don't know the specifics well enough to argue with you about it. But I disagree about whether we should stand in judgment over the Church's Tradition as it has been handed down to us, which (as you know) is embodied more in the liturgy than in any other form save the Scriptures themselves. (And even the Scriptures can only be received rightly as they are prayed in the Liturgy.) The liturgy is not for us to judge, redact, reduce, and re-make according to our own theological opinions (even our correct opinions). It is there for us to learn from by praying it, so that through the liturgy our Lord can open the Scriptures for us and make himself known to us in the breaking of the bread.

As ineluctably right as was Luther's protest, and however much the Church needed reformation, the fact that Luther and the other reformers would dare to cut the heart out of the Mass is the great shame of the Reformation.

As far as the Roman Canon is concerned, if it was good enough for St Augustine, St Gregory the Great, St Leo the Great, St Martin, and all the great saints of the Orthodox West, it is good enough for me.

Past Elder said...

Nonsense. Jesus did not say "Take, est, and by the way, whip up some real nice prayers to say later on, I'd do it but I'm kind of in a rush".

It is precisely because here and there throughout the history of the church it has judged, redacted, reduced and remade its worship that there is "liturgy" at all.

There is no liturgy apart from that over the centuries. Some good, some bad, some bloody awful. Even the miserable, rotten, stinking novus ordo which has oozed its froth and pustules into our worship has its place in that development. A lamentable place, but a place nonetheless.

There is no "liturgy" -- as in a singular something given or commanded by Christ. It exists only in the plural. And the tendency to take all this human stuff -- church bodies, worship, theology -- WAY too seriously as if it were Christ himself is what has led to such confusion and division that, as Luther remarked, it sometimes seems the only thing to do is just throw it out.

But we don't. The command of Christ is not the only good reason to retain something, just the only one that is divine. For as much as I am all for "retaining the ceremonies previously in use -- which by definition excludes the ravings of 1960s Rome as it tries to reconcile itself with post-modern era emerging from the destruction of the old order in two world wars, as it once did with the collapse of antiquity and the emergence of the recently departed order -- all of it, liturgy and theology alike, are subordinate to Revelation and must be normed by it.

Sola scriptura, not sola ecclesia, not sola historia, and not sola liturgia. Which is not "Scripture alone" and throw out the rest, it is an ablative of means, BY Scripture alone. And the action being taken, the "by", is the norming and reformation of our human traditions.

The Reformation, which is to say, the Lutheran Reformation, did not cut out the heart of the Mass, but the fat and gristle it had accumulated putting a great strain on its heart, which in our Divine Service beats freely and healthily.

Who could not but faint at the thought of such a Saviour!

Past Elder said...

PS -- make that "Take, eat", not "take, est". Someone has switched the A and S key on my computer! Probably a Bugnini agent, or a Jesuit.

Chris said...


I directed you to the liturgies of st. John Chrysostom and St. Basil the Great and you come back to me with a snippet from an OCA website. Don't have time to read them?

When the priest prays and mentions" "All those things that have come to pass for us" you will notice that the things that have come to pass for us include the second coming which actually, in a linear sense, has not yet occurred. The whole history of salvation is played and replayed during the liturgical year and in the offices for the day.

Christ's sacrifice is continuous only in the sense that it is "re-presented" to the faithful; the sacrifice on the cross is not done again in a real sense nor is Christ re-sacrificed because it was insufficient when he did it, but only replayed in a mystical sense.

The representation is not done as a historical lesson but because it makes the time sacred and draws the people into that sacred moment. I would heartily encourage you to read Mercia Eliade or find a website with a two paragraph synopsis.

If you are still insistent that the Orthodox "re-sacrifice" Christ in a real sense, then that is because you are held captive by a suprarationalism which is typical of Western Christendom.

Past Elder said...

What is wrong with the answer quoted from the OCA website. It is exactly what I would have said in my pre-conciliar RC days, though with a bit more Aristotelian precision via Aquinas, call it suprarationalism if you will.

Nor do I see a thing in Mr Larkins' comments indicating he thinks the EO understand themselves to be re-sacrificing Christ.

It is the "beyond time and space" thing the OCA site mentions that trips up many. One does not need to wander in a Byzantine labyrinth to get it, though. Energy and matter, we now know, are related across the speed of light. Therefore a disruption in the normal distribution of matter, like say a Resurrection, will result in a disruption in the normal distribution of time, like say the Real Presence.

Or, you can just believe it because Christ said it. Take, eat, this is My Body; take, drink, this is My Blood. No theology, liturgy, or science needed.

And as the magnificent Aquinas himself said -- everybody knows he is a Benedictine before God, the family had abbot of Monte Cassino bought and paid for for him as these things are done in monkery -- our theological arguments are for the edification of those who already believe, not for the convincing of those who do not, lest they think we believe on the basis of such weak arguments; for those who do not believe, Scripture is the key. No swooning about Fathers, liturgies, theologies etc needed.

William Tighe said...

This lecture by Bishop Kallistos of Diokleia may be of interest to some:


William Weedon said...

Chris J.,

I find it of interest that the WR Orthodox (who are obviously very much on the bandwagon when it comes to lex orandi, lex credendi) apparently deemed the Roman canon unusable without alteration; even in their use, it has been edited both by way of deletions and additions. The Church's liturgies have ever been subject to such; to pretend not is to abandon history itself for a mythology. Certainly the solution that most Lutherans pursued is a bit more decisive, but when you recall that in the Lutheran Divine Service, much of the content of the canon (in terms of its intercessions and thanksgivings and asking God to accept our offerings and remembrance of the faithful departed) finds a home immediately prior to the Preface in the restored ancient practice of The Prayer of the Church (which is absent from the Tridentine rite), it is not quite the radical thing that it is sometimes made out to be. FWIW.

Pr. Lehmann said...

Chris J.,

So do you confess ecclesial infallibility?