Skip to comments.Essays for Lent/Easter: The Words of Consecration
Posted on 04/18/2012 6:11:17 PM PDT by Salvation
The Words of Consecration
by Sebastian R. Fama
The Traditionalist movements greatest complaint against the Church has to do with the new mass (post Vatican II). Their biggest objection is to the change in the words of consecration. This, they claim, renders the new mass invalid. They specifically object to the words used in the consecration of the wine. In the Tridentine Mass (pre Vatican II) the wording is as follows: For this is the chalice of my blood of the New and Eternal Covenant: the mystery of faith: which shall be shed for you and for many unto the forgiveness of sins." In the new Mass it is worded this way: "This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven."
Both versions are based on Jesus words at the Last Supper as recorded in Matthew 26:28 and Mark 14:24. The verse from Matthew reads: "For this is my blood of the New Testament, which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins." Traditionalists claim that Jesus used the word many because He was referring only to those who would accept His offer of salvation. They argue that changing the word to all would include the damned thus giving Jesus statement a meaning He didnt intend. But is that really the case?
The Church changed the word many into all to clarify its meaning, not to change it. The Last Supper was to be the fulfillment of all that Jesus taught His apostles concerning the New Covenant. A year earlier He had told them that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood or they would have no life in them (John 6:54). They didnt understand but continued to follow Him. Later on He told them that He was to suffer and die (Mark 9:30-32). Once again they did not understand but they continued to follow. Now, at the Last Supper, He would put it all together for them. He was to die for the sins of the world and they would be able to partake of His sacrifice by receiving the Eucharist.
Other passages of Scripture attest to the fact that Christ died for all. For example: In John 3:16-17 we read: "For God so loved the world, as to give His only begotten Son; that whosoever believeth in Him may not perish, but may have life everlasting. For God sent His Son into the world to judge the world; but that the world might be saved by Him." Second Corinthians 5:15 tells us that Christ died for all. Finally, 1 John 2:2 tells us virtually the same thing: "And He is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the world."
Traditionalists do believe that Christ died for all men. However, as we noted earlier they believe that the words of consecration refer only to the elect. Once again, they believe this because Jesus uses the word many rather than all. They reason that if Jesus used the word many He couldnt have meant all. But this is a false assumption. In the parable of the wedding feast, Jesus uses the word many when referring to all of mankind. He said "Many are called but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:14).
Elsewhere in Scripture the words all and many are used interchangeably. In Mark 10:45 we find: "For the Son of Man also is not come to be ministered unto; but to minister and to give his life a redemption for many." In 1 Timothy 2:6 we find: "For there is one God; and one Mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a redemption for all."
There is something else that needs to be considered. The Catholic Church has always taught that the sacrifice of the Mass is not a new sacrifice. Jesus sacrifice on the cross and the sacrifice of the Mass are one and the same. If they are the same sacrifice they must have the same purpose. If on the cross "Christ died for all" then in the Mass Christs blood is shed for all.
Traditionalists will often quote "Quo Primum" to give their claims an air of authority. "Quo Primum" was a bull issued by Pope St. Pius V in 1570. Among other things it said that the Tridentine Mass was to be said in perpetuity. Since Pope Paul VI authorized a new Mass in 1969, Traditionalists reason that he erred against the faith. Thus they claim that the new Mass is illicit. Consequently, they lobby for a return to the Tridentine Mass.
To properly understand "Quo Primum" we need to understand the type of document it was and the circumstances under which it was written. "Quo Primum" was a continuation of the work of the Council of Trent. The Council of Trent was convened for two reasons: (1) to address the errors of Protestantism and (2) to reform the interior life of the Church.
Just prior to the Protestant Reformation and the Council of Trent, problems had developed within the clergy. There was a good deal of corruption and liturgical abuse. The canons and decrees of the council make this very clear. In session 22 chapter 9 we find the following:
And because that many errors are at this time disseminated and many things are taught and maintained by divers persons, in opposition to this ancient faith, which is based on the sacred Gospel, the traditions of the Apostles, and the doctrine of the holy Fathers; the sacred and holy Synod, after many and grave deliberations maturely had touching these matters, has resolved, with the unanimous consent of all the Fathers, to condemn, and to eliminate from holy Church, by means of the canons subjoined, whatsoever is opposed to this most pure faith and sacred doctrine (Preliminary remarks on the following canons).
Whereas, therefore, either through the wickedness of the times, or through the carelessness and Corruption of men, many things seem already to have crept in, which are alien from the dignity of so great a sacrifice; to the end that the honour and cult due thereunto may, for the glory of God and the edification of the faithful people, be restored; the holy Synod decrees, that the ordinary bishops of places shall take diligent care, and be bound to prohibit and abolish all those things which either covetousness, which is a serving of idols, or irreverence, which can hardly be separated from impiety; or superstition, which is a false imitation of true piety, may have introduced. .
Lastly, that no room may be left for superstition; they shall by ordinance, and under given penalties, provide, that priests do not celebrate at other than due hours; nor employ other rites, or other ceremonies and prayers, in the celebration of masses, besides those which have been approved of by the Church, and have been received by a frequent and praiseworthy usage (Decree concerning the things to be observed and to be avoided in the celebration of the Mass).
"Quo Primum" was a disciplinary decree and not a doctrinal one. The fact that it allows for exceptions confirms this. Disciplinary decrees are subject to change. Only doctrinal pronouncements are not subject to change. Pius Vs intent was to stop priests from using illicit or unauthorized forms of the Mass. He wasnt restricting future popes as he had no authority to do so. He used the words "in perpetuity" for emphasis. All of this is further confirmed by Pope Pius XII in his encyclical "Mediator Dei" (On the Sacred Liturgy). While he wasnt commenting directly on "Quo Primum," His statements covered the same subject mater. In paragraph 58 he writes:
It follows from this that the Sovereign Pontiff alone enjoys the right to recognize and establish any practice touching the worship of God, to introduce and approve new rites, as also to modify those he judges to require modification. Private individuals, therefore, even though they be clerics, may not be left to decide for themselves in these holy and venerable matters, For the same reason no private person has any authority to regulate external practices of this kind, which are intimately bound up with Church discipline and with the order, unity and concord of the Mystical Body and frequently even with the integrity of Catholic faith itself.
Note that the pope alone has the authority to introduce and approve new rites. Private individuals even if they be priests or bishops (clerics) have no right to decide for themselves in such matters. In our present situation we have a pope who made modifications to the Mass. He was supported in this by every pope that followed him. On the other hand we have a movement started by a bishop and some priests who say that the popes are wrong. I think it is safe to say that the Traditionalists are clearly in error. When we consider what both "Quo Primum" and "Mediator Dei" have to say, we can easily see that Pope Paul VI acted well within his authority when he promulgated the new mass.
Traditionalists claim to accept all that the Church taught prior to Vatican II. Certainly there is no question that "Mediator Dei" was written prior to the council. So even when judged by its own standards, the Traditionalist argument is without merit.
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For Further Study
Full text of Ecclesia Dei (The Excommunication of Archbishop Lefebvre) (Free)
Pope Pius V & Quo Primum (Free)
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I would say that this article needs to be re-written in light of the new translation which, at the consecration, does use the word ‘many.’
Just look at it:
"This is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant. It will be shed for you and for all so that sins may be forgiven."
It will be shed for you and for all so that sins MAY be forgiven."
MAY BE FORGIVEN!
It is not the one word "All" it is the whole phrase which defines it.
Sins forgiven means for the saved not for the damned. I do not see a problem.
As I understand this whole thing, it is a matter of semantics. There was no word for all in Aramaiac or Hebrew. So they used the word for many.
I just learned something! That I did not know.
It was discussed in detail when the new translation was coming out and someone objected to the “many” vs. the “all.” The link might be in my liturgy list. I’ll look.
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