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Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

Author(s): Michael McGuckian

ISBN13: 9780852446348

ISBN10: 0852446349

Publisher: GRACEWING

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  • Michael McGuckian SJ faces the thorny ecumenical question: how is the Mass a sacrifice? Proposing a three-part schema of offertory, priestly mediation and communion, he views the Mass in its relation to the Old Testament models of sacrifice, the Last Supper and the sacrifice of the cross, and comes up with some challenging conclusions for liturgists and lay participants.
  • Michael McGuckian



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  • Chapter 1 - A "True and Proper" Sacrifice

    The Catholic Church believes and teaches that " [t]he Eucharist is above all else a sacrifice"(1). In the light of that, it is a strange situation for Catholic theology that we do not know clearly what a sacrifice is. Of course, we must have some idea of sacrifice, however vague, in order for the affirmation to have any meaning at all, but no concept of sacrifice has yet been worked out that meets with general acceptance. Does this not mean that we do not really know what we are talking about when we affirm that the Eucharist is a sacrifice? And does it not also mean that we do not really know what we are doing when we celebrate the Eucharist? We follow the rubrics of the Mass more or less carefully, but have we a real idea of what is going on?

    The basic problem is that we have no experience of sacrifice on which to base a concept. Indeed, this lacuna is widely recognized. Hans Kung has remarked: "Since in modern mans environment cultic sacrifices are no longer offered, . . . the concept of sacrifice is not related to any experience and has thus become largely misleading and unintelligible"(2). And another commentator has pointed out: "In contemporary sophisticated societies, talk of sacrifice can easily seem primitive and alien. One wonders how many people in our Eucharistic congregations really intend to sacrifice"(3). One must indeed wonder. But, if the Eucharist is "above all else a sacrifice," and we are not sacrificing at the Eucharist, then something is fundamentally wrong.

    It is not that the effort has not been made to work out a concept of sacrifice. A concerted effort was embarked upon in the wake of the Protestant Reformation to solve the problem, but it has failed. As one recent author put it: "In our own day, at the close of the second millennium, the situation which has obtained from the thirteenth to the twentieth century in the matter of the theology of Eucharistic sacrifice remains unresolved"(4).

    The Background
    Our present predicament has been a long time in the making. Up until the Reformation the sacrificial quality of the Eucharist was simply taken for granted in the Christian tradition. During the first millennium, sacrifice remained a commonplace aspect of the surrounding culture and everyone knew by experience what a sacrifice was. When Christendom was established throughout Europe, the practice of other sacrifices ceased, and gradually the experiential concept of a sacrifice, apart from the Eucharist itself, faded away. It was only in the twelfth century, with Peter Lombard, that anyone thought to ask the question, How is the Eucharist a sacrifice? And Lombards answer was: "We may briefly reply that what is offered and consecrated by the priest is called a sacrifice and an immolation because it is a memorial and a representation of the true sacrifice and holy immolation made upon the altar of the Cross" (Sentences, IV, dist. 12, cap. 5.).

    This answer is clearly unsatisfactory. It is simply not true to say that because the Eucharist is a memorial and a representation of the Sacrifice of the Cross that it is itself, therefore, a sacrifice. The concept of a memorial does not include the re-enactment of the reality remembered. A memorial of a victory in war may be a statue of the general who won the war or a garden of remembrance for the soldiers who died in the war, but the one thing it cannot be is a victory in a war. What is clear from the answer that he gave is that Lombard had no idea what a sacrifice is. He made no suggestion at all as to how the Eucharist might be a sacrifice in its own right. No one saw this as a problem at the time, or for a long time to come. From the thirteenth to the sixteenth century, Lombards Sentences continued to be the manual of theological study, and during those three centuries, while commenting on the Sentences was the standard task of every doctor of theology, none of them commented on the 12th Distinction of Book IV, which deals with the Eucharist as a sacrifice. The important question in Eucharistic theology all during that period was the real presence and transubstantiation. The sacrificial character of the Eucharist was quite taken for granted, and the issue was only treated in passing in connection with related questions (5). "It was enough for them that the unanimous teaching of Christian antiquity, interpreting the text of scripture, regarded the Eucharist as the unbloody sacrifice of the new law" (6).

    It is not surprising, then, that when Luther began the attack on the sacrifice of the Mass, Catholic theology was not well prepared to meet it. Francis Clark tells the story succinctly and well.

    The first generation of Catholic apologists. . . continued this traditional method. As the years passed, however, there grew a demand for a more rigorously scientific argument to meet the challenge of the Reformers. In his Apology for the Confession of Augsburg in 1531 Philip Melanchton taunted the Romanists with failing to give a definition of sacrifice. While they poured out a spate of books to assert that the Mass is a sacrifice, he said, not one of them had defined their basic term. Under the pressure of these controversies some of the Catholic theologians began to take up the challenge on the ground chosen by their opponents. The traditional explanation of the pre-Reformation theology, that the Eucharist was truly a sacrifice because it was the sacramental representation and offering of the sacrifice of the Cross, seemed to them too weak; it seemed to give an opening for the Reformers to retort: "We agree that the Eucharist commemorates the one past sacrifice, and for that very reason we argue that it cannot be itself a sacrifice." Adequately to refute this objection it seemed necessary to work out a strict metaphysical definition of sacrifice and then apply it to the Mass. Cardinal Gaspar Contarini (d. 1542): "It is vain that we shall try to give an account of our sacrifice unless we first understand what sacrifice is - a point, I see, about which many of those who so often discourse about our Mass-sacrifice are in the dark. I have found few authors who have given a good explanation in their writings of what sacrifice is." Melchior Cano: "If there has ever been a dispute in which it is necessary to define what it is all about, I am very sure it is this." Matthew Galenus . . . referred to "the inextricable labyrinth of the attempt to find a definition of sacrifice in the proper sense" (7).

    The effort to find an adequate concept of sacrifice has continued for more than four centuries now, and has still not met with success. That failure, however, cannot be accepted as terminal. The effort to uncover the truth about sacrifice must continue, for the urgency is as great now as it was four centuries ago. There is no single concept more important for Christian theology than that of sacrifice. And it is not simply a matter of the theology of the Eucharist. The concept of sacrifice is central to the whole vision of faith. The Eucharist makes the Church, and the Eucharist is a sacrifice, so, if we do not understand sacrifice we do not understand the Eucharist and we do not understand the Church. The Second Vatican Council teaches us that " [t]aking part in the Eucharistic sacrifice, the source and summit of the whole Christian life, [Christians] offer the divine victim to God, and themselves along with him" (Lumen Gentium, 11). And Saint Augustine understood the whole mystery of salvation as our sharing in the universal sacrifice, which is the whole community of the redeemed offered to God by their High Priest (De civitate Dei 10, 6: PL 41, 284). These quotations indicate that sacrifice is a concept necessary for the understanding of the overall shape of the Christian vocation. The concept also has ramifications throughout the range of sacramental theology. To take only the most obvious example, the problem of the crisis in priestly identity is immediately connected to the lack of a concept of sacrifice, for without an understanding of sacrifice there can be no understanding of priesthood, the two concepts being co-relative, a priest (sacerdos, hiereus) being a man who offers sacrifice.

    A Purely Sacramental Sacrifice?
    The need of this concept could not possibly be greater, and it is in this context that this book seeks to be placed. It is the purpose of this book to suggest that the concept of sacrifice which theology needs and has been searching for these last four centuries is now available. In fact, it has been available for at least the best part of a century already, but has not so far been put to its proper use. The reason for that lack of interest is connected with a change in the Catholic theology of the Eucharist during the twentieth century which must be discussed in order to justify the project as a reasonable effort at all, since during the past century the conclusion has begun to be drawn that the quest for a concept of sacrifice is futile, if not completely wrong-headed altogether. As Karl Rahner pointed out some time ago: "In recent theological writing it has been emphasized that it is incorrect or at least inadequate to assume as starting point for reflection on sacrifice in Christianity any idea of sacrifice belonging to the Old Testament or derived from comparative religion, and to demand that this concept must be exemplified in the sacrifice of the Cross or of the Mass. . . ." (8) This opinion, that a concept of sacrifice is not necessary to the understanding of the Eucharist, is justified on the basis that it is sufficient to assert that the Eucharist is a sacrament of the Sacrifice of the Cross. In that case, it is argued, whatever it is in the Cross that constitutes it as a sacrifice will be verified also in the case of the Eucharist by the power of the sacrament.

    This is a new version of Lombards first answer to the question. He said that the Eucharist is a sacrifice because it is a memorial and a representation of the Sacrifice of the Cross. Now it is said that the Eucharist is a sacrifice because it is a sacrament of the Sacrifice of the Cross. This new version is, indeed, better than the old one. The concept of a memorial does not contain the re-enactment of the reality remembered, but the concept of a sacrament does contain the reality signified. It is, therefore, true to say that the Eucharist is a sacrifice because it is a sacrament of the Sacrifice of the Cross, and this point is essential to the theology of the Eucharist. There is no doubt that the understanding of the Eucharist as a sacramental sacrifice is perfectly valid in what it affirms; the problem is in what its current exponents take it to deny.

    That the Eucharist is a sacramental sacrifice is beyond dispute. It has always been the teaching of the Tradition that in the Eucharist we offer the Sacrifice of the Cross sacramentally. Today, however, some are taking the further step and saying that it is a sacrifice only because it is a sacrament of the Sacrifice of the Cross, that it is a purely sacramental sacrifice, and not a sacrifice in its own right. One early exponent of this approach, Dom Anscar Vonier, considered the denial of the natural sacrifice to be essential to his understanding of the sacramental sacrifice. "It is of utmost importance, in order to safeguard the sacramentality of the sacrifice of the Mass, to eliminate from it all such things as would make it into a natural sacrifice, a human act, with human sensations and human circumstances" (9). And this opinion of Vonier seems to have gained many adherents. In his recent general review of Eucharistic theology, Edward Kilmartin proposed a judgment which seems to be widely shared. "The problem with all theologies of the Mass of the post-Reformation period originates in the search for the grounds of sacrifice in the rite itself, and not in the representation of the Sacrifice of the Cross. Catholic theology did not take seriously enough the fact that sacrifice in the history-of-religions sense was abolished with the Christ-event" (10). Now, if this is true, then there is indeed no point in trying to work out how the Mass is a sacrifice, because, on this view, the Eucharist is not a sacrifice in the normal sense of the word at all. However, not all Catholic theologians have accepted this conclusion. Karl Rahner disputed it on a couple of grounds. He made the epistemological point that a word used in any intelligent discourse must have a meaning. "Consequently, if the sources of revelation call the death on the Cross or the Mass a sacrifice, they must employ a term which has at least a generally defined sense and content independent of its use in this instance. Otherwise they would only be putting a verbal label on an occurrence already understood without it" (11). And he further disputed the assertion that the Eucharist is not a sacrifice in the ordinary sense of the word on the basis of the traditional faith of the Church.

    We know from the teaching of the Church that the liturgical proceeding which we call the Mass is a sacrificium visible (D 1740). This obviously states and means that the visible ritual action itself is a sacrifice. It cannot merely be the visible manifestation of a sacrifice which in itself is invisible. It is not the case that under or behind the visible ritual proceeding which is not itself a sacrifice (a mere meal, for example, or a celebration of the mysteries), something is present in a hidden way, and this is what can be called the sacrifice. A correct interpretation of the doctrine of the Council of Trent regarding the sacrificium visibile of the Mass must maintain that the sacrificial character of the Mass is to be sought on the plane of the visible liturgical action (12).

    On this basis, Karl Rahner reached the methodological conclusion which we hope to confirm here: "As far as method is concerned, therefore, we can and must start from the usual concept of sacrifice (or at least from those elements of it which are generally acknowledged to belong to a sacrifice), in the way that has been customary in the theology of the last few centuries"(13).

    The One Sacrifice of Christ
    Karl Rahner maintained that the teaching of the Church "obviously states and means that the visible ritual action itself is a sacrifice." And yet Vonier believed that he had to deny it, and his reason was a serious one. According to him, the denial of the sacrifice on the level of the visible ritual action is demanded by the unicity of the Sacrifice of the Cross. "If the Eucharistic sacrifice were in any way a natural sacrifice it would be simply impossible to avoid the conclusion that there are two different sacrifices, and the query: Why two sacrifices? would be most justifiable. . . . [I]f it be a sacrifice in natura, however it be disguised, it is truly another sacrifice, and not the same sacrifice" (14). There is no denying the force of this argument, and the underlying difficulty has long been recognized. This aspect of the mystery was first adverted to and clearly formulated by Saint John Chrysostom in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews.

    In Christ the saving victim was offered once. Then what of ourselves? Do we not offer every day? Although we do offer daily, that is done for the recalling of his death, and the victim is one, not many. But how can that be - one and not many? Because Christ was immolated once. For this sacrifice is what corresponds to that sacrifice of his: the same reality, remaining always the same, is offered and so this is the same sacrifice. Otherwise, would you say that because the sacrifice is offered in many places, therefore there are many Christs? No, but there is one Christ in all those places, fully present here and fully present there. And just as what is offered in all places is one and the same body, so there is one and the same sacrifice. Christ offered a victim and we offer the selfsame now; but what we do is a recalling of his sacrifice. Nor is the sacrifice repeated because of its weakness (since it is what perfects mankind), but by reason of our own, because we sin daily (15).

    The problem is here clearly presented, and Clark tells us that no other text from the Tradition was commented on more than this one during the subsequent centuries (16). Chrysostom saw the difficulty, but, despite the difficulty, he was not tempted to deny the daily sacrifice to make sense of it. "Do we not offer daily? Although we do offer daily, " he wrote. And Saint Augustine saw the problem also, and likewise saw no reason to deny the daily sacrifice when he wrote to Boniface: "Was Christ not immolated once in Himself, and still in the Sacrament, not only at every paschal solemnity but every day He is immolated by the people, nor does he lie who responds to the question that He is immolated?" (17). And none of the Catholic theologians who followed after were tempted to deny the daily sacrifice either.

    It was not until Luther and the Reformers that the theological difficulty was turned into an objection to deny that the Eucharist is a sacrifice in its own right. And Trent continued the line of Catholic Tradition by simply re-affirming the truth of the sacrifice in the Eucharist despite being unable to explain the apparent contradiction. And it is not that the precise problem of the unicity of Christs Sacrifice of the Cross was not adverted to. It is true that the problem of the unicity of Christs sacrifice was not taken seriously to begin with. It was only one of the different lines of attack put forward by Reformation theology, and the Catholics were so familiar with it from the Tradition that it didnt seem to pose any new or great difficulty. However, over the years of the Council, the point was taken up more seriously by Catholic theologians. Indeed, a group of highly competent Dominican theologians, who were influential bishops at the Council, argued the case very strongly at the Council itself, and still the conclusion was rejected. Now, given that the Councils teaching on this point seems to have passed somewhat into oblivion in Catholic theology, it is necessary to review what happened there in order to verify the accuracy of Rahners confident assertion and to establish accurately exactly what the teaching of the Council was.

    The Council of Trent on the Sacrifice of the Mass
    In its treatment of the Mass, the Council of Trent was responding directly to Luthers denial of the sacrifice. This was a central element of Luthers platform, for he considered it "by far the most wicked abuse of all." He made the point vigorously in one of his three programmatic pamphlets of 1520. "The third captivity of this sacrament is by far the most wicked abuse of all, in consequence of which there is no opinion more generally held or more firmly believed in the church today than this, that the mass is a good work and a sacrifice" (18). And again: "Now there is yet a second stumbling block that must be removed, and this is much greater and the most dangerous of all. It is the common belief that the mass is a sacrifice which is offered to God" (19). It can hardly be doubted that Luther was denying that the Mass is a sacrifice in the plain and straightforward meaning, a "good work", something "offered to God", and that this is the faith of the Catholic Church, since "there is no opinion more generally held or more firmly believed in the church today than this". The issue was discussed at each session of the Council, and on each occasion one of the "errors" listed was to the effect that "the Eucharist is not a sacrifice. . . but only a commemoration of the Sacrifice of the Cross" (20).

    At least one supporter of the purely sacramental sacrifice of the Eucharist has suggested that the appropriate response to Luther would have been along the lines of that theology. "The Protestant attack suggested a perfectly natural solution, in terms of the traditional definition of the mass as the sacramental representation of the passion. All that was necessary to say was that in the mass the sacrifice of the cross was made really present by means of this sacramental representation of the passion" (21). The Catholic theologians could have agreed with Luther that the Eucharist is not a natural sacrifice, but that neither is it a "mere" commemoration. It is a commemoration, indeed, but in what is taken to be the full biblical sense, making the reality remembered actual again in the present, and so can be legitimately recognized, on this basis, as a "true and proper" sacrifice.

    The question is whether or not this response represents the faith of the Church. In fact, the Catholic theologians responded to Luthers denial with a strong affirmation of the sacrifice in the plain, straightforward sense that Luther was denying. As Hughes himself admits: "With a hundred variations they repeated that it was a sacrifice, and that it was utterly unheard of to question this truth" (22). And so indeed it was at the Council. At Bologna in August 1547, some of the theologians responded directly to Luthers assertion that the Eucharist is not a sacrifice but only a commemoration of the Sacrifice of the Cross. Six spoke directly to the point, and three managed to make the clear rebuttal that the Eucharist is not only a commemoration of the Sacrifice of the Cross, but a sacrifice that is celebrated in commemoration of the Sacrifice of the Cross. One affirms: "that the offering in the Mass is a commemoration of the Sacrifice of the Cross, but not only a commemoration, but also a sacrifice, and this sacrifice is a memorial of the Sacrifice of the Cross"(23) .At Trent in 1551, three theologians speak to this point on this occasion, and this time only one, the famous Melchior Cano, managed to state explicitly that "if we do not offer a sacrifice, we do not represent the Sacrifice of Christ offered on the Cross"(24).

    That a sacrifice in the plain meaning of the word was being affirmed is made clear by the arguments brought forward in support of the proposition. It was surely a handicap in rebutting Luthers denial that the theologians had no clear idea what a sacrifice is and that they had no tradition of dealing with this question to refer to. They did what Catholic theology had been doing for centuries and based themselves on the teaching of the Fathers of the Church in the matter. The discussions ranged over many areas, but a perusal of the minutes makes clear that two particular lines of patristic teaching predominate in the final decree, and we will deal with them in turn.

    The Eucharist as a Natural Sacrifice
    The first stream of tradition is precisely to the effect that the Eucharist is a natural sacrifice continuous with the sacrifices of the Old Testament. This teaching was first clearly formulated by Saint Irenaeus and subsequently became standard. Saint Irenaeus deals with the issue of sacrifice in chapters 17 and 18 of Book 4 of the Adversus Haereses. He begins by discussing the prophetic critique of sacrifice in the Old Testament, introducing it as follows: "The prophets indicate abundantly that it was not because He had need of their service that God prescribed the observances contained in the Law; and the Lord, in His turn, taught openly that God demands an offering for the sake of man who is offering"(25). After a thorough review of the prophetic teaching, making it clear that the prophets were not attacking the institution of sacrifice, but sacrifice that is not accompanied by a sincere religious spirit, he repeats again our Lords attitude to sacrifice. "To His disciples also, He counselled the offering to God of the first fruits of His creatures" (26). He elaborates the point shortly after. "Therefore, the offering of the Church, which the Lord taught should be offered in the whole world, is to be reckoned a pure sacrifice before God and acceptable to Him, not because He has need of our sacrifice, but that the one who offers is glorified in what he offers if his gift is accepted"(27). He makes his point most clearly in a further text which was to become a classic reference. "And the class of offerings has not been abrogated; for there were offerings there, and there are offerings here. Sacrifices there were in the People; sacrifices there are, too, in the Church: but the species alone has been changed, inasmuch as the offering is now made, not by slaves but by freemen"(28).

    Saint Irenaeus is clearly affirming that the Christian sacrifice is to be understood as standing in continuity with the Old Testament sacrifices and uses the standard sacrificial terminology to express himself. It is a stronger statement of this opinion than any that went before, and interpreters have sought reasons to explain Irenaeuss heavy emphasis on this aspect. The explanation is usually found in the fact that Saint Irenaeus was rebutting the over-spiritualized doctrine of the Gnostics, and that he exaggerated in the opposite direction. This would seem to be a doubtful explanation. To suggest that Saint Irenaeus distorted the faith of the Church to make a debating point is hardly to do justice to his reputation as a Father of the Church. However, our immediate interest here is not in seeking an interpretation of the reason why Saint Irenaeus taught as he did, but in the fact of his teaching and the use made of this line of patristic interpretation at the Council of Trent, where it was officially sanctioned.

    The discussion of the Decree on the Sacrifice of the Mass began at Bologna in 1547, and at the first meeting of the theologians discussing the "errors",this point about the natural sacrifice was made by five of the theologians who spoke. All we have are short summaries of their speeches, but even in the form of the minutes it is clear what was being said. There is sacrifice according to the natural law, according to the Law in the Old Testament, and there must be sacrifice now in the Christian dispensation, which is the perfection of all that went before (29). These men are simply repeating Saint Irenaeus and the other Fathers of the Church who made this same point.

    Nothing further was done at that time, and when the issue came up for discussion the second time, in Trent in December 1551, the formulation of this particular "error" had been enlarged to include the denial that the Eucharist is a "true and proper" sacrifice, and a draft of canons was produced, the first of which anathematized these denials. In the discussion of the theologians, this issue was not greatly in evidence, since by this time attention was focused elsewhere, as we shall see. However, lack of mention did not at all imply any less emphasis on the doctrine. In January 1552, a committee set about drafting a new version of the decree. In the accompanying Doctrinal Statement on the Mass, the point which had been made at Bologna in 1547 was included. It was affirmed that "the abolition of the sacrifices of the Old Testament [did not] deprive [Christians] of the whole reality of sacrifice [sacrificandi rationem], but rather a new and clearly divine sacrifice was bequeathed to the Christian priests" (30). And later the statement asserts: "Nor would it be fitting, clearly, if the New Law, which is perfect in every way, were to lack any external and visible sacrifice" (31). On this occasion the sacrament of Orders was being discussed at the same time, and the following day the same committee produced a draft of a set of canons on the sacrament of Orders that would anathematize anyone who would deny that "in the New Testament there is a visible and external priesthood" (32). This same teaching was included in the Doctrinal Statement on the Sacrament of Orders, where it is affirmed that "in the Church of God there is an external sacrifice, and therefore a visible and external priesthood" (33). These are strong affirmations of a "visible and external priesthood" offering an "external and visible sacrifice" in continuity with the "reality of sacrifice" of the Old Testament. If this draft had been promulgated as it stands, there would hardly have been any doubt as to the "plain and obvious" meaning of the teaching of the Council, but the situation was to change quite considerably before the final decree was produced in 1562. The controversy arose concerning the second major line of patristic interpretation, and this first affirmation of the natural sacrifice was only very lightly treated after 1551. The little that further needs to be said about it will be placed in its temporal sequence when we discuss the major debate of 1562.

    According to the Order of Melchizedek
    A second line of patristic teaching which came to dominate the conciliar debate is one which sees in the Last Supper and the Eucharist the fulfilment of the prophecy in Psalm 110:4: "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek" (34). The Fathers understood this according to a simple schema. Melchizedek offered sacrifice in bread and wine, and so, in fulfilment of the figure, Christ our Lord offered sacrifice in bread and wine and commanded that the same be done in his memory. This came to be a hotly debated issue at the Council, and the theologians defending this interpretation as the faith of the Church drew up lists of patristic texts in its favor (35), so a short presentation of the patristic doctrine is again in order.

    The first evidence of this relating of the Melchizedek figure to the :Last Supper and the Eucharist is to be found in Clement of Alexandria, and all he does is mention it. It was taken up and maintained in both the East and the West, as the list of texts compiled makes clear. However, of these texts, only two develop the doctrine at any length, and of those two by far the fuller is Saint Cyprians Letter 63 to Caecilium, (36) and it is quite obvious from a perusal of the minutes of Trent that this letter was the foundation of what the theologians and the bishops were all saying. It relates directly to the issue under discussion, the sacrificial character of the Eucharist on the level of the liturgy itself. What prompted Saint Cyprian to write to his fellow Bishop Caecilium was the fact that in some places Christians had begun celebrating the Eucharist using only water instead of wine mixed with water, and Cyprian wrote to condemn this practice.

    He opens the letter by stating the problem as he sees it, mentioning that "some either from ignorance or simplicity in blessing the Lords chalice and ministering to the people do not do what Jesus Christ our Lord and God, author and teacher of this sacrifice did and taught. . ." (37)He then lays down the principle to be applied. "You know we have been warned that in offering the Lords chalice we must follow tradition and we should do nothing different from that which the Lord first did for us, that the chalice which is offered in His memory should be offered mixed with wine" (38). Then he applies the figure of Melchizedek:

    Likewise, in the priest Melchizedek, we see the sacrament of the sacrifice of the Lord prefigured. . . . This order, indeed, is the one coming from that sacrifice and thence descending because Melchizedek was a priest of the most high God, because he offered bread, because he blessed Abraham. For who is more a priest of the most high God than our Lord Jesus Christ, who offered sacrifice to God the Father and offered the very same thing which Melchizedek had offered, bread and wine, that is, actually, His Body and Blood. . . . the image of the sacrifice goes before, appointed actually in bread and wine. Accomplishing and fulfilling this action, the Lord offered bread and a chalice mixed with wine. . . (39).

    For the rest of the letter he continues emphasizing and repeating these same points, that Christ offered bread and wine, and that we must do what he did. One example will suffice. "For if in the sacrifice which Christ offered, only Christ is to be followed, likewise we must obey and do what Christ did and what he commanded to be done. . ." (40). With this background in mind, we can now examine what happened at the Council.

    This point was raised by the theologians during the first meeting at Bologna in 1547. Five of them mentioned it, and the influence of Saint Cyprian is plain to be seen. One of them said: "The sacrifice of M
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Holy Sacrifice of the Mass