My dear brother priests and bishops, are not the Mysteries of Light especially appropriate for use by ourselves? Blessed John Paul II, while thinking about his own priesthood over the years, put these together, it seems to me, specifically with us, his fellow priests and bishops, in mind. Please God, more Scriptural and Patristic sources will be added to the present “rant style” meditations when circumstances at Holy Souls Hermitage aren’t quite so utterly barbaric.
The purpose of this first run through these mysteries is to note especially the goodness and kindness of Jesus amidst the violence and chaos back in the day… and today. Hang on, it might be a bit of a rough ride, as rough and tumble as we focus on, in this post, the Institution of the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass — In coena Domini. Let’s take just two verses: Luke 22,19-20 –
The 1598 (the post-Pio V, Clementine Vulgate [with thousands of corrections by Saint Robert Bellarmine): Et accepto pane gratias egit, et fregit, et dedit eis, dicens: Hoc est corpus meum, quod pro vobis datur [present indicative passive]: hoc facite in meam commemorationem. Similiter et calicem, postquam coenavit, dicens: Hic est calix novum testamentum in sanguine meo, qui pro vobis fundetur. [future indicative passive]
The German Bible Society came up with this: Et accepto pane, gratias egit et fregit et dedit eis dicens: Hoc est corpus meum quod pro vobis datur. Hoc facite in meam commemorationem. Similiter et calicem postquam cenavit dicens, Hic est calix novum testamentum in sanguine meo quod pro vobis funditur. [present indicative passive]
The Nova Vulgata has this: Et accepto pane, gratias egit et fregit et dedit eis dicens: ” Hoc est corpus meum, quod pro vobis datur. Hoc facite in meam commemorationem” Similiter et calicem, postquam cenavit, dicens: ” Hic calix novum testamentum est in sanguine meo, qui pro vobis funditur.[present indicative passive]
The old NAB has this: Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given [future indicative passive] for you; do this in memory of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed [future indicative passive] for you.”
The Missale Romanum from time immemorial has this: Hoc est enim corpus meum. [/] Hic est enim Calix Sanguinis mei, novi et aeterni testamenti: mysterium fidei: qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur [future indicative passive] in remissionem peccatorum. Haec quotiescumque faceritis in mei memoriam facietis.
The Novus Ordo has this: Accipite et manducate ex hoc omnes; Hoc est enim corpus meum, quod pro vobis tradetur’; [future indicative passive] and over the chalice, ‘Hic est enim calix sanguinis mei, novi et aeterni testamenti, qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur [future indicative passive] in remissionem peccatorum. Hoc facite in meam commemorationem.’ Mysterium fidei.
The present, corrected ICEL has this: He took bread and, giving thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my Body, which will be given [future indicative passive]up for you. In a similar way, when supper was ended, he took the chalice and, once more giving thanks, he gave it to his disciples, saying: Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my blood, the Blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out [future indicative passive] for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in memory of me. The mystery of faith.
Here’s Luke again: καὶ λαβὼν ἄρτον εὐχαριστήσας ἔκλασεν καὶ ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς λέγων, Τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ σῶμά μου τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν διδόμενον· [present participle passive] τοῦτο ποιεῖτε εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν. καὶ τὸ ποτήριον ὡσαύτως μετὰ τὸ δειπνῆσαι, λέγων, Τοῦτο τὸ ποτήριον ἡ καινὴ διαθήκη ἐν τῷ αἵματί μου τὸ ὑπὲρ ὑμῶν ἐκχυννόμενον [present participle passive].
Jesus emphasized that there is only one Mass, which He was offering then, an offering which is ever present tense throughout time, from Adam, who was provided with the saving grace of enmity against Satan, to the last man ceonceived. The participle makes it a continuing action. That Jesus was not being arrested in the upper room at that moment, that He was not just then shedding His blood, points to the omnipresent nature of the sacrifice of our Lord. His will to save us in the upper room was the same as it was on the Cross, the same act of His will, the same offering. It is in this way that, when He was to be lifted up only hours later, that He would drag all to Himself, from Adam to the last man to be conceived.
We like to emphasize that we are offering Mass here and now, and so like to note the future sense of His words. That’s O.K.! But we shouldn’t forget His perspective in making His own offering. It really is quite awesome.
* * * Let’s take a look at one more phrase in the Greek * * *
τοῦτο ποιεῖτε εἰς τὴν ἐμὴν ἀνάμνησιν = Do this in my memory… Memory? Commemoration?
What’s that anamnesis all about? My dear Bishops, you know well Cardinal Ratzinger’s conference on anamnesis which he gave to you down in Dallas fully 12 years before 2002. He spoke, in fact, of a double-anamensis, the first being a faint remembering of our pristine human condition before the fall by way of grace, which brings us to the seond anamensis, that remembering we do during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, at the consecration, doing this in Christ’s memory. We receive from the Tree of the Living Ones in Eden only by way of Calvary, receiving the Body and Blood of our Lord from the Cross. Living the Happiness of the Happy Fault, the consequences of original sin, the Cross we are commanded to carry by our Lord, following Him, provides us with simultaneous memories, that double-anamnesis.
But what is that memory? Just a fleeting thought in our brains, a nice feeling, an exterior imitation of the actions of Christ at the Last Supper, a monument, if you will, of what He accomplished for us?
Or is there more, what with our actingin Persona Christi, so that we so receed into the background that Christ Jesus Himself is saying those words of His marriage vows unto death with His Bride the Church? I should think so: This is my body and blood being given and shed for you…
Anamnesis is not just a calling to mind. Not at all. That’s where the Latin gets nervous and jacks up the stakes with co-, as in commemoration. It has to do with bearing witness, with the manifestation of the living truth of the matter at hand. It is Christ Jesus who is present in what we say and do at the consecrations.
But there is more, and this is the frightening bit. Anamnesis has everything to do with the witness of a martyr, who bears witness. Here this witness is that of the witness to the Truth of the Love of His Heavenly Father. It is a witness of love unto death, of what we call martyrdom.
If we dare pronounce these words of consecration, we should know that Christ Jesus is laying down our lives with His. He is sending us to Calvary with Himself. If we have ever recited those words, we have to know the kind of witness to the Truth in all Charity that our Lord demands of us.
Anamnesis is obedience. And that statement, gentlemen, should shake you to the core of your existence. If it does not, I bid you, just wake up and die right.
Obedience = ob-audire, a listening so intense in love that we do the will of the one who is speaking. Jesus, in the consecrations, is doing exactly what our Heavenly Father told Him to do, how He was to bear witness to the Father, how He was to be a martyr, a witness to that love, having us be with Him. Our Heavenly Father speaks that Logos into this world. We hear Jesus. We are conformed to Him. Again, in tender love, He lays down our lives with His own.
O.K., I think we’re ready for ten Hail Marys for this decade of the rosary! Hail Mary…