Friday, July 11, 2008

A full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction

Article XXXI. Of the one Oblation of Christ finished upon the Cross.

The Offering of Christ once made in that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction, for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin, but that alone. Wherefore the sacrifices of Masses, in the which it was commonly said, that the Priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables, and dangerous deceits.

From The Supper of the Lorde and the Holy Communion, commonly called the Masse, in the first Book of Common Prayer, 1549:

O God heavenly father, which of thy tender mercie diddest geve thine only sonne Jesu Christ to suffre death upon the crosse for our redempcion, who made there (by his one oblacion once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifyce, oblacion, and satysfaccyon, for the sinnes of the whole worlde, and did institute, and in his holy Gospell commaund us, to celebrate a perpetuall memory of that his precious death, untyll his comming again: Heare us (O merciful father) we besech thee; and with thy holy spirite and worde, vouchsafe to blSmCross.GIF (76 bytes)esse and sancSmCross.GIF (76 bytes)tifie these thy gyftes, and creatures of bread and wyne, that they maie be unto us the bodye and bloude of thy moste derely beloved sonne Jesus Christe. Who in the same nyght that he was betrayed: tooke breade, and when he had blessed, and geven thankes: he brake it, and gave it to his disciples, saiyng: Take, eate, this is my bodye which is geven for you, do this in remembraunce of me.
Likewyse after supper he toke the cuppe, and when he had geven thankes, he gave it to them, saiyng: drynk ye all of this, for this is my bloude of the newe Testament, whyche is shed for you and for many, for remission of synnes: do this as oft as you shall drinke it, in remembraunce of me.

Hebrews 9:24-28:

For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

It was assumed by the Roman Magisterium, in 1896, that the Church of England had rejected Eucharistic Sacrifice, on the basis of Article XXXI, quoted above in its entirety. But, is the meaning of the phrase "sacrifices of Masses" the same as Eucharistic Sacrifice? Note the plurality of that phrase in the Article. Was it an attempt to reject the Tradition of the Church, or to correct the popular mis-perception of the common man in that time and place?

The average layman needed to be taught two things about the Supper of the Lord. First, the specific sacramental act of the Church in each individual Mass was not, itself, an isolated sacrifice on behalf of the living and of the dead. In the "nun theology" of that time and place, each Mass was viewed just this way: And, so it seemed good for Christ to be offered quite often, over and over again, in as many sacrifices as the priests could reasonably perform.

What needed to be taught, in order to correct this popular error, was best summarized in those words that remind us of the Epistle to the Hebrews: "All glory be to thee, Almighty God, our heavenly Father, for that thou, of thy tender mercy, didst give thine only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the Cross for our redemption; who made there (by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world..." Christ was once offered, and his offering is sufficient. No other sacrifice for sin can be made.

It was this essential truth of the Gospel that motivated the English Reformers to write the Article, and to give us so clear a teaching within the service of Holy Communion. This was the reason for their emphasis on his once for all sacrifice. In no way did this emphasis repudiate Eucharistic Sacrifice. Instead it helped to clarify the true meaning of Eucharistic Sacrifice, in terms that are true to the Tradition of the Holy Catholic Church, in perfect accord with the Scripture. The Anglican emphasis was not a mistake, not an error, and not a rejection of Catholic Faith.

There is one Sacrifice, and every Eucharist is mystically joined to that one event, that offering by Christ of himself as "priest and victim, in the Eucharistic feast." There is one Supper of the Lord, and every Eucharist is the same supper that Christ held in the night in which he was betrayed. When the Church gathers for this highest and most important time of worship, we are taken to the same table with Christ and his apostles, and we are also taken to the cross at Calvary.

"And although we be unworthy (through our manyfolde synnes) to offre unto thee any Sacryfice: Yet we beseche thee to accepte thys our bounden duetie and service..." If we are unworthy to offer a sacrifice, how can we nonetheless offer it? By asking the Lord, of his mercy, the request as it follows: "not waiyng our merites, but pardonyng our offences, through Christe our Lorde..."

Writing in 1624, speaking for the Anglican position, a Church of England priest named William Bedell wrote about Eucharistic Sacrifice:

"[If by it you mean] a memory and representation of the true Sacrifice and holy immolation made on the altar of the cross...we do offer the sacrifice for the quick and the dead, by which all their sins are meritoriously expiated, and desiring that by the same, we and all the Church may obtain remission of sins, and all other benefits of Christ's Passion."

The Eucharistic sacrifice is the complete sacrifice. It takes us to Calvary. It is our bounden duty and service, the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, and of ourselves as living sacrifices (following Romans 12:1,2); as the English Mass also says: "And here wee offre and present unto thee (O Lorde) oure selfe, oure soules, and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice unto thee..." Nothing is omitted, nothing neglected, in this highest act of Christian worship.

The second thing they wanted to teach is that the people were supposed to receive the sacrament. For this reason they came up with yet another name for this ancient service, one taken directly from St. Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians: Holy Communion. It was not enough to "hear the Mass" of a priest. This offering of the whole Church (led by a priest) made the sacrament available so that each Christian could feed on the bread of life. "Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed."(John 6:54, 55) And, about this we have
already written.

Once again, we see that the English Reformers did not attack the Catholic Faith. They defended it, and they restored it.


poetreader said...

Father Hart,
You've outdone yourself. That is one of the best short staments on the subject I've seen. The following is a poem I wrote after the Mass on the feat of the Visitation just past, that gives some of my reflections. It's more imagination than a vision.


She stands within the frame,
at the window into heaven,
holding there her child,
the Child, the Son, the Holy One,
... holding there her Child,
while behind her, as it seems,
there comes a priest to the holy place,
and there, before that holy cross,
where, pained and writhing, full in view,
the suffering Savior is portrayed
... and there upon that altar stone
where bread and cup are set
...there at those bleeding nailed-pierced feet
the words of mystery are said,
of one oblation of himself once offered,
of a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice,
of an oblation, a satisfaction, a solution
for the sins of the whole world.

She turns to look upon the cross,
and tears in rivers now are flowing
as the Mother, new-born Son, and we,
stand in helpless adoration,
at Calvary, at the Cross, at the crux of time,
at the Cross, at the Cross, where we first saw the light,
the light that showed our deepest sin,
the light that showed the destiny that we had earned
the light that drove us to our knees,
where we trembled at the Law we'd spurned,
and to the Cross we humbly turned.

And by the lips of the priest He speaks,
and in His words He comes,
and it is Calvary,
and it is a feast,
and it is the everlasting Lamb,
it is the Blood flowing from the dawn of time,
it is the everlasting feast of the everlasting sacrifice,
of the everlasting consummation of the Marriage of the Lamb.
We are there. He is here. Time fades.

I tremble.
I weep.
I feast.
Mercy there was great and grace was free,
pardon there was multiplied to me,
there my burdened soul found liberty,
at Calvary.

She turns to her place.
I see the child.
I see the cross.
I sigh, put out the candles,
and go forth full.

Albion Land said...


I echo your remark to Fr Hart and thank you for one of your most beautiful poems yet.

Anonymous said...

Father Hart,

I have a question to ask. Since it is pretty well accepted that the Italian Peter Martyr Vermigli (Bullinger, Bucer and others also) had a great influence on the Cramner and others within the CoE and also on the BCP from both 1549 and 1552 and since it is very clear that Vermigli sided with Calvin (or more than likely Calvin sided with Vermigli) on the Eucharist (Liturgy and Presence), why do you seem so confident that the authors of the BCP did not mean what it seems they mean when they calld the Mass a blasphemous and dangerous deceit?

Fr. Robert Hart said...

If you read what I wrote, why do you ask about something that I already explained? How could you possibly miss the point? What they called "a blasphemous and dangerous deceit" was not "the Mass," but the pluralized "sacrifices of masses" (as if I had not already made this point). If you look at the full title of the Holy Communion Service (1549) as quoted above, the Anglican service has three different names, one of which is "the Masse." Not"a Masse," but "the Masse." Do you think they were calling their own service in their own Prayer Book "a blasphemous and dangerous deceit?"

Lots of theological figures were aware of each other, wrote back and forth, and used the same terminology. In order to imagine that the Church of England was a Calvinist body, you have to ignore a whole lot of evidence, and think very creatively. Ignoring evidence is quite popular, all the rage it seems. And, thinking creatively is fine when creating fiction, but it is not the fitting for history or theology.

Sandra McColl said...

"In order to imagine that the Church of England was a Calvinist body" you could start by visiting its colonial offshoot in Sydney. (Sorry, couldn't resist that one.)

Anonymous said...

I apologize for clearly offending you. But your frustration is my point, why are you so confident to think that what they call blasphemous was not what the Church called the Sacrifice of Calvary and by that mean a true sacrifice offered for the living and the dead, a propitiatory sacrifice. I find it rather interesting that it is an accepted fact that Vermigli and others had their hand in the theological formulations of the BCP and yet, we are to just accept as fact because you say so that they were condemning the teaching of "sacrifices of masses" which was not the teaching of the Church at the time, nor has it ever been. Even if they were making that correction why did they not then write something like, "The Mass is nothingless than the Sacrifice of Calvary made present. The Mass is offered as a propitiation before God and it is offered for the living and the dead." Etc... BTW, I never called the Anglicans a Calvinist body. All I pointed out was that Cramner was heavily influenced by Bucer, Bullinger, Vermigli (I think even Wolfgang Capito may have wound up there but I may be wrong)and others.

God Bless

Noelus said...

Thank you for such a brief but brilliant exposition of not only traditional Anglican teaching but also that of the early fathers and the undivided Church.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Hart:
You do a very fine job, as always, of presenting the classical Anglican understanding of the Mass. Thank you!

Canon Tallis said...

I am one with Ed and Albion on this entry. Indeed, I plan to read it from the pulpit on Sunday. I may go even further and read the annoymous comment and your answer to help my people understand that the theological wars are still going on.
The real question, or so it seems to me, is do those who raise such objections understand that our salvation is God's work and not our own. We simply were not and are not capable of our own salvation, but must reply completely upon the work and person of our Lord and Savior Jesus the annointed. But even as I write this I wonder how deeply, how completely it has entered even my own understanding. Is it simply too much for any of us to truly comprehend, to really know? And this is why I am so grateful for what Father Hart has written and how he has written it.

Fr. Robert Hart said...


I found it insulting that you asked a question that showed you had dismissed a point I made clearly, as if it was never made at all.

why are you so confident to think that what they call blasphemous was not what the Church called the Sacrifice of Calvary and by that mean a true sacrifice offered for the living and the dead, a propitiatory sacrifice.

The Article did not say that the Mass itself was blasphemous (and called, as I said, their own service by this name too, among three names). It addressed a serious error in thinking, about what the Mass is. It is blasphemous, and a dangerous deceit, to say that each Mass, by itself, is a sacrifice for sin. This point may be subtle today, and may have become irrelevant due to better efforts by the Church of Rome in clarifying doctrine; but it was addressing a serious error, as understood by the people, in the age when it was written.

The only hand we know of, in writing the BCP, was Cranmer. No doubt he had men working with him; and no doubt they were English. He was in correspondence with Continental Protestants, but his own thinking clearly deviated from theirs on various points. Nonetheless, Anglicanism is not Cranmerism, and his private opinions (which either changed a lot, or were very, very complicated) are not the issue.

Anonymous said...


I still maintain that your confidence that the BCP did not condemn the doctrine of the Sacrifice of the Mass is misguided. The language you use to describe the Mass is not to be found in the official doctrinal statements of the BCP. Just because they used the term Mass does not mean that they used the term in the same way as the Church did (e.g. propitiatory sacrifice offered for the living and the dead) just as the Protestants still used the term Church but did not pour the same meaning into it as the Church did (e.g. Apostolic succession union with the Bishop Rome).

God Bless

Fr. Robert Hart said...


Usage of a word necessarily holds to its previous definition. The problem with these polemics against Anglican validity is that they assume some new Anglican definition of words, a definition that no one can find anywhere. When Cranmer et al used the word "Masse," not only did they give it no new definition; they in fact identified it as both "the Supper of the Lorde" and as "Holy Communion," i.e. as that same "Masse" celebrated over their many past centuries. Similarly, when they used the words "priests," "deacons" and "bishops," in the Preface to the Ordinal they spoke of continuing these orders, and never gave them any new definition.

Furthermore, can you define exactly what you mean when you say that the Mass is a "propitiatory sacrifice offered for the living and the dead?" If you were to give the standard "Papist" answer of the 16th century, as opposed to the standard Roman Catholic answer of the 20th and 21st centuries, I would reject your theology on the same grounds that Richard Hooker, Lancelot Andrewes and all the Anglicans of the early generations did. You have seen how a Church of England priest described and defined "propitiatory sacrifice offered for the living and the dead?" back in 1624 (provided you read my whole post). William Bedell did not seem to think he was contradicting Article XXXI.

Which leads to my question: What gives you confidence that we don't mean what we say we mean? Or, that our fathers did not mean what they said they meant? From the time of Archbishop Matthew Parker until now, the Roman Catholic argument has been, "you mean what we think you mean, not what you think you mean; we know your thoughts better than you do." They have refused to accept straightforward responses from Anglicans about the Anglican mind and meaning, despite the absurdity of dismissing one's own interpretation of one's own words.

So, was William Bedell wrong about what he and his fellow C of E priests intended whenever they celebrated? Did he misunderstand Article XXXI, even though his English was closer to that of the 16th century than is yours? Were the Anglicans calling their own service "blasphemous and dangerous deceit" since it was "the Masse" by name?

Or do you think that maybe, just maybe, William Bidell understood his own church back in 1624?.

Canon Tallis said...

Father Hart,

Even better than your original post are your answers to Tom. My first reaction to his second comment was; why can't you read what has been written without inserting into it four centuries of Roman propaganda? One of the horrors of growing old is the realization that functional illiteracy, the inability to read and understand what has been stated for exactly what it is and no more or no less has become almost a hallmark of what we have left of civilization - or of civility.
And there is also the matter of his definition of "church" which to me seems to lack any Biblical and New Testament authority at all. I believe it also would be rejected by the consensus of the fathers as it was the earliests general councils. All in all, what he writes reminds me of my youth when the Romanist family closest to mine were horrified that we would actually read the Bible as they were sure that we would misinterpret it = as Rome seems to have again and again.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Fr Hart, Tom,

There are many pieces of evidence that, whatever Cranmer may have thought as a private theologian, the C of E never denied that the Mass was a sacramental representation of the One Sacrifice. For example, there is the subscription in 1567 of Archbishop Parker and 14 other bishops to the mediaeval homily of Archbishop Aelfric (A.D. 995), containing the following (with spelling modernised): “Once suffered Christ himself but yet nevertheless his suffering is daily renewed at the mass through mystery of the holy housel.” Housel was the old English word for sacrifice, especially in reference to the Eucharist. The Church that authorised the Articles in 1562 and 1571 was the Church that in 1567 undeniably affirmed the renewal in “mystery” of the sacrifice of the Cross in the sacrifice of the Mass.

Also, the 28th of the 39 Articles says that the “Supper of the Lord is … a Sacrament of our Redemption by Christ’s death”. Article 25 defines sacraments as “effectual signs of grace”, that is, it teaches they effect what they signify. In other words, Christ’s Sacrifice and its salvific effects are represented and applied by this Sacrament according to the Articles themselves.

More of the positive evidence can be found here:

Anonymous said...

Canon Tallis:

I believe your comments are a little harsh and reveal a chip on the shoulder attitude. The fact is let's get modern Anglicans together, John Stott, J.I. Packer, N.T. Wright, Allister McGrath, Paul Zahl etc... and let us see what they have to say on the Sacrifice of the Mass. The fact is Cranmer was not just in contact with Bullinger, Vermigli, Capito, Bucer but he was definitely influeneced by their teaching. I find it hard to believe that anybody would find my questions to be out of line or lacking understanding. Maybe I just think Father Hart is wrong. I am not the only one who does, the Successor of Peter does as well.

God Bless

An Anglican Cleric said...

God bless Father Hart for defending the Catholic Faith against Roman additions and radical Protestant deletions.


Fr. Robert Hart said...

(I thank Canon Tallis and Anglican Cleric for taking the time to let me know they appreciate these posts. Thank you.)


You continue to puzzle me.

...let's get modern Anglicans together, John Stott, J.I. Packer, N.T. Wright, Allister McGrath, Paul Zahl etc... and let us see what they have to say on the Sacrifice of the Mass.

In all honesty, I cannot see why their views would be relevant. They have rejected the Via Media, and have long ago swerved away from the Anglican Formularies.

The fact is Cranmer was not just in contact with Bullinger, Vermigli, Capito, Bucer but he was definitely influeneced by their teaching.

Fr. Kirby has said all that needs to be said in reply to this, in his comment (above). Nonetheless, Cranmer himself was a man whose exact positions are very hard to pin down.

Maybe I just think Father Hart is wrong. I am not the only one who does, the Successor of Peter does as well.

About what exactly? Anglican history? I think not actually. I cannot imagine him arguing about the meaning of Anglican formularies; I think his charity would move him to be glad for whatever beliefs we have in common. About Eucharistic Sacrifice? Read his sermons in God is Near Us. He sounds like, well, like an Anglican in much of it. And, if only his defintion of Transubstantiation had been articulated in the 16th century, a whole Article would never have been written- we would have only the Thirty Eight Articles.

An Anglican Cleric said...

Kudos again to Father Hart--if the mind of Benedict were the official mind of the Roman Church at the time of the Reformation on things such as transubstantiation and purgatory we'd be much closer doctrinally. Sad to say, it isn't so.

And all of this stuff about "Cranmer may have believed this, Cranmer may have believed that" gets a wee bit tired after hearing it 1000 or more times. Cranmer's liturgy of 1549 is a wonderful Eucharist; Cranmer took the Sarum rite and provided an orthodox variation that could not be open to any manner of thinking that allowed each Mass to somehow be a "new sacrifice." In all of this the other side never wants to admit that this was a common teaching of the time. The Mass in English was to express that this was the sacramental means by which our sacrifice and offering as the corporate Body of Christ is joined to His once and perfect oblation as the Head of the Church. No new sacrificing of the Body and the Blood. That theology is clear in all of the Anglican liturgies. Christ presents Himself to us in the Eucharist and we respond by offering ourselves to the Father through the Son, not by our own merits but by His life, death, and resurrection.

Cranmer was an inconsistent theologian, and I can't blame him given the time in which he lived and the stress he was under. However, what he left the Anglican Church is a great liturgy and it is to be prayed and believed according to the Fathers and the Anglican divines who provide expositions on the Articles. In all of these "debates" with Romans they ignore everything that the Anglican Church has historically taught and go back to "Cranmer knew a guy who taught such and such." Does it matter that Latimer and Ridley were more concise in their writing on the Eucharist and more blunt in their affirmations than was Cranmer, or that Andrewes and Laud, the Articles, the Restoration divines, etc., etc., were all concise and patristic in their teaching? Of course not, because Cranmer may have been inconsistent, and because modern Anglicans have neglected the formularies. As Hart+ said so well: "So what?"

Here's the problem with clergy such as myself, the aforementioned Canon, and Father Hart. We know Anglican theology and take it seriously, and see in the mind of the Anglican Church as expressed in the Prayer Book, Articles, and Anglican divines perhaps the best expression of the Catholic Faith ever known in the West and wish to preserve it in sincerity.

Anonymous said...

Father Hart's assessment is quite correct, as usual. Ed's poem is one of his finest. I even find myself in agreement with Fr Kirby.

The miracle of the Eucharist is that the sacrifice offered once for all on Calvary becomes present with us and contemporary to us in the Eucharist. This has been beautififully explicated by the French theologian Max Thurian (a Calvinist who eventually went to Rome) in his important work "Eucharistic Memorial."

Amazingly, this is one area where Reformation debates seem to have been resolved-- in favor what the theology expressed in the 1549 Prayer Book which Fr Hart quotes.
Whereas late mediaeval Roman theology, under the sway of nominalism, saw the sacrifice of the mass as something independent of and even supplementary to the sacrifice of Calvary, the 1549 Book, in an anamnesis still in 1928, expressed the unity of the Eucharist with Calvary.

Unfortunately a few low church cranks try to keep the Reformation polemic alive, when a sound ecumenical consensus has been achieved. This mars even John Stott's valuable book "The Cross of Christ." Give it up!

Sandra McColl said...

Upon learning of the election of the current Roman Pope, I bought myself a copy of Der Geist der Liturgie. As I read it, there were many times when I punched the air with delight and thought to myself, 'Mein Gott! This man's a closet Anglican.'

nevin said...

It is posts like this that keep me reading this blog. This explanation is the clearest I've ever read. I've learned a lot from this thread.

Fr_Rob said...

As much as all of us in the Continuum may love and revere the 1549 BCP, it was only in use for a mere three years. This the most Catholic of the BCPs was followed by 1552, the most Protestant of the English Prayer Books. 1559 (the Elizabethan BCP), 1604, and 1662 were all much more in alignment with 1552 than they were with 1549 in terms of the Eucharistic Canon.

Were Cranmer and the other English Reformers influenced by Calvin, Bucer, etc.? Of course there were. But most Anglicans today have not read Calvin and therefore don’t realize how high a view of the Eucharist that he held (as opposed to some of his followers). Thus, those who argue for "the Protestant face of Anglicanism" have substantial evidence on their side—at least as much as the Tractarian side has. Moreover, the term "Mass" has never been normal in Anglicanism except within extreme Tractarian and Ritualist circles.

None of this substantially detracts from the main lines of Fr. Hart’s argument, which I agree with; but I also believe that Tom has valid points as well. The phrase "by his one oblation of himself once offered a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world," is clearly a Reformation tenet, and you will not find anything like it in the ancient liturgies of the Church. That doesn't make it wrong, but we do need to recognize its provenance in order to intelligently engage our Roman and Orthodox friends and understand where they’re coming from in terms of criticizing our formularies.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Fr. Rob:

The 1552 BCP was unnecessary and certainly deserves criticism; but the formularies, including what Fr. Kirby quoted, underwent no substantial revision. No new definitions, no denials of essential doctrine. We like the 1549 better in America, and the 1928 BCP is mostly from that first one. So, I don't believe it justifies the arguments of Paul Zahl and the Prot. Face. In fact, nothing justifies his alleged "scholarship."

The word "Mass" should be third to Holy Communion and Eucharist. For the word "Mass" has no theological meaning, but these other terms do.

Anonymous said...

A very good book on this very subject is 'Eucaristic Sacrifice and the Reformation' by Francis Clark S.J. It is a study on what the English Reformers actually intended by their alterations to the Eucahristic Liturgy.

In it we find Nicholas Pocock, a 19th century fellow of Queens College. The current Anglo-Catholic appeal to pre-Reformation popular errors to provide an orthodox gloss for Article XXXI, he said, was unsatisfactory because it did not accord with the known views of those who composed the article.
Later Anglo-Catholics such as Leighton Pullan, Darwell Stone and ' especially Gregory Dix, showed a similar freedom from illusions and readiness to face the hard facts of the English Reformation.'

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Francis Clark S.J. was criticized by fellow Roman Catholic Nicholas Lash for underestimating the gulf between verbal orthodoxy and how the Church's practices can be perceived by the people, "even if that same theory, when employed as the interpretation of a more adequate state of concrete activity, were irreproachable."

That the Church of England and its Reformers were rejecting the common idea of Christ being "sacrificed again" is obvious. That this perception of "sacrifices of masses" needed correction is a fact of history. What is relevant is not what scholars and theologians were saying in Rome, but what the average Englishman perceived, and the pastoral responsibility of bishops to teach the Gospel. In fact, cleaning up general ignorance was a main pert of the program.

To quote Fr.Kirby's comment (above):

"For example, there is the subscription in 1567 of Archbishop Parker and 14 other bishops to the mediaeval homily of Archbishop Aelfric (A.D. 995), containing the following (with spelling modernised): “Once suffered Christ himself but yet nevertheless his suffering is daily renewed at the mass through mystery of the holy housel.” Housel was the old English word for sacrifice, especially in reference to the Eucharist. The Church that authorised the Articles in 1562 and 1571 was the Church that in 1567 undeniably affirmed the renewal in “mystery” of the sacrifice of the Cross in the sacrifice of the Mass.

The added problem is that Apostolicae Curae claimed that Anglican Orders are invalid because the C of E rejected the idea of "sacrificing priests." This claim is made by some of them even today, usually with a careful selection of what portions of the first Anglican Ordinal they quote, and which they choose not to quote (and they never quote the prayers of the Rites, and above all, they never dare quote the Preface. After all, once quoted, the Preface would kill their charge about Intention).

First of all, as Saepius Officio states clearly, even if their understanding were deficient, that would not make their Orders invalid, since the only Intention necessary for valid sacraments is the sincere Intention to do what Christ authorized and "to do what the Church does." This is true about baptism, says Rome. The principle cannot be isolated and limited to one sacrament, and remain true or logical.

Second, the Church of England never rejected the idea of priests who sacrifice. The quotation of Bedell, and the endorsement of Bishop Aelfric's as true religion by the highest C of E authorities (including the ABC), show what their thinking was.

Third, to correct the people's errors they deemed it necessary to refute "sacrifices of masses" (as I explained that pluralized usage in my article), because what was needed then, as it seemed to them, was clear teaching on Christ and his cross.

Fourth: The English "Holy Communion" ties the sacramental worship of the Church (this sacrament "generally necessary to salvation") directly to Christ's once for all sacrifice "on the altar of the cross" in the clearest possible terms.

And, that fourth point shows that the English Reformers set forth the correct, pure, indeed purified teaching on Eucharist Sacrifice. Formerly, what passed for teaching (if we can call it "teaching") on this subject had been corrupted, misleading and wrong. With the English Reformers it was placed back into its proper context.

Far from finding them an embarrassment (as too many Anglo-Catholics are wont to do, mostly out of ignorance, and from accepting polemics against their own tradition without intelligent skepticism) I champion what the fathers of Anglicanism accomplished in this matter.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

This comment was made on VOL,where David Virtue reposted my article.The comment was from someone calling himself Ioannes. It shows what I already knew, namley, that Rome has taken responsibility to clarify its doctrine in modern times:

As a RC, I am in total agreement with what you just related. The English Reformers have indeed made clear the doctrine of the Eucharistic sacrifice in much the same way as the words taught by Roman catholic Church since the last Vatican Council, and for the same reason, that is to correct some unfortunate beliefs still held within certain RC circles that each Mass could be viewed as a new and independent sacrifice from the sacrifice of the Cross.

Here are three extracts from catholic doctrine. The first is taken from the official “Catechism of the Catholic Church”, published by John Paul II in 1992. The other two extracts are taken from the encyclical letter “Ecclesia de Eucharistia” (The Church draws her life from the Eucharist) of 2003.

One can draw a very clear parallel between Mr Hart’s “When the Church gathers for this highest and most important time of worship, we are taken to the same table with Christ and his apostles, and we are also taken to the cross at Calvary.” and the Encyclical letter’s “At every celebration of the Eucharist, we are spiritually brought back to the paschal Triduum: to the events of the evening of Holy Thursday, to the Last Supper and to what followed it.”

1366 The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross, because it is its memorial and because it applies its fruit:
[Christ], our Lord and God, was once and for all to offer himself to God the Father by his death on the altar of the cross, to accomplish there an everlasting redemption. But because his priesthood was not to end with his death, at the Last Supper "on the night when he was betrayed," [he wanted] to leave to his beloved spouse the Church a visible sacrifice (as the nature of man demands) by which the bloody sacrifice which he was to accomplish once for all on the cross would be re-presented, its memory perpetuated until the end of the world, and its salutary power be applied to the forgiveness of the sins we daily commit.[187]
Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Mass makes present the sacrifice of the Cross; it does not add to that sacrifice nor does it multiply it.16 What is repeated is its memorial celebration, its “commemorative representation” (memorialis demonstratio),17 which makes Christ's one, definitive redemptive sacrifice always present in time. The sacrificial nature of the Eucharistic mystery cannot therefore be understood as something separate, independent of the Cross or only indirectly referring to the sacrifice of Calvary.
At every celebration of the Eucharist, we are spiritually brought back to the paschal Triduum: to the events of the evening of Holy Thursday, to the Last Supper and to what followed it.

Encyclical letter – Ecclesia de Eucharistia.

An Anglican Cleric said...

Wow--it looks like the Roman Catholic Church is now Anglican in her theology. I'm glad she came took her some time.

Fr Matthew Kirby said...

Anglican Cleric,

To be fair, it is more a case of the RCC going back to the same sources Anglicans appealed to, which included accepted and specifically "RC" authorities, such as Aquinas, in order to bypass the unnecessary speculations and falsifying complications of later scholastics and the Counter-Reformation polemics.

William Weedon said...

I think there was a bit of mellowing after the Reformation - at least among Lutheran dogmaticians Gerhard and Hollaz. I offer two passages that I've found instructive:


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)


If we view the matter from the material standpoint, the sacrifice in the Eucharist is numerically the same as the sacrifice that took place on the cross; put otherwise, one can say that the things itself and the substance is the same in each case, the victim or oblation is the same. If we view the matter formally, from the standpoint of the act of sacrifice, then even though the victim is numerically the same, the action is not; that is, the immolation in the Eucharist is different from the immolation carried out on the cross. For on the cross an offering was made by means of the passion and death of an immolated living thing, without which there can be no sacrifice in the narrow sense, but in the Eucharist the oblation takes place through the prayers and through the commemoration of the death or sacrifice offered on the cross. (Examen theologicum acroamaticum, II, 620)

As a friend of mine once put it: the problem is when we shift from noun to verb when speaking of the sacrifice of the mass.