The Roman Canon / 1st Eucharistic Prayer – 8: “Simili modo”

What Does the Prayer Really Say? The Roman Canon / 1st Eucharistic Prayer – 8: "Simili modo"

ORIGINALLY PRINTED IN The Wanderer in 2004

PART 1 of a 4 part article on the words of consecration of the Precious Blood, focusing on the pro multis issue.

We arrive at the second stage of the two-fold consecration. The priest consecrates the chalice containing wine with the drops of water. Massive controversies of momentous spiritual and theological import revolve around translation of this prayer. WDTPRS cannot possibly deal with all of issues. But explore and make conclusions and choices we must. Ad ramos!

"Simili modo"
LATIN TEXT (2002MR):
Simili modo, postquam cenatum est, accipiens et hunc praeclarum calicem in sanctas ac venerabiles manus suas, item tibi gratias agens benedixit, deditque discipulis suis, dicens: Accipite et bibite ex eo omnes: hic est enim calix Sanguinis mei novi et aeterni testamenti, [mysterium fidei] qui pro vobis et pro multis effundetur in remissionem peccatorum. Hoc facite in meam commemorationem.

We will not spend too much time with a comprehensive overview of vocabulary. However, as we attempt to look through the Apostle’s "dark glass" (1 Cor 13:12) at the mystery that follows our lantern to dispel the darkness of ignorance, the Lewis & Short Dictionary informs us that testamentum (from testor) is "the publication of a last will or testament; a will, testament". It is therefore an instrument that bears witness to the intent of one regarding the other concerning inheritance, participation by others in his goods after his death. It is used here for the concept of "covenant". A covenant in Biblical terms was a sort of contract and establishing of a special relationship between parties. The covenants between God and His chosen People were not by any means between equal parties. God initiated them, on His terms, to which He was and is absolutely faithful. This is the new covenant (testamentum ‚ Gr. diatheke), replacing and by far outstripping the old by which God draws heaven and earth into a new and deeper binding relationship forever. It is eternal (aeternum) and it is signed, sealed, and guaranteed before witnesses with the Blood of the God made man in an indestructible bond with our humanity. It is a matter of pure undeserved gift from Him to us to make a covenant with us. Effundo (ex fundo) signifies "pour out, pour forth" in a lavish or extensive way.

The ancient Roman form of the prayer had merely the terse Hic est sanguis meus to which was added the word calix from the Lucan and Pauline accounts. The idea of covenant from Matthew and Mark was blended in together with other elements.

The words mysterium fidei were pronounced in the midst of the formula since at least the 7th c., but were removed for the Novus Ordo. They refer to the chalice specifically and seem merely to point out very explicitly what has been said before. Some suggest that once the deacon would exclaim these words so that the people could know what was going on behind the curtains which were drawn before the altar. History shrouds exactly how they got inserted. However, to be sure, the word mysterium is of profound importance. We cannot linger over this, however, for we are constrained by space and must stick to the Novus Ordo.

ICEL (1973 translation of the 1970MR):
When supper was ended, he took the cup. Again he gave you thanks and praise, gave the cup to his disciples, and said: Take this all of you and drink from 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. Do this in memory of me.

We are trying to be precise and accurate, true to what the Latin says and also, God helping, to the Church’s understanding of what this text of Holy Mass is intended to accomplish. This means that we must now justify the choice‚ – how odd that sounds! – to translate pro multis as "for many" rather than what ICEL and other modern language version have, "for all". First, let it be said that pro multis in Latin means "for many". All the Latin rites, historical or modern, have pro multis and not pro omnibus or pro universis. Those who choose "for all" have theological reasons for their choice. We must examine this issue and the arguments on both sides with great care and respect. We cannot simply reject "for all" out of hand. We must understand the reasons for that choice. Before moving on we will have to deal with the pro multis question at length, which will involve some nitpicking and patience.

What has the liturgy of the Mass actually had in the past?  We get “pro vobis et pro multis … for you and for many” in the formula of consecration from a blending of the accounts in Mark 14:24 (translated from Greek: “this is my blood of the covenant (diatheke) shed for many (tò peri pollôn)”) and Matthew 26:28 also says “for many” together with Luke 22:20 (translated from Greek: “Likewise also the cup, after the supper, saying ‘This cup is the new covenant (diatheke) in my Blood which will be poured out for you.’”   The choice to do this had theological significance.  Our patristic sources, such as the writings of the 4th c Doctor of the Church St. Ambrose of Milan when describing the words of consecration in the Eucharistic liturgy, have pro multis and not pro omnibus, etc.  The liturgical formulas were from Scripture.  The 4th c. Doctor of the Church St. Jerome, who translated from Greek and Hebrew texts into Latin giving us a Bible translation called the Vulgata, chose to use pro multis when translating the Greek tò peri pollôn (genitive plural of polus) in describing Jesus’ words at the Last Supper.   In Greek polus means “many” or “much” or even “most” as in the majority: it does not mean “all”.  In the ancient Church, no one said “for all” instead of “for many”.  In the Greek Gospel accounts of the Last Supper, Jesus uses a form polus “many”.   The liturgical rites of the East retained a form of polus.  The rites of the Latin West have ever used pro multis

Theological challenge, especially heresy, forces us to reevaluate our doctrines and their formulations. Theological revolt and heresy constrains Catholics to go deeper, and the disputes bear great fruits in the long run. During the 16th c. the Church was compelled to battle the Protestant heresies concerning the Eucharist, grace, and justification, the nature of man, etc. The long process of the Council of Trent (1545-1563) deepened our understanding of the faith and gave clear expression to what we believe. We find the Church’s teaching enunciated succinctly by the Roman Catechism or Catechism of the Council of Trent (1566), the practical guide for pastors of souls. This Catechism says about the pro multis topic:

But the words which are added for you and for many (pro vobis et pro multis), were taken some of them from Matthew (26: 28) and some from Luke (22: 20) which however Holy Church, instructed by the Spirit of God, joined together. They serve to make clear the fruit and the benefit of the Passion. For if we examine its value (virtutem), it will have to be admitted that Blood was poured out by the Savior for the salvation of all (pro omnium salute sanguinem a Salvatore effusum esse); but if we ponder the fruit which men (homines) will obtain from it, we easily understand that its benefit comes not to all, but only to many (non ad omnes, sed ad multos tantum eam utilitatem pervenisse). Therefore when He said pro vobis, He meant either those who were present, or those chosen (delectos) from the people of the Jews such as the disciples were, Judas excepted, with whom He was then speaking. But when He added pro multis He wanted that there be understood the rest of those chosen (electos) from the Jews or from the gentiles. Rightly therefore did it happen that for all (pro universis) were not said, since at this point the discourse was only about the fruits of the Passion which bears the fruit of salvation only for the elect (delectis). And this is what the words of the Apostle aim at: Christ was offered up once in order to remove the sins of many (ad multorum exhaurienda peccata – Heb 9:28); and what according to John the Lord says: I pray for them; I do not pray for the world, but for those whom you gave to Me, for they are Yours (John 17:9). Many other mysteries (plurima mysteria) lie hidden in the words of this consecration, which pastors, God helping, will easily come to comprehend for themselves by constant meditation upon divine things and by diligent study. (My translation and emphasis. Part II, ch. 4 (264.7-265.14) from the Catechismus Romanus seu Catechsimus ex decreto Concilii Tridentini ad parochos ….  Editio critica.  Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1989, p. 250. Cf. The Catechism of the Council of Trent.  Trans. John A. McHugh & Charles J. Callan. Joseph F. Wagner, Inc.: New York, 1934, pp. 227-28.)

Naturally those working towards a new English translation must cope with all of this. And God help them! I hear that at this point they are leaning (again) toward "for all". Rumor aside, what is the status quaestionis … the "state of the question"? What current evidence can we find for what is happening around this thorny problem?

It seems years ago, but in WDTPRS for the Post communionem for the 4th Sunday of Easter (8 May 2003), I already addressed at length the problematic translation, and indeed Latin text, of the Holy Father’s latest Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia (EdE).  When the Pope referred to the words of institution, he used “for all” rather than “for many.”   I went through all the Scripture and showed also that, probably in their haste, the people in charge of the release of the letter made mistakes in the Biblical citations (“Mt 14:24” should have been either Matthew 26:28 or Mark 14:24). Even the Latin version of the Encyclical, at the time of its first release said: “qui pro vobis funditur et pro omnibus in remissionem peccatorum” which changed the words of Scripture and thus the Mass formula.  Mind you, the citation was clearly a paraphrase of the account and not a direct quote: it was cited with a confer (“cf.” or “cfr”) reference, so they have an out.  However, that was in fact, in black on white, the text at the time of the public release of Ecclesia de Eucharistia.

But wait, there’s more. 

The certified text of any papal document is always promulgated in the official monthly publication of the Holy See called Acta Apostolicae Sedis (AAS).  Very often, after big documents come out with a great bang and splash, some months later the real text is issued, and it is different – and no one knows it because no one reads the Latin anymore.  When you look now at the official AAS text of the EdE 2 wherein the Pope supposedly changed pro multis to pro omnibus we find that a correction has been made (cf. AAS 95 – 7 July 2003  – p. 434). Someone, God bless him, put the smack down on pro omnibus in EdE 2.   A Polish colleague of mine verifies that on the Vatican’s website, the Polish version says “za wielu…for many” in the controverted spot.  Draw your conclusions as you will, someone, if not the Pope himself, had the clout to get this changed.   That is the status quaestionis.

The Church’s teaching is clear.  This is our Catholic faith: Christ died for all but not all will be saved.   Many will be saved.  Many can be a huge number, a multitude so vast it defies human imagining but not God’s ability to number.  Lacking even one, not all are saved.   What does this mean?  Why did ICEL chose “for all” in the translation we have been using?     How is WDTPRS going to translate pro multis?  Come back next week to find out!

The Roman Canon / 1st Eucharistic Prayer – 8: “Simili modo”
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13 Responses to The Roman Canon / 1st Eucharistic Prayer – 8: “Simili modo”

  1. Kevin Miller says:

    This is our Catholic faith: Christ died for all but not all will be saved.

    Well, see CCC 1821: “In hope, the Church prays for ‘all men to be saved.'”

    We don’t in any way know that all men will be saved. But we hope that all men will be saved. We don’t know that all men won’t.

  2. Iacobus says:

    Not cool, Kevin.

  3. Kevin Miller says:

    Iacobus: “Cool” is not a doctrinal or theological category.
    When you actually want to discuss what the living Magisterium
    teaches, then let me know.

  4. REMINDER TO ALL: Courtesy, please, to the other people making comments is a sine qua non here.

  5. Iacobus says:

    I hope “not cool” wasn’t out of line, Father. Apologies.

    Anyways, with all due courtesy, Kevin, I do think that this “practical” universal salvation stuff is uncool. It may not be heresy – and I am certainly not the competent judge of that – but it is still a dangerous idea. The Church just isn’t in the business of assigning people to hell. But she knows that hell exists, that Satan and the fallen angels are there, how you get there, and something about its torments. And we’re pretty darn sure that Judas is there.

    Not to mention the fact that insisting hell “may” be empty seems awfully similar to insisting that Christ “may” have been speaking slyly in the Gospels. Such an assertion also has the effect of degrading belief in the importance of baptism and the dogma that outside the Church there is no salvation. At the very least, the world certainly believes in universal salvation and it doesn’t seem very pious of us to go around confirming the world in its evil beliefs, and tempting Catholics to the same indifference.

    We know that everyone who dies in personal mortal sin is in hell. Claiming that it is possible that no one in the history of humanity has ever died in mortal sin just doesn’t make sense.

  6. Kevin Miller says:

    Iacobus:

    Yes, we know that hell exists, that the devil and the other
    fallen angels are there, and that it’s a real possibility
    for each of us if we misuse our freedom.

    The fact remains that it’s Catholic doctrine – see the
    Catechism – that we can and do hope that all men are saved.

    That has nothing to do with assigning a likelihood that any
    particular person (Judas or whoever else) is saved. Or with
    assigning a likelihood that the hope that all men are saved
    is realized.

    More generally, of course speaking of that hope can be
    misinterpreted in various ways. But we aren’t
    consequentalists. Either it’s true or it isn’t true that
    we have that hope – and the Church’s Magisterium says that
    we do. And, after all, denying that hope can also lead to
    misinterpretations and clear errors (falling into double
    predestinationism, that kind of thing).

    The question isn’t, how might people misinterpret something.
    The question is whether that something is true. And the
    Church says that it’s true that we hope for the salvation of
    all.

    (And for a Catholic, it doesn’t “make sense” to dissent from
    the Church’s teaching.)

  7. Iacobus says:

    Kevin, I would really appreciate you not accusing me of doctrinal dissent. You are very clearly taking CCC 1821 to mean something beyond what the Church teaches. If you really think I (and everyone else) is in error here, you should provide some evidence for your interpretation.

  8. Iacobus says:

    Of course we have hope for all men. This does not imply that it is possible that all men are saved, or that we ought to have “good hope” of anything even close (see Blessed Pius IX in Quanto conficiamur moerore). We do not know who the reprobate are. But we know that they exist, especially from Holy Scripture as it has always been interpreted by the Church.

  9. Fr Peter Wilson says:

    Pope John Paul II in his Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday 2005 said, ‘the Lord’s blood is “shed for you and for all,” as some translations legitimately make explicit’.

  10. mjh says:

    cf. ratzinger, ‘God is near us’ pp34 ff…

  11. Sander says:

    John Paul II is a complex case in this respect, especially given his last messages. His messages for Holy Thursday were not even written by the dying Pontiff personally! As noticed: Ecclesia de Eucharistia was mistranslated from Italian or via Italian. The Polish original and the original Latin are correct: “for many”.

    We do not hope for the salvation of all, as we know, that hell exists, that people go there if they do not believe or sin mortally. To even think hell could be empty, is close to fallen prey to the heretical concept of Apocatastasis, which was condemned by the Second Ecumenical Council of Constantinople.

    For all is historically, scripturally and theologically a mistranslation, an erroneous translation with harmful influence. Only a hypothetical construct can serve to say Christ said “all”. However, it is certain, that sacred Scripture is inspired. The many is meant to indicate the multitude, but still not all, and “for all men” means the sufficiency. Basta. You Kevin Miller and other may be influenced by the erroneous opinions of Urs von Balthasar, but still: you may think all men are saved, but in fact people are in hell and Christ attested to this. We only have to look to Rev. 14:11, Luke 3:17 etc. etc.

    And let’s have St. Cyprian speak:
    “Oh,what and how great will that day be at its coming, beloved brethren, when the Lord shall begin to count up His people, and to recognize the deservings of each one by the inspection of His divine knowledge, to send the guilty to Gehenna, and to set on fire our persecutors with the perpetual burning of a penal fire, but to pay to us the reward of our faith and devotion!” Cyprian, To Thibaris, Epistle 55 (58):10 (A.D. 253). Matthew 25:40-49. Jesus Christ is talking about those to his left, as if they are non-existent, or will never be, He does not say: “the King might talk”, but that the King sháll talk to those on his left, a localization of really existing entities, not of a hypothetical crowd. As Revelation says the worshippers of the beast will be 2/3 of mankind at that stage, and that these are thrown into the pit of everlasting fire, we know that hell will not be empty and that not all human beings will be saved, even if a multitude ís saved by the blood of Christ. Scripture is clear, so are the Church Fathers and Councils.

  12. Sander says:

    I meant: we may hope, desire all are saved, but we know all are not. From Divine Revelation. Of course it is not a dogma that not all people will reach heaven, but it’s a majority opinion upheld by several decrees. We cannot disobey that.

  13. Fr Peter Wilson says:

    Sander, you jump one step too far: saying Christ’s blood is shed “for all” so that their sins may be forgiven, does not equate to “all are saved”.

    It is Calvinist, not Catholic, to assert that Christ’s saving blood is applicable only to a certain sector of humanity. Catholic doctrine is that Christ’s bood is shed for all, but not all claim his mercy.