PODCAzT 34: St. Thomas Aquinas on the Eucharist; Mass in heaven? No!

 
Today’s PODCAzT brings a reading from St. Thomas Aquinas on the Eucharist.  This is a selection used in the Office of Readings and also in the pre-Conciliar Breviarium Romanum.  It is from the Angelic Doctor’s Opusculum 57, on the feast of Corpus Christi.

Also, because of feedback I have received via e-mail over a period, I tackle the issue of whether or not there will be Holy Mass in heaven (Hint: NO!)  To get that straight I read you a chapter of the excellent book by Abbot Vonier, The Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist (1925).

Also, I tackle the issue of whether or not there is Mass in heaven.

http://www.wdtprs.com/podcazt/07_06_09.mp3
 

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28 Responses to PODCAzT 34: St. Thomas Aquinas on the Eucharist; Mass in heaven? No!

  1. Patrus says:

    ccccccc

  2. Francis says:

    Fr Z

    VERY cool! Keep this for a while!!

  3. Lurker #59 says:

    Fr. Zuhlsdorf (or anyone who has listened to the pod cast), for those of use with mind-numbingly slow Internet connections would you quickly mind explaining what you mean by there being no Mass in heaven? Especially as the Book of Revelations seems to indicate that there is.

  4. Lurker: You’ll just have to download, unless someone else wants to give a precis.

  5. Diane says:

    Father Z,

    What was in your wine gobblet this evening?

    Manual typewriter? EEIIWWWWWWWWWWWWW!

  6. Denis Crnkovic' says:

    Fr. Zuhlsdorf,

    Thank you for this illuminating and very helpful clarification. You have given me a lot of information to distribute to those who often ask me about what they see as the “primitive sacrificial” nature of the Catholic Mass. Aquinas’s explanation of the difference between the earthly sacrifice and the eternal fulfillment of the sacrifice is key to an understanding of why we have the sacrifice of the Mass in the militant church. The non-need for the Holy sacrifice of the Mass in heaven is evident even from Jesus’ mandate for us to celebrate the sacrifice (or as the Offertory for Corpus Christi says “Quotiescumque manducabitis panem hunc” &c.) which clearly sets the priestly celebration of the sacrifice in a temporal framework. It is, in essence, a necessity on earth but a superfluity in heaven. If only now one can get the questioners to understand that the consummation is indeed eternal and exists as one of those great mysteries in which we participate by God’s mercy and our own volition.

    Best wishes for a relaxing summer at the Sabine farm. I shall wave as I drive by on my way to Ontario in a couple weeks.

    +INXP

  7. sigil7 says:

    Fr. Z or other auditores:

    What was that delightful choral work as the background for the explanation of the no-Mass-in-heaven introduction? I want to get that! You have some really great music sometimes, I wish there was a listing in the podcazt info like some sites do, but I realize that’s a lot of work…

  8. Lurker #59 says:

    Fr. Zuhlsdorf,

    It will take several hours to download (I get 19.2 Kbps) so I will leave the connection on over night. However, from Mr. Denis Crnkovic’ post, I think the general direction of what you say on the pod cast is understood.

    But let me ask this one question, is this purely a Thomistic position arrived at due to the philosophical constraints of the system?

    For example, if we were to answer in the affirmative that the incarnation was unconditioned (against the Thomists) would not a different answer be achieved to the question about whether or not there is a Mass in heaven?

  9. Christian says:

    Surely this flies in the face of all that eastern theology teaches us about the liturgy being a reflection of the eternal liturgy in heaven? It seems to me that since the Mass is the ultimate and incomparable worship and glorification of God then of course their will be a Mass in heaven. Otherwise we would not be eternally worshiping God in the most perfect way.

  10. So, if there is Mass in heaven, which Mass will it be? If it’s the Novus Ordo I sure hope God doesnt trust the ICEL translation.

    Sorry, couldnt resit ;)

  11. Lurker #59 says:

    Fr. Zuhlsdorf,

    I must say that your pod casts are quite edifying and I really must leave the computer on overnight from now on to download them.

    Having listened to the pod cast, I must say that I understand where this is position is coming from, but I still wonder if it is not chiefly a product of Thomistic philosophy and that other solutions are not viable.

  12. Jonathan: If it’s the Novus Ordo I sure hope God doesnt trust the ICEL translation.

    I thought we were talking about heaven, and not… that other place.

  13. Lurker: but I still wonder if it is not chiefly a product of Thomistic philosophy and that other solutions are not viable.

    No, I don’t think other solutions are viable.

  14. Henry Edwards says:

    Father Z: I thought we were talking about heaven, and not… that other place.

    I’m losing track. Are we talking about bifurcation of the liturgy, or acculturation of it, or both?

  15. Fr Martin Fox says:

    Lurker:

    There is no such work in Scripture as “the Book of Revelations”; there is, however, a Book of Revelation (no “s”). That may seem a quibble, but I think the difference is rather important. Revelations–plural–implies a collection of messages, indeed, what else can a plural of the word mean? Whereas, Revelation–singular, forces the realization that what may–to us–seem a “collection” and perhaps a confusing one, is in fact a singular, unified message.

    The Revelation is none other than Jesus Christ.

    This may be somewhat helpful to penetrate an otherwise very difficult book. Rather than notice all the special effects (animals, beasts, lampstands, angels, etc.), look for one focus–Jesus Christ, and his promise of salvation–and you may find the Book yields more meaning.

    Now, onto your question. I didn’t hear the podcast, so I won’t comment on that — but there is no Mass in heaven, absolutely right.

    I’ll shock you further: there is no Eucharist in heaven, because there are no sacraments in heaven.

    The sacraments, including the Eucharist, serve to make heaven present to us. They are temporal realities, that make-present a reality that is more than temporal. As such, they communicate grace, the life of God, and therefore are efficacious for salvation. The Mass does this too, insofar as it makes present to us the eternal offering of Jesus to the Father, for us.

    If and when we make it to heaven, there is no need for the “making present” from eternity to the world of time, just as, if you are calling someone at the place where you are driving, when you arrive there, there is no need for the phone call. You speak face-to-face.

    There is no Eucharist in heaven. There is, rather Jesus and the Trinity.

    “But the Eucharist is Jesus!” Of course–but Jesus through the miracle of transubstantiation, which means he’s present under a veil, as it were, of the bread and wine. In heaven, the veil, the appearances of bread and wine, are left behind, they have served their purpose, and we have communion with the Savior, and through him, the Trinity, without any veil.

    That may not be as our congenial host would explain it, but that is my quick account, have at it.

  16. Lurker #59 says:

    Dear Fr. Martin Fox,

    Thank you kindly for your post. Yes you are right, that was a mistake on my part to type of Revelations not Revelation. Sorry for the offense.

    There is not an argument over whether or not there are sacraments in heaven, there are not. The marks of the sacraments will have been made, their purpose will be accomplished, and the veil will be lifted.

    The question is though, what happens when the veil that is on the Mass is lifted? Is there nothing under the veil? If there is something, what is this thing?

    I would love to continue this conversation for my own edification, if you have time, but I do not want to plug up Fr. Zuhlsdorf”s blog or appear to undermine his work at edifying souls. If you wish to continue, please email me at
    e x c o m m @ h o t m a i l . c o m

  17. Lurker #59 says:

    Fr. Martin Fox,

    One last thought,

    you said “insofar as it makes present to us the eternal offering of Jesus to the Father, for us”

    Now that is the key, for Fr. Zuhlsdorf reads from the book “The Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist” around 25:00 on the tape where the point is that there is NO eternal offering of Jesus to the Father.

    FOR THOSE WITH SLOW CONNECTIONS, here is what I find to be the key to argument about there being No Mass. Starting around 25:00 of the pod cast.

    25:00 The sacrifice of the lamb is succeeded by the nuptial of the lamb. There is no heavenly sacrifice, or a 3rd member of which the first two are the sacrifice of Calvary and the Eucharistic sacrifice….Heaven has no sacrifice, but is the consummation of all sacrifices… Sacrifice belongs to the period of faith and hope….in heaven sacrifices are not celebrated but (are remembered as past things)…All sacrificial activity is in the militant Church (thus no heavenly or eternal sacrifice)…The heavenly Christ is not in a state of immolation but consummation because a person cannot be in both states at once**….the sacrifice is remembered ETERNALY in the mind of God, (but it is not an eternal act).

    ** Yet what about the lamb of Revelation who is living and dead, or consummated/glorified and immolated at the same time?

    I go now back to the shadows.

  18. Fr Martin Fox says:

    Lurker:

    Well, now, you make me want all the more to hear the podcast; but I would so much rather read the message, were that possible.

    The Book of Revelation is the inspired word of God; but there remains its interpretation. So, one might well interpret the text not as presenting heaven as it will be, but presenting heaven as it is, for us, while we are “below” — i.e., most of the book contains parallel accounts, shifting back between the clamor and persecution and uncertainty of earth, then to the serene, Christ-focused peace of heaven. But when we get to the New heaven and earth, far less detail, and then the Revelation abruptly ends with the words, even so, come Lord Jesus! — i.e., suggesting there is more to the story, but that we find out when we actually get to the new reality to come.

    Also, realize there is the heaven of the present situation — in which souls separated from their bodies are with Jesus and the Trinity. But we believe that when time truly ends, there will be the general resurrection — and we will get our bodies back, new and improved — and then the New Heaven and Earth. And what is it Paul said — was it St. Paul: and after that, Christ will sit down at the right hand of the Father. I.e., then it will be possible to say, (pardon the use of vernacular): “The Mass is ended.”

  19. Fr Martin Fox says:

    Lurker:

    By the way, I took no offense to adding “s” to Revelation. But it is so common a mistake, and even if this is not true of you, I believe it is true of many that they think of this book, also called the Apocolypse, just as I described: a collection, if not mish-mash, of “revelations.” At least, that is how it is very often treated. It seemed an opportune moment for a little help on a very difficult section of Scripture.

  20. Henry Edwards says:

    Father Fox: If you’re not already familiar with it, you might find it interesting to listen — at least, starting at about the 20-minute mark in the podcast — to Father Z’s discussion of Chapter 23 of the 1925 classic “A Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist” by Abbot Vonier.

    Possibly one might read your statement that “There is no Eucharist in heaven” as saying that there is no liturgy in heaven. He might then wonder how this is consistent with the CCC 1090 statement that “In the earthly liturgy we share a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the Holy City of Jerusalem”.

    The question might then be, Just what sort of liturgy is that heavenly liturgy in which we participate when we experience the Eucharistic sacrifice of our earthly liturgy? Apparently, some assume incorrectly that there is a heavenly Eucharistic sacrifice of which our earthly Eucharistic sacrifice is a representation.

    Father Z (and Abbot Vonier) answer “Not so”. My mental notes: There is no Eucharistic sacrifice in heaven. … The earthly sacrifice of the Lamb in the liturgy will be succeeded by the heavenly nuptials of the Lamb. … The Lamb was slain on this earth, not in heaven. … The liturgy of heaven is one of consummation rather than one of immolation. … The earthly Christ is immolated, but the heavenly Christ is consummated (two different aspects of the same Christ). … The immolation of the sacrifice is temporal, but the consummation of the sacrifice is eternal. … The altar of Revelation is the altar of incense, not the altar of holocaust. … The heavenly altar is one of consummation rather than an altar of propitiation. … … Finally, the sacrifice of the Mass here on earth is the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ. But Christ is present in heaven in His Glory, not as earthly Body and Blood, so the idea of a “celestial Mass” would not be meaningful.

    Even with my slow telephone modem, I have downloaded all 34 of Father Z’s podcasts thusfar, and to me this seems the most interesting one yet. Most of us here are simple laymen, and likely we can hardly imagine how as priests celebrating the Mass ourselves, we might profit still more from Father Z’s reflections. (Hmm … How, oh how, might we get our bishops to listen to these podcasts? Visions of listening booths at the next USCCB meeting come to mind, but ….. I just woke up!)

  21. RBrown says:

    For example, if we were to answer in the affirmative that the incarnation was unconditioned (against the Thomists) would not a different answer be achieved to the question about whether or not there is a Mass in heaven?

    That is not how I would describe St Thomas’ position on the Incarnation.

    Following Scripture, Thomas says the Incarnation happened because of man’s sin. BUT he does not reject the possibility that the Incarnation would have happened even if man had not sinned.

  22. RBrown says:

    The question is though, what happens when the veil that is on the Mass is lifted? Is there nothing under the veil? If there is something, what is this thing?

    The Beatific Vision.

  23. I’m learning a lot-but does this contradict Scott Hahn’s book THE WEDDING SUPPER OF THE LAMB? I am guessing not as such- the Lamb who stands as though slain is not a sacrifice but the consumation of sacrifice-is that right? So he is the eternal bridegroom-but then what is the MAss? Is it the veiled Presence of God to us who must partake of the eternal sacrifice until we can come to the Beatific Vision-the unveiling that comes at the end?
    So is Mass a reflection or something of the Beatific Vision but with sacrifice?
    I’m a bit lost…

  24. RBrown says:

    I’m learning a lot-but does this contradict Scott Hahn’s book THE WEDDING SUPPER OF THE LAMB? I am guessing not as such- the Lamb who stands as though slain is not a sacrifice but the consumation of sacrifice-is that right? So he is the eternal bridegroom-but then what is the MAss? Is it the veiled Presence of God to us who must partake of the eternal sacrifice until we can come to the Beatific Vision-the unveiling that comes at the end?
    So is Mass a reflection or something of the Beatific Vision but with sacrifice?
    I’m a bit lost…

    I don’t pretend to have read (or want to have read) that much of Hahn’s works. But what I have read seems to indicate that he is basically a Eucharist-as-Meal Man. He seems to consider Christ’s Passion and Death not as the consummation but as something ordered toward the Eucharist.

    I think there is still some Protestantism in his work–which means that it fits in well with Novus Ordo theology.

  25. Diane says:

    Henry Edwards said: Even with my slow telephone modem, I have downloaded all 34 of Father Z’s podcasts thusfar, and to me this seems the most interesting one yet.

    Henry, you captured my thoughts here as I listened to it. I have only had the pleasure of hearing 3 Podcazts and this one gripped me big time. I also have some friends on dialup. Can you tell me how long it takes to download one of these podcazts on dialup?

    Fr. Z: excellent work and I pray you will be able to keep this up once or twice weekly. I just don’t have time to read as much as I would like and when you were citing Vonier I my thoughts were, “how would I ever have found this with such limited time”. But, in the Podcazt you brought it all together.

    I also enjoyed the story on the priest with the blood coming over his hands. I’ve never thought about how some of these feast days came into being and the background you provide is very interesting.

  26. Diane says:

    Fr. Z – I want to add that these Podcazts are both intellectually stimulating, while spiritually delightful.

  27. swmichigancatholic says:

    Do you remember typewriter erasers? With those silly little brushes that didn’t work worth a darn? You need one there. Otherwise, you’re typing, according to my calculations, minus 25 words per minute.

    Mrs. Smith
    Your old typing teacher
    (sit up straight, keep your elbows in!)