Mysterium fidei: some thoughts

I just hammered out another article for The Wanderer.  This week I concluded some comments about the pro multis issue and then moved on to look at the “mysterium fidei” and the acclamations.

Here are a few points.

The words “mysterium fidei”, not found in the biblical institution narrative, have been embedded in the formula of consecration of the chalice since at least the 7th century.

They were displaced in the 20th.

It is possible that in the ancient Church a deacon said these words aloud to clue people in about what was going on behind the curtains drawn before the altar.

History shrouds exactly how the non-Scriptural mysterium fidei was inserted into the consecration formula.  In 1202, Bishop John of Lyon wrote to Pope Innocent III (+1216) asking about the consecration.  Innocent explained that the words of consecration, while coinciding with Scripture in many ways and departing in others, are part of the sacred Tradition received by the Apostles from Christ and duly handed down.   Innocent specifically treats the words “mysterium fidei” saying that they were important to combat errors about the sacramental mystery taking place on the altar (cf. ep. 5, 121; DS 782 and PL 214:1119a ff.). They make explicit the Church’s teaching about what happens at Mass.

The “mysterium fidei” is so important, as a matter of fact, that some traditionalists today, mostly of the Sedevacantist stripe, argue that its removal from the consecration makes every Novus Ordo Mass invalid.  They are as wrong about that, but they are on target in stressing the theological importance of the phrase!

Over the years WDTPRS has spent a lot of energy on the concept mysterium, (Greek mysterion).   In early Christian Latin, mysterium was connected with the word sacramentum.

In the traditional form of Holy Mass with the 1962MR (and for more than a 1000 years before), the mysterium fidei – imbedded within the sacramental form of consecration of the chalice – accentuates the substantial change of the Precious Blood and its sacramental effects.    This is why some important theologians had serious problems with the removal of the “mysterium fidei” to after the two-fold consecration.

St. Thomas Aquinas (+1274) taught that removing an essential part of the formula of consecration would make the consecration invalid (cf. STh III, q. 60, a. 8).  Aquinas opined that “mysterium fidei” was an essential part of the form of the consecration of the chalice (cf. STh III, q. 78, a. 3; Super I Cor, c. 11, v. 25).

Aquinas’s teaching is not automatically the equivalent of the Church’s Magisterium, mind you.

Aquinas explains in his commentary on 1 Corinthians 11:25 that while the simple consecration formula for Body of Christ needs nothing added to it, the form for the Blood of Christ requires additional clarification beyond simply saying “Hic est (enim) calix Sanguinis mei”.   While the species of the Eucharistic “bread” represents the subject of the Passion, Christ Himself, the species of the Eucharistic “wine” expresses also the effects of the Passion which come to us through this sacramental mystery.

According to Aquinas, the effects of the Passion in the pouring out of the Blood (“for you and for many”) are three-fold: 1) remission of sins; 2) the justification of faith, and 3) the attaining of heavenly glory.   The Sacrifice is tied into our reward at the end of the world.

In 1969, after witnessing a trial run of the projected Novus Ordo of the Mass, a document now called the “Ottaviani Intervention” was addressed by important theologians to Pope Paul VI.  The chief authors were Alfredo Card. Ottaviani (head of the Holy Office, now called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) and Antonio Card. Bacci (distinguished Latinist).  They objected strongly to the change, saying that “‘mysterium fidei’ was an immediate confession of the priest’s faith in the mystery realized by the Church through the hierarchical priesthood….”

In the Novus Ordo, “mysterium fidei” becomes a preface of an acclamation made by the congregation who share in Christ’s priesthood by baptism, not by the qualitatively different hierarchical priesthood.

In the Novus Ordo there is no immediate affirmation by the consecrating priest of the Church’s faith in Christ’s saving work through transubstantiation as he consecrates the Precious Blood.  Instead there is now an acclamation by the priest and congregation affirming the connection of the two-fold consecration with the Lord’s saving work in His death and resurrection.

The new acclamations stress the inseparable bond of the Passion to the Last Supper in light of the need of Christians to persevere in holy and Catholic faith regarding the effects of the whole Mysterium Paschale, the Paschal Mystery (Cenacle – Golgotha – Empty Tomb), until Christ comes and the dead rise after the example of the Lord’s own resurrection.

In the Novus Ordo the mysterium fidei section refers to an eschatological concept: the return of the Lord.   (“Eschatology” is from Greek eschaton, “last”, and so it is the study of the “last things”.)

No one should doubt the validity of the consecration in the Novus Ordo because the words mysterium fidei were displaced.

First, the words of consecration have, over the history of the Church, varied.  Eastern Catholics and Orthodox did not use the phrase.  Also, it is impossible that the Vicar of Christ and Holy Church would permit continuous use of an invalid sacramental form in the Church’s most precious treasure, the Mass.  Furthermore, it is the tradition of the Church that Christ effected the transubstantiation of His Body and Blood by saying ‘This is My Body,’ and ‘This is My Blood’.”  These words are in every form of consecration.  They are essential for validity.

Nevertheless, the removal of the mysterium fidei was a titanic innovation.  I consider it in light of the explicit words of the Council Fathers in Sacrosanctum Concilium, the Constitution on the Liturgy:

23. That sound tradition may be retained, and yet the way remain open to legitimate progress careful investigation is always to be made into each part of the liturgy which is to be revised. This investigation should be theological, historical, and pastoral. Also the general laws governing the structure and meaning of the liturgy must be studied in conjunction with the experience derived from recent liturgical reforms and from the indults conceded to various places. Finally, there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them; and care must be taken that any new forms adopted should in some way grow organically from forms already existing.

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48 Responses to Mysterium fidei: some thoughts

  1. Nathan says:

    Thank you, Father. This is a very thoughtful and well-researched piece.

    From my perspective in the pews, the Novus Ordo’s Memorial Acclamation instead of the Mysterium Fidei is probably the most jarring change (of a number of jarring changes I’ve rambled on about in the combox previously). Why? Because it seems like we move immedately from the foot of the Cross–actually re-presented during the Consecration– to “let’s all chime in about something related but not exactly what’s going on here.”

    You’ve dealt quite well with the intellectual and theological issues, Father. My difficulty comes from trying to pray and focus on the mystery–on the Incarnation and Redemption truly taking place on the altar (the wonderful illustration of Christ’s love on the Cross opening the gates of heaven from the old St Joseph First Communion Catechism comes to mind)–being interruped with what feels like “audience participation time.”

    In Christ,

  2. danphunter1 says:

    Thank you for this great piece on the Consecration of the chalice, Father!

    “…there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them;”
    I wonder how good it was for the Church to remove such an explicit and telling part of the Mass as “Mysterium Fidei”?

  3. kgurries says:

    Very informative. Perhaps the displacement was motivated by looking for opportunities to insert more “active participation” from the faithful? In any case, I recall that Ottaviani and Bacci were only signers of the “intervention”. The primary author was a dominican theology professor teaching at Econe (Gerard de Lauriers, I think it was). He ended up parting ways with Archbishop Lefebvre over the issue of sedevacantism.

  4. Maltese says:

    Good stuff, Father.

    The Novus Ordo clearly de-emphasizes the Sacrificial aspect of Holy Mass. This was intentionally done to placate Protestant sensibilities, according to Cardinal Stickler, who wrote that it was Pope Paul VI’s intention to “assimilate as much as possible of the new Catholic liturgy to Protestant worship.” The Attractiveness of the Tridentine Mass

    But isn’t it this “assimilation,” and the novel changing of the Mass and its words of consecration, which is partly to blame for the plummeting belief in the True Presence among both Priests and faithful?

    In “Spiritual Journey” Archbishop Lefebvre writes:

    “We must recognize that proper place is not always given, even in the teaching of the Church, in catechisms, to the Sacrifice of the Cross perpetuated on our altars. There is a tendency to give all recognition to the Sacrament of the Eucharist and to make but an accidental allusion to the Sacrifice. This is a great danger for the faith of the faithful, especially in face of the violent attacks of the Protestants against the Holy Sacrifice. The devil is not mistaken when he is out to make the Sacrifice disappear. He know that he attacks the work of Our Lord at its vital center, and that any lack of esteem of this Sacrifice brings about the ruin of all Catholicism, in every domain.”

    I would go even further and say that the proper reverence of the Eucharist is dependent upon the proper recognition of Mass as Sacrifice, which is tremendously lacking in the Novus Ordo form of Mass.

  5. Legisperitus says:

    It is odd that three of the four currently authorized forms (in English) of the Memorial Acclamation refer to Christ’s coming in the future, immediately after he has just presently come into our midst on the altar. One could be forgiven for suspecting this insertion was a deliberate attempt to undermine belief in the Real Presence.

  6. teomatteo says:

    “In the Novus Ordo the mysterium fidei section refers to an eschatological concept: the return of the Lord. ”
    With this in mind, shouldn’t the priest and the people be turned towards the East(Liturgical) , awaiting His return?

  7. Andrew says:

    In addition to the said changes, the English vernacular Mass introduced its own additional acclamation not found in the Latin Novus Ordo: “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again” – the only one that is not addressed to the Lord, as the other three are.

    And I remember watching on TV the US Bishops meeting some time ago and two well known American prelates suggesting that this additional acclamation be retained in the new translation, since it has now become, they stated, part of our tradition.

  8. PomeroyonthePalouse says:

    Our pastor always says “The mystery of OUR faith”. It’s irritating that a guy with a ph.d can’t read. And he sees the word man or men and reads it as people or us or leaves it out. He does give give thoughtful homilies.

    For someone who had his theological training at St Thomas Seminary in the mid-70′s he could be a lot worse.

    John

  9. HighMass says:

    Seems to me the Mysterium Fidei was in the making before the council VII. I recall when (singing the Sanctus High Mass of course) The Benedictus being sung in the old Mass after the consecration….Does anyone else remember this?

  10. kat says:

    HighMass:
    If the Benedictus sung is from a polyphonic Mass and rather long, it is often removed to after the Consecration…simply because the Sanctus sung polyphonically is too long and then not finished by the time of the Consecration.
    Normally if the Gregorian Chant Masses are sung, the Benedictus is sung along with the Sanctus, finishing both before the Consecration.

  11. Magpie says:

    Leaving gates the way you found them is always a good policy. Tinkering with the gate, fiddling around with the hinges and fastenings – not a good idea! Just leave the thing alone!

  12. Phil says:

    Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger has opined that the “Benedictus” part of the Sanctus should be made the Memorial Acclamation. See “A New Song For the Lord” pp 179-184.

  13. Mary Pat says:

    I have had similar thoughts as Legisperitus. It is the reason I only say the fourth response…usually to myself.

  14. Henry Edwards says:

    Regarding the reason for the change:

    In the Novus Ordo, “mysterium fidei” becomes a preface of an acclamation made by the congregation . . .

    This would suggest merely a desire for more audience participation.

    The new acclamations stress the inseparable bond of the Passion to the Last Supper . . .

    This might suggest a more “sinister” intent to weaken the sacrificial interpretation at the expense of the communal meal interpretation of the Mass.

    Which, if either, would be the overriding reason that was considered “required for the good of the Church”?

  15. asophist says:

    “…there must be no innovations unless the good of the Church genuinely and certainly requires them…” – going by this prescription, it seems to me that the council fathers shouldn’t and needn’t have changed the Mass one iota.

  16. HighMass says:

    Hi Kat,

    No the High Mass’s sung in the area were I live were the familier ones, Mass of the Angels, Orbis Factor(spelling??) Chant Mass ( a Mass used by EWTN) on the non feast days…
    Phil I like what His Holiness said about the Benedictus being used for the Memorial Acc. in the N.O. It only makes sense of course it would be contested by the progressives

  17. wchoag says:

    I recall that Ottaviani and Bacci were only signers of the “intervention”. The primary author was a dominican theology professor teaching at Econe (Gerard de Lauriers, I think it was).

    Bishop Guérard des Lauriers, formulator of the sedeprivationist Cassiciacum thesis which holds that recent Popes are “papa materialiter non formaliter” because of their supposed Modernism, was among the composers of the “Short Critical Study on the New Order of Mass” which accompanied the Ottaviani/Bacci letter of 5 June 1969 to Paul VI. The intervention had two parts: the critical study and the letter. That latter was substantially the composition of Ottaviani and Bacci endorsing the content of the accompanying study.

    Other important contributors to the critical study were Msgr. Lefebvre, his peritus, and Msgr. Sigaud.

  18. Bryan Boyle says:

    In re-reading both Cdls Ottovani and Bacci’ s letter, as well as the Critical Study again to refresh my admittedly failing memory…one can not help but think “They told us so” in much the same way that Humanae Vitae of Paul VI (of happy memory) warned us of the consequences of artificial contraception and the debasement not only of women but of men, also.

    The Church, as the corporate body, united under His Vicar, really DOES know best. When we don’t listen…we do reap the rewards of our intransigence.

  19. Brian K says:

    Would there be anything wrong with simply remaining silent during the Novus Ordo’s Memorial Acclamation, reflecting instead upon the Transubstantiation and Real Presence in silence? (I hope not, because this is what I’ve been doing for several years.)

  20. Fr_Sotelo says:

    The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on November 12, 1969 responded to the study and declared that the so-called Ottaviani Intervention contained statements that were: “superficial, exaggerated, inexact, emotional and false.” Truer words could hardly be found to describe this “critical” “study” of the new Missal.

    I don’t know why it is referred to as a critical study, as if there was anything scholarly to it. It was a study which criticized, but that does not make it “critical” in the sense of erudite and citing original sources of Catholic Tradition. Not a single Father is quoted from antiquity, and not a single text is cited from pre-Gregorian liturgy of either the West or the East. Yet it is claimed that this study shows the “departure” of the Ordinary Form Mass from the ancient Faith of the Church.

    From the entire publication of the new Roman Missal a few, choice quotes are presented from the General Instruction and the Ordinary of the Mass. These quotes are then asserted to prove that the Missal of Paul VI departs from Roman liturgical tradition, the best of the Eastern liturgies, and the intentions of the Fathers at Trent. And these assertions are supposed to be accepted without hardly a quote from original sources, basically based on the authority of the authors of the study.

    Yes, the removal of “Mysterium Fidei” was a titanic innovation in the 20th century, but so was its insertion, in certain areas, in the 7th century. It is non-Scriptural, and the essence of the sacrifice does not call for this acclamation by either the priest individually or joined by the people in this part of the consecration. If we wish to elicit confessions and oaths in the Real Presence, it can easily be done outside of Mass before the proper authorities of the Church.

    If we are going to retain this phrase, I find it very appropriate to connect the transubstantiation of the Blessed Sacrament to the mystery of Resurrection as well and its fulfillment in the Parousia, and for the people to acclaim this as the “res tantum” (ultimate realities) of the Sacrifice. These kinds of acclamations are very common in the Eastern liturgies, and are not done to “make the people get loud” for their enjoyment or benefit. Rather, acclamations of the people throughout the liturgy are for a greater expression of adoration, by the members and not only the head (priest).

  21. In all the years of Catholic school and attending the Novus Ordo, I was never aware that “mysterium fidei” was supposed to refer to the Precious Blood. I bet I’m not the only one. Maybe that says it all about whether the change should have been made.

    I tend to agree with Legisperitus. Who can doubt the existence of a wholesale assault on the Faith during the time these changes were made?

  22. Jenny says:

    I have no opinion on whether moving around the mystery of faith was a good, bad, or neutral thing. I’ll leave that to those who know better than I do. I can tell you that growing up in a 70s/80s guitar folk Mass church, it never occurred to me that the mystery of faith referred to Christ present on the altar. Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again is the mystery of faith, right?

  23. Maltese says:

    Good stuff, Father.

    The Novus Ordo clearly de-emphasizes the Sacrificial aspect of Holy Mass. This was intentionally done to placate Protestant sensibilities, according to Cardinal Stickler, who wrote that it was Pope Paul VI’s intention to “assimilate as much as possible of the new Catholic liturgy to Protestant worship.” The Attractiveness of the Tridentine Mass

    But isn’t it this “assimilation,” and the novel changing of the Mass and its words of consecration, which is partly to blame for the plummeting belief in the True Presence among both Priests and faithful?

    In “Spiritual Journey” Archbishop Lefebvre writes:

    “We must recognize that proper place is not always given, even in the teaching of the Church, in catechisms, to the Sacrifice of the Cross perpetuated on our altars. There is a tendency to give all recognition to the Sacrament of the Eucharist and to make but an accidental allusion to the Sacrifice. This is a great danger for the faith of the faithful, especially in face of the violent attacks of the Protestants against the Holy Sacrifice. The devil is not mistaken when he is out to make the Sacrifice disappear. He know that he attacks the work of Our Lord at its vital center, and that any lack of esteem of this Sacrifice brings about the ruin of all Catholicism, in every domain.”

    I would go even further and say that the proper reverence of the Eucharist is dependent upon the proper recognition of Mass as Sacrifice, which is tremendously lacking in the Novus Ordo form of Mass.

  24. mpolo says:

    Just a minor point:

    Furthermore, it is the tradition of the Church that Christ effected the transubstantiation of His Body and Blood by saying ‘This is My Body,’ and ‘This is My Blood’.” These words are in every form of consecration. They are essential for validity.

    is not quite correct. In 2001 the Vatican approved the validity of the Assyrian anaphora of Addai and Mari, which does not include the institution narrative.

  25. danphunter1 says:

    “The Novus Ordo clearly de-emphasizes the Sacrificial aspect of Holy Mass. This was intentionally done to placate Protestant sensibilities…”
    Maltese
    And we see that this placation is bringing in a gigantic increase in Prot. converts as compared to before the de-emphasis in the Sacrificial aspect of Mass.

  26. kgurries says:

    Thanks for the added clarity on the authorship of the “Ottaviani Intervention”, wchoag. I think clarity on his role in the intervention is something of interest. Some may be surprised by his subsequent remarks (published in la Documentation catholique) following clarifications given by Pope Paul VI. Whatever doctrinal concerns he had seem to have been cleared up by the Holy Father. I bring this up because I think it adds some additional context on his doctrinal position and role in the intervention. Obviously, not everyone involved in the “intervention” was to adopt the same attitude as the Cardinal in the wake of the clarifications.

    ==========================
    From Cardinal Ottaviani:
    “I have rejoiced profoundly to read the Discourse by the Holy Father on the question of the new Ordo Missae, and especially the doctrinal precisions contained in his discourses at the public Audiences of November 19 and 26, after which I believe, no one can any longer be genuinely scandalized. As for the rest, a prudent and intelligent catechesis must be undertaken to solve some legitimate perplexities which the text is capable of arousing. In this sense I wish your “Doctrinal Note” [on the Pauline Rite Mass] and the activity of the Militia Sanctae Mariae wide diffusion and success” (Letter of 17 February 1970 addressed to Dom Gerard Lafond, O.S.B.; published in La Documentation catholique 67 (1970), pp. 215-216 and 343; cited in J. Likoudis and K. Whitehead, The Pope, The Council and The Mass, 1981, p. 74).

  27. Maltese says:

    danphunter1: perhaps, but at what cost? And, btw, the de-emphasis also brought-on a tidal-was of exodus of holy Catholic Priests and Nuns from the Church, and a flood of liberals; whose wake we now feel in the sorrow of child sexual abuse (yes, these things are interconnected in my opinion.)

    Statistical Decline of the Catholic Church since Vatican II

  28. Maltese says:

    Please disregard that last link; I posted it in haste after looking for statistics on the internet (which, like Fr. Z has said, one should pray before entering, which I forgot to do.) In any case, it is nutty; and this kind of nuttiness really damages the Church. Mea Culpa for posting it….

  29. Fr. Basil says:

    Just a few observations from the East:

    1. The Words of Institution in the classical liturgies have always been in a LITURGICAL form, rather than direct quotes from Scripture.

    2. “Mystery of faith” does not appear in the Byzantine liturgy, nor other Eastern liturgies (as far as I know), yet nobody denies that these anaphoras confect the Eucharist (or “accomplish the mystery”, as we say).

    3. There is a Syriac (I think, or maybe Coptic) liturgy that has an acclamation similar to those in the present Pauline Missal. Whether this influenced its composition, I don’t know. If so, whether borrowing it was a wise idea is debatable.

    4. \\In 2001 the Vatican approved the validity of the Assyrian anaphora of Addai and Mari, which does not include the institution narrative.\\

    Now many Assyrian CotE priests, with the permission of her synod, DO insert the Words of Institution into Ss. Addai and Mari; their other two liturgies have always had them.

    Even without them, it is clear that the Liturgy of Ss. Addai and Mari intends to accomplish the mystery of the Eucharist. The members of this Church of Martyrs (as beloved John Paul II called her) believe it does, and that’s the only way the prayer makes sense.

  30. Luvadoxi says:

    I was Protestant and converted because theLord showed me the meaning of His Eucharist. And yes, I mean the Sacrifice. And I came through a very liberal parish. God is amazing!

  31. Henry Edwards says:

    Maltese: The Novus Ordo clearly de-emphasizes the Sacrificial aspect of Holy Mass. This was intentionally done to placate Protestant sensibilities

    Perhaps you are unaware how successful this appeal to Protestants has been. A Catholic acquaintance recently had a family occasion to attend a Methodist service. She was surprised to find that it seemed virtually identical to a Novus Ordo Mass, including one of the familiar Eucharisic Prayers word for word (though not the Roman Canon). However, the hymns were more traditional and vastly better sung, and the whole thing was done in a noticeably more dignified and reverent manner than in her own Catholic parish.

  32. danphunter1 says:

    Maltese,
    I was jesting.

  33. Maltese says:

    danphunter1: I’m slow :)

  34. Maltese says:

    Henry Edwards: good one too! Lol!

  35. PaterAugustinus says:

    @ mpolo

    Thanks for providing the detail, for what I was about to say more generically. If Dom Gregory Dix is right, the Byzantine Rite represents a confluence of two separate Liturgical paradigms: the North African Rites, which had Epicleses but not the Words of Institution (and you have given us a specific example, many thanks!); and the Western Rites which emphasize the Words of Institution but lack an Epiclesis (generally, anyway; sometimes the post-mysterium of the Gallican/Mozarabic Rites is quasi-epicletic). The Byzantine Rite conjoined these approaches, producing centuries of interesting commentary. And there is some evidence that the very earliest Christian Liturgies contained neither an explicit Epiclesis, nor the Institution Narrative!

    Furthermore, when we turn to the Holy Fathers, in whose concord we find sure guidance on points of doctrine, we find sundry opinions – generally (but not monolithically) coalescing along East-West lines. So, one can hear Pope St. Gelasius speak mysteriously of the Invocation of the Spirit as consecratory, St. Ambrose speak of the Institution Narrative as consecratory, St. John Chrysostom speak now of one, and now of the other as consecratory, St. John Damasecene speak of both simultaneously as consecratory, and St. Nicholas Cabasilas opine that the Supplices Te Rogamus is an “ascending” Epiclesis, which, joined to the Institution Narrative, is consecratory. The Liturgical Texts themselves are doctrinal sources (lex orandi, lex credendi), and we see how varied they are. Now, while it appears that there is no Patristic agreement, the fact is, there IS an agreement: they agree that there is no agreement! The Fathers agree on every important point of doctrine, and even on very many lesser points… so, the difference of their personal expressions on this matter is itself indicative of the Tradition – namely, that there is no ONE, Apostolic position.

    The only sane conclusion from all this, is that the Anaphora as an whole (and even the entirety of the Mass/Divine Liturgy, to some extent), celebrated by the Church in good faith with intention to consecrate, effects the Mystery by cooperation with the grace of God. Now, this doesn’t invalidate the fact that each Rite has developed a liturgical ethos for expressing its explicit faith in the Consecration, nor the fact that this ethos should be respected and kept intact in each Rite. It just means that the respect for each rite’s ethos cannot be misinterpreted as a uniform standard for valid consecrations everywhere. This, at least, is the position of many Orthodox Christians who are studied on this point; local councils of the West, too, formerly ruled against the introduction of bell-ringings and elevations during the Institution Narrative, because they wanted to discourage the populist idea that the precise moment of consecration could be fixed there. The effective element is now, and always has been, the operation of the Holy Trinity (the Son Offering in the Spirit, and the Father accepting), in synergy with the Faith of the Church. It is the Church’s wont to express Her faith in the prayers of the Liturgy (and the Office), but the Consecration is not dependent upon any one particular, verbal expression of the ineffable “Mysterium Fidei.”

    And before anyone misunderstands me, I’ll repeat what I said above: none of this means that the development and ethos of the local Rite is “not necessary” or not to be respected. In fact, to deliberately eliminate central, explicit expressions of the local Rite’s ethos, would almost certainly be tantamount to an expression of disbelief in the Church’s Faith, which certainly would be inimical to Consecration! “Implicit Faith” may be considered sufficient in the abstract; but in the concrete setting of a local Church’s rite at a given point in time, agreement with the Church’s Faith (implicit or otherwise) is expressed by actual FIDELITY to the integrity of the Rite and Rubrics.

  36. Andrew says:

    Pater Augustinus.

    Am I reading this right? Are you saying that this sacrament does not have a specific, definitive form? I don’t think it matters one bit what anyone besides the celebrating priest might do, because the priest can say Mass all by himself in private. And there must be a matter and a form when it comes to any sacrament. Is this something we are not sure about?

  37. Dr. Eric says:

    I think the second paragraph is the point that Pater Augustus was trying to make, at least that’s what I got out of it. In the East (for the most part) the consecration isn’t finished until the Epiclesis. In the West (for the most part) the consecration isn’t finished until the words of institution.

    This is what I have also gathered from attending Ruthenian and Ukrainian Liturgies and almost getting to the point of switching Sui Juris Churches. In the East it’s the Epiclesis, in the West it’s the Words of Institution. Some Orthodox will go so far as to state that there is no Eucharist in the West because we have dropped the explicit epiclesis.

  38. dominic1955 says:

    I think we should put more emphasis on the earlier rulings of the Holy Office and the Popes that made former schismatic Easterners correct their liturgical books, namely, putting the words of institution in them if they were lacking. This is too important a subject to wing or to trust to the authentic preservation of “tradition” by schismatics. I also look askance at liturgical scholarship-these are the same jokers who said we used to always have Mass facing the people (in the sense of consciously facing the people and not ending up facing them in the intent of facing the east) and all sorts of other nonsense. Scholarship is valuable, but we shouldn’t be messing around with things this important based on their conjecture about things they can have no absolute sure knowledge about.

    As to the “Critical Study”, its value is more in being a whistle blowing piece than in being some sort of tome of liturgy. It was produced in haste, but it made a good point-what was happening with the “New Mass” was a drastic departure from the Roman Mass as it has been known for time immemorial. Regardless of what supposedly happened in the 7th Century, these days are not the time to be messing with something as important as the Words of Institution. We had a bunch of ivory town litniks with free reign to create the liturgy in their own image, but as von Hildebrand would say, “modern man” is not properly capable of “getting liturgy” (the boys on the Concilium too) and that in these times we should be working to preserve and hand it on unadulterated-not screwing with it to make it more hip to a largely faithless “Faithful” not to mention the world at large.

  39. Athanasius says:

    One of the main problems with the mysterium fidei in the New Rite is that when you say it in English it is actually saying something false. The Christ has died bit is not the mystery of faith. In Latin it could be taken to mean “a” mystery of faith, but in English it says explicitly “the” mystery of faith. The mystery of faith is the Eucharist. While that doesn’t make it invalid, (as Garrigou Lagrange addressed in his treatise De Eucharistia it does in fact make a false thing, right in the Canon.

  40. Athanasius says:

    Not a single Father is quoted from antiquity, and not a single text is cited from pre-Gregorian liturgy of either the West or the East. Yet it is claimed that this study shows the “departure” of the Ordinary Form Mass from the ancient Faith of the Church.

    So 1700 years of tradition, a liturgy authored and modified by saints and the magisterium of the Church for all those years counts for nothing? How else do we know the ancient faith of the Church than how it developed through the centuries?

    Yes, the removal of “Mysterium Fidei” was a titanic innovation in the 20th century, but so was its insertion, in certain areas, in the 7th century. It is non-Scriptural

    That assumes it was not already there earlier. It is also inherently dishonest because an insertion by Pope St. Gregory the Great that gets handed down for 1300 years is a whole different thing than suddenly removing it for no reason.

    Secondly Scripture is subordinate to Tradition, in fact it is an expression of it. The fact that it is not in scripture is totally irrelevant. It is in the tradition, without which there is no faith, bible or not.

  41. Geoffrey says:

    I have attended Mass in the Ordinary Form my entire life, and the Extraordinary Form for the past few years. I follow both in hand missals. When attending the EF Mass, I cannot help but think the “mysterium fidei” seems very out of place (like the Last Gospel, but that’s another topic). There is no equivalent of this in the consecration of the host. It makes sense to me to place this phrase as a conclusion to the consecration, and a prelude to the memorial acclamation, which seems to have its roots in singing the Benedictus at this point. The consecration formulas just seem “cleaner” in the Ordinary Form.

    Of course, this changes dramatically with the inaccurate and often used “Let us proclaim the mystery of faith” in English… then it becomes the prelude to the memorial acclamation, rather than the conclusion to the consecration.

  42. Fr. Basil says:

    \\the North African Rites, which had Epicleses but not the Words of Institution\\

    Addai and Mari is East Syrian (or Assyrian), not North African. (I’m not saying there may not be defunct rites that lack the Words of Institution.)

  43. introibo says:

    The Mystery of faith/Mysterium fidei, as expressed in the old Mass, is transubstantiation. In the Latin of the new Mass, the words of institution are followed by a period. The next sentence is “Mysterium fidei.” Notice the period after “fidei”, meaning that what has just been spoken and taken place is the Mystery of faith. In the dreadful 40-year-old ICEL translation, the period is, as it were, replaced by a colon (“Let us proclaim the Mystery of faith”), so that the Mystery of faith refers not to what was just said and took place, but to what follows: Christ has died, Christ has risen, etc. The latter is not the Mystery of faith. I understand that the upgraded English translation to be implemented next year (wouldn’t want to just rush into it now, would we? Maybe it will get further stalled till 2012 or 2013) correctly has the sentence, “The Mystery of faith.” I submit that this ranks in the same corrections category as pro multis.

  44. PaterAugustinus says:

    @Andrew

    What I am saying, is that late-developing tendencies in Scholasticism to “pin things down,” sometimes occur at the expense of the real Tradition, which is not so pinned down. Many Roman Catholics are so familiar with Scholasticism (and related methods), that they have difficulty approaching the Faith without the use of such categories. I sympathize with the skepticism in Roman Catholicism towards those, who reject the Scholastic contribution, because they often tend to be modernist traitors to the Faith. But many Saints and all the Fathers of the Church made do without them, and sustained the Church’s Faith very well. St. Ambrose gave us no discourse about the matter, form, substance and accidents of the Sacrament, but he was perfectly Catholic. Such categories can be helpful, but they are not sine quibus non, theologically speaking. So, the first problem between us, I would say, is that we have totally different frameworks for understanding the Sacraments.

    Making use of your categories for convenience’ sake, however, I would say that the Sacrament has a matter (Bread and Wine), and that it has a form…. but not a definite form. The simple facts of history tell us that the Liturgy has come in many different forms, and the Fathers are not at all unanimous on the consecratory exclusivity of the Words of Institution, the Epiclesis, the twain together, etc. I could easily believe that neither the Words of Institution nor the Epiclesis occurred necessarily in every instance of the earliest celebrations (just as they do not occur in Ss. Adai and Mari), and I would have no difficulty believing that the series of memorials, blessings and thanksgivings, which seem to characterize the dawn of Christian liturgy – with or without a specific inclusion of the Words of Institution – could be consecratory if that was the intent and faith of the Church (by which I don’t mean the local laity per se, but the “Mind of the Church” as an whole at that time).

    But, that’s all conjecture, and simply represents my private thoughts about how early Liturgy may have unfolded. We simply don’t know enough about primitive Liturgy to say for sure. What we can say for sure, is that the Fathers and the antique Liturgies all express themselves more or less differently on the topic of the consecration. The West was enacting canons as late as the 11th century, to discourage the growing notion that the Words of Institution were the effectors and the moment of consecration. Likewise, in the Byzantine Rite, we don’t believe there *is* a moment of consecration; the earthly Church mingles with the heavenly Liturgy, and the “moment” of consecration is lost in something ultimately ineffable. In the Orthodox Church, we think it is okay (and often necessary) to say: “there is no pat and discursively intelligible answer to this question.” We say that the Gifts may be regarded as consecrated by the end of the Anaphora, but we don’t say when the consecration takes place, if it is even possible to point to a “when” for such a thing.

    And, to be clear, I’ll restate that to deliberately injure the integrity of a Rite’s core elements (i.e., the Words of Institution in the Mass, the Epiclesis in the Ss. Adai and Mari, etc.), would in almost every instance be tantamount to a rejection of the Faith and intent of the Church, since this is expressed primarily in such prayers of the given, local Rite. I.e., such an action would impede Consecration, probably in every instance (though, in Orthodoxy we believe a lot in God’s “condescension to our weakness,” and so we believe that in some exceptional cases, perhaps the Spirit would effect the Consecration anyway). Nevertheless, whatever the consecratory principle may be in the abstract, in the concrete case of the local Rite, there is no justification for ritual infidelity. To omit the Institution Narrative is an impediment to consecration in the Mass, not because this Narrative is essential to consecration in any Liturgy whatsoever, but because it is normative to the consecration in the Roman Rite. The Scholastic categories hold true for the (Latter Day) Roman Rite, not because they are applicable to all Rites everywhere, but because they reflect an integrity of thought within the confines of the (High Medieval) Roman Rite.

  45. wchoag says:

    What I am saying, is that late-developing tendencies in Scholasticism to “pin things down,” sometimes occur at the expense of the real Tradition, which is not so pinned down.

    TWO THUMBS UP!!!

    My comment above on the authors of the Critical Study was brief, merely informative as to who wrote the work. In total 12 persons contributed.

    Had I developed my comments, I would have made the same criticism of the scholastic approach used throughout. Among the deep theological problems of traditionalists is to so exaggerate the practice and value of the scholastic method in theology so at to transform scholasticism into the Faith as it were. It is an erroneous and ahistorical approach the Deposit of Faith that is truly an insult to all those Catholics, East and West, whose theology and disciplines have no connection to scholasticism.

  46. Athanasius says:

    Among the deep theological problems of traditionalists is to so exaggerate the practice and value of the scholastic method in theology so at to transform scholasticism into the Faith as it were. It is an erroneous and ahistorical approach the Deposit of Faith that is truly an insult to all those Catholics, East and West, whose theology and disciplines have no connection to scholasticism.

    I’m sorry I don’t buy that. Catholics who prefer the scholastic approach (like myself) no doubt find what you said insulting. If you approach the tradition from a different angel, or find fruit in patristic thought or are not able to enter into scholastic theology, pre-eminently in St. Thomas, all fine and good. But don’t set yourself to root out and deny the value of scholasticism which the Church herself has proposed to us through St. Thomas (Leo XIII, Aeterni Patris). The fact remains that scholastic method represents clarity, tranquilitas ordinis and an elegant mode of expression. What we have seen since the departure from that has been the descent into modernism.
    This is starting to sound like a Bishop I once heard who said “I don’t like St. Thomas because he’s too clear.” To me, that is an obvious sign of heresy, why wouldn’t you want to be clear unless you wanted to obfuscate and hide something?

  47. robtbrown says:

    Kudos to Fr Z for the excellent article, esp. the historical information.

    I have to disagree, however, with his reading of St Thomas.

    1. For validity (perficitur) certain determinate words must be used that designate (signify) the Sacrament matter. These words are referred to as the form because in metaphysics the form is the determining principle of composite being.

    2. Because a Sacrament is a composite of matter and form, the word “substance” is used to refer to the combo of both.

    3. Thus if the substance of the Sacramental Form is changed so as to destroy the essential meaning (sensus debitus), the Sacrament is invalid (non perficitur).

    On the other hand,

    4. In the second consecration, does the Sacramental Form encompass more than just the words that designate the matter, e.g., Mysterium Fidei? St Thomas says yes, but notes that only the words of consecration signify the matter (per prima verba significat ipsa conversio vini in sanguinem). He then compares it to the Sacramental form of the first consecration.

    5. Thus changing the Mysterium Fidei does not render the Sacrament invalid because the essential meaning of the consecrating words (which designate the matter) have not been changed.

  48. Robertus Pittsburghensis says:

    http://liturgicalnotes.blogspot.com/2007/12/mystery-of-faith.html

    Father Hunwick has some interesting commentary in the above link, illustrating Mysterium fidei’s Biblical origins, its identity with the blood of Christ, and its present meaning in the ordinary form.