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Meuli), ie the thesis of Patrick Omlor on;
QUESTIONING THE VALIDITY OF THE NEW MASS IN ENGLISH
I. Fr. Meuli’s thesis of the res sacramenti.
a) The Thesis of the ‘Res Sacramenti’ says essentially that :
• • • • •
In the Holy Eucharist as in other sacraments, we must distinguish three elements : the sacramentum (sacred species), the res et sacramentum (Body and Blood of Our Lord) and the res tantum or res sacramenti (the union of Mystical Body). As in all other sacraments, the res sacramenti, ie. the first specific grace produced by the Holy Eucharist, must be indicated in the words of the Sacrament which take place at the Consecration. Among the words of the double Consecration, none other than ‘pro multis’ is fit to indicate the res sacramenti of the Holy Eucharist. But such words were adulterated by the ICEL English version of the New Mass, which used ‘for all’ instead of ‘for many’, up until recently when Rome requested that the version be in conformity with the original ‘for many’. Therefore, the defective version of the Consecration of the New Mass did not preserve the substance of the res sacramenti, and consequently could not produce the Real Presence (res et sacramentum).
B) conditions for the validity of the ‘res sacramenti’ thesis :
Fr. Meuli’s thesis that the Novus Ordo in English has altered the ‘res sacramenti’ will be a watertight argument if and only if each of the rings of the following chain are true, or better said if each of the walls of the compartment is tight, and not only probably but absolutely tight :
The res sacramenti of the Holy Eucharist is the union with the Mystical Body of Our Lord. Obviously, if doubt is shed on this statement which is the rock foundation of the argument, the whole argumentation would be shaky because riddled with doubt. The res sacramenti of the Holy Eucharist is not subsequent but simultaneous to the res et sacramentum (Real Presence) because both are co-signified by the same sign (the sacred species). If the res sacramenti was subsequent to, and the effect of, the res et sacramentum, there is no way the argument would hold water since a cause can very well exist without being followed by its corresponding effect when an obstacle blocks the way (the sun does not burn my skin if I put clothes on). Because it is simultaneous to the res et sacramentum (the Real Presence), the res sacramenti is to be found in the double Consecration, independently from Holy Communion. On the other hand, If the res sacramenti were to occur after the double Consecration, it could not invalidate it retroactively.
‘For many’ designates the res sacramenti, ie. the union with the Mystical Body of Our Lord. In doubt of this being the case, the argument would fall to the ground. ‘For all’ instead of ‘for many’ is an alteration which affects the substance of the form of the Holy Eucharist and invalidates the sacrament altogether. Again, if there was any shadow of doubt, the argument would be affected by the same doubt.
iI. theological preamble
The three elements of a sacrament. Before entering the intricate argument around the res sacramenti, it is important to define the three elements contained in each sacrament. Billot, who of all the authors consulted, has at least something substantial about the question, will be our theological guide. About res et sacramentum, there is very little said among the Modern authors. However, this is majus momenti. A sacrament is the sensible sign (sacramentum) of a sacred thing ie. of grace, (which is called res tantum or res et non sacramentum or res sacramenti). The ancient authors gave a third element, intermediary between the two previous ones, which they called res et sacramentum. It is a thing (res) because it is caused by an external sign (sacramentum) but in such a way that it causes another thing, ie. another and last grace (res sacramenti). Hence, there is a complex process which follows the perfect subordination of signs and causes, and this subordination is at the heart of the res et sacramentum. Because of the subordination, the res et sacramentum is the proximate dispositive cause of the res sacramenti. From this subordination, one can explain how some sacraments can be both valid and unformed, ie. they have their practical signification without producing the required justification, which revive as soon as the obex is lifted. One explains how a matrimony between infidels becomes a sacrament through mere baptism, why holy Orders is only one sacrament despite the various minor and major orders previously received. One explains also that the sacraments which impress a character cannot be reiterated. If one takes away this subordination, the res et sacramentum, being no more an intermediary between the sign and the grace, becomes a side effect of grace without utility and without meaning. The res et sacramentum is also properly a sign or sacrament, as evidenced by the Fathers of the Church using the term to indicate either the sensible sign itself (matter and form) or the character of the sacrament (St. Aug. re. Baptism; St. Thomas Aq. suppl. 34 a.2 1um). Res et sacramentum is a sign which is sensible only per accidens, by reason of its necessary and infallible connection with the exterior sign sensible per se (sacramentum tantum). Since Billot asserts that there are two signs in number, the sacramentum and the res et sacramentum, this is liable to lead to serious ambiguities when one speaks of sacramentum or sign. The sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Another theological question which is delicate touches again on the term ‘sacrament’, taken as a whole as we understand it in our catechism as one of the seven sacraments. What is the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist? Is the Holy Eucharist a sacrament only when it is applied to the communicant, or in the very words of the double Consecration? This question is raised especially against many Protestants who deny the Real Presence outside communion. But the answer is enlightening for our further discussion :
From the moment it produces its first effect, the sacrament is performed, ie. the effect which it is firstly ordained to, eg. baptism is validly performed from the moment it impresses a character, not formally in the infusion of s. grace. But in the Holy Eucharist, the first effect (the presence of Our Lord’s body) is performed prior to, and independently from, its use at communion, in the consecration of the matter by pronouncing the words ‘hoc est corpus meum.’ This must occur at the Consecration because otherwise, the words of the form would not be true, which enunciate something in present tense and independently from any use or communion as such, since they simply say : ‘under these species, my Body is contained’. Thus, the proposition would be false if the body of Christ was not yet present until the reception of communion. This is proper to the sacrament of Holy Eucharist, whereas all other sacraments are performed in the act of being applied to the subject, as their form indicates : ‘te baptizo, te absolvo, te confirmo....’ From this another difference follows. In the Holy Eucharist, the res et sacramentum is contained under the matter itself (sacramentum) and the grace alone (res sacramenti) is in the subject. In the other sacraments, both are in the subject. What in the double Consecration is the essential form for the validity of the Sacrament (ie. of the Real Presence)? As to the historical terms which precede the Consecration, ST is categorical : ‘He who would proffer only the words ‘Hoc est corpus meum’ with the intention of confecting the sacrament, would produce the sacrament, because such words would be understood as proffered by Christ Himself, although the previous words would not be proffered.’ As to the words of the Consecration, Billot favours the short version of the 2d Consecration because : The words which follow ‘This is my Blood’ are missing in many oriental liturgies the validity of which cannot be doubted. No reason can be given to explain why a greater determination would be necessary for the consecration of the wine than for that of the bread. The term ‘effundetur’ is in the future. Thus, it is said as a historical narrative and not as an assertion. Thus, the entire phrase together with it is not essential to the form because the form must signify what is performed hic et nunc. What is the res sacramenti of the Holy Eucharist? This is how Billot introduces question 79 of St. Thomas which treats of the effects of the Holy Eucharist. q. 79 speaks of Holy Communion. All in this question indicates that St. Thomas has in view the effects of the Holy Eucharist for those who use it, ie. those who communicate, whereas q. 80 deals especially with the conditions requested from the communicants. St. Thomas mentions actual charity first and foremost as the first and essential effect of the Holy Eucharist for those who communicate. To such an extent that, further down, he adds ‘Res huius sacramenti est charitas, non solum quantum ad habitum, sed etiam
quantum ad actum qui excitatur in hoc sacramento’ and ‘In hoc sacramento, non solum confertur gratia habitualis, sed excitatur fervor actualis devotionis.’ The sacramental communion produces three other effects : 1) the union with Christ, 2) the fruits of the Passion of Christ (remission of sins, sign of eternal life), 3) the union with the Mystical Body (because the eucharistic symbols are both formed from a multitude of grains joined into one mass).
iIi. a Reply to Fr. Meuli’s thesis
To reply to the ‘res sacramenti’ thesis, it suffices to take each of the walls of the compartment separately and show that they are not so watertight after all. Without necessarily rejecting categorically each of the points mentioned above, to destroy the so called watertightness of the argument, it will suffice that the alternative be at least so probable to shed some doubt on the opposite sentence. The res sacramenti of the Holy Eucharist consists in the union with the Mystical Body of Our Lord. This argument was based on a passage from St. Thomas as mentioned by Fr. Meuli. Yet, the same St. Thomas says something quite different in the precise question which treats of the effect (res sacramenti) of the sacrament : “res huius sacramenti est charitas”, and mentions in no way the ‘union with the Mystical Body’ in this question which should speak exclusively or at least firstly and essentially of it. The text of the council of Florence is brought in by Fr. Meuli among others, but he has cut the quote short, whereas the entire quote brings out all the other effects of the sacrament before coming to the last and apparently least, which is the union with the Mystical Body. I say ‘apparently least’ since in the very words quoted by Fr. Meuli (# 36), it appears that the union with the mystical Body presupposes and is secondary to the union with Christ : “the effect of this sacrament, which is brought about in the soul of him who receives it worthily, is to unity him to Christ... Through this grace a man becomes incorporated into Christ and united with his members”. Notice also that the Council of Florence refers to the effects only in relation with the use of the sacrament, ie. holy Communion posterior to the confection of the sacrament itself during the double Consecration. All the authors which I checked hardly mention the union with the Mystical Body, and if so, only at the end of the series or as an appendix. Could they have all been so deluded as to miss such an essential aspect of the sacrament, precisely while commenting on St. Thomas’ explanation? The res sacramenti of the Holy Eucharist is not subsequent but simultaneous to the res et sacramentum (Real Presence) because both are co-signified by the same sign (the sacred species). It is a pity that Fr. Meuli has not gotten deeper into the triple distinction (sacramentum, res et sacramentum, res tantum) which he drew from St. Thomas, which is taken without understanding where it comes from, and how they connect together. Because the theological work has not been sufficiently dug up, no wonder such blunders are uttered to make the res sacramenti something simultaneous and independent from the res et sacramentum.
Cardinal Billot’s explanation (he was created a cardinal by St. Pius X for his great merits to the Church and considered by many as the greatest theologian of the XXth century) has the advantage of making sense of all the questions which are related to the characters and to the reviviscence of the sacraments, a thorny question to those a bit familiar with them. It reduces to pieces the pretension that the res sacramenti would not be caused by the middle sign (res et sacramentum). Because it is simultaneous to the res et sacramentum (the Real Presence), the res sacramenti is to be found in the double Consecration, independently from Holy Communion. For all sacraments, the grace (res sacramenti) is given when it is applied to the subject, and therefore it is present in the one receiving the sacrament, and here the Holy Eucharist is no exception. Indeed, the grace of the sacrament is not a grace up in the clouds or staying in the Tabernacle, but the grace of he who receives it. What differs in the case of the Holy Eucharist is that the res et sacramentum and the res sacramenti are produced at different times, the res et sacramentum at the Consecration and the res sacramenti when applied to the communicant at communion. It is during Holy Communion that all the texts of the authors consulted mention the giving of grace/effect/res sacramenti, ie. in the moment of the use of the sacrament. The Council of Florence brought as a witness to Fr. Meuli’s argument is the best witness to demolish his own position. But I could give more than ten such texts, and I challenge him to provide one text which clearly proves that the res sacramenti occurs at the Consecration, and his extensive work has not proved this vulnerable aspect of his thesis. ‘For many’ designates the res sacramenti, ie. the union with the Mystical Body of Our Lord. Our Lord speaks of ‘For many’ to designate those He wishes to save through His Passion. So, rather than the ‘union with the Mystical Body’, it fits perfectly into the ‘fruits of the Passion of Christ’, ie. the remission of sins etc. as mentioned by all others prior and independently from the union with the Mystical Body. Fr. Meuli needs to force texts to make them say what is not clearly present. The authors explain that the ‘union with the Mystical Body’ is one of the graces signified by the union into one mass of a multitude of grains for both species (wheat and grapes). If the res sacramenti must be clearly signified by the sacramentum (matter and form together) as occurs in penance (‘I absolve you from your sins’), we are entitled to ask Fr. Meuli what, in the words of the consecration, indicates really that many are one, since the form is not clear at all and the bread and wine have been confected from many grains a long time ago? Most serious anti-modernists exegetes explain that Our Lord at the Last Supper used another term: ‘the multitude’, which in the original language means all of them rather than a fraction or many. This is theologically quite easily understood since Our Lord wanted the salvation of all in voto, in abstracto, antecedenter ie. abstracting from men’s lack of correspondence to His gift. However, the Mass itself is not using the words of Our Lord in the same sense as Holy Eucharist did at the Last Supper, since the Mass has the function of applying the redemption, which application is limited de facto, in concreto and consequenter. This remark does not exonerate the Modernists from scandal by misusing the sacred Words of the Consecration since they have been codified so long ago. But, at the same time, this remark puts things in another perspective also. If ‘For many’ designates the union with the Mystical Body signified by the union of the grapes into one liquid, should there not be symmetrically another ‘for many’ to designate
the union of the grains of wheat into one bread to prevent the double sacrament from limping? ‘For all’ instead of ‘for many’ is an alteration which affects the substance of the form of the Holy Eucharist and invalidates the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist altogether. Regardless of the uncertainty of Cardinal Billot’s argument from ‘many oriental liturgies’ which use the short second Consecration, the fact of the matter is that it is, to say the least, a disputed question, which according to him is not disputed at all anymore. The other two arguments seem rationally cogent without having to delve into obscure historical facts. Moreover, the arguments brought by Fr. Meuli quoting St. Thomas and after that the Marietti edition are far from peremptory. St. Thomas is always very cautious with his words and he never affirms as certain what he is not sure of, and this is certainly the case here (par. 93) where he says “it seems” and speaks not of essence but of “integrity” : “Now, this seems incorrect... consequently they belong to the integrity of the form’s recitation.” Marietti maintains the doubt which Fr. Meuli rejects peremptorily, making Marietti a liar. After which, Fr. Meuli proves his own case on arguments which we have just shown to be very dubious, and peacefully concludes that his position is right and has not only superior value to the others, but invalidates and wipes them away, which seems to say the least unfair.