Skip to comments.[CATHOLIC CAUCUS] What makes Jesus present in the Eucharist: broadening one's view.
Posted on 07/30/2010 10:55:23 AM PDT by Balt
Some years ago, on my now non-existent blog, I had written about the day I had hosted as concelebrant a Roman Catholic priest for a funeral, and how he had struggled to reconcile himself with the uncomfortable fact that the principles upon which his own ritual Church reformed their liturgy do not govern the liturgical life of the universal Catholic Church. It's an easy enough mistake to make, what with the Latin Church sui iuris being the largest of all the Churches in Catholicism, with manyif not mostRoman Catholics thinking that the Roman way of doing things is the Catholic way of doing things. Each year, when I make my annual Opus Dei retreat outside Boston, being the only Eastern Catholic priest there, I'll invariably get the question, "What rite are you?" My pat answer, albeit a little flippant, is, "The Church to which I belong worships according to the Byzantine Rite; but, since six other Churches in union with Rome also worship according to the Byzantine rite, I'm not sure that answers your question." Then I walk away leaving my interrogator dazed and confused.
Terminology, of course, is only a small part of the problem. When it comes to matters of sacramental theology and jurisdiction, the problem becomes rather far reaching, sometimes having an impact on the lives of innocent people. Take, for example, the situation of a Ruthenian Catholic man who desires to marry a Roman Catholic woman. They want to get married in her parish church by her parish priest. So, Father Guinness O'Stout, pastor of St. Briget of the Shamrock Roman Catholic Church, rings me up to ask for a baptismal certificate for my parishioner. I send it to him, of course, but with a note attached to the effect that, since one of the parties involved is a Catholic of another Church sui iuris, the arrangements for the marriage must be reviewed before the fact by an official of our eparchy. I even include the name, address and phone number of the aforementioned official who will be pleased to do this for him. The reason for this inconvenience is the fact that, should Romeo require any dispensations and/or permissions in his path to marital bliss, they would have to be issued by his own bishop, as the Roman Catholic bishop in this case would have no authority to grant a dispensation to someone of another Church sui iuris. Not wishing to confuse Fr. O'Stout with needless details, I withhold from him the fact that I already know of one dispensation that will be required: the permission for Romeo to marry someone in a parish church other than his own. According to the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1990, an Eastern Catholic man licitly marries only in his own parish church, and must seek the permission of his bishop to marry in the church of his bridea stipulation not required of Roman Catholics. I withhold this information only because (1) I assume that the eparchial official to whom I have referred him will explain this to him, and (2) I don't want to give him the impression that this is the only dispensation required, since there may be others.
It's safe to say that in seven out of ten situations, Fr. O'Stout ignores my note, though it's not really his fault. It usually happens like this: He's confused and annoyed by my note, since it introduces more paperwork; so he rings up someone at his own diocesan chancery who tells him, "They're both Catholics, they're getting married in one of our churches, so only our rules apply." Then, some months later, I'll get a notice in the mail asking me to record a marriage in Romeo's baptismal record. I ring up Fr. O'Stout and tell him that, in order for me to properly record the marriage, I need to know the protocol numbers of any dispensations received, and the name of the bishop who issued them. Of course, there are none; so I have to send the notice to our own chancery, which discovers that the marriage is, in fact, invalid. The reasons could be many, so let's choose just one possibility: the marriage was witnessed by a deacon. Why is this a problem? Because, while the ministers of the sacrament of matrimony in the Latin Church are the couple, who confer the sacrament upon one another through their exchange of consent (with the priest or deacon serving only as a witness to the act), the minister of the sacrament in the Eastern Catholic Churches is the priest, who confers the sacrament through the act of crowning and the blessing which accompanies it. Hence, a deacon cannot validly perform a marriage involving an Eastern Catholic.
This is a good example of what I'm eventually going to get to (if you stick with it). Contrary to what many Roman Catholics think, what distinguishes the Latin Church from the various Eastern Churches in union with Rome is not simply a matter of style, custom or liturgical traditions. The misunderstanding stems from something many priests have forgotten from their seminary training: that the Church (or, more precisely, the Churches) have some authority over the form of a sacrament. Every sacrament is composed of matter and form. The matter required for a sacrament is unchangeable because it is instituted by Christ; but the form has always been subject to the authority of the Churches. For example, the matter required for the sacrament of Confirmation is Holy Chrism; before Vatican II the form was the laying on of hands, the anointing and the prayer said by the bishop as he did so. After the Council, Pope Paul VI changed the form, removing the laying on of hands and changing the words of the prayer. The matter for the sacrament of confession is sins confessed to a priest with true contrition and a purpose of the amendment; the form was the words of absolution said by the priest. After the Council, the words were changed. Over the centuries, the Church (or the Churches) have always exercised authority to change the form of a sacrament.
What is often overlooked is the fact that, even though various Churches may be in communion with one another, it is not necessary that they all authorize the same form for the sacraments. The prayer of absolution in our Church is quite different from the one used in the Latin Church. The form of Confirmation (which we call Chrismation) is radically different for us. Likewise, the form of the sacrament of Matrimony is also very different. The matter for this sacrament is a man and woman free of diriment impediments; but the form in our Church is the act of Crowning and the blessing of a priest, without which the sacrament is invalid. And when a member of our Church marries, regardless if who he's marrying, who performs the ceremony and where it takes place, the form by which he is required to receive this sacrament is necessary for his marriage to be valid. The fact that his bride may be bound by different obligations regarding form is irrelevant.
That long and tedious diatribe was all just introduction to the review of the article in question: "Historical and Theological Argumentation in Favour Of Anaphoras without Institution Narrative: A Critical Appraisal," found in the book, Die Anaphora von Addai und MariStudien zu Eucharistie und Einsetzungsworten (The Anaphora of Addai and MariStudies on the Eucharist and the Institution Narrative), edited by Father U. M. Lang. You gotta love those German editors; they love to give everything a ponderously long title, probably in the hope of scaring you away from reading the thing. Unfortunately for the author of the article, Father Ansgar Santogrossi, OSB, I wasn't scared off that easily.
Fr. Santogrossi is upset, and not just because he's an Italian colluding with a German (they tried that once and ended up losing the war). He's upset because the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, in 2001, in a letter addressed to the Chaldean Catholic bishops, indicated that Chaldean Catholics could, if necessary, receive the Eucharist consecrated by priests of the Assyrian Orthodox Church using the Addai and Mari Anaphora, which does not contain the Narrative of the Institution with its words This is my body, this is my blood. The Christian Unity Council indicated it had received approval of this judgment from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (then under Cardinal Ratzinger) and Pope John Paul II. In other words, the Holy See, through this particular office, has indicated that this ancient anaphora (Eucharistic prayer) is valid for the consecration of the Eucharist, even though it does not contain the words that most Catholics understand make Jesus present.
The letter has caused some degree of surprise and perplexity among Catholics. [...] The present article will critically evaluate the principal arguments in support of the Christian Unity Council decision, presenting reasons which could motivate a re-examination of the issue by the Holy See. The canonical and magisterial status of the decision will also be examined. The present study is in four parts: I) patristic and historical interpretation of the history of the anaphora, II) the magisterial status of the Pontifical Councils letter to the Chaldean bishops, III) the rule of faith, IV) St. Thomass understanding of the Eucharistic consecration and the act of the ordained priest.
No, don't worry. We're not going to go through all that. But I do find it interesting that Fr. Santogrossi's choice of words, followed up by this candid and thoughtful exposé of his proposed methodology, betrays his ritual prejudices. Has the letter really caused "surprise and perplexity among Catholics," or just surprise and perplexity among some Roman Catholics for whom the form of the sacrament of the Eucharist has always been "This is my Body, this is my Blood"?
With regard to his first salvo, Fr. Santogrossi zeros in on Ukrainian Catholic scholar, Robert Taft, SJ, whom, I admit is easy to zero because his works are not well known in Roman Catholic circles; but in this case, Father Taft is right as far as it goes. He merely points out that "the Anaphora of Addai and Mari pronounced without Institution Narrative must be accepted as prima facie valid because it is the traditional anaphora of an apostolic Church," a point made in the Pontifical Council's letter. But because Fr. S has a Roman ax to grind, he's got to attack Taft not on the basis of Taft's actual argument, but with regard to the non sequitor of "who the hell is Taft?".
Referring to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unitys letter to the Chaldean bishops as an epoch-making decree and the most important magisterial document since Vatican II, Taft presents himself in the role of the Catholic theologian whose fundamental tasks include that of explaining and justifying the authentic decisions of the supreme magisterium. [...] In the case of the decision that the Anaphora of Addai and Mari can be considered valid, Fr. Taft presents no distinctions or nuances in his use of the phrase supreme magisterium. And yet it is a little unusual, especially in theological circles, for the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity to be called supreme magisterium. It is the bishop of Rome himself or the universal episcopate in its unanimity which is normally considered to be supreme magisterium, and it is the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which has been given the faculty to teach and judge Catholic doctrine as an instrument of the Popes magisterium.
OK, granted: Taft's remark that this is the most important document since Vatican II sounds a bit like Taft needs to discover the virtues of decaf; nevertheless, Taft is a bona fide theologian with a pile of pontifical degrees to prove it, so his job does "include that of explaining and justifying the authentic decisions of the supreme magisterium." More to the point, what Fr. Santogrossi says Taft said is not exactly what Taft said. He did not promote the Pontifical Council to the status of an acting Pope-for-a-day; he did point out that the letter of the Council was released with he approval of the Holy Father following a review by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a point that Santogrossi ignores. Santogrossi then goes on in his second volley to attempt to discredit the Pontifical Council for the Unity of Christians for not being a body with teaching authority, which it isn't. What he fails to comprehend, however, is that the Council isn't attempting to teach here; it's attempting to do exactly what it was created by the Holy Father to do: transmit to someone concerned an answer to a question they received regarding the practice of receiving Holy Communion by certain Catholics in a church of a schismatic Christian community. The Council put the question to the CDF, which conferred with Pope John Paul, then transmitted that answer to those who had asked. The fact that Father Santogrossi doesn't like that answer is not the Pontifical Council's fault;nor Fr. Taft's, for that matterand he needs to take his disappointment up with the Holy Father, not with the Holy Father's messenger boys.
Regarding Santogrossi's third and fourth punches (the rule of faith, and St. Thomass understanding of the Eucharistic consecration and the act of the ordained priest), it suffices to say that the Pontifical Council's letter (which, I remind you, was approved by the CDF and Pope John Paul II) simply doesn't gel with what Santogrossi reads in his third grade Baltimore Catechism; namely, that it's the words "This is my Body" and "This is my Blood" that make Jesus present. In other words, he suffers from the "Roman Catholic disease" which causes Roman Catholics to assume that the Roman way of doing everything is the same as the Catholic way of doing everything, confusing the authority his particular Church has over the sacraments as celebrated in his Church, with fundamental Catholic dogma. The words "This is my Body" and "This is my Blood" make Jesus present in the Mass of the Roman Rite because the Latin Church, which has authority over the form of the sacraments as celebrated in the Latin Church, says so. What words make Jesus present in the Divine Liturgy of another Church in union with Rome is for that Church to decide. It's as simple as that.
The matter of the sacrament of the Eucharist is, and always will be, bread and wine because that's what Christ used when he instituted the sacrament; but the form pronounced over that matter is and always has been under the authority of the Church (or Churches) to whom Christ entrusted that sacrament. That's why a marriage of a Ruthenian Catholic performed by a deacon in a Roman Catholic Church is invalid, and why the Anphora of Addai and Mari for Chaldean Catholics is valid. And why Fr. Santogrossi needs to broaden his view.
Fr. Santogrossi concludes his article by speculating that, since the Pontifical Council for the Unity of Christians is not a teaching authority, it will be a simple matter for the Holy See to reverse this decision once they catch on that he's right and they're wrong. Now if only we can convince the rest of the Churches in union with Rome that they also need to be in union with Fr. Santogrossi.
I admit to being confused over this decision on the Anaphora of Addai and Mari.
But in the end, I have to agree with Fr. Venditti—the very fact that an Apostolic Church uses this Anaphora, where the Real Presence is not in doubt, is a powerful argument.
The rest of it is above my pay grade.