Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Consummatum Est

As we begin Holy week, we see in the Liturgy a prime example of how fickle man can be. At the beginning of the week, the crowds are cheering as Our Lord enters the Holy City for the last time. They strew their cloaks on the ground before Him, and wave palm branches, shouting Hosanna Filio David, Rex Israel! Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini, Hosanna in excelsis! At the end of the week they are shouting Crucifige eum!
On Palm Sunday, we receive palm branches, which are blessed. They are a sacramental, that is to remind us that we wish to be in the former crowd, not the latter. By our works, we shout either Hosanna to the Son of David or Crucify Him. Sacramentals help us to be more open to the grace of God. The Church, in her wisdom, has established many sacramentals to aid the Christian Faithful in their journey to eternal life. One would be foolish to leave these tools of our salvation unused.
As Our Lord neared death, according to St John, he said consummatum est, as the Latin reads. The English translation does not do justice to this. There is nuptual imagery used here, consumation, by which the couple seals their marriage. The death on the Cross is the act by which our Divine Bridegroom sealed His marriage covenant with His Bride, the Church. There is also the connection to consume -- Christ, according to St Paul, takes up all history in Himself. He sanctifies all creation.
Many non-Catholics will use this passage to condemn the Sacrifice of the Mass. Of course, this is wrong, because they don't understand what they are condemning in the first place (they don't really know the Catholic teaching), and in the second place, they don't understand memorial.
In the Jewish understanding of memorial, it means more than just to commemorate or call to mind something or someone. When pious Jews celebrate the Passover, they understand that through that liturgical meal, God is making present the very events of their salvation from slavery in Egypt. They aren't just reminding one another about it! In the context of that celebration (probably anticipated), Christ establishes the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, commanding His Apostles Do this in memory of me.
The gift Christ gave to us in the Eucharist, through the gift of the Priesthood, is the ability to make present the events of our salvation. While celebrating the Passover for the last time, He transforms it and shows it to be a prefiguring of what He was to do. He then gives the power to His Apostles, who have handed it down through the generations, until He comes, to make the events of our salvation present in every time and place. The Jews knew that God transcends time and space, and is able to make events that are far distant present to us today.
When we celebrate the Mass, we are truly standing on the hill of Golgatha; we are peering with Sts Peter and John into the empty tomb; we are standing with the others on the Mount of Olives as He ascends! Imagine! Some think Mass is boring!
It is finished! At the same time, by the gift of the Eucharist, it continues through time and space to our present day, in our own town.


Anonymous said...

Wow.Since you have an adoration of Christ, drop the Blessed Sacrament clutter and go straight to Christ Jesus. Drop the Magisterum stuff and go to Christ Jesus as revealed in the New Testament. Stop the madness of Roman clutter and go straight to the simplicity of Jesus Christ without priests. For all believers are kings and priests to our God through what Jesus has "consummated" on the cross.
It is finished by Him. Commemoration is all that he has commmanded. Don't add to his word by suggesting more than that with all this "make present" the past!
Wow. That's too much twisting of the simplicity of the gospel.

Lone Star PLU said...

Well, Ron, that's very interesting. Thanks for your thoughts. It's a good thing the Apostles and no one else in the Church had such thoughts before the "reformers" of the XVI Century. The Fathers of the Church are unanimous that Christ established a Priesthood within his Priestly People. The ministerial Priesthood has its origins in the Upper Room on the night Christ celebrated the Last Supper. The Protestant Minister has its origins in Martin Luther, Zwingli, Calvin, etc.
I'll take the Church and the Ministries established by Jesus Christ in 33 over the ones established by men 1600 years later.
How about the words of Christ that you seem never to have read: "I am the Bread of Life" ; "I am the True Bread come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this Bread will live forever." "Unless you eat my Body and Drink my Blood, you have no life within you." St John goes on to say that the Jews, much like the protestors in the XVI Century, quarreled among themselves saying "How can this man give us his body to eat and his blood to drink?" They, like the protestors, left the community of believers, because they could not believe in the Real Presence.

Anonymous said...

Hello Ron

Just read your comments. While you recommend that we disregard all Christ's apostles/disciples/priests and approach Him in DTG (Direct-to God)fashion, can you enlighten us on how we would ever have even heard of a Jesus Christ without their existence/appointment to His Majesty ? He obviously had some role in mind for them !

Namely that of Communicators and Mediators of His Good News. And having once appointed them, I feel confident that He would surely safeguard them from serious error, especially in the core beliefs and practices of our faith.


Anonymous said...

By the way, the word used for "eat" in the Hebrew New Testament was not like the English word eat, which simply means to put something in your mouth and swallow it. The verb actually used was not the nice, human verb for eating, but the animal verb, which literally meant "to tear and rip with teeth." The Jews at least understood what he was saying, unlike the admirers of the Protestant REVOLT, not "reformation," who ascribe support for abortion, contraception, homosexuality, etc.