What Is Offered?
I wasn't going to post anything tonight, because my brain had been sucked dry. I am being bombarded by so much stuff I don't want to read that thinking about important things has become almost impossible. However, I had a few minutes to continue reading Frank Senn's Christian Liturgy: Catholic and Evangelical, and I found this interesting quote:
What we do not find in the classic Eucharistic tradition is an offering of the body and blood of Christ. Even in the ancient Roman canon, what is offered is the bread and cup. True, it is the "bread of life" and the "cup of salvation", both elaborations using biblical references; and theologians of the sixteenth century and later could interpret this as the body and blood of Christ, especially since the change (transubstantiation) of the elements occurred at the words of institution before the anamnesis-oblation. But it is only when we come to the 1974 Roman Missal that we find in Eucharistic Prayer IV the bald statement, "we offer you his body and blood." This is a new development in eucharistic tradition, and it might be challenged in the name of tradition, as Martin Chemnitz did in his examination of the Council of Trent. (p. 477)
Lest I get into a full-fledged theological rumble where the Catholic and Orthodox readers of this blog start dog-piling on me, I want to emphasize that what I want to discuss here is the end of this quote which is for me profoundly ironic. Having grown up in the Tridentine-Vatican II guerilla war in a liberal parish in the Catholic Church, I find it quite strange that perhaps what the liberals in the Roman Church are doing is not subverting Trent, but rather completing it. Perhaps it is the traditionalists, without knowing, who are defending the poetic approach to the Roman Faith that the traditional liturgy embodies, against the rationalistic, Tridentine machine. Wouldn't that be a strange turn of events!
I know one other instance in which this occurs: in the old Roman offertory, the bread and wine are offered to God the Father as if they had already been consecrated, thus subverting the concept of linear time in the liturgical setting. By contrast, the new Roman prayer over the gifts is very rationalistic and logical:
Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation. Through your goodness we have this bread of offer, which earth has given and human hands have made. It will become for us the bread of life.
The Roman Catholic Church may have wanted for a long time to become an institution where the ideology is pure and correct, but the worship is stripped of any poetry or symbolism. Perhaps this is the ultimate downfall of "sacramental realism", if understood in a hyper-rationalistic manner.