By William A. Thomas
CORK CITY, Ireland, JULY 19, 2012 (Zenit.org).- The July 7-9 Fota V International Conference held in Cork City, Ireland, followed in the wake of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress held in Dublin in mid-June. Some 16 speakers gave conferences during the three-day event on “Celebrating the Eucharist: Sacrifice and Communion.”
The conference was opened by Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, and chaired by Professor Vincent Twomey SVD. Cardinal Burke gave the keynote address while explaining the general themes of the conference that were both, theological and liturgical reflections on the Eucharist.
Each day culminated with Pontifical Vespers celebrated by Cardinal Burke, who also celebrated Pontifical High Mass in the extraordinary form on the Sunday.
The first conference was given by Professor Vincent Twomey SVD, whose paper was titled “Rubrics and Ritual: the Letter v. the Spirit.” He stated that “influenced by the post-Enlightenment culture, the Liturgical Movement from the 18th century on stressed the intelligibility of the liturgy. Unsurprisingly, the initial reform of the liturgy after the Council also stressed intelligibly.”
“But this,” he said, “it is argued in this paper, was to the detriment of the nature of liturgy as ritual. The outcome was that rubrics tended not to be taken seriously. Instead ‘creativity’ and ‘intelligibility’ became the norm in the new liturgy. In his criticism of the initial reform, Joseph Ratzinger pointed to the essentially mysterious, non-arbitrary, ‘given-not-made’ nature of the Liturgy. It is God’s work not our fabrication. The non-arbitrary nature of ritual is common to all religions, as Ratzinger has pointed out. It is expressed in rubrics, be they oral or written.”
Professor Twomey went on to give example of anthropologists such as Victor Turner who recently considered the true nature of ritual through his fieldwork in Africa. “Ritual is the means by which communities renew themselves through the symbolic experience of the Holy. The participants in the ritual experience this encounter with the sacred as a form of death and rebirth. Their total involvement in the ritual (active participation?) gives their lives the meaning needed to face every day life. They form community,” he said.
German professor of New Testament Klaus Berger gave his conference in German and spoke on the “Liturgical Allusions in John’s Apocalypse.” He proposed that in Revelation 6:10, “John clarifies an important precondition for the Eucharistic theology of the early Christians: God’s Word can be eaten.”
“In the Eucharist, as the Gospel of John as a whole teaches,” Berger said, “the word of God is exclusively focused on Jesus. The edibility of the Word of God is also expressed there by the sweetness of the Eucharistic host, namely unleavened. It is a sign of life, as is honey, which can stand for it.”
These observations, the professor continued, “are aimed at inspiring normal Eucharistic devotion in a critical way, because of the evidence of tradition, devotion is often too subjective and impulsive.”
Left to his bride
Professor Father Manfred Hauke from the Theological Faculty of the University of Lugano in his conference asked the question “What is Holy Mass” before going on to a systematic discussion on the “Essence” of Eucharistic Sacrifice. In quoting the Council of Trent, Hauke stated that “Holy Mass is a true and proper sacrifice” and that the Council refutes the opinion that “to be offered means no more than that Christ is given to us to eat.” Hauke added, quoting Trent again, “With the order, ‘Do this in memory of me,’ Christ instituted the Apostles as priests, ordaining them, that they and other priests offer his Body and Blood. Christ offered himself once and for all on the altar of the Cross, but because his priesthood was not to be extinguished by his death, at the Last Supper, He offered his Body and Blood to God the Father under the appearance of bread and wine. He did this in order to leave his beloved Bride the Church a visible sacrifice as the nature of the human race demands, a visible sacrifice by which that bloody sacrifice to be accomplished once and for all on the Cross might be represented and in ‘memoria’ remain until the end of the world and so that its saving power might be applied to the remission of those sins that we commit daily.”
Father Gerard Deighan presented his paper entitled: “Continuity in Sacrifice: from Old Testament to New.” His overall aim was to make the connections between the many and varied animal sacrifices of the Old Testament and the one sacrifice of the New. The Council of Trent asserted that the Mass was indeed a sacrifice, but it is hard to define what a sacrifice is without understanding the nature of sacrifice as practiced in Israel, he observed. The most venerable of the ancient sacrifices was the Passover, celebrated only once a year. Then there were the regular sacrifices outlined in Leviticus 1–7, classifiable as holocausts, communion sacrifices, and expiatory sacrifices. Human sacrifice was also mentioned. Though never considered legitimate in Israel, the practice of redeeming the first-born son acted as a reminder that somehow even human life should be offered to God.
Mariusz Bilinewicz gave a paper titled “Reasonable Worship; Joseph Ratzinger’s Theology of Sacrifice.”
“In Ratzinger’s theology,” he explained, “the person of Jesus Christ is the central point of the whole history of the world. His Passover sacrifice is the fulfillment of promises of not only the Old Testament, but of the whole of humanity and of all religious systems of all times. Through the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, God steps down to the level of humans and becomes one of them in order to redeem them and give them a new life, based on a new relationship with God. Drawing on the Letter to the Hebrews, Ratzinger points at the figure of Christ the High Priest, who entered the holy presence of God and offered Him a perfect, acceptable, ultimate sacrifice.”
Cardinal Burke also presented a paper on the “Work of Cardinal Pietro Gasperri and the 1917 Code of Canon Law.”
In this paper the cardinal placed particular emphasis on the various codes that dealt with the role of the priest in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and made comparisons with the new code of 1983. His Eminence lamented the fact that some important codes from 1917 were excluded from the 1983 code, which pertain to the confessional state of the priest who is saying the Mass. He suggested a review of the Code and the re-introduction of some of the 1917 codes, updated and revised. The cardinal said that some of the canons that were written to deal with unusual circumstances are now being over-used and have become the norm.
Highlighting the differences between the work of committees and that of Cardinal Gasparri who produced the 1917 code, Cardinal Burke said that “within days of the 1983 code being published, pages of corrections had to be issued by the various committees whereas this would not have happened under Gasparri who would have overseen the entire work himself before publication, and that because of a single mind and hand there was greater clarity in it.”
The cardinal continued to explain the work of Cardinal Gasparri and the essential relationship of the Eucharist as Sacrifice and the Eucharist as Sacrament. He said that Gasparri correctly stated that “without the true Sacrifice of the Mass there can be no communion and that Christ in His human nature offers Himself as a victim — thus the priest is identified with Christ not just as priest, but as victim.”
One, single and true
Father Daniel Jones presented a paper on “The Verum Sacrificium of Christ and of Christians according to Saint Augustine.” Quoting Augustine’s Book 10, “City of God,” Father Jones stated that “Saint Augustine proposes a classic definition of true sacrifice of Christians as a means of demonstrating the superiority of the Christian religion.”
“The verum sacrificium is articulated in three distinct yet inseparable sacrificial actions,” he said, “which together form the one and only sacrifice by which human beings can be purified and united to God: firstly, the sacrifice of Christ, offered once for all on earth, but now presented eternally in heaven (the origin of the true sacrifice); secondly, the interior sacrifice of each member of the Body of Christ; and finally, the Eucharistic sacrifice, the sacrament which represents for the Body on earth the one sacrifice of Christ.
“These three elements are able to form one single true sacrifice because Christ opened the mystery of his one sacrifice to his whole Body, allowing them to receive and participate in it, in three moments: first, by transposing his once-for-all earthly sacrifice into the true and eternal sanctuary of heaven; secondly, by creating a priestly Body inseparably united to himself and his continued offering; and third, by establishing a visible representation of his sacrifice on earth whereby the earthly members are drawn into it.”
The entire conference will be published later by Four Courts Press.