Mediator Dei 1

You can reference Mediator Dei on the Vatican web site. One of the challenges with this document is that is lacks a chapter structure. I’ll give you a reference point as we explore this 1947 encyclical letter “on the sacred liturgy.”

First off, readers should know this document was not written for lay people or parish clergy. It is addressed to bishops, and those higher up. In a way, we’ll be eavesdropping on a private conversation of the upper hierarchy just after WWII.

Comments are always welcome on these document threads, so have at it. Let’s get off to a good start. And that is Jesus Christ, the center of our Christian lives, and the center of every liturgical consideration:

Mediator between God and (people)[1 Tim. 2:5] and High Priest who has gone before us into heaven, Jesus the Son of God[Cf. Heb. 4:14] quite clearly had one aim in view when He undertook the mission of mercy which was to endow (humankind) with the rich blessings of supernatural grace. Sin had disturbed the right relationship between (people) and (their) Creator; the Son of God would restore it. The children of Adam were wretched heirs to the infection of original sin; He would bring them back to their heavenly Father, the primal source and final destiny of all things. For this reason He was not content, while He dwelt with us on earth, merely to give notice that redemption had begun, and to proclaim the long-awaited Kingdom of God, but gave Himself besides in prayer and sacrifice to the task of saving souls, even to the point of offering Himself, as He hung from the cross, a Victim unspotted unto God, to purify our conscience of dead works, to serve the living God.[Cf. Heb. 9:14] Thus happily were all (people) summoned back from the byways leading them down to ruin and disaster, to be set squarely once again upon the path that leads to God. Thanks to the shedding of the blood of the Immaculate Lamb, now each might set about the personal task of achieving his (or her) own sanctification, so rendering to God the glory due to Him.

Within the context of a post-Reformation Catholicism and in the aftermath of a tragic world war, one can understand the strong language of “wretched” and “infection.” There is a thread of optimism that in Christ, many things are possible. That last sentence about “achieving (one’s) sanctification” isn’t how I would describe the operation of grace. But in the context of liturgy, we do indeed cooperate with God’s grace, and in doing so, give God the glory.

First thoughts?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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3 Responses to Mediator Dei 1

  1. K. D. Snyder says:

    I have long thought about commenting on your site, perhaps even offering to contribute a piece or two. Perhaps I will take this discussion of Mediator Dei to begin. I have not previously read this document, nor am I reading ahead; thus comments will be somewhat “off the cuff.” Two observations on this opening paragraph:(1) Although the references are from Hebrews, I am also seeing a likely Patristic influence as Christ as Mediator is a favorite theme from Augustine. (2) Those who have criticized liturgical/Eucharistic theology from the Council and thereafter often bemoan the alleged loss of the language of sacrifice. We see its preconcilior emphasis right away here with “Thanks to the shedding of the blood of the Immaculate Lamb…” (kds)

  2. Todd says:

    Thanks, K.D,, for commenting.

    Off the cuff, I’ll say that the expression of sacrifice ideally moves beyond liturgy, and perhaps this is something many, if not all believers have difficulty with. Saints are not and were not spectators in sacrifice, and I don’t mean just martyrs. In everyday life today, do we shed our blood of “convenience” by standing aside for others, serving others, and thus show Christ through concrete action, and not just allow the witnessing of a priestly and liturgical sacrifice? Self-sacrifice is often bloodless, hard to discern, but just as real to those offering it, and those served. The liturgy is meant to make this more real, more able to be perceived, and an inspiration for carrying it out into the world.

  3. FrMichael says:

    Wow! I like your choice of this document. Haven’t read it in several years.

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