Mediator Dei 17

This section recounts the incarnate life of the Lord. One thing struck me: the commonality of reference to the Letter to the Hebrews here and in the recent papal encyclical. They are based on earlier references in the Old Testament. That first quote from Heb 10:5-7 cites Psalm 40, which in the modern Roman Rite is used often for occasions that celebrate or install ministers.

Let’s read, then discuss a bit more:

17. No sooner, in fact, “is the Word made flesh”[John, 1:14] than he shows Himself to the world vested with a priestly office, making to the Eternal Father an act of submission which will continue uninterruptedly as long as He lives: “When He cometh into the world he saith. . . ‘behold I come . . . to do Thy Will.”[Heb.10:5-7] This act He was to consummate admirably in the bloody Sacrifice of the Cross: “It is in this will we are sanctified by the oblation of the Body of Jesus Christ once.”[Heb. 10:10] He plans His active life among men with no other purpose in view. As a child He is presented to the Lord in the Temple. To the Temple He returns as a grown boy, and often afterwards to instruct the people and to pray. He fasts for forty days before beginning His public ministry. His counsel and example summon all to prayer, daily and at night as well. As Teacher of the truth He “enlighteneth every (person)”[John, 1:9] to the end that mortals may duly acknowledge the immortal God, “not withdrawing unto perdition, but faithful to the saving of the soul.”[Heb.10:39] As Shepherd He watches over His flock, leads it to life-giving pasture, lays down a law that none shall wander from His side, off the straight path He has pointed out, and that all shall lead holy lives imbued with His spirit and moved by His active aid. At the Last Supper He celebrates a new Pasch with solemn rite and ceremonial, and provides for its continuance through the divine institution of the Eucharist. On the morrow, lifted up between heaven and earth, He offers the saving sacrifice of His life, and pours forth, as it were, from His pierced Heart the sacraments destined to impart the treasures of redemption to the souls of (people). All this He does with but a single aim: the glory of His Father and (humankind’s) ever greater sanctification.

That twofold purpose of liturgy described in Sacrosanctum Concilium (section 10) was not a novelty for the preconciliar Church. The sanctification of people is here in black and white–and does the Church intend this sanctification to extend beyond the body of believers? Is there a wider target?


Mediator Dei on the Vatican web site.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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