Mediator Dei 89-92

Let’s continue on the theme of lay people offering the sacrifice of the Mass:

89. In every age of the Church’s history, the mind of man, enlightened by faith, has aimed at the greatest possible knowledge of things divine. It is fitting, then, that the Christian people should also desire to know in what sense they are said in the canon of the Mass to offer up the sacrifice. To satisfy such a pious desire, then, We shall here explain the matter briefly and concisely.

Three ways: joining prayers to those of the clergy, bringing bread and wine for consecration, and giving money:

90. First of all the more extrinsic explanations are these: it frequently happens that the faithful assisting at Mass join their prayers alternately with those of the priest, and sometimes – a more frequent occurrence in ancient times – they offer to the ministers at the altar bread and wine to be changed into the body and blood of Christ, and, finally, by their alms they get the priest to offer the divine victim for their intentions.

One more reason, which is not about power, but about participation:

91. But there is also a more profound reason why all Christians, especially those who are present at Mass, are said to offer the sacrifice.

92. In this most important subject it is necessary, in order to avoid giving rise to a dangerous error, that we define the exact meaning of the word “offer.” The unbloody immolation at the words of consecration, when Christ is made present upon the altar in the state of a victim, is performed by the priest and by him alone, as the representative of Christ and not as the representative of the faithful. But it is because the priest places the divine victim upon the altar that he offers it to God the Father as an oblation for the glory of the Blessed Trinity and for the good of the whole Church. Now the faithful participate in the oblation, understood in this limited sense, after their own fashion and in a twofold manner, namely, because they not only offer the sacrifice by the hands of the priest, but also, to a certain extent, in union with him. It is by reason of this participation that the offering made by the people is also included in liturgical worship.

And so, participation as defined and part of liturgical reform in the 60’s and later is rooted in part with Mediator Dei in 1947. Somehow, the participation in the sacrifice of Christ makes things like musical or ritual performance seem smaller in comparison.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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