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5.0 out of 5 stars A priceless study of the Catholic Mass,
This review is from: A Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist (Paperback)
Abbot Vonier's little book on the Mass is a treasure to be read and re-read; indeed, I have just finished reading it for the second time. Its greatness lies in the fact that it manages to synthesise the work of our great philosopher saint, St Thomas Aquinas.
Vonier first sets the scene by explaining the nature of the sacraments and making it clear that the Eucharist, whilst being the highest tree in the sacramental wood, it is nonetheless first and foremost a sacrament. He takes issue with some catholic theology since the reformation, which in an eagerness to point out the errors of protestant theology, has ended up treating the Eucharist as being supra sacramental.
Thus, Vonier on a number of occasions points out: why are we surprised at the mystery of the Eucharist, which contains the whole Christ, and yet not surprised by Baptism, which is itself a going down into the tomb with Christ, with the result that the soul claims for itself the merits of the Lord's death and resurrection. Why we are also not surprised that in the sacrament of confession, the words of the Priest, as alter Christus, do indeed take away our sins through the merits of the Lord's passion. The Eucharist belongs to the same order of mystery. But, there is a difference, the other sacraments are perfected through the sacramental effect on the person; the Eucharist, by contrast, is perfected with the words of consecration.
I have set out below some extensive quotations to encourage Catholics seeking to understand their sacramental faith to take the plunge and buy this book. It can be bought on Abebooks, if not obtainable here
"Sacraments are signs, commemorations, monuments of the past. If we neglected this aspect, whilst trying to saving the notion of sacrament, we would be destroying its very nature and making it a thing entirely of the spirit. This would be to go out into the night of Protestantism through another door".
"If the priest at the altar brought down Christ from heaven in his natural state as a full grown man, this would not be a sacrament at all, for the event would lack the very essence of the sacrament, representative signification"."
"Sacraments are a unique creation with entirely new laws"
"Any effort we make in order to cultivate sacramental thought will be rewarded with precious fruits in our spiritual life; it will make us into true mystics"
"Our personal acts link us up with Christ; in this Catholics and protestants are agreed. But, the use of external things, of the sacramental signs, also link us up with Christ".
"the Eucharist belongs to the Divine cult because in that sacrament Divine worship is found in a supreme manner, as it is the sacrifice of the Church."
"The sacramental graces are specially characterised by the intimate connection with Christ's passion and death. They are not just any race, but grace flowing from the pierced side of Christ".
"Eucharistic sacrifice is an essentially sacramental thing; the Eucharist is a sacrament at its best because it is a ritual offering to God in the new Covenant"
Abbot Vonier makes three key points about sacraments:
(i) their representative significance;
(ii) the sacrament is not only man's healing but to God's glorification;
(iii) sacrament actually contains what it signifies.
The Eucharist has a threefold signification:
(i) its a commemoration of the Lord's passion;
(ii) ecclesiastical unity
(iii) a figure of the divine fruition which will take place in heaven - i.e. the viaticum.
"For the Eucharist it means not only the whole external rite of Mass signifies sacrifice, but he consecrated elements, or rather, the finitely holy Thing under the elements, also signifies sacrifice, as being the immediate representation of Christ immolated on the Cross".
"The use of the sacrament, Holy Communion, is held by St Thomas to be something that follows upon a sacramental act which is already complete in the consecration".
"Shall we say that the faithful come in at the end of the sacred drama?"
"It has the nature of sacrifice inasmuch as it is offered up, and it has the nature of sacrament inasmuch as it is partaken.
"It is commonly called a mystical sacrifice, or the unbloody sacrifice; it is a sacrament which is sacrifice or, better still, that the sacrifice is sacrament..we need not think of the anguish of pain, of any laceration of body, we need not think of any hypothetical death; in fact al the things that constitute the natural sacrifice ought to to be far removed from our thoughts"...none of those natural details of Christ's sacrificial act on the Cross are to be read into the sacrament-sacrifice which takes place on the altar".
"On Calvary Christ was offered up in propria specie, and that on the altar He is offered up in specie sacramenti. True oneness is in fact saved only through the diversity of the two states"
"If they (Body and blood) do signify a sacrifice, then there is a sacrifice, according to the universal axiom, that the Christian sacraments do what they signify".
"the Eucharistic sacrifice is not directly a mystery of Christ's Person, it is primarily a mystery of Christ's Body and Blood".
"When we offer up the great sacrifice, we say that we are re-enacting Christ's death sacramentally. Now Chirst's death is the separation of his Body and Blood, we do neither more nor less when we sacrifice at the altar...We enter into the mystery of his Body and Blood".
"The soul of Christ is in the sacrament through real concomittance, because it is not without the Body; but it in not in the sacrament through the power of consecration and therefore if this sacrament had been consecrated or celebrated at the time when the soul was really separated from the Body, the soul of Christ would not have been under the sacrament".
"If the consecrated elements had been preserved during the whole drama of Christ's agony on the Cross; there would have been real suffering and real death in the blessed sacrament then, though there would not have been in the sacrament the external violence done to Christ's Body by the executioners"
"the Eucharistic Body and Blood are representations of Christ in the sate when He was not whole and entire; when he was broken on the Cross at his death"
"It is the very nature of the Eucharist sacrifice to be a representation of the past, not a mactation in the present. Christ's body and blood represent aptly and completely that phase of His earthly career when He was dead on the Cross; they do not represent in any way that other phases of Christ's existence, His glorious life in heaven". "They signify in absolute literalness Christ as He hung on the Cross"
"As the Body and Blood on the altar are such a perfect representation of the Broken Son of God on Calvary, they are also the immediate and complete contact of the soul with all the saving power of Golgotha. So it can be said that in the Eucharistic sacrifice Christ is truly immolated, because the immolation of Christ on Calvary is brought home to use in such a realistic manner"...We do not say that Christ is immolated anew".
"We immolate Christ, but-------and here is an immense difference - not the Christ who is in heaven, because, as such He is not represented on the altar at all, but the Christ of Calvary, as the Christ of Calvary is the only one who is represented on the altar"
"In view of the sacrament, the Eucharist contains, not the mortal Christ, nor even the dying Christ, nor does it contain the glorious Christ, but it contains the Christ directly after his death"
"But in virtue of concomitance we have also the whole third phase in the Chris-personality, his glorious life. But when treating of the sacrifice we need not think of any other presentation except that of the second phase of the Christ personality"
"It is the genius and very nature of the Christian sacrament to be an act which may be repeated indefinitely"
"A sacrament is not an act in the drama, however great that drama may be: a sacrament is essentially the representation of the whole drama" Sacrament are the monuments of the finished thing"
"It is through this sacrament that we are made partakers of the fruits of the Lord's passion"
"In the sacrament of the Eucharist, then, representation and application of the sacrifice of the Cross are the only kind of immolation to be admitted to the sacrifice of the Christian altar"
"As the celebration of this sacrament is the representative image of the passion of Christ, so is the altar representative of the Cross itself on which Christ was immolated in His own nature".
"We do not bring Christ down from heaven, we do not raise Him up from the depths, through the sacramental signification; He is in our hands and in our mouths before we know where we are"
"But we understand that his Body is there according to the manner proper to the sacrament" "It is simply that thing which is in heaven, the Body and Blood of Christ but which has not left heaven for one instant"
"the sacrament produces the thing which it signifies; here it signifies the Body and Blood of Christ and it produces it"
"The sacrament is completed in the consecration of the matter, whilst the other sacraments are perfected in the use of the matter"
"Why do we believe more readily in the conversion of a sinner than i the Eucharistic change, which is constantly called by St Thomas a conversio"
"In the Eucharist we have the Body of Christ and the Blood of Christ, but with a mode of being entirely different from that mode of being in which Christ was at the Last Supper, in which He is now in heaven"
"It is clear than that Christ as He is in Himself and as He is heaven in his natural mode of being, is really distinct from Himself in as
far as He claims for Himself and owns that substantial mode of being which He has in the sacrament." This duality in the mode of being, the natural mode and the sacramental mode belongs to the heart of the mystery"
"To sin against Christ's divinity is the greatest sin; next comes the sin against Christ's humanity in his natural state; then the sin committed against the sacrament of Christ's humanity; and finally sin against the ordinary creature"
"Christ's Divinity is present after the consecration on account of its admirable hypostatic union with his body and his soul"
"The Eucharist is essentially a gift to the Church, not only of Christ but of the sacrifice of Christ, so that the Church herself has her own sacrifice" "We offer to God a sacrifice of sweet odour"
"The Eucharistic sacrifice is not, as was the sacrifice of the Cross, an offering for the whole world; but being a sacramental thing is for the Church, for every member of the Church, because it is offered up as a sacrifice of the Church, by the children of the Church"
"It redeems the souls of the faithful with an abundance of redemption"
"It is a direct propitiation and glorification of God"
"The sacramental sacrifice which we have from Christ St Thomas calls an image of the sacrifice of the Cross. The priest of the Church in his sacerdotal capacity is the image of Christ, as priest"
"Her Priesthood is no more an intrusion into Christ's priesthood than her sacrifice is a supplanting of Christ's sacrifice. In her sacramental genius she knows that her Mass is the living image, the living memory of the holiest thing that ever happened here on earth, the sacrifice of perfect sweetness on Calvary".
"There is in the Catholic sacramental system a certain transitorin4ess which it is very important to remember". "Sacraments belong to the work which Christ does on earth; they are not permanent glories of the everlasting triumph"
"The Eucharist, divine as it is, will passaway as faith and hope will pass away but the graces of the sacrament will remain for all eternity, in the perfection of Christ's mystical body"
"Divine as the Eucharist is, life with Christ in heaven will be something more divine"
"The eucharistic Christ is immolated, the natural Christ in heaven is consummated
5.0 out of 5 stars From the Old to the New,
This review is from: A Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist (Kindle Edition)
This is book of great interest for any student of theology. If you want to know why a previous generation feels the Church has not succeeded after Vatican II read this book and see what Eucharist and the Mass meant to our forefathers almost 90 years ago. Marvellous written with such feeling and passion.
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A Key to the Doctrine of the Eucharist by Abbot Vonier