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Accept This Sacrifice

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Let me be clear from the start: this is not a review of a book – this is an initial exploratory comment on a review of a book.

The book is
Did the Anglicans and Roman Catholics Agree on the Eucharist?: A Revisit of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission’s Agreed Statements of 1971 and Related Documents by Colin Buchanan.

I have always been delighted by Colin, his scholarship, friendship, and humour. I appreciate his wonderful books and I look forward to reading this one.

I just want to pick up from the review by Dan Stollenwerk on Anglican Taonga, and the highlighting of Colin’s claim that

No Anglican liturgy today… could ever say ‘May the Lord accept this sacrifice at your hands’” (p. 170) which was deleted from the Anglican liturgy as early as 1549.

[UPDATE:

Thanks, Kieran.

I have tracked down the eucharistic rite in Papua New Guinea’s Anglican Prayer Book of 1991 in none other than Colin Buchanan’s own Anglican Eucharistic Liturgies: 1985 – 2010:

THE OFFERING
THE PREPARATION OF BREAD AND WINE

Lord God, we ask you to receive us
and be pleased with the sacrifice we offer you,
with humble and contrite hearts. (page 276)

In the introduction to the rite, Colin acknowledges the use of the Roman offertory prayers.]

Let us not sweep differences between us under a duplicitous irenicism; but let us also not overstate differences.

Colin’s Evangelical allegiance is well known, and this is a lens through which, unsurprisingly, he reads history (and liturgy). The reviewer underscores this in the analysis of the English Reformation.

The word “sacrifice” will have a particular resonance for Evangelicals. It has a variety of usages within the scriptures and Christian history and theology. And so it is heard differently by different people. There will be a variety of understandings of “sacrifice” within Roman Catholicism, and a variety of understandings of “sacrifice” within Anglicanism.

That might lead well to a first point: there is not a homogeneous Eucharistic perspective within Roman Catholicism; nor is there a single Eucharistic perspective within Anglicanism. Many RCs could not articulate their church’s formal position, and many practices and understandings will not be consonant with that formal position. And the same is true within Anglicanism – where I would add that discerning an Anglican “formal position” will be more difficult than finding a Roman Catholic one.

This leads to my contention that in the spread of RC Eucharistic perspectives there will be significant overlap with the spread of Anglican perspectives. Many Anglicans will be closer, in understanding and practice, to Roman Catholics than they are to others within their own denomination, and, similarly, many Roman Catholics will be closer, in understanding and practice, to Roman Catholics than they are to others within their own denomination.

Even looking at the exchange between presider and gathered community that is being discussed, whilst for some people the focus is on the word “sacrifice”, for many others, the primary point is that we pray together for the person presiding at that person’s request. This is common right across the Christian spectrum and throughout history, in Eastern rites, for Jacobites, Nestorians, and in the Gallican and Mozarabic rites.

When Colin says “No Anglican liturgy today… could ever say ‘May the Lord accept this sacrifice at your hands’”, one need only do a Google search and we quickly do come up with this sentence in Anglican liturgies. I guess the response might be that these particular words are not authorised by any General Synod of any Anglican province. That, I’m guessing, is correct. [UPDATE: From Colin Buchanan’s own book, that guess has now proved to be incorrect – a General Synod which has authorised these words is quoted above].

But to say that the Eucharistic rites I find online with those words included are therefore not Anglican, is, I believe, a judgement too far. I am unaware of any Anglican liturgical trial which has ruled that these words are inadmissible. These words are used in Anglican liturgies in the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia within the flexibility of A New Zealand Prayer Book. They have been used by every level of our church’s hierarchy. No one has laid a formal complaint against their usage. To say that these services are not Anglican liturgies is unreasonable.

I highlight ARCIC’s Final Report, 1982: 13-14:

Christ’s redeeming death and resurrection took place once and for all in history. Christ’s death on the cross, the culmination of his whole life of obedience, was the one, perfect and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the world. There can be no repetition of or addition to what was then accomplished once for all by Christ. Any attempt to express a nexus between the sacrifice of Christ and the eucharist must not obscure this fundamental fact of the Christian faith. Yet God has given the eucharist to his Church as a means through which the atoning work of Christ on the cross is proclaimed and made effective in the life of the Church. The notion of memorial as understood in the Passover celebration at the time of Christ – i.e. the making effective in the present of an event in the past – has opened the way to a clearer understanding of the relationship between Christ’s sacrifice and the eucharist. The eucharistic memorial is no mere calling to mind of a past event or of its significance, but the Church’s effectual proclamation of God’s mighty acts. Christ instituted the eucharist as a memorial (anamnesis) of the totality of God’s reconciling action in him. In the eucharistic prayer the church continues to make a perpetual memorial of Christ’s death, and his members, united with God and one another, give thanks for all his mercies, entreat the benefits of his passion on behalf of the whole Church, participate in these benefits and enter into the movement of his self-offering.

ARCIC focuses on ‘remembrance’ (anamnesis) affirming that the event of salvation (Christ’s sacrifice) was a once and for all event. There is no repeated sacrifice in ‘remembrance’ (anamnesis). In the Elucidation, ARCIC distinguishes between the historic and eucharistic uses of the word ‘sacrifice’:

In the exposition of the Christian doctrine of redemption the word sacrifice has been used in two intimately associated ways. In the New Testament sacrificial language refers primarily to the historical events of Christ’s saving work for us. The tradition of the Church, as evidenced for example in its liturgies, used similar language to designate in the eucharistic celebration the anamnesis of this historical event. Therefore it is possible to say at the same time that there is only one unrepeatable sacrifice in the sacramental sense, provided that it is clear that this is not a repetition of the historical sacrifice.

There is therefore one historical, unrepeatable sacrifice, offered once for all by Christ and accepted once for all by the Father. In the celebration of the memorial, Christ in the Holy Spirit unites his people with himself in a sacramental way so that the Church enters into the movement of his self-offering. In consequence, even though the Church is active in this celebration, this adds nothing to the efficacy of Christ’s sacrifice upon the cross, because the action is itself the fruit of this sacrifice. The Church in celebrating the eucharist gives thanks for the gift of Christ’s sacrifice and identifies itself with the will of Christ who has offered himself to the Father on behalf of the all mankind. (The Final Report, 1982: 20).

The Eucharist identifies with the sacrificial action of Christ in such a way that this action becomes effective in the present in the Eucharist (remembrance as anamnesis).

In 1994 ARC-USA published the following summary of the Anglican-Roman Catholic Agreed Statement
on the Eucharist in order to make it widely available in a form that is “short, accessible, and easily
reproduced.”

1. WE AFFIRM that in the Eucharist the Church, doing what Christ commanded his apostles to do at the
Last Supper, makes present the sacrifice of Calvary.
2. WE AFFIRM that God has given the Eucharist to the Church as a means through which all the atoning
work of Christ on the Cross is proclaimed and made present with all its effects in the life of the
Church.
3. WE AFFIRM that Christ in the Eucharist makes himself present sacramentally and truly when under the
species of bread and wine these earthly realities are changed into the reality of his body and blood.
4. BOTH OUR CHURCHES AFFIRM that after the Eucharistic celebration the body and blood of Christ may
be reserved for communion of the sick…Episcopalians recognize that many of their own Church
members practice the adoration of Christ in the reserved sacrament.
5. WE AFFIRM that only a validly ordained priest can be the minister who, in the person of Christ, brings into being the sacrament of the Eucharist and offers sacramentally the redemptive sacrifice of Christ which God offers us.

In the light of these affirmations they conclude that “the eucharist as sacrifice is not an issue that divides our two Churches.”

For those looking for sacrificial language that is authorised by General Synod, the following spring to mind:

Praise and glory to you creator Spirit of God;
you make our bread Christ’s body
to heal and reconcile
and to make us the body of Christ.
You make our wine Christ’s living sacrificial blood
to redeem the world.
(A New Zealand Prayer Book page 541)

I look forward to reading Colin’s book. I also recommend the book Eucharist and Offering by Kenneth Stevenson.

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30 Responses to Accept This Sacrifice

  1. I was once attending a Roman Catholic service, a good 25 years ago, where the priest, just prior to the Eucharist, explained that we were about to reenact the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, but in an unbloody way. I found that offensive, inaccurate and downright creepy!

  2. On a slight tangent, the word ‘sacrifice’ in connection with the Eucharistic action is quite frequent and early in patriotic sources. The usual modifier is ‘bloodless sacrifice’, which, I suppose, in a culture of daily religious sacrifice, is a radical concept. While Reformation ghastness at this word and its semantic territory continues, as you have discussed, it does not sit well with the teachings of the Early Church.

  3. The fact remains, Bosco, that I could attend 100 masses in different Roman churches around the world and expect to hear those words in each of them; and I could attend 100 Eucharists in Anglican churches around the world and expect never to hear them; and if I did hear them in one of those 100 churches, there is a 100% chance that those words are not authorised by the local general synod.

    Further, even where those words are used in an Anglican Church regularly, that does not make it “Anglican” in any straightforward sense. First, those words are illicit because they are against the doctrine of the Anglican Church – that church, let us never forget, in its modern form derives from martyrs who died precisely not to have the words said which you seem sanguine about. Certainly, locally here in our islands, those words are not consistent with this church’s understanding of the Doctrine and Sacraments of Christ; and, thus secondly, in our particular situation, they are not allowed, even by the flexibility provided for in our church. Thirdly, I note that historically, the addition of the objected words in Anglican eucharists has been an intentional adoption from Rome (by which I include pre Reformation CoE) and not a rediscovery of a hidden post Reformation Anglican theology, mysteriously lost between the 16th century and mid 19th century.

    Next, I raise the point that one effect of your post, citing ARCIC etc in support of minimal if not nil difference in Eucharistic theology between Canterbury and Rome begs the question why we are not one church already! but we are not and we are unlikely to be, not least because a rather large number of Anglican priests and bishops would never agree to say the words which Colin objects to. I for one would freely and readily say that such words are not Anglican and even if some Anglicans in a few places say them, that does not make them Anglican.

    Finally, I observe that ARCIC saying that the Eucharist as a sacrifice does not divide our church is not in itself a statement that does away with division between our churches on the question of sacrifice. It is an important statement and it should inform any debates we have on the matter. But I am not aware of general synods let alone the Anglican Communion as a whole debating the matter and agreeing with this ARCIC statement.

    • Thanks, Peter.

      I feel several Venn Diagrams coming on 🙂

      I am going to have to have some fairly undisputed historical evidence that the CofE martyrs “died precisely not to have these words said”! From where I stand, their martyrdoms are more complex than focusing on these particular words.

      That “those words are illicit because they are against the doctrine of the Anglican Church” has not been tested anywhere that I am aware of. If you know of any Anglican jurisdictions that have tested these in their particular, appropriate juridical contexts, I would be very interested.

      I am the last to suggest that disagreement about “sacrifice” is the primary reason for Anglican/Roman Catholic division – so there is no hint, I would have thought, in my post that agreement around the use of “sacrifice” solves the Anglican/Roman Catholic divides.

      Blessings.

    • If memory serves rightly, the Anglican Church in Papua New Guinea uses the Roman Missal without adaptation. That means there is one province in the communion where the the phrase ‘may the Lord accept…’ is used in an Anglican liturgy with 100% authorisation.

      • Thanks, Kieran.

        I have tracked down the eucharistic rite in Papua New Guinea’s Anglican Prayer Book of 1991 in none other than Colin Buchanan’s own Anglican Eucharistic Liturgies: 1985 – 2010:

        Lord God, we ask you to receive us
        and be pleased with the sacrifice we offer you,
        with humble and contrite hearts. (page 276)

        In the introduction to the rite, Colin acknowledges the use of the Roman offertory prayers.

        I will update the original post.

        Blessings.

  4. As per Facebook request from Bosco,
    In the Old Catholic Church (in Communion with the Anglican Communion) of the Netherlands, we use this wording every week at mass. In Dutch:”De Heer neme deze offerande aan uit uw handen, tot lof en eer van Zijn naam, tot heil van ons en Zijn gehele heilige Kerk”. May the Lord take this sacrifice from your hands, for the glory of His Name and for the salvation of us and his Holy Church.

    • Thanks, Daan. I think this is such an important point: Anglicans are in full communion with a church where these words are normative: “May the Lord accept this sacrifice at your hands”. Blessings.

  5. The traditional doctrine of the Scottish Episcopal Church, as found in Bishop Jolly’s book ‘The Christian Sacrifice in the Eucharist (1831), fits perfectly with these words. It is not the same as the general Roman doctrine but, as you say, there are a variety of Roman theologies of sacrifice.
    I would also add, against Bishop Peter, that the Church of England didn’t begin with Henry VIII and under Henry after the break with Rome it had a traditional doctrine of the Eucharist and used the Latin Mass – we are not tied to the strange teachings of sixteenth century Protestants but find our doctrine in what we profess ourselves to be: part of the one Catholic Church of Jesus Christ.

  6. The Reformation did not vanish all notion of Eucharistic Sacrifice form the Anglican Holy Table. Many of our Divines long before the Tractarians used the terms Memorial or Commemorative Sacrifice of the Eucharist. Here’s a quote from Bishop Sparrow’s Rationale Upon the Book of Common Prayer from 1672: “But besides these spiritual Sacrifices mentioned, the Ministers of the Gospel have another Sacrifice to offer, viz. the unbloody Sacrifice, as it was anciently call’d, the commemorative Sacrifice of the death of Christ, which does as really and truly shew forth the death of Christ, as those Sacrifices under the Law did foreshew it, and in respect of this Sacrifice of the Eucharist, the Ancients have usually call’d those that offer it up, Priests.”

  7. I was (Roman) Catholic for 45 years; have been happily Anglican for 20. My growing embrace of Anglicanism is driven in turn largely by its embrace of the spirit of Romans 14, evident most recent in the gay debate, and much needed in this one.
    I carried with me into my Anglican parish the Eucharistic belief I developed in a Catholic context over my adult years there. Though Rome may be clear, my experience is as Bosco says, Catholics have subtlely different approaches. In my experience, Real Presence remains for all Catholics at the heart of Eucharist, as it did for Luther. But more than one Catholic priest encouraged me in my rejection of trans-substantiation as arrogant human folly.
    Whatever the words of the liturgy we use, I have continued to see the notion of sacrifice as inherent in what we are doing. As a Catholic, I was always taught that there was but one sacrifice, completed by Jesus, that we were recalling and re-enacting, that indeed as the 1994 joint statement says above, we are ‘making present’ the (one) sacrifice of Calvary. My encounter with evangelical objections to the notion has left me with the view that they are attacking a straw man. In order to object to Catholic practice, they must believe what Catholics don’t, that they are daily and weekly creating another, new, sacrifice.
    All of this is not a million miles removed from Tom Wright’s approach who saw, I think in ‘Surprised by Hope’, that in the Eucharist the parallel Kingdom of God ‘beaks through’ the curtain, making the Kingdom’s realities present to us. One of those is the once-for-all sacrifice, and glorious resurrection of our Lord and King. I cannot see why anyone would have a problem with that.
    All of this great grist to the mill for my looming assignment in St John’s THE512 (Wellington). 

    • I think your point, Phil, is regularly my experience – people often attack a straw man. In this case” “In order to object to Catholic practice, they must believe what Catholics don’t…” Blessings.

  8. I take a rather “Tract 90” approach.

    I do not believe that Anglican formularies deny the doctrine of Eucharistic Sacrifice properly understood. Our rites, however, tend to avoid the words identified because that often contribute to a misunderstanding of the doctrine, such that the once for all sacrifice of Jesus, rather than being re-presented and made present in the Eucharist in a particular way, it may mistakenly seem Jesus is being sacrificed anew.

    That said, one of the issues around the passage of the Act of Succession of 1702 was the prospect of ending up with a Lutheran King since Lutherans clearly still held to Eucharistic sacrifice and, at the time, most Anglican thinkers would have thought otherwise (whatever the flexibility of the formularies.

  9. Bosco, you may be stirring the pot here just a wee bit too much. I am currently reading a controversial ‘life’ of Archbishop Edward Benson * – the noted ABC whose leading role in the Trial of Bishop Edward King was founded upon certain liturgical activities that Benson found objectionable, that were far less controversial than the issue you present here.

    The author of this book (Simon Goldhill) – A Very Queer Family – reveals Benson initial objection to matter as insignificant as candles or an embroidered cloth on the altar, or even the Eastward position of the Celebrant to be against Anglican Tradition.

    The story goes that, on a private visit to a R.C. church in France, Benson was shown a chasuble that was supposed to have been worn by the martyred Thomas a’Becket. Before Benson knew what was happening, the local sacristan ‘threw the vestment over the ABC’s head’ so that he was completely enveloped in it from head to toe – thus making him the first ABC to ever wear a chasuble since the Anglican Reformation!

    I doubt Benson would have publicly dined out on that story. It just goes to show, though, how things have changed in Anglican liturgical use since the time of Archbishop Benson. (Maybe not in Aotearoa/N.Z.?

    Is it interesting to note that Bishop Selwyn (later Bishop of Lincoln) brought a wee bit of ‘catholic ceremonial into our Church in these Islands.

  10. I only can fully agree with ARCIC’s final report, and also with your article. I am glad that you are bringing up such important subjects in your articles.

    I wrote a similar article in 2014 (see link bellow).

    My suggestion, in my MA thesis, is that the Anglicans get reconciled with their past, readopting both the Roman Canon and the offertory prayers, HOWEVER, with abundant footnotes, so as to appease troubled minds that might have interpreted sacrificial words wrongly.

    • Thanks, George. An interesting challenge. From memory, Roman Catholic Eucharistic Prayers 2, 3, and 4 have been formally adopted by different Anglican provinces. I know that the Roman Canon is used (Roman Catholic Eucharistic Prayer 1), but I am unaware of its formal adoption by any General Synod as yet. I wonder if there has been any attempt to do so, or any discussion around this. Blessings.

  11. One further point Bosco on this thread is that, in our Anglican Tradition, we offer ‘Our Sacrifice of Praise and Thanksgiving (Eucharist)’ – in union with what Jesus has already achieved on the Cross. The ‘Mysterium Tremendens’ is thus recognised by faith. I suppose those people who have no understanding of the ‘Real Presence’ of Christ in the Eucharist might feel they have grounds to protest. But, for what reason?

    • I am not sure, Ron, if understanding Christ’s presence in the Eucharist (what would be an “unreal” presence?) of necessity leads to comfort with “accept this sacrifice”. It is better for Peter (who set off this discussion via social media and has energetically contributed here) to illustrate the independence of the two concepts that you tie inevitably together. Blessings.

  12. Hello All,
    I note, in respect of what I wrote above, that no one has adduced an (agreed at General Synod/Convention) Anglican liturgy which reproduces the Roman words.

    (Having deliberately used the word “modern” to talk about the post Reformation CofE and consequentially derived Anglican churches in order to acknowledge that the CofE was preceded by the Church in England) I further note here that the English Reformation was marked by a clear teaching of the unique time-stamped complete sacrifice of Jesus on the cross: “who made there (by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world”. Thus I suggest that one part of Anglican reluctance to adopt Roman wording lies in this strong theme within Reformation teaching.

    The other part lies, of course, in the Reformation commitment to “remembrance” rather than “re-presentation”. The sentence cited above from the BCP continues, “and did institute, and in his holy Gospel command us to continue, a perpetual memory of that his precious death, until his coming again.”

    Yes, of course, ARCIC and other theological engagements can and do pursue the connection between “remembrance” and “re-presentation” but it is notable, is it not, that Anglicans have singularly failed to take the next step, adoption of Roman wording, when getting down to the synodical work of agreeing to wording for our. Common prayer?

    All this, I suggest, is a sturdy attention to the NT, which clearly teaches we may offer a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, but does not clearly teach the offering of any other sacrifice, or use of wording that gives that impression, within our gatherings to worship the God we meet in Christ.

    • Thanks, Peter.

      What about Papua New Guinea’s offertory prayer in their Anglican Prayer Book of 1991 quoted in Colin Buchanan’s own Anglican Eucharistic Liturgies: 1985 – 2010:

      Lord God, we ask you to receive us
      and be pleased with the sacrifice we offer you,
      with humble and contrite hearts. (page 276)

      And what about Paul’s

      I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1)

      Blessings.

      • The passage that you bring forth from Papua New Guinea’s 1991 Prayer Book is actually a private prayer of the priest from the Roman Missal, offered after the presentation of the cup and before the lavabo.

        Obviously, it ties into the people’s prayer following the priest’s invitation, “Pray, beloved, that this our sacrifice may be acceptable to God the Almighty Father.” (or however Rome is translating the text these days) but a private prayer of the priest and a public prayer of the people have differing impacts on popular theology.

        • Thanks, Fr Robert. In the authorised Anglican use of this prayer, it is clearly a public prayer rather than a “private prayer of the priest”. This would not be the first time the dynamic has changed from private prayer of the priest to public prayer of the priest – and even to public prayer of all. Blessings.

        • Words from the West Malling Abbey Rite of Holy Eucharist at The Offertory – “With a humble spirit and a contrite heart may we be accepted by you, O Lord,and may our sacrifice be so offered in your sight this day that it may be pleasing to you.” West Malling (Anglican Benedictines) have had this distinctive liturgy in daily usage since at least the 1970s.

  13. Hello Bosco
    PNG may be the exception that proves the rule! (I would like to know more about what they think they are doing with those words … but I concede that an “adduction” has now happened on this thread!)

    Yes, Romans 12:1-2, a notable enlargement of valid sacrifices for New Testament Christians … a fair critique of what I said above but not, I think, a ground for adoption of the Roman words?

    (I see in my comment above that “oblation” has become – thanks Apple – Latino :).)

  14. Your argument ‘I am unaware of any Anglican liturgical trial which has ruled that these words are inadmissible’ and therefore that they do not contradict the doctrine of the Anglican church is specious. Simply because something has not been shown in a court to be contrary to Anglican doctrine does not mean that it is not actually contrary to the doctrine, just as a criminal who has not yet been caught and tried is any less a criminal. (Forgive the somewhat melodramatic comparison.)

    The bishops and ecclesiastical courts have, it is true, been reluctant to bring and hear cases about the doctrine as embodied in the liturgy; perhaps wisely, seeing how divisive they were in the 19th century. In New Zealand you have an unusual level of flexibility in the form of regular eucharist celebrations compared to other Anglican provinces; but you mention that no synod has authorized the words in question and, in an age when liturgical flexibility is otherwise broadly authorized, that is probably because no synod would ever grant explicit permission to those words. All but the most Anglo-Catholic of high churchpeople would object. (I admit though that, as you deal with nonexistent previous trials, I am dealing with nonexistent hypothetical synods.)

    As for the point about Anglicans being in communion with Old Catholics: we are in communion with them on the basis of the Chicago–Lambeth Quadrilateral, which states a view of the whole church and the signs of unity thereof without going into doctrinal detail. In short, we stated that we are happy to be in communion with churches even if we don’t fully agree on all points of doctrine provided that these core tenets of Christendom are respected, and on that basis we entered into the communion relationship. Old Catholic doctrine and liturgy is not Anglican doctrine and liturgy or vice versa.

    I write the above, by the way, as an Anglican who attends Old Catholic services (in Germany) and upholds a doctrine of eucharistic sacrifice as it may be understood from the historic formularies. I am fairly certain that the ‘Orate fratres’ with its response does not fit into this doctrinal pattern.

    • Thanks, Daphne.

      You have missed the discussion in the comments, and the update of the post. Colin Buchanan, in another of his books, quotes the inclusion of these words as authorised by an Anglican General Synod.

      Our NZ Tribunal on Doctrine has not “been reluctant to hear cases about the doctrine as embodied in the liturgy” – as required, it has heard a case whenever one is presented.

      Blessings.

  15. There is an interesting discussion about eucharistic sacrifice between Eric Mascall and Michael Green in Growing into Union if thats available down under. And im suprised no one has mentioned the reply by the Abps of Canterbury and York to the Popes condemnation of Anglican Orders 1896 which was drafted by Bishop John Wordsworth of Salisbury.

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