01 April 2010

Maunday Thursday

Pange, lingua, gloriosi * Corporis mysterium, * Sanguinisque pretiosi, * Quem in mundi pretium, * Fructus ventris generosi, * Rex effudit gentium.

Our Lord's Institution of the Most Holy Eucharist

Take, eat of this, all of you; for this is my body, which is given for you. Do this in commemoration of me.

Take, drink of it, all of you; for this is the chalice of my blood of the new and eternal covenant, the mystery of faith, which is poured out for you and for many unto the remission of sins. This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in commemoration of me.

Compiled from the following sources: Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:24-25; Missale Romanum, Prayers Qui pridie and Simili modo.

This is an exercise in my version of the game biblical scholars like to play called What Did Jesus Really Say? A frequent approach is basically to compare all the sources and then only accept as authentic words of Jesus the bare minimum that they all have in common. From the point of view of faith, however, which accepts all of these sources as speaking the truth inerrantly / infallibly, Jesus must really have said every word attributed to him by any and every authentic source. Hence, what Jesus really said turns out to be fuller and richer than what is found in any one source, rather than thinner and poorer as the modern scholarship has it.

The "keyed" version looks like this:

Key: Matthew; Mark; Luke; 1 Corinthians; MISSALE ROMANUM.

TAKE, EAT OF THIS, ALL OF YOU; FOR THIS IS MY BODY, which is given for you. Do this in commemoration of me.

TAKE, DRINK OF IT, ALL OF YOU; FOR THIS IS THE CHALICE OF MY BLOOD OF THE NEW AND ETERNAL COVENANT, THE MYSTERY OF FAITH, WHICH IS POURED OUT FOR YOU AND FOR MANY UNTO THE REMISSION OF SINS. This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in commemoration of me.


There are more than a few interesting points to notice from this compilation of the sources. Let's see, there are only four words common to all five sources (This Is My Body), which somehow highlights their importance; the red text is largely co-extensive with the underlined text (plus the "do this" command after the consecration of the chalice, minus the explanations of "given" and "which is poured out for you"), which confirms the tradition that Luke, a companion of Paul, records for us in his Gospel the preached Gospel of Paul; there is no italicized text which is not also bold, but not vice versa, which shows that here again Mark gives us something like a condensed version of Matthew's Gospel.

Notice, finally, the astonishing amount of text that is written in capital letters only, i.e. that comes to us only from the prayers of the Roman Canon and not from any of the biblical sources, which shows something of the nature and importance of the unwritten Tradition:

Only the Roman Canon reveals to us that Christ himself calls the Eucharist the "Mystery of Faith" (sadly, this has been removed from the words of institution in the Novus Ordo, wherein the "Mystery of Faith" has become: "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again").

Similarly, only the Roman Canon reveals the end of the triple command that punctuates the institution of the Eucharist: after the consecration of the bread, Christ says, "Do this"; again after the consecration of the wine, he says, "Do this"; and finally after all, he says in the form of the Ten Commandments, "Thou shalt do these things" (referring to both bread and wine / body and blood), and "Thou shalt do them in memory of me." Hence the name Maundy Thursday traditionally given to this day, which comes from the Latin mandatum (command), refers above all to the institution of the sacred priesthood, for by this triple command to offer the sacrifice of the New Covenant, Christ makes the apostles priests of the New Covenant. The priesthood and the Eucharist are most intimately joined in their simultaneous institution, "for every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices (Heb. 8:3).

1 comment:

big daddy said...

I have a vague memory of someone mentioning that Jesus did and said more things than he - the author - had chosen to write down. But I'm sure he can't be taken seriously.