Rediscovering the Holy Sacrifice
by Aidan Nichols OP
In its combination of theological power and lyricism, the Pope¹s new encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, invites comparison with St Thomas Aquinas, finds Fr Aidan Nichols OP.
The Pope has been reflecting on the Eucharist, and the result is a little masterpiece. Why was it written? And what, in substance, does it have to say?
Judging from the internal evidence, The Church from the Eucharist has three aims in view.
First, it wishes to offer us an ordered account of Eucharistic doctrine, putting first things first. Among other things, that means giving pride of place to what was becoming, in many places, a rather well-kept secret. The Mass is not primarily a communion meal — not even one where we feast on the Real Presence, or anticipate the banquet of eternal life. First and foremost, the Eucharist is the Holy Sacrifice. It is the Paschal mystery in a sacramental sign. Everything else about the Mass flows from there. That is why the atmosphere of its celebration can never be jolly camaraderie (or the dutiful keeping of an obligation, for that matter). The tone of the feasting has always to be set by penitent gratitude for Calvary and the awed joy of the Easter tomb.read...