I'm sure some people thought many of the recent posts were indicative of the proverbial axe and its perpetual grinding. But there is nothing to prove: all that can be done is to expose to view all the multiplicative senses. These need encompassing in the complexio oppositorum and, hence, the errors of Protestantism served only to reinforce the errors of Roman Catholicism.
Senses iii and iv are undoubtedly the most primitive and are, ultimately, sublimed as sense i. The virtue of the Anglican offertory is highlighting sense ii. Even sense v has a place if understood aright -- namely, the sense in which it was acceptable to even the reflective Puritans: viz., qua pleading or "pleading in the sacramental remembering, and showing forth the Lord's death." Since we no longer inhabit the polemics of the Sixteenth Century, an awful lot could be put back.
Because I view the venerable Roman canon as fundamentally ambiguous, I don't have much of an issue with it. But its studied ambiguity is now replaced with a series of side moves. That is to say, I find "EP I" untroubling and "EP IV" deeply problematic. The movement seems almost to be sequential, from figurae to res:
- "... we, your servants and your holy people, offer to your glorious majesty, from the gifts that you have given us, this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim, the holy Bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation";
- "... we offer you, Lord, the Bread of life and the Chalice of salvation";
- "... we offer you in thanksgiving this holy and living sacrifice"; and, worst of all,
- "... we offer you his Body and Blood, the sacrifice acceptable to you which brings salvation to the whole world."
The Fathers had it right.
Inasmuch, then, as the Church offers with single-mindedness, her gift is justly reckoned a pure sacrifice with God. As Paul also says to the Philippians, "I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things that were sent from you, the odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, pleasing to God." Philippians 4:18 For it behooves us to make an oblation to God, and in all things to be found grateful to God our Maker, in a pure mind, and in faith without hypocrisy, in well-grounded hope, in fervent love, offering the first-fruits of His own created things. And the Church alone offers this pure oblation to the Creator, offering to Him, with giving of thanks, [the things taken] from His creation ...
Now we make offering to Him, not as though He stood in need of it, but rendering thanks for His gift, and thus sanctifying what has been created. For even as God does not need our possessions, so do we need to offer something to God; as Solomon says: "He that has pity upon the poor, lends unto the Lord." Proverbs 19:17 For God, who stands in need of nothing, takes our good works to Himself for this purpose, that He may grant us a recompense of His own good things, as our Lord says: "Come, you blessed of My Father, receive the kingdom prepared for you. For I was an hungered, and you gave Me to eat: I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink: I was a stranger, and you took Me in: naked, and you clothed Me; sick, and you visited Me; in prison, and you came to Me." Matthew 25:34, etc. As, therefore, He does not stand in need of these [services], yet does desire that we should render them for our own benefit, lest we be unfruitful; so did the Word give to the people that very precept as to the making of oblations, although He stood in no need of them, that they might learn to serve God: thus is it, therefore, also His will that we, too, should offer a gift at the altar, frequently and without intermission. The altar, then, is in heaven (for towards that place are our prayers and oblations directed); the temple likewise [is there], as John says in the Apocalypse, "And the temple of God was opened:" Revelation 11:19 the tabernacle also: "For, behold," He says, "the tabernacle of God, in which He will dwell with men."
St. Paul (or rather his alter-ego) also.
By an act of faith, Abel brought a better sacrifice to God than Cain. It was what he believed, not what he brought, that made the difference. That’s what God noticed and approved as righteous. After all these centuries, that belief continues to catch our notice ...
I could go on and on, but I’ve run out of time. There are so many more—Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets .... Through acts of faith, they toppled kingdoms, made justice work, took the promises for themselves. They were protected from lions, fires, and sword thrusts, turned disadvantage to advantage, won battles, routed alien armies. Women received their loved ones back from the dead. There were those who, under torture, refused to give in and go free, preferring something better: resurrection. Others braved abuse and whips, and, yes, chains and dungeons. We have stories of those who were stoned, sawed in two, murdered in cold blood; stories of vagrants wandering the earth in animal skins, homeless, friendless, powerless—the world didn’t deserve them!—making their way as best they could on the cruel edges of the world.
Not one of these people, even though their lives of faith were exemplary, got their hands on what was promised. God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours.