Hoc Sacrificium Novum

Update: Hoc Sacrificium Novum (2) However …

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Fr Hunwicke is coming up with a new set of articles, for his piece Hoc Sacrificium Novum (1) has the number one between brackets.

When I first began to use Sarum some six years ago, I had scruples about In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti, acceptum sit omnipotenti Deo hoc sacrificium novum. One accusation by the Protestants about priests celebrating the old liturgy was that they claimed to make a new sacrifice, distinct from the unique Sacrifice of Christ. I was faced with the alternative of renouncing Sarum as a suspect rite or removing the word novum from the formula. If I did that, surely I would be committing the same error of modifying the liturgy for theological reasons.

My instinct is to follow a liturgy and not invent something of my own. Therefore, I had no alternative than to interpret this prayer as asking God to accept the sacrifice of the New Testament. Therefore, the Sacrifice of Christ is unique, but the Mass enables this unique Sacrifice alongside the entire Mystery of Christ to be made present for those of us who were not contemporaries of the earthly Christ. The liturgy gives us something that secular or religionless Christian moralism could never give.

Fr Hunwicke concludes this first part of his article by saying – “Calvary … and the Eucharist … conjointly, in that sense, are a new Sacrifice in as far as they are the Sacrifice Novi et Aeterni Testamenti.“He leaves us with the teaser of beginning a second part with the word “However”. That promises to be interesting.

We are forced to observe that no liturgical form or rite is perfect or perfectly coherent in a rationale. All rites are relative and contains defects in theological terms, or simply because of copyists’ errors, and those errors became almost of the same status of inerrancy as the Scriptures! I will also finish with a however, but certainly different to that which Fr Hunwicke intends to publish in the next day or two.

However, we need to have something, and meddling and tampering only make things worse. Certainly, leaving it untouched lessens the multiplication of corruptions and “accretions”. We humans have forgotten how to tolerate imperfection and approximation. That could be the subject of some very interesting discussion…

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