But Your Grace: Christ Is a Sacrificial Priest

Christ on the Cross, Rembrandt, 1631 (wikipedia.org)

A very merry Sixth Day of Christmas, when my true love game to me six geese a-layin’. And may your metaphorical geese lay many fine golden eggs in the days ahead.

A priest wrote to Catholic Insight, asking readers’ prayers, so please do remember him, and all of our priests, in your intentions. It’s a tough slog out there for them, especially for those striving to hold onto our tradition, liturgically, morally, doctrinally…God provides the grace, but for at least some of that, we must ask.

Speaking of Tradition, did the Archbishop of Lima, Carlos Castillo Mattasoglio, let the cat out of the bag, with his odd remarks at a pre-Christmas (that is to say, Advent) Mass, that Christ died as a layman, and did not offer a sacrifice: In his Grace’s own words: Jesus doesn’t die offering the sacrifice of a holocaust, Jesus dies as a murdered layman, to which He decides not to respond with vengeance and who accepts the cross to give us a sign of life.

Whatever his Grace meant by these words – and he goes on – this is materially heretical, and one wonders what he thinks in his heart of hearts, and how many other members of our hierarchy think along these lines. Then, following on, how much this has to do with the near-universal antipathy, or at least apathy, amongst our bishops to the Traditional Mass, or even to Novus Ordo Masses said like the Old Mass, that is, Masses which look and sound like a ‘sacrifice offered to God’?

We should recall that, for their all their differences and squabbles, all the early Protestant heresiarchs were agreed on one point: That the Mass, whatever it was, was most definitely not a sacrifice, and this impiety must be abolished. Ecrasez-l’infame! The penalty for saying, or even hearing, the ‘sacrifice’ was the sacrifice of one’s own life.

We believe that any valid Mass is a sacrifice – a re-presentation of the same Sacrifice of Christ at the Last Supper and on Calvary – but sadly, most don’t look like such, but more like what Melancthon or Luther would have enjoyed: The priest – or, rather, presider – behind a ‘table’, facing the people, who are gathered around him, strumming guitars, koom-bah-aying, silence unheard of – with the sacrifice, embedded and all-too-often obscured somewhere amidst all the noise and distraction.

Of course, our Faith tells us that Christ was, and is, an ‘eternal High Priest’, the One Who offered the Sacrificed to end all sacrifices, as the letter to the Hebrews makes quite clear. Every priest is a priest by being configured to Christ by the potestas of sacramental character, bestowed in ordination.

We’re still waiting for a clarification from the Archbishop, one which would – should? – have gotten him a big red F on his first Christology essay, and, without a radical revision of his views, booted out. His fate would be worse if this were 1571 under Pius V, and not 2021 and Francis, even if the Archbishop were still a layman. Perhaps – dare we hope? – the Pope will intervene. After all, Lima is home to over 3 million Catholics, and it is necessary, at a bare minimum, that the spiritual head of all those souls actually believes the Catholic Faith, as handed down from the Apostles, whose successor he is.

There is a small-t tradition I heard somewhere that the wood from the crib was the same wood used for Christ’s cross. Whatever the case, the thought is sound: Christ was born to die, to offer Himself, to save us from our sins, conquer death, and bring us to heaven by taking their cost upon Himself, in His own flesh. All we have to do is cooperate, and do the little bit He asks of us. The two mites, and our two talents.

It does bear repeating: Our bishops and prayers need our prayers – the good to persevere and flourish; the wayward, to get back on that narrow path of orthodoxy and orthopraxy, which is the only Way to Truth, and Life.