Simili Modo

Simili Modo – English
In a similar way, when supper was ended, he took this precious chalice in his holy and venerable hands, and once more giving you thanks, he said the blessing and gave the chalice to his disciples, saying:
TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND DRINK FROM IT: FOR THIS IS THE CHALICE OF MY BLOOD, THE BLOOD OF THE NEW AND ETERNAL COVENANT, WHICH WILL BE POURED OUT FOR YOU AND FOR MANY FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS. DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME.

Simili Modo – Latin
Simili modo postquam caenatum est, accipiens et hunc praeclarum Calicem in sanctas ac venerabiles manus suas: item tibi gratias agens, benedixit, deditque, discipulis suis, dicens:
ACCIPTE, ET BIBITE EX EO OMNES, HIC EST ENIM CALIX SANGUINIS MEI, NOVI ET AETERNI TESTAMENTI: QUI PRO VOBIS ET PRO MULTIS EFFUNDETUR IN REMISSIONEM PECCATORUM. HOC FACITE IN MEAM COMMEMORATIONEM.

Simili Modo, Part 1

In a similar way, when supper was ended, he took this precious chalice in his holy and venerable hands, and once more giving you thanks, he said the blessing and gave the chalice to his disciples, saying:

In a similar way to the blessing and sharing of the bread, our Lord took the chalice in His holy and venerable hands. He gave thanks to the Father, blessed it, and shared the cup with His disciples. Why did our Lord do this? He could have consecrated the bread and wine together. He could have done a great many things. Yet, He chose to consecrate the bread and wine separately, and this was the pattern He gave to His Apostles.

As we have explored earlier, the Last Supper is not merely a symbolic meal, it is a real participation in the events to come of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of the Lord. God is the master of space and time, so this is not outside of the possibilities for Him. When Jesus says, “This is my body which will be given up for you,” we can hear that it is anticipating a future action. The mystery comes when we realize that even though He is talking about an action in the future, He is saying that the bread in His hands is His actual body. The Church has never believed these words to be metaphorical. That heresy did not appear until the second millennium.

We know that the Holy Mass is a sacrificial meal. So too was the Last Supper a sacrificial meal, inseparable from the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. What is the logic to the double consecration: the consecration of bread and wine separately. Jesus was making the Cross present at the Last Supper in a real, sacramental way, and, in so doing, made the Mass a memorial of the whole of the Paschal Mystery. When He took the chalice and said the words of consecration: “For this is the chalice of my blood…” He was essentially separating His Body and His Blood. The result of the catastrophic separation of Body from Blood is death.

At every single Mass, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ are separately made present under what looks like bread and what looks like wine. The Cross becomes present. The Death of our Lord Jesus Christ comes present. At the Last Supper, this was in an anticipatory sense because the events of the Passion and Death of Jesus had not yet happened. And at the Holy Mass, these events become present once more.

Of course, we know that the Death of Jesus Christ is not the end. Our God knows the way out of death’s decay. On the third day, He rose from the dead. His glorious Resurrection becomes present at each and every single Mass in a sacramental way during the Fraction Rite. Later on in the Mass, we sing the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God). However, just before this, the Priest breaks a piece of the Host over the paten and places it in the Chalice saying, “May this mingling of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ bring eternal life to us who receive it.”

It is only then that the Priest, and then the people, consume the Holy Eucharist. Once the Resurrection has been made present once more by the Fraction Rite, the Holy Eucharist is Jesus, whole and entire, never to be separated again. Therefore, the Church teaches the doctrine of concomitance which states that each particle of the Host or every drop from the Chalice is Jesus Christ, in His entire and whole Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. If you receive the Host, you receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the God-man. If you receive from the Chalice only, you receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the God-man. At every Mass, the Priest to complete the ritual must consume the Host and the Chalice. However, in many places, and for most of the history of the Church, the people only received the Sacred Host.

Simili Modo, Part 2

TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND DRINK FROM IT: FOR THIS IS THE CHALICE OF MY BLOOD, THE BLOOD OF THE NEW AND ETERNAL COVENANT, WHICH WILL BE POURED OUT FOR YOU AND FOR MANY FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS. DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME.

Earlier on, I shared the first part of a Byzantine prayer before reception of Holy Communion. This is the latter part of that prayer: “O Lord, I also believe and profess that this, which I am about to receive, is truly Your most precious body and Your life-giving blood, which, I pray, make me worthy to receive for the remission of all my sins and for life everlasting. Amen. O God, be merciful to me a sinner. O God, cleanse me of my sins and have mercy on me. O Lord, forgive me for I have sinned without number.”

I love the way this prayer acclaims the truth of the Eucharist in such plain terms. What was once a cup of wine is now the most precious body and life-giving blood of Jesus Christ. The reception of this great gift is for the remission of personal sins, ordered towards eternal life in Heaven. Jesus Christ offered Himself in our place for the forgiveness of sins. His Blood cleanses us of our sins. However, we should stop to think: how is the Blood of Christ applied to you and I today? Jesus died on the Cross two thousand years ago. How does His Blood wash us clean today? Is it merely symbolic? It would appear not.

Jesus Christ died on the Cross for the forgiveness of sins. This was not merely symbolic. At the Last Supper, He took bread and wine in His holy hands and offered it, saying that it was His Body and Blood. This was not merely symbolic. He rose from the dead. This was not merely symbolic. When God acts in the Person of Jesus Christ, there is an establishment of a permanence. This is what we have in the Sacraments.

First, in Holy Baptism, we enter into the Cross. We die with Christ and, in doing so, we rise with Christ. We are conformed to Christ and become Members of His Body. In Confirmation, this gift and reality is amplified and empowered. Then, in the Holy Eucharist, we come into Communion (being one with) our Lord in a renewed vigor. When we receive the Host or a drop from the Chalice, we receive the Holy Christ. In the Holy Eucharist, the Blood of Christ enters into our own body.

In the confessional, the Blood of Christ flows from the Cross over us, bringing the forgiveness of sins. In this way, we can see the Sacrament of Penance as a Communion with the Holy Cross. We hear in the prayer of the priest during Penance: “God the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.” Here we see clearly the action of God: in the death and resurrection of Jesus, in the sending of the Spirit, and through the ministry of the Church.

At Holy Mass, by virtue of our Baptism, we are participating in the eternal rites of the New Covenant, worshiping God with the angels and the saints. We are a covenant people; we are His People. And so, it is precisely through the Sacraments that we come to share in the superabundant merits of Jesus Christ and receive His forgiveness tangibly by our reception of the grace of the Sacraments and our cooperation with them.

Simili Modo, Part 3

TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND DRINK FROM IT: FOR THIS IS THE CHALICE OF MY BLOOD, THE BLOOD OF THE NEW AND ETERNAL COVENANT, WHICH WILL BE POURED OUT FOR YOU AND FOR MANY FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS. DO THIS IN MEMORY OF ME.

How are the rites of the New and Eternal Covenant? How does the Eucharist come to be? How does the Church exercise Her ministry? Of course, this power flows from the Father, through the High Priest Jesus Christ, and in the power of the Holy Spirit. But the instrumental reality of the Church in the administration of the Sacraments and the ministry of governance, sanctification, and teaching is the ordained clergy. Without bishops, priests, and deacons, the Church would cease to be a Church, because She would be without the source and summit of Christian life: the Eucharist.

At the Last Supper, Jesus says, “Do this in memory of me.” He is referring to so many things in this statement. First and foremost, He is establishing the ordained priesthood. In this moment, the twelve Apostles become the twelve first bishops, with Peter as the first among equals. Jesus is referring to the New Passover, the Last Supper meal. As we have discussed previously, however, the Last Supper is only part of the Paschal Mystery which is re-presented at Holy Mass. In the Last Supper, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ, we get a glimpse of what each priest must do.

A priest, by his nature, is one who offers sacrifice. The priest of God is one who offers the one and eternal sacrifice of Jesus Christ. In offering the Holy Mass, the priest is fulfilling the command of Christ to “Do this in memory of me.”

We do not want to think of this memory as a mere recollection or calling to mind. The Mass does not just call to mind the Paschal Mystery, it actually makes the Paschal Mystery present once again, outside of space and time!

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “In the sense of Sacred Scripture the memorial is not merely the recollection of past events but the proclamation of the mighty works wrought by God for men. In the liturgical celebration of these events, they become in a certain way present and real. This is how Israel understands its liberation from Egypt: every time Passover is celebrated, the Exodus events are made present to the memory of believers so that they may conform their lives to them (CCC 1363).”

In the New and Eternal Covenant, this age of the Church, the memorial takes on an even deeper meaning. The Catechism continues, “When the Church celebrates the Eucharist, she commemorates Christ’s Passover, and it is made present: the sacrifice of Christ offered once for all on the Cross remains ever present (CCC 1364).”

The entire Roman Canon beautifully underscores the priest’s role in that it is an offering, a sacrifice. The priest is offering the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, in remembrance of Him. However, this memorial action is not merely symbolic; it is anamnetic. We will discuss this word anamnesis further in the next section.

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