Thursday 3 June 2010

"beati qui ad cenam Agni vocati sunt"

Following on from my last post (very Hunwickesque, if I might utter the master's name), another thought came to mind re: the Beati qui.

Only moments before the Invitation, (unless you're sitting through the Coronation Mass) the priest has said the prayer: "Unde et memores, Domine, nos servi tui, sed et plebs tua sancta, ejusdem Christi Filii tui Domini nostri tam beatae Passionis....etc"

Or in the Missale Anglicanum :

Wherefore, O Lord, we thy servants, and thy holy people also, remembering the blessed passion of the same Christ thy Son our Lord...etc

In the Eucharistic Sacrifice, tradition endows the Passion with the attribute "blessed". Now, the discussion about whether or not beati should be translated as Happy or Blessed is something I won't go into here, and you can probably guess which side I'd fall on, but there is something significant about this for the Invitation.

Christ's Passion is Blessed. Christ underwent this Passion for the redemption of the whole world. We Christians, though we are called to, and the Saints always do, pick up the Cross, it is important to bear in mind that we have not undergone the Passion of Our Lord. In human terms, it is possible to suffer physically as Christ did, but we have not redeemed ourselves; rather we have been redeemed. Is it a confusion to call ourselves "beati" at the moment before receiving the Body and Blood of Christ? Is it correct to conflate "the Supper of the Lamb" of the Apocalypse with the Banquet of the Mass? Are we not blurring the distinction, despite our Communion, between the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant? Thoughts?


  1. Broad stoles spotted in Philadephia!

    Only a glimpse mind; but thought you be interested.

    Best wishes

  2. Your Corpus Christi High Mass was the most marvellous Anglican High Mass I've been to for over 40 years. So good to see the English Missal used more or less as printed. I've known Fr Philip since he was first made a Deacon and you are very lucky to have him there.

  3. I'm so pleased a) you could make it b) you enjoyed the litury. I thought that last night went extremely well all things considered (filing 12 servers through those little sanctuary gates is a feat in itself). We had a good team and a proper rehearsal.

    Last night was also one of our proper EM celebrations. Sunday Mass is normally a composite rite, but on feasts we do it properly.

    Oh, and wasn't Bordese wonderful? I haven't heard it before and I was getting emotional in the Sanctuary....

  4. Whether ‘beati’ should be translated as ‘happy’ or ‘blessed’, as I see it, ‘happy’ doesn’t convey the sense of being sanctified by the Divine while summoned to the great Supper. The concept that Our Lord has made holy ‘those who are called’ is entirely missing if ‘happy’ is used instead of ‘blessed’. Certainly they are happy or joyful to be called – but why? Well, because they’ve been ‘blessed’ by God. That one word says it all.

    As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m more comfortable in using ‘beati’ (blessed) not before I take Holy Communion, but afterwards. As I wait to receive at the rail, my thoughts are focused on my unworthiness before Jesus, yet still He will comfort me by means of the Sacrament. It is when I receive Our Lord and become one with Him that I feel blessed; not prior. Of course, I’m only speaking for myself, so others I’m sure may feel differently about what state they are in before/after taking Communion.

    The distinction between the Banquet of the Mass and the Apocalyptic Supper of the Lamb ought to recognized and made, not blurred as you say. There is a clear difference in terms of time and space, and who is present. The Mass we attend is earthly, in the here and now, but the latter is heavenly, sometime in the indeterminate future (after the fall of Babylon and before Satan’s temporary restraint, if I recall the chronology of Revelations correctly). Also, as the Supper of the Lamb precedes the Last Judgment, the feast is specifically laid out for the ‘Ecclesia Triumphans’; the rest of us are still in purgatory awaiting release and judgment, unable to partake of its glories.

    In a nutshell, the ‘Beati qui…’ seems somewhat unsuitable to the Eucharistic invitation as the phrase refers to an entirely separate event, and one unfortunately denied to us (the communicants) if I’m interpreting the Revelations timeline correctly. ‘The blessed; or ‘the happy’ refers to the heavenly hosts, not we earthbound, transgressing mortals of the ‘Ecclesia Militans’ still struggling in hopes of Heaven.

    Well, I’m rambling on and on so I’ll end here. Once again, I hope this makes sense.

    P.S. Joseph, a reminder - can you put that link to my AC church (St. John’s) that I e-mailed you on your blog’s ‘Churches of Interest’ list? Thanks!

  5. As a retired church organist/director of music in the Brigton area I also enjoyed the Bordese and have already ordered a copy of it. It seemed to have just the right ethos for that service being neither too austere (Palestrina) nor flippant (Puccini)and a change from the SOM's inevitable Haydn. I shall come again!

  6. Have you read Scott Hahn's The Lamb's Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth [DLT 2007]?
    A refreshing take on the Revelation to St.John the Divine.

    That aside. I find the key to the Mass in the word anamnesis, remembrance. Such a strong and powerful word (which is why I disagree profoundly with Bishop Peter Elliott when he wrote recently: I give one example that concerns me as a sacramental theologian. “Do this in remembrance of me” should never appear in a Catholic rite. “Do this in memory of me” is a more accurate rendering of the original languages and takes us away from “memorialism”. The meaning of the Eucharist as the great sacrificial Memorial is set out in the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1362-1367. - but that is another matter!) - Such a strong and powerful word -with its weight of bringing into the present that which is past, so the Mass is not a repetition of the life-giving sacrifice of Calvary and the redeeming events surrounding it, but is the same Sacrifice, both bringing the events of the Triduum into the present, and taking us back to those events - the Eternal Now.
    And if it is the Eternal Now, it also takes us forward to the eternal worship of Heaven, where the Mass is brought to its fulfilment before the Lamb.

    So, in one sense, Beati qui... is incongruous and anachronistic, but in another, through the Mass and Communion, we are brought into the foretaste of the heavenly Banquet that is to come, that we may dwell in Him and He in us as the BCP put it, a glimpse here and now of the heavenly Jerusalem.
    Regards, and sorry to have missed your celebrations last Thursday,
    John U.K.