At OUR hands?

During Mass at our parish, The pastor intones after the offertory: “Pray my brothers and sisters that our sacrifice may be acceptable to God our Almighty and Loving Father”

All right, so far, so good. Yes, he adds “and Loving” to the prayer, but I’ll let that slide.

But then the pastor has this odd tendency to say loud enough so that he encourages all to say it along with him in response, “May the Lord accept the sacrifice at OUR hands, for the praise and the glory of his name, for our good and the good of all his Church”.

Now this appears to be wrong. It is our sacrifice, true. But we are not offering it, so it is not OUR hands, but YOUR (the priest’s) hands, correct? We have given it to him, the priest, and now he must offer it by his own hands, not ours. He is the Alter Christus, offering the sacrifice to the Father, correct? We are not consecrating the elements of the sacrifice, the priest is.

So if I am correct, that the prayer as said by our pastor is incorrect, then how do I approach him to stop saying it like that and so lead the congregation astray?

Someone will be along shortly to provide the quotes showing that the priest is not permitted to add, remove or change anything in the Mass.

What your priest is saying is not even his to say. It is the congregation’s part. Perhaps he does not trust the congregation to say it at all, so he says it along with you and makes the word change so it makes sense to him. I’ve seen a number of priests do this.

Maybe you could approach it lightly, something like, “Hey, Father, how come you don’t let us say our part by ourselves? Don’t you trust us?” :wink:

Betsy

You’re right that he should use the text as written. Theologically, I don’t see a huge problem with “our hands,” taken metaphorically. The text of the Mass, including the Latin original, contains numerous plural references like “we offer to you…”. But priests are not asked to say the Mass based on judgments of what language would be theologically equivalent to the Mass texts, they are asked to say the Mass texts.

I guess I find it especially odd that this priest is saying the response here in the first place. I’ve never seen a priest do that, and I would expect that it would throw a lot of people off. I wonder if it’s less the case that he is saying the response so that he can introduce the word “our,” and more that he started saying it for some other reason (e.g., people weren’t getting it) and changed “your” to “our” to maintain some degree of consistency. Anyway, he should not be doing it. My advice would be to approach him and ask about it! “Hey Father, you know, I had a question about the offertory. Isn’t ‘may the Lord accept the sacrifice’ supposed to be a response reserved for the people? I was just wondering why you said it too and changed the words, since I’ve never seen another priest take over the response for himself.”

Theologically there IS a problem.

The sacrifice that the priest offers is distinct from the sacrifice that is offered by the common priesthood.

The Ministerial Priesthood offers the Body, Blood, Soul and Divitity of Christ. The sacrifice offered by the common priesthood is ourselves.

Thus the response of the common priesthood cannot be “at OUR hands”, because I cannot offer someone else, and their particular offering of themselves is unique to them.

So, theologically “at MY hands” would be correct, if the response is a particular prayer by me to God; or “at YOUR hands” when responding to the priest in regards to his Ministerial sacrifice.

But using the plural as a particular prayer to God would be incorrect, as I am not offering my neighbor to God.

You are completely correct.
Part of the problem is that the Orate Fratres is presently mis-translated. “Meum ac vestrum sacrificium” should be translated “my sacrifice and yours” not “our sacrifice”, which would be “nostrum sacrificium”.
Hopefully the new translation will correct this defect in not only language but also theology.

I know it’s almost an article of faith among some that there’s a huge theological difference here, but if there is, then the Mass itself completely flunks at expressing it. Let’s go back a paragraph in the offertory of the Mass of Paul VI, shall we:
In spiritu humilitatis et in animo contrito suscipiamur a te, Domine; et sic fiat sacrificium nostrum in conspectu tuo hodie, ut placeat tibi, Domine Deus.
Sacrificium nostrum. Our sacrifice. It’s correct that the line under discussion here has “meum ac vestrum sacrificium” (which in the forthcoming new translation will be updated to “my sacrifice and yours”), but it simply can’t be theologically wrong to refer to “our sacrifice,” since that’s plumb what the Mass itself just said a paragraph ago.

Similarly, the TLM has, just before the passage in question:
Suscipe, sancta Tinitas, hanc oblationem, quam tibi offerimus ob memoriam passionis . . . . .
Hanc oblationem quam tibi offerimus. This oblation which we offer to you.

Don’t misunderstand, I’m completely in favor of faithful, literal translation of the Latin into English. But as a purely theological matter, I find it impossible to believe that there could be some grave issue with “the sacrifice at our hands” when mere moments ago the priest referred to “our sacrifice” or “the oblation which we offer.” Nor do I think, Brendan, that the distinction you’re trying to draw works. What is, then, the “oblation which we offer”? Some mix of “ourselves” for the layfolk and the Body and Blood of Christ for the priest? No, because laypeople do not offer themselves “ob memoriam passionis, resurrectionis, et ascensionis Iesu Christi Domini nostri,” as the prayer says.

Split those hairs too finely, and you’ll find yourself nicking the scalp of the Mass itself.

Perhaps it is splitting hairs, but while “we offer” a sacrifice, it is offered at the hands of the priest alone. As encapsulated in Mediator Dei:

Now it is clear that the faithful offer the sacrifice by the hands of the priest from the fact that the minister at the altar, in offering a sacrifice in the name of all His members, represents Christ, the Head of the Mystical Body. Hence the whole Church can rightly be said to offer up the victim through Christ.

But the conclusion that the people offer the sacrifice with the priest himself is not based on the fact that, being members of the Church no less than the priest himself, they perform a visible liturgical rite; for this is the privilege only of the minister who has been divinely appointed to this office: rather it is based on the fact that the people unite their hearts in praise, impetration, expiation and thanksgiving with prayers or intention of the priest, even of the High Priest himself, so that in the one and same offering of the victim and according to a visible sacerdotal rite, they may be presented to God the Father. It is obviously necessary that the external sacrificial rite should, of its very nature, signify the internal worship of the heart.

Now the sacrifice of the New Law signifies that supreme worship by which the principal Offerer himself, who is Christ, and, in union with Him and through Him, all the members of the Mystical Body pay God the honor and reverence that are due to Him.

We offer with the priest - but it is not offered at our hands, but through the hands of the priest.

So much for the vernacular being easier to understand. :slight_smile:

That’s true, but that’s why I specified that it would have to be understood with a slightly more metaphorical bent. And, of course, even once we move into the Canon, we have “haec munera, haec sacra sanctificia illibata, … quae tibi offerimus pro Ecclesia tua sancta catholica”, so it’s clear that in the offering of which the people are joining is the holy and unblemished sacrifice.

Don’t misunderstand, I don’t think that “at our hands” would somehow be better. But it seems to me is that the most you can say is that it would slightly promote a metaphorical interpretation of what the offertory consists of, which had already been expressed earlier and will later be re-expressed in the Canon, at the expense of a more literal statement about whose actual hands are involved. So I’ve never been able to ascribe the huge theological significance to this choice of wording that others seem to find.

The real issue, I think, is that, for priests or people who want to change “your hands” to “our hands” it is because of a desire to blur the distinction between clergy and laity, etc., etc. It is less that “our hands” is theologically wrong in some way, and more that the motive behind making the change may be theologically (or at least ecclesiologicall) problematic. Personally, I have no doubt that if though some vagary the text of the TLM had said “our hands,” we would today be reading eloquent flights of fancy about how beautiful it is that the Mass envisions the entire universal Church of all the ages humbly stretching out this offering to God, the cloud of saints who are present laying this offering of propitiation at the feet of the Lord . . .

I know that’s one of your recent hobby-horses, but the problem here is not understanding the vernacular, it is understanding the theology. You’ll notice that when I quoted the Latin that didn’t somehow clear up the whole issue immediately.

The liturgy is the work of the Church, not just the clergy. Here is part of the text of the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom which is also used in the Byzantine Catholic Churches.

It is meet and right to hymn Thee, To bless Thee, to praise Thee, to give thanks to Thee, And to worship Thee in every place of Thy dominion; For Thou art God ineffable, inconceivable, invisible, Incomprehensible, ever-existing and eternally the same; Thou and Thine only-begotten Son and Thy Holy Spirit. Thou it was who brought us from non-existence into being, And when we had fallen away didst raise us up again. And didst not cease to do all things Until Thou hadst brought us up to heaven, And hadst endowed us with Thy Kingdom which is to come. For all these things we give thanks to Thee, And to Thine only-begotten Son, and to Thy Holy Spirit; For all things of which we know and of which we know not, Whether manifest or unseen; And we thank Thee for this Liturgy which Thou past deigned to accept at our hands, Though there stand by Thee thousands of archangels and hosts of angels, The Cherubim and the Seraphim, six-winged, many-eyed, who soar aloft, Borne on their pinions singing the triumphant hymn.

In Catholic theology is the priest the only person necessary to celebrate a Liturgy? Seems like a pretty severe form of clericalism to me.

A priest is necessary to offer the Eucharist, yes. A deacon or layman is not a valid minister of the sacrifice. Surely Orthodoxy requires an ordained priest for the Divine Liturgy!

A priest can, in certain cases, celebrate Mass all by his lonesome self… but he’s never really alone, since the Mass is the act of the whole Church, who is present spiritually at every Mass.

I dont think anyone has said otherwise. What we are arguing is in regard to a very specific tex that bears on the indispensability of the ordained priesthood.

Here is part of the text of the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom which is also used in the Byzantine Catholic Churches.

It is meet and right to hymn Thee, To bless Thee, to praise Thee, to give thanks to Thee, And to worship Thee in every place of Thy dominion; For Thou art God ineffable, inconceivable, invisible, Incomprehensible, ever-existing and eternally the same; Thou and Thine only-begotten Son and Thy Holy Spirit. Thou it was who brought us from non-existence into being, And when we had fallen away didst raise us up again. And didst not cease to do all things Until Thou hadst brought us up to heaven, And hadst endowed us with Thy Kingdom which is to come. For all these things we give thanks to Thee, And to Thine only-begotten Son, and to Thy Holy Spirit; For all things of which we know and of which we know not, Whether manifest or unseen; And we thank Thee for this Liturgy which Thou past deigned to accept at our hands, Though there stand by Thee thousands of archangels and hosts of angels, The Cherubim and the Seraphim, six-winged, many-eyed, who soar aloft, Borne on their pinions singing the triumphant hymn.

Which doesn’t exactly bear on the question here, because this text has a much wider scope.

In Catholic theology is the priest the only person necessary to celebrate a Liturgy? Seems like a pretty severe form of clericalism to me.

The priest has an indispensable role according to Catholic theology. This text attributes nothing more to the priest than that the sacrifice made possible only by his ministry. Or as the CR-scholastics would have it, “the priest immolates and all offer”.

I understand the Orthodox forbid the priest from continuing without two or three other people there, as a regular practice. But even for those rarer than rare cases, like Seraphim of Sarov, you don’t question their liturgies because they happened to celebrate it without other people present.

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