Item #: 1258-8
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Author: James B. Collins III
Copyright: 2008
First Printed: 12-13-2007

In many places around the world the reality of the sacrificial nature of the Mass has been seriously down-played to the detriment of the spiritual life of the faithful. Pope John Paul II lamented this in his encyclical, Icclesia de Eucharistia (No. 10) where he addressed his concern at the current state of affairs, saying, “at times one encounters an extremely reductive understanding of the Eucharistic mystery. Stripped of its sacrificial meaning, it is celebrated as if it were simply a fraternal banquet.” Speaking about the impact on the ordained priesthood he went on to say, “Furthermore, the necessity of the ministerial priesthood, grounded in apostolic succession, is at times obscured and the sacramental nature of the Eucharist is reduced to its mere effectiveness as a form of proclamation.” The present work examines this whole question in depth, showing how, especially in the Roman Canon, the sacrificial nature of the Mass is emphasized and expressed as it always ought to be.

About the Author: Rev. James B. Collins, III was ordained to the Catholic priesthood in 2004 from St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie, where he earned an M.Div. and a master’s degree in dogmatic theology. Since then, he has served in the Archdiocese of New York at the Church of St. Teresa, Staten Island and in the Archdiocese for the Military Services in the chaplain corps of the United States Army Reserves and New York Army National Guard. Prior to entering the seminary, Fr. Collins worked as an investigator for the New York office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Book: 96 pages
ISBN: 978-0-81891258-0
Prod. Code: 1258-8


Reviews

          Two errors have bedeviled Eucharisic theology in the post-Vatican II era: a loss of understanding and appreciation of the Real Presence and an emphasis on the sacrament as meal to the lost understanding of its sacrificial nature. The Mass as Sacrifice wants to remedy the latter error.
          Father Collins, a New York archdiocesan priest, has assembled this little book of reflectons, with quotations from the writings of the saints and from magisterial documents, to refocus attention on the Mass as sacrifice. Two chapters discuss the theology of sacrifice. Chapter One examines sacrifice in the Old and New Testaments. Chapter Two examines it in the Tradition and magisterium, from the Church Fathers through Vatican II (with a bias towards the last century which takes up almost half of that chapter). Chapter Three studies the Roman Canon (the First Eucharistic Prayer) at length, highlighting the sacrifice-rich language in its text. That chapter is supplemented by the text of the Roman Canon, arranged in parallel columns using the Latin and current International Commission on English in the Liturgy texts, the latter of which Collins criticizes. Cardinal Edward Egan's foreward prefaces the whole book:
          "It can be said... that the reality of the sacrificial nature of the Mass and the sacrificial nature of the Eucharistic Prayers has been seriously downplayed or undermined in various ways, both by some theologians, liturgists, priests and even some bishops [Theologian] John H. McKenna writes... 'Perhaps nowhere in the realm of sacramental theology has the phrase "fighting words" been more fitting than in the case of Eucharist and sacrifice.' Pope John Paul II lamented this same fact... saying 'at times one encounters an extremely reductive understanding of the Eucharistic mystery. Stripped of its sacrificial meaning, it is celebrated as if it were simply a fraternal banquet."
          This excerpt gives readers a sense of the book's strengths and weaknesses. On the one hand, Father Collins is unafraid of identifying the issues and culling a wide range of sources in support of his argument. On the other hand, Father Collins sometimes likes to string texts together: The book sometimes reads like a seminary term paper. A little bit of better editing would have enhanced it. Father Collins should also provide more historical context: Given the thoroughgoing diatribe that the Protestant Reformation conducted against the Mass as sacrifice, it's just not enough to preset the Council of Trent's teaching with the laconic comment, "In 1547 the discussions at Trent... began. Written to respond to the heresies of the Reformation... the chapters [of the council's documents]... provide a great synthesis" The book would also be improved if Father Collins had commented on the sacrificial elements in the other approved Eucharistic Prayers.
          Father Collin's reflections on the Roman Canon show the importance of the principle lex orandi, lex credendi(how we pray expresses what we believe). How many people know why we mention Abel, Abraham and Melchizedek in that prayer? How many know that the vast majority of saints explicitly mentioned in the First Eucharistic Prayer are martyrs? Father Collins tells us why -- and what this all has to do with sacrifice. His spiritual reflections are valuable. Understanding the Mass as sacrifice has been neglected in American catechesis for so long that this double-barreled presentation of Tradition convincingly shows what's painfully missing in many contemporary discussions of Eucharistic theology. Short and compact, the book is a quick read dealing with an important subject. --John M. Grodelski writes from Bern, Switzerland for National Catholic Register, March 1, 2009.


Sacrificial emphasis: In many places around the world, the reality of the sacrificial nature of the Mass has been seriously downplayed to the detriment of the spiritual life of the faithful. Into this issue comes The Mass as Sacrifice: Theological Reflections on the Sacrificial Elements of the Mass by Fr. James B. Collins III. Using his background with the master's degree in dogmatic theology, Fr. Collins offers insights from the Old and New Testaments, the Fathers of the Church, St. Thomas Aquinas, the Council of Trent, and popes Leo XIII, Pius XII, John Paul II and the Second Vatican Council. He examines the question in depth, showing how, especially in the Roman Canon, the sacrificial nature of the Mass is emphasized and expressed as it always ought to be. --Crux of the News, May 19, 2008


Three kindred but contrasting books attracted my notice, one long, two short, all good. The late French Cardinal Charles Journet (1891-1975) was a close friend of the philosopher Jacques Maritain. His 1957 book, only recently translated, The Mass: The Presence of the Sacrifice of the Cross provides much history, doctrine, and quotation worth knowing and refreshing oneself with. The Mass as Sacrifice (ST PAULS / Alba House) by Father James B. Collins does the same, but briefly. The other short book is The Mass Is Never Ended by Gregory F. Augustine Pierce. --Philip C. Fischer, SJ in Review for Religious, #67.3.2008

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