Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies
COLLECTS OF THE ROMAN MISSAL - PRECIOUS BLOOD OVER THE OFFERINGS
Missale Romanum 1970 (MR' 70)
For today’s meditation on the Collects of the Roman Missal, July being the month devoted to the Precious Blood, we consider the Prayer over the Offerings for the Votive Mass of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the MR’70. The following is the official ICEL English translation of the Prayer over the Offerings in this Mass:
“As we offer our oblation to Your majesty, O Lord, may we draw near in these mysteries to Jesus, the Mediator of the New Covenant, and celebrate anew the sprinkling of His Blood, in which lies all our salvation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”
This beautiful prayer explicitly draws upon three particular passages from the Letter to the Hebrews:
A) “But you have come…..to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel” (Heb. 12:22-24, RSV).
B) “Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way which He opened for us through the curtain, that is, through His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Heb. 10:19-22, RSV).
C) “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16, RSV).
St. Paul (regarded by many of the Fathers as the author of Hebrews), speaks eloquently in this letter about the efficacy of Christ’s shed Blood in making satisfaction for human sins, and reconciling man with God. The reference to “sprinkling” in the first passage above is the solemn “Day of Atonement” in which the Levitical High Priest entered the “Holy of Holies” once each year in the Tabernacle, and sprinkled the blood from the sacrificial animal onto the “mercy seat,” that is, the lid covering the Ark of the Covenant. Jesus fulfills the symbolic meaning of this rite by making efficacious atonement, as St. Paul shows us in Hebrews 9 (and commentators stress this point, too):
“But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) He entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption [note here the inherent link between the Cross and the Ascension]. For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Heb. 9:11 -14, RSV).
Thus, our Prayer over the Offerings, relying upon these passages above, reflects a solemn and joyful anticipation of this reality: the efficacious re-presentation of Christ’s Sacrifice in the Eucharistic Prayer, with all its accompanying benefits for the Church and the world. I would also like to reiterate the importance of baptismal character (as I often like to do) in light of v. 14 in this above-quoted passage from Heb. 9 (the commentary of the Ignatius Study Bible also alludes to this point in its treatment of Heb. 10:22). In Baptism, Christ’s Blood “purif[ies] our conscience[s] from dead works,” and this purification is ordered towards “serv[ing] the living God.” The New American Bible even more accurately renders this latter verb as “to worship the living God.” This is baptismal character!
The Blood of Christ poured on our souls in Baptism effectively purifies us from sin and equips us for divine worship (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church nos. 1272-4)(David Allen)
|Mr. David Allen, M.T.S., is the lay Pastoral Associate for our parish of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes.