Rorate Caeli

Mediator Dei - 60th Anniversary - III
Comments by Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer - I
The priesthood of the faithful


The most famous writing by Antonio de Castro Mayer, Bishop of Campos, Brazil, from 1949 to 1981, was his "Pastoral Letter on the Problems of the Modern Apostolate", published in 1953. The letter included a section with 80 erroneous propositions, based particularly on two of the most important Papal documents of the 20th century, the landmark encyclicals of Pope Pius XII on Sacred Liturgy (Mediator Dei, of 1947) and on False Theological Opinions (Humani Generis, of 1950).

Bishop Castro Mayer's letter is an extremely useful tool in the interpretation of several aspects of Mediator Dei and underline the relevance of Pope Pius's warnings.
False Opinion: The faithful "concelebrate" the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with the priest.

True Opinion: The faithful participate in the Sacrifice of the Mass.
Pope Pius XII explains the problem in Mediator Dei, 83-104: "...[T]here are today, Venerable Brethren, those who ... assert that the people are possessed of a true priestly power, while the priest only acts in virtue of an office committed to him by the community. ...[W]e deem it necessary to recall that the priest acts for the people only because he represents Jesus Christ, who is Head of all His members and offers Himself in their stead. Hence, [the Priest] goes to the altar as the minister of Christ, inferior to Christ but superior to the people. The people, on the other hand, since they in no sense represent the divine Redeemer and are not mediator between themselves and God, can in no way possess the sacerdotal power. All this has the certitude of faith."

Castro Mayer further explains the papal words:

These two propositions require an explanation. Never can it be said that the faithful "concelebrate" with the priest, for in the Church the expression "concelebrate" refers to Masses with several celebrants. They all actively concur in offering the sacrifice and in effecting the transubstantiation. An example of this is found in the Mass of priestly ordination, in which the new priests concelebrate with the bishop their ordination Mass. Likewise, the proposition in which it is said that the faithful participate in the Sacrifice of the Mass requires an explanation. Many understand it to mean that the faithful "concelebrate" the sacrifice. ...Others understand it to mean that the priest is but a mandatary or delegate of the people, and his priestly acts have no value except insofar as he represents the people. It is not in this way that the proposition is to be understood according to the teaching of Mediator Dei. In fact, the priest is not a delegate of the people, for he is chosen by divine vocation and engendered by the sacrament of holy orders. This does not mean that the priest, in a certain sense, does not represent the people. He does represent it insofar as he represents Jesus Christ, head of the Mystical Body, of which the faithful are the members, and when the priest offers the sacrifice on the altar, he does so in the name of Christ, High Priest, who offers it in the name of all the members of His Mystical Body. So, in a certain sense, the sacrifice is offered in the name of the people. That is why [the faithful] must participate in the sacrifice. In what way must they participate? Mediator Dei tells us:

[T]he 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. [Mediator Dei, 93]
Thus there is a definite meaning to the expression participate which can be used if one takes care to exclude every other less exact meaning.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

[T]he 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. [Mediator Dei, 93]

Please, correct me, but instead of number 93 to right one is 83.

New Catholic said...

No, it is 93, in the English version, naturally.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, i read the portuguese version.

Thank you.

Ottaviani said...

Completely repudiates the theology of the new mass.

Anonymous said...

Does bishop Rifan now say anything about bishop de Castro Mayer?

In his interviews I never saw anything...