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Pope Benedict explains the use "many" in the Consecration

Discussion in 'Scriptural Thoughts' started by Mario, Oct 27, 2017.

  1. Mario

    Mario Powers

    Below is a large portion of a letter sent to the German Bishops by then Pope Benedict XVI on 4/14/12. He explains the reason for revising the words of Consecration in the Holy Mass. I am very impressed and any highlights reflect which lines most impacted me. For some of you, it may be other sections that nail you.:)

    Why many instead of all in the words of Consecration: Pope Benedict XVI to the German Episcopate (4/14/12)

    …Then, however, the question arises immediately: if Jesus died for all, why in the words of the last supper did he say "for many"? And why do we insist on these words of institution of Jesus?

    First of all, at this point it must still be clarified that according to Matthew and Mark, Jesus said "for many," while according to the Luke and Paul, he said "for you." This seems to tighten the circle even more. But it is precisely by starting from here that the solution can be approached. The disciples know that the mission of Jesus transcends them and their group; that he came to bring together the children of God from all over the world who had been scattered (Jn 11:52). The words "for you," however, make the mission of Jesus very concrete for those present. They are not some anonymous element of an immense whole, but rather each one of them knows that the Lord died precisely for him, for us. "For you" is extended into the past and into the future, it is addressed to me personally; we, who are gathered together here, are known and loved as such by Jesus. Therefore this "for you" is not a restriction, but rather a concretization that applies to every community that celebrates the Eucharist, which unites it in a concrete way with the love of Jesus. The Roman canon has united these two biblical expressions in the words of consecration, and therefore says: "for you and for many." With the liturgical reform, this formula was adopted for all the Eucharistic prayers.

    But once again: why "for many"? Didn't the Lord die for all? The fact that Jesus Christ, as Son of God made man, is the man for all men, the new Adam, is one of the fundamental certainties of our faith. In this regard I would like to recall just three verses of the Scriptures. God "gave for all of us" his only son, Paul says in the letter to the Romans (8:32). "One died for all," he affirms in the second letter to the Corinthians with regard to the death of Jesus (5:14). Jesus "gave himself as a ransom for all," it says in the first letter to Timothy (2:6).

    But then it really must be asked once more: if this is so obvious, why does the Eucharistic prayer say "for many"? Now, the Church has taken this formulation from the accounts of the institution in the New Testament. It uses it out of respect for the word of God, in order to be faithful even in word. Reverential fear before the very word of Jesus is the reason for the formulation of the Eucharistic prayer. But then we ask: why did Jesus say this? The real reason consists in the fact that in this way, Jesus made himself recognized as the servant of God in Isaiah 53, that he revealed himself as the figure announced by prophecy. The reverential fear of the Church before the word of God, the fidelity of Jesus to the words of "Scripture": this twofold fidelity is the concrete reason for the formulation "for many." In this chain of reverent fidelity, we take out place with the literal translation of the words of Scripture.

    Just as before we saw that the "for you" of the Pauline-Lucan tradition does not restrict but makes concrete, so also now we can recognize that the dialectic between "many" and "all" has an importance of its own. "All" moves on the ontological plane: the being and activity of Jesus embraces the whole of humanity, the past, the present, and the future. But in fact, historically, in the concrete community of those who celebrate the Eucharist, he comes only to "many." One can therefore recognize a triple meaning of the attribution of "many" and "all."

    In the first place, for us who are able to sit at his table, it must signify surprise, joy, and gratitude for having been called, for being able to be with him and to know him. "May thanks be given to the Lord who, by his grace, has called me into his Church..."

    Then, however, in the second place this is also a responsibility. The form in which the Lord reaches others – "all"- in his own way ultimately remains one of his mysteries. Nonetheless, it is undoubtedly a responsibility to be called directly by him to his table in order to hear: for you, for me he suffered. The many have responsibility for all. The community of the many must be light on the lampstand, city on the hill, leaven for all. This is a vocation that concerns each one in an entirely personal way. The many, who we are, must have the responsibility for the whole, in the awareness of their mission.

    Finally a third aspect could be added. In contemporary society, we have the sense of not being "many" at all, but rather very few, a tiny cluster that continues to diminish. And yet no, we are "many": "After that an immense multitude appeared, which no one could count, of every nation, race, people, and language" (Rev 7:9). We are many and we represent all. Therefore the words "many" and "all" go together and refer to each other in responsibility and in promise…

    Safe in the Barque of Peter.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2017
    Julia and Carol55 like this.
  2. Booklady

    Booklady Archangels

    God bless you, Mario, this discussion is an answer to a prayer I made two days ago because of a confusion I am encountering at my church where our new priest, uses the term "all" instead of "many" during the consecration. I had wondering whether this was a mistake, or whether the terminology was interchangeable, or whether there had been a change in the wording recently since Pope Benedict XVI's time. Do you happen to know, what is the correct form, has there been a change recently?
    Carol55 likes this.
  3. Mario

    Mario Powers


    As of right now, there is no change: many is the norm.

    Safe in the Barque of Peter!
    Booklady likes this.
  4. BrianK

    BrianK Resident Kook, Crank, Curmudgeon - & Mod Staff Member

    I’ve had the misfortune of attending a couple daily masses at the liberal parish where I grew up. The card carrying Democrat pastor there has already returned to “for all” at the Consecration, something he had ceased doing under Pope BXVI.

    The fruits and nuts of this papacy.
    Booklady likes this.
  5. Booklady

    Booklady Archangels

    Thank you, Mario. So does this mean that the consecration is invalid?
    Carol55 likes this.
  6. Mario

    Mario Powers

    Some would argue yes, that changing the literal translation of the word, many, to the interpretive word, all, changes what Jesus intended. But that would mean from 1970-2011, no one in the USA received the Body & Blood of the Lord. But Benedict never implied that was the case. I have been taught that the essential words within the Consecration are: This is the chalice of my blood.

    Safe in the Refuge of the Immaculate Heart!
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
  7. Booklady

    Booklady Archangels

    Thank you, Mario.
  8. Booklady

    Booklady Archangels

    Mario, it looks like Pope Francis agrees with Pope Benedict, in the use of "for many" instead of for "all."


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