Epistle of Ss. Cyril and Methodius

Hebrews 7:23-27

Brethren, there were made many priests, because by reason of death they were not suffered to continue: but Jesus, for that He continueth forever, hath an everlasting priesthood. Whereby He is able also to save forever them that come to God by Him; always living to make intercession for us. For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, and undefiled, separated from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily, as the other priests, to offer sacrifice first for His own sins, and then for the people’s; for this Jesus Christ our Lord did once, in offering Himself.


Verse 23. Many priests,&c. The apostle notes this difference between the high priests of the law, and our high priest, Jesus Christ: that they being removed by death, made way for their successors: whereas our Lord Jesus is a priest for ever, and hath no successor; but liveth and concurreth for ever with his ministers, the priests of the New Testament, in all their functions. Secondly, that no one priest of the law, not all of them together, could offer that absolute sacrifice of everlasting redemption, which our one high priest, Jesus Christ, has offered once and for ever. Ch.

Verse 25. Make intercession. Christ, as man, continually maketh intercession for us, by representing his passion to his Father. Ch.

Verse 27. Jesus Christ offered himself but once in a bloody manner on the cross; but, besides this bloody offering, he still continues to offer himself in an unbloody manner. This he does both in heaven and upon earth; in heaven, by presenting his sacred humanity continually to his Father; and on earth, by daily offering himself, under the appearances of bread and wine, on our altars. Hence this eucharistic sacrifice is both a commemoration and continuation of the sacrifice of the cross. To understand this, it must be observed, that the essence of a sacrifice includes several actions, the principal of which are the immolation of the victim, and the oblation of the victim when immolated. Now the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, ended only as to the bloody immolation; the same victim is still immolated mystically, by the separate consecration of the bread and wine, and continues as the oblation. Jesus Christ, in quality of the eternal high priest, has carried his victim, i.e. his body, into heaven, and there offers it continually to his Father. He continues also his sacrifice here on earth, by the ministry of his priests: who to the end of time will offer to God the same immolated victim, present on our altars under the appearance of bread and wine—a sacrifice infinitely perfect, since a God is the priest, and a God the victim. The chief-priest who offers it is a God-man; the victim offered is a Man-God: a God the victim, offered by a God the priest! Behold a sacrifice truly worthy of God—a sacrifice capable of atoning not only for our sins, but for the sins of ten thousand worlds. What confidence then ought Christians to have in such a sacrifice! How solicitous ought they to be to assist daily at these awful, or, to use S. Chrysostom’s expression, these tremendous mysteries! Let us now examine the sentiments of learned Protestant divines: “It is certain,” says Dr. Grabe, “that Irenæus and all the Fathers, either contemporary with the apostles, or their immediate successors, whose writings are still extant, considered the blessed Eucharist to be the sacrifice of the new law, and offered bread and wine on the altar, as sacred oblations to God the Father; and that this was not the private opinion of any particular Church or teacher, but the public doctrine and practice of the universal Church, which she received from the apostles, and they from Christ, is expressly shewn by Irenæus, and before him by Justin Martyr and Clement of Rome.” Nota in Irenæum. p. 323. — “The elements being really changed from ordinary bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, mystically present, as in a sacrament, and that by virtue of the consecration, not by the faith of him that receives, I am to admit and maintain whatsoever appears duly consonant with this truth, viz. that the elements so consecrated are truly the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross, inasmuch as the body and blood of Christ are contained in them.… And the sacrifice of the cross being necessarily propitiatory, and impetratory both, it cannot be denied that the sacrament of the Eucharist, inasmuch as it is the same sacrifice with that upon the cross, is also both propitiatory and impetratory.” Thorndike Epil. p. 44 and 46. — “The holy Fathers frequently say, that in the Eucharist is offered and sacrificed the very body of Christ, as is evident in almost innumerable places.” Bp. Forbes' de Euch. l. iii. c. 2. sect. 10. — “The sacrifice of the supper is not only propitiatory, and may be offered up for the remission of our daily sins, but likewise is impetratory, and may be rightly offered for the obtaining all blessings. Although the Scripture does not plainly and in express words teach this, yet the holy Fathers with universal consent have thus understood the Scripture, as has been demonstrated by many; and all the ancient liturgies prescribe, that in time of the oblation, prayers be offered for peace, &c. as is evident to all.” Id. Sect. 12. — “The Church, commemorating the sacrifice of Christ with the usual rites and words, in this also sacrificeth and offereth that which is her own, given to her by Christ; that she placeth before the eyes of God; by that she beseecheth God; and it is the same sacrifice that Christ offered; the same one, true, and singular sacrifice, as S. Austin calls it; a sacrifice of memory according to Eusebius; a spiritual sacrifice, according to others. After that the faithful offer themselves according to the example of Christ, &c. In all this what is there new, what deformed, what hurtful? But minds once distracted, distract all things into a depraved meaning, and then are glad to find a hint for it in any of the schools.” Grotius of Christian sacrifice. — To these we may add the authority of Ed. Burke, in his speech to the electors of Bristol: “The mass is church service in the Latin tongue, not exactly like our liturgy, but very near, and contains no offence whatever against the laws of good morals.” p. 29.


938: The Institution of the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

Council of Trent
Session XXII (Sept. 17, 1562)

Since under the former Testament (as the Apostle Paul bears witness) there was no consummation because of the weakness of the Levitical priesthood, it was necessary (God the Father of mercies ordaining it thus) that another priest according to the order of Melchisedech [Gen. 14:18 ;Ps. 109:4;Heb. 7:11] arise, our Lord Jesus Christ, who could perfect [Heb. 10:14] all who were to be sanctified, and lead them to perfection. He, therefore, our God and Lord, though He was about to offer Himself once to God the Father upon the altar of the Cross by the mediation of death, so that He might accomplish an eternal redemption for them [edd.: illic,there], nevertheless, that His sacerdotal office might not come to an end with His death [Heb. 7:24, 27] at the Last Supper, on the night He was betrayed, so that He might leave to His beloved spouse the Church a visible sacrifice [can. 1] (as the nature of man demands), whereby that bloody sacrifice once to be completed on the Cross might be represented, and the memory of it remain even to the end of the world [1 Cor. 11:23 ff.] and its saving grace be applied to the remission of those sins which we daily commit, declaring Himself constituted “a priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech” Ps. 109:4; offered to God the Father His own body and blood under the species of bread and wine, and under the symbols of those same things gave to the apostles (whom He then constituted priests of the New Testament), so that they might partake, and He commanded them and their successors in the priesthood in these words to make offering: “Do this in commemoration of me, etc.” [Luke 22:19;1 Cor. 11:23], as the Catholic Church has always understood and taught [can. 2]. For, after He had celebrated the ancient feast of the Passover, which the multitude of the children of Israel sacrificed [Exod. 12:1 ff.] in memory of their exodus from Egypt, He instituted a new Passover, Himself to be immolated under visible signs by the Church through the priests, in memory of His own passage from this world to the Father, when by the shedding of His blood He redeemed us and “delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into His kingdom [Col. 1:13].

2276: The Divine Office, the Public Prayer of the Church

From the Encyclical,
"Ad catholici sacerdotii,"
December 20, 1935

Finally, the priest in this matter, also, performing the work of Jesus Christ, who “passed the whole night in the prayer of God” [Luke 6:12], and “always lived to make intercession for us” [Heb. 7:25], is by office the intercessor with God for all; it is among his mandates to offer not only the proper and true sacrifice of the altar in the name of the Church to the heavenly Godhead, but also “the sacrifice of praise” [Ps. 49:14] and common prayers; he, indeed, by the psalms, the supplications, and the canticles, which are borrowed in great measure from Sacred Scripture, daily, again and again discharges the duty of adoration due to God, and he performs the necessary office of such an accomplishment for men.…

If private supplication is so powerful because of the solemn and great promises given by Jesus Christ [Matt. 7:7-11; Mark 11:23; Luke 11:9-13], then the prayers, which are uttered in the Office in the name of the Church, the beloved spouse of the Redeemer, without doubt enjoy greater force and virtue.

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