The Eternal Sacrifice, illustrated by Thomas Noyes-Lewis
Little Colour Cards, Series III.
Leighton Buzzard: Faith Press, 1920.
Digitized and transcribed by Richard Mammana, 2011.
1. The Family Meal of Abraham and his seed is, as it were, the cave from which issues the Water of Life of the Blessed Sacrament. Mankind is not merely a flock (like sheep). God has given to us, alone among his creatures, the social instinct. We have the higher union of family life—Father, Mother and Child. This is why the 5th Commandment is called the first Commandment with promise. From Abraham all through O.T. you find this sacred union of nature growing into the religious bond of worship. And always the Family Meal is the centre of devotion—on the Sabbath Even, at Passover, at Dedication (Christmass). The nation of the Jews was God's Family until the wider Family, the Church, came through Jesus Christ our Lord. 2. The Last Supper was a Family Meal in the religious sense. The "Family" was of course the spiritual union of the Apostles of Jesus Christ—those who were born into it not after the flesh but by water and the Holy Ghost. Just as the natural Family (father, mother and children) gathered together each Sabbath for a common meal (always sacred, but most sacred at Passover), so did this "spiritual Family." At this "Last Supper" the same night in which He was betrayed our Lord ate the Passover with His disciples. After supper He added to the old a new "Family Meal" which we know now as the Lord's Supper, commonly called the Holy Communion, Holy Eucharist, Liturgy or Mass. 3. The Entrance of the sacred ministers begins the Lord's own Service as we celebrate it to-day. Our illustration is from what is called a "low" celebration, which may be said or sung, but which differs from a "high" celebration in allowing lay servers instead of clergy. The first part of the service is the preparation of the worshippers. Priest and server say a psalm and confess their sins, after which the Priest reads the Ten Commandments to which, in the Prayer Book, the Kyrie (Lord have mercy) is attached. Really these nine Kyrie belong to the Collects or prayers of intercession for special guidance. So, as the confession of the people comes later, the Commandments are often not read, and the Kyrie is said or sung in the old form.
4. The Word of God is read after the Collects. Formerly three passages were read (1) from the Old Testament, (2) from the apostolic writings, (3) from the Gospel. The last is called the Holy Gospel and contains the special piece of teaching for the week. Nowadays we do not read both the O.T. passgae and that from the apostolic writings, but nearly always read the latter only. Our picture shows our Lord reading from Isaiah in the synagogue at Nazareth (Lk 4:14). It is very important to Christians to remember that the Word of God must be the standard of human thought, and especially that our Lord Himself is our pattern. In the stately progress of the Gospel in the Church's year we have the Official Life of Jesus. 5. The Creed follows the reading of the Word of God. Our illustration shows, in symbol, the great fact on which our faith is built. High over the earth (note the Church in the landscape) we see the Cross of our Redeemer upheld by the "everlasting arms" (Dt. 33:27). In front of the Holy Dove, emblem of the Holy Spirit, descends upon the Church below to sanction and to guide. The Creed is a very ancient document. It was drawn up 1600 years ago, when, after 300 years of the Christian mission, the first Christian Emperor summoned the first General Concil at Nikæa, a little town near his new Christian city (Constantinople). Sunday by Sunday ever since Christians everywhere have joined in saying the Nicene (Nikæan) Creed. 6. The Offertory follows the Creed. When a sermon is preached it comes before the Offertory, but the sermon is not part of the actual service. A collection of money is often made at this time. But notice especially that the money-collection is not the Offertory. It is an addition to it just as the sermon is an addition to the sacred readings. The Offertory is the Bread and Wine which are given to the service of God for use in the Holy Communion. Our picture shows the priest pouring the wine into the Chalice (cup). The two servers are handing him the Elements. The boy on th eleft has a box of breads (from which the priest has taken what is required), while his comrade still holds the cruet of water to mix with the wine.
7. The Sanctus is the Hymn of the Angels taken up by the Church beneath. After the Offertory the priest prays for the Church Militant here on earth that all its work may be in keeping with the offering of the Bread and Wine, that God will receive us and use us in His service as the sacramental elements are used in the Lord's Own Service. Then comes the preparation of the worshippers by confession and absolution. No perfection is demanded of them, only the desire to be perfect. And so we pass naturally to the thought of the pure worship of heaven—Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Hosts. Blessed is he that cometh in the Name of the Lord, for he too may sing through Jesus Hosanna in the highest. 8. The Breaking of the Bread is the oldest title of the whole sacramental rite (Ac. 2:42). It is also the central action of consecration, when the priest does what our Lord did in the same night in which He was betrayed, saying the words of institution as recorded by S. Paul (1 Cor. 11:23). There are few more impressive moments in human life than the quiet hush which comes over a large congregation at the close of the consecration prayer when the bread is broken. For then we know that the sacramental elements have been touched with life—the eternal life which was with the Father and is manifested unto us in Jesus Christ our Lord and in the continual memorial which He ordained. 9. The Elevation of the Host is the completion of the Offertory. Then we offered Bread and Wine for the service of God. Now we offer the Living Bread, the Body and Blood of the Lamb which hath been slain from the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). The Eternal Sacrifice of the Son of God consecrates mankind, all unworthy, to draw near to the presence of God. When we plead that Sacrifice, raising symbolically the Bread which is the Body of the Lord, the covering which is spread over all nations is pierced. Through the veil we can almost see the Church at rest united in prayer and worship with the Church on earth. One with Christ and Christ one with us we can draw near boldly to the Eternal Throne.
10. The Communion of the faithful is the other side, so to speak, of the Eternal Sacrifice. We offer to God all that we have, putting in front the best that we have, the Body of the Lord. We receive also from God all that we have, the same Holy Sacrament heading the good and perfect gifts of the Father of Light. Our picture shows the invitation to Communion. But instead of showing the priest turning to the people to bid them come forward to receive the gift, the artist has painted our Lord, whose servant and representative the priest is, before whome the angels bow and adore. Forgest the priest, forget everything in the Presence of the Lord Himself. Come to Him as He comes to you. You are Christ's and Christ is yours. 11. The Blessing is the last word of the service. Our picture shows the highest officer of the Church (and therefore the humblest servant of the Church's Lord) giving the blessing. Generally, of course, there is no bishop present and the chief priest (i.e., the celebrant) blessed the people to go forth in peace. For the priests are the under-shepherds of the flock. They do not carry a staff as the chief-pastor does. But they have power to bless in the Church's name. And those who have worshipped round the Altar are confirmed by that blessing for their daily work, whether they have received the Blessed Sacrament or have only joined in the spiritual Communion of all faithful living or dead. 12. The Eternal Sacrifice has already been referred to in reference to the symbolic action of the Elevation of the Host. It is well at the conclusion of our Offering to recall the doctrine on which it is founded. You and I are unfit to reach up to God. We have not the power. We have not even the will to face the light. Shame alone would keep us from Him in whose sight everything is naked and open. "Lo! between our sins and their reward we set the Passion of thy Son, our Lord." We take our place, as it were, behind the Cross of Jesus and with that as our standard we are not afraid. We have not, as yet, the purity and goodwill of the holy Angels who stand before the throne. But God can give us even that.
The Eternal Sacrifice, illustrated by Thomas Noyes-Lewis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.