18 Final Report, 2 and 20.
Both points invite comment. If ‘repetition’ is false or at least hopelessly misleading, so too is another ‘re-’ word: ‘re-presentation’. That can too easily suggest that somehow Christ’s self-sacriﬁce was not being constantly presented to the Father. If we speak of a case being ‘re-presented’ before a court, we imply that it was presented earlier and now, after a certain lapse of time, is being presented again. As regards the Eucharist being ‘a sacriﬁce in a sacramental sense’, it might be better to speak here of a ‘sacramental form’. Following some insights from Tom Torrance, George Hunsinger writes of the action of the Eucharist not being ‘another action than that which Christ has already accomplished on our behalf ’. It is ‘the very same action’ performed by Christ but now in a ‘sacramental form’.19
19 Hunsinger, Eucharist and Ecumenism, 17; he quotes T. F. Torrance, Conﬂict and Agreement in the Church, ii (London: Lutterworth, 1960), 152.
At every Eucharist Christ is the Offerer, the One who invisibly but truly presides at the visible, sacramental celebration of his once-andfor-all sacriﬁce. He takes up into his self-offering the visible priest and the assembled faithful. He is then the One who in the Eucharistic meal shares himself with all the faithful. The ordained priests act ‘in the person of Christ’—not in the sense of replacing him or substituting for him but in the sense of acting as visible signs of his invisible and dynamic presence as the Offerer and the Offering. The visible priest presides at the Eucharistic ceremony, but it is Christ who perpetually offers his sacriﬁce. One might adapt Augustine and say: Peter presides, Christ offers. Paul presides, Christ offers. The presence of Christ, the High Priest and Head of the Church, is made visible not only through the assembled faithful but also through his ministerial priests. Yet we should never forget that statement we quoted from Thomas Aquinas: ‘only Christ is the true priest, the others being only his ministers’ (Super Epistolam ad Hebreos, 8. 4). We may gloss this statement and say: only the invisible Christ is the true priest; the others, while visible, are only his ministers. Addressing God the Father, the ancient Roman Canon or First Eucharistic Prayer speaks of ‘your people and your ministers (servi)’. Signiﬁcantly, it reserves the title of ‘your priest’ to the ﬁgure of Melchizedek.