"The Preachers chiefly shall take heed that they teach nothing in their preaching, which they would have the people religiously to observe and believe, but that which is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholick Fathers and Ancient Bishops have gathered out of that Doctrine." A proposed canon of Elizabeth I, 1571

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Location: Bedford, Texas, United States

I am a presbyter in the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas (Anglican Church in North America). I serve as Chaplain at St. Vincent's School and as a canon of St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford, Texas. In addition to my parish duties and teaching Religion classes in the school I am also the Middle School Social Studies teacher.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Offering the Unbloody Sacrifice

"If it be objected, that according to the usual acception of the word, ["priest"] signifies him that offers up a Sacrifice, and therefore cannot be allowed to a Minister of the Gospel, who hath no Sacrifice to offer.

It is answered: that the Ministers of the Gospel, have Sacrifices to offer, S. Peter 1 ep. 2. 5. Ye are built up a spiritual house, a holy Priesthood to offer up spiritual Sacrifices of prayer, praises, thanksgivings, &c. In respect of these the Ministers of the Gospel may be safely in a metaphorical sence called Priests; and in a more eminent manner than other Christians are; because they are taken from among men to offer up these Sacrifices for others. But besides these spiritual Sacrifices mentioned, the Ministers of the Gospel have another Sacrifice to offer, viz. the unbloody Sacrifice, as it was anciently call'd, the commemorative Sacrifice of the death of Christ, which does as really and truly shew forth the death of Christ, as those Sacrifices under the Law did foreshew it, and in respect of this Sacrifice of the Eucharist, the Ancients have usually call'd those that offer it up, Priests. And if Melchisedeck was called a Priest, (as he is often by S. Paul to the Hebrews) who yet had no other Offering or Sacrifice that we read of, but that of Bread and Wine, Gen. 14. He brought forth Bread and Wine; and, or, for (the Hebrew word bears both) he was a Priest, that is, this act of his was an act of Priesthood, for so must it be referred, he brought forth Bread and Wine; for he was a Priest. And not thus, and he was a Priest, and blessed Abraham (for both in the Hebrew and Greek there is a Full point after these words, and, or, for he was a Priest.) If, I say, Melchisedeck be frequently and truly call'd a Priest, who had no other Offering, that we read of, but Bread and Wine, why may not they whose Office is to bless the people as Melchisedeck did, and besides that to offer that holy Bread and Wine, the Body and Blood of Christ, of which, his Bread and wine, at the most, was but a type, be as truly and without offence called Priests also?"

From "A Rationale upon the Book of Common Prayer," by Anthony Sparrow, D.D., London, 1672. The image above is a mosaic in the Church of St. Vitale in Ravenna, mid-6th century.
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