One of the things that drew me to my current parish was its use of Rite 1. But, I wondered, how many knew why it’s used? For me, it’s not just the beauty of the Elizabethan prose and the continuity of hundreds of years, but the plain declaration of the gospel it makes.
For instance, when the Communion prayer speaks of Jesus’ “death upon the cross for our redemption; who made there, by his one oblation of himself once offered, a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world” this is a very clear statement of the doctrines of substitution and atonement.
Rite 1 tells us that Jesus took our place on the cross and that He has made our peace with God. The language is also polemical. This prayer was written in defiance of the mass, which the Roman Church had appropriated as an instrument of its own power. Instead of a “full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice,” daily mass was required for the atonement of sins.
If you’re using the 1979 BCP, Compare Rite 1 to Rite 2, Prayer A (p. 362) in the same place: “He stretched out his arms upon the cross, and offered himself, in obedience to your will, a perfect sacrifice for the whole world.”
While “perfect sacrifice” means just what it says, Rite 2 lacks the polemical oomph of Rite 1. I think it’s important to remember the classic prayer-book’s polemic in the face of ideas, people, and institutions that continue to tell us that what Christ did for us was not enough, and that we need to mix our own blood with His to be worthy of their approval.
Jake Dell is a member of the EFAC-USA Board and the vicar of St. Peter’s, Lithgow, New York.
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