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Psychology and Alchemy

In the figure of the divine hero, God himself wrestles with his own imperfect, suffering, living creation; he even takes its suffering condition upon himself and, by this sacrificial act, accomplishes the opus magnum,of salvation and victory over death.

As regards the actual performance of this entirely metaphysical work, man is powerless to do anything really decisive.

He looks to his Redeemer, full of faith and confidence, and does what he can in the way of “imitation”; but this never reaches the point where man himself becomes the Redeemer or at least his own redeemer.

Yet a complete imitation and reestablishment of Christ in the believer would necessarily lead to such a conclusion. But this is out of the question.

Were such an approximation to occur, then Christ would have re-established himself in the believer and replaced the latter’s personality.

We should have to be satisfied with this statement were it not for the existence of the Church.

The institution of the Church means nothing less than the everlasting continuation of the life of Christ and its sacrificial function.

In the officimn dixnnum or, in Rcnedictinc parlance, the opus divinum, Christ’s sacrifice, the redeeming act, constantly repeats itself anew while still remaining the unique sacrifice that was accomplished, and is accomplished ever again, by Christ himself inside time and outside all time.

This opus supernaturale is represented in the sacrifice of the Mass. In the ritual act the priest as it were shows forth the mystical event, but the real agent is Christ, who sacrifices himself everywhere always.

Though his sacrificial death occurred in time it is an essentially timeless occurrence.

In the Thomist view the Mass is not a real immolatio (sacrifice) of the body of Christ but a “re-presentation” of his sacrificial death.

Such an interpretation would be sufficient and consistent were it not for the transubstantiation of the offered substances, the bread and wine.

This offering is meant as a sacrificium, literally a “making sacred.”

The etymology of the German word for sacrifice, Opfer, is obscure, it being a moot point whether it comes from offerre, “to offer,” or from operari, “to effect, to be active.”

In its ancient usage operari Deo meant to serve the god or to sacrifice to him. But if the Offer is an opus, then it is far more than an oblafio, the offering of such a modest
gift as bread and wine. It must be an effectual act, giving the ritual words spoken by the priest a causal significance.

The words ot the consecration (qui pridie qitam palerelm, etc.) are therefore to be taken not merely as representative, but as the causa efficiens of the transubstantiation.

That is why the Jesuit Lessi us (d. 1623) called the words of the consecration the ‘sword” with which the sacrificial lamb is slaughtered.

The so-called theory of mactation (slaughtering) occupies an important place in the literature of the Mass, though it has not been generally accepted in its more objectionable outgrowths.

Perhaps the clearest of all is the Greek ritual as described by the Archbishop Nikolaus Kabasilas of Thessalonika the preparatory part of the Mass the bread and wine are placed not on the main altar but on a sort of sideboard.

There the priest cuts a piece off the loaf and repeats the text, “He is led as a lamb to the slaughter.”

Then he lays it on the table and repeats, “The lamb of God is sacrificed.”

The sign of the cross is then imprinted on the bread and a small lance stabbed into its side, to the text, “But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side and forthwith came there out blood and water.”

At these words water and wine are mixed in the chalice.

Then comes the oblatio in solemn procession, with the priest carrying the offering. (Here the Sapor, the gift, represents the giver: Christ the sacrificiant is also the sacrificed.)

Thus the priest reenacts the traditional event, and in so far as Christ, in the sacramental state, possesses a vita corporea actualist an actual bodily life, one could say that a physical slaying (mortificatio) of his body has taken place.

This happens as a result of the consecrating words spoken by the priest, and the destruction of the offering, the offering up of the slain to the service of God, brings about the transubstantiation.

The latter is a transmutation of the elements, which pass from a natural, soiled, imperfect material state into a subtle body.

bread, which must be leaven, signifies the body, and the wine, representing blood, the soul.

After the transubstantiation a piece ol the host is mingled with the wine, thus producing the coniunctio of the soul with the body (fig. 159) and establishing the living
body of Christ, namely the unity of the Church. ~Carl Jung, Psychology and Religion, Pages 310-311.