Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Grammarian, X

The heart of Chaplain Jonathan Shaw's presentation at our Octoberfest seminar on Monday was the suggestion of a radical realignment of thinking regarding the meaning of "This do in remembrance of me." His research has shown that the common sense of the meaning as "do this in order to remember me" is fundamentally not sufficient. Rather, remembering in this grammatical construction is something which is primarily seen in the Scriptures as having to do with God. God remembers His covenant, His promise, His people, etc. Hence, "This do in remembrance of me," may also properly be translated "this do in my remembrance" or "this do for my remembrance" may be understood therefore as meaning something like "this do so that I will remember you," or "this do so that God will remember you," or (here's my vote) "this do so that God will remember me."

During the discussion, I found myself thinking primarily of the Passover, and of the link to it provided in the Words of Institution, "this is the New Testament in my blood. The term "my," as Chaplain Shaw pointed out convincingly, is emphatic here. That is, therefore, to paraphrase, "this is no longer the [Passover meal] of the Old Testament; rather it is the Meal of the New Testament; it is not in the blood of the Passover lamb, but it is in my own blood. In essence, He is saying here, "I am the Passover's fullfillment. The Passover blood is my own. It marks your door. The angel of death will pass over your house in the eschaton, the Last Day.

Hence, my own take on "this do in remembrance of me" is something like this: "This do so that in the Final Judgment the Avenging Angel will see my blood marking your door (the door of your lips, cf. Psalm 141), remember my sacrifice, and pass over your house."

Do not celebrate seder meals at your church. Celebrate the Mass instead. The seder is done. Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.


Brian P Westgate said...

Seems to me that the old English missals use the translation "This do for My remembrance." What you write in that paragraph makes me think that perhaps that's exactly what the entire Roman Canon is getting at, and Luther missed the mark, though he missed the mark only because Rome was missing the mark. Meanwhile, I should have come to Oktoberfest, I admit it. Any chance some form of this presentation will show up in Gottesdienst in the near future?

Father Eckardt said...


We actually looked it up in a Latin missal, and sure enough, it's "mei," that is, Genitive, "of me."