One of Andrewes' great sorrows in life was that the Sacrament of our Lord's most blessed Body and most precious Blood was shrouded in so much controversy. For him it was sufficient to acknowledge that we receive Our Lord's Body and Blood under the guise of bread and wine.
However through James 1, Andrewes was forced into public debate on many subjects, including the Eucharist. Hence in his Tortura Torti (1608) and Responsio ad Apologiam Cardinalis Bellarmini (1610), his two replies to Cardinal Bellarmine's works, and later in his Two Answers to Cardinal Perron (1618), he set out what he believed was the English Church's teaching on various aspects of the Sacrament. Yet it is noticeable that in his writings he devoted very little space in arguing over what actually transpired during the prayer of consecration.
a. Christ's Presence
As Andrewes' main emphases were on the mystical and heavenly aspects of the Sacrament, as it had been in the early Church, he was reluctant to define exactly what was meant by the real presence. In his replies to the cardinals he stated, "we define nothing rashly" about the "presence"; "we do not anxiously inquire, any more than how the blood of Christ washes us in our Baptism, any more than how the human and divine natures are united in one Person in the Incarnation of Christ." Nevertheless "we believe no less than you that the presence is real", except we reject any change of substance. Andrewes' belief in the real presence was of course evident in the many examples of "Hoc est Corpus Meum" in his preaching. This was well illustrated in his 1615 Christmas sermon when he preached on the perpetual Bethlehem, and unlike the shepherds or wise men we do not have to travel to "the town itself", or "go out of this room". "Here is to be had the 'true bread of life that came down from Heaven', ... and where that Bread is, there is Bethlehem for ever." This teaching was also manifested in the ancient engraved star on the canister "wherein was the Sacrament of His body", which as already noted was engraved on Andrewes' paten-cover. There were two teachings that Andrewes loathed: Zwinglianism and Receptionism. His rejection of the latter was defined in the first of the Paschal sermons at the Court of King James 1.
For he who 'eateth His flesh and drinketh His blood, dwelleth in Christ, and Christ in Him;' not ... for a time, but dwells continually. And never can we more truly, or properly say, in Christo Jesu Domino nostro, as when we come new from that holy action, for then He is in us, and we in Him, indeed.
For Andrewes the sacrificial nature of the Mass involved far more than the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving granted by some Reformers. Calvary was the heart of the sacrifice, but in his replies to the Cardinals there was disagreement over the manner of this sacrifice. Was the Mass a physical re-enactment of that sacrifice at Calvary or was it a recalling of that sacrifice? With the former the altar became another Calvary and Christ was once again the sacrificial victim, whilst with the latter "Christ's cross was His altar where He offered Himself for us". It was the latter view that Andrewes believed. Ever since Calvary the Church "hath an altar ... where it offereth itself, not Christum in Capite, but Christum in membris." In a sermon at St. Giles, Cripplegate in 1598 Andrewes declared that Christ could not be crucified afresh, as asserted by the Roman Church. That sacrifice "was once performed upon the Crosse"; a fresh sacrifice was no longer necessary as He had left us the Sacrament that flowed from His wounded side. "His flesh is made bread for us in his passion, when he died, but is given and applyed to us in the Supper." Therefore each time the Eucharist is celebrated it recalls that Sacrifice and the benefits flow accordingly. Thus Andrewes distinguished between "the bloody sacrifice" and "the unbloody sacrifice" as they had in the early Church. In late second century "unbloody" sacrifice was clearly used to differentiate between the Christian sacrifice of the Mass and those sacrifices of the Jews and pagans that involved the bloody sacrifices of animals or birds. Soon this "unbloody sacrifice" was linked with "a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice". Eusebius spoke of "the sacred offerings of the table of Christ, through which we have been taught to offer the unbloody and reasonable sacrifices". The epiclesis in the Anaphora of Chrysostom began with "We offer you this reasonable and unbloody service", and similarly in the Liturgy of St. James, "We offer you, Master, this awesome and unbloody sacrifice." When commenting on Eucharistic sacrifices, English Catholics usually spoke of three types. The first is by "the priest only" as he offers "the commemorative sacrifice of Christ's death, represented in bread broken and wine poured out"; the second is the joint offering of priest and people of their "sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving for all the benefits and graces we receive by the precious death of Christ"; and the third "is by every person" as he makes his sacrifice of "body and soul to serve [God] in both all the rest of his life."
i. Commemorative Sacrifice
What is celebrated at the altar is "a representation of the memory of that sacrifice" of Calvary, and will continue until the end of the world. That was one of the reasons why Andrewes urged the frequent celebration of the Eucharist in order to offer up this commemorative sacrifice so as to keep the memory of Christ's death "fresh in mind". By the offering of this sacrifice we are constantly reminded of the "great price" Christ paid for "our sins, so many in number, and so foul in quality" in order to make us partakers of "the kingdom of Heaven". In that offering "we are also carried back to Christ as He was at the very instant, and in the very act of His offering" when He was sacrificed once and one only for us. This Andrewes declared had been the teaching of the early Church. Sometimes Andrewes referred to the commemorative sacrifice as a mystical sacrifice as it was Christ's mystical Body, and not His natural Body, which is offered up as the true, "all- sufficient", and perpetual sacrifice at the altar. This emphasises the participation of the whole Church, angels and saints as well as the living and dead, evident in the prayer of oblation when we pray "that we and all Thy whole Church may obtain remission of our sins, and other benefits of His Passion." When Cosin commented on these words "we and all Thy whole Church" in his Prayer Book notes he actually quoted this response of Andrewes to Cardinal Perron. He also added that it is plain that Christ's sacrifice was "for the sins and for the benefit of the whole world, of the whole church; that both those which are here on earth, and those that rest in sleep of peace, being departed in the faith of Christ, may find the effect and virtue of it."
ii Praise and Thanksgiving
It is in this sacrifice, Andrewes indicated that the people have their sacrifice to offer, one of "praise and thanksgiving" to "God for His chief and great blessing of our redemption". As with the other Eucharistic sacrifices it must "be offered up and accepted in, by, and through Christ." "'By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name.'"
Many English Catholics linked this particular sacrifice with an offering to the poor, and so there could not be a true "sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving in the Eucharist", unless we "distribute and communicate the sacrifice of compassion and alms to the poor out of the Church" (hence Andrewes' second collection after Communion). Andrewes indicated that the "Liturgy in the offertory tenders her prayers and alms on the Lord's day ... as a part of the sacrifice or service of that day, and of God's worship." Accordingly "Sunday, is ... best ... observed, when to our prayers, ... praises and sacrifices of ourselves, our souls so add the sacrifice of our goods and alms, and other works of mercy to make it ... perfect and complete." Cosin also included the offering to the poor as part of this sacrifice and quoted from Andrewes' sermon on "Worship and Images" that the "breaking of bread in the Sacrament is "not to be severed" from "the other Breaking of bread to the hungry." Just "as Christ communicates himselfe to us, so wee communicate our selves to our poor brethren; thus a perfect Communion. ... The Agape or Love-feasts of the Primitive Christians for releefe of the Poore, doe plainly expresse this, [and] became the Christian Offertory."
"Oblation is an outward testimony of that inward reverence we have of God." Teaching on this sacrifice, which again involved the laity, Andrewes followed Paul's concept of offering ourselves as a living temple to God in worship. Thus there could be no worship without oblation and sacrifice, as we must "present ourselves", "our bodies", "our spirits" and our gifts in order "to receive His blessed Body and Blood." Our gifts must be "the firstfruits of that we have, acknowledging that all came from him, [and]... is the testing of our thankfulnesse." In doing this we imitate that ancient practice of "the people [bringing] their first fruits in a basket" as their "confession of God's goodnesse", which were offered "to God by the Priest." That offering must be the best we can bring, that is, we imitate Abel and not Cain. This was another reason why Andrewes was so much against simply hearing a sermon as there was no oblation offered, "a real oblation they bring none," but in the Eucharist the oblation is offered of "ourselves, our souls and bodies". It is clear then that in his teaching on Eucharistic sacrifice Andrewes departed from Cranmer's narrow concept of it as being limited to praise and thanksgiving. Andrewes' concept of sacrifice was even far more embracing than that of Hooker's with his emphasis that the sacrifice of the Eucharist was offered for every member of the whole church, living and dead, and even for the unborn. Again this reflected Andrewes' belief that Christ's sacrifice on Calvary had to be for all, and that Christ cannot be contained by man's narrow perimeter.