CREDO & CULTURE

The ALTER CHRISTUS FACTOR
Why the Priest is the alter Christus
in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass


   There is truly meaning in the ceremonies of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass - the Immemorial Mass of Tradition - the Traditional Latin Mass. Consider below what each action signifies as the priest - the alter Christus - re-enacts an action by or to Our Lord as being an exposition of the Agony, Death and Passion of our Divine Lord from Holy Thursday night until forty days after His resurrection, when He gave the final command to the Apostles to go forth and preach the Gospel to the world. These reasons are taken from The Catholic Church Alone: The One True Church of Christ, Catholic Education Company, New York, 1902, page 551.

    THE MASS OF THE CATECHUMENS

1. Introibo ad altare Dei

  • The priest going to the foot of the altar represents Christ going to Mount Olivet.
2. Judica me, Deus...
  • The priest commencing the Holy Mass represents Christ beginning to pray in the Garden.
3. Confiteor Deo...
  • The priest saying the Confiteor represents Christ falling down and sweating blood at Mt. Olivet.
4. Oramus Te, Domine, per merita Sanctorum Tuorum
  • The priest going up and kissing the altar, after praying Aufer a nobis..., represents Christ being betrayed by Judas with a kiss.
5. Oremus
  • The priest going to the Epistle side represents Christ being captured, bound and taken to Annas.
6. The INTROIT
  • The priest reading the Introit represents Christ being falsely accused by Annas and blasphemed.
7. Kyrie Eleison
  • The priest going to the middle of the altar and saying the Kyrie eleison represents Christ being brought to Caiphas and these three times denied by Peter.
8. Dominus vobiscum
  • The priest saying the Dominus vobiscum represents Christ looking at Peter and converting him.
9. The EPISTLE
  • The priest reading the Epistle represents Christ being brought to Pilate.
10. Munda cor meum
  • The priest saying the Munda cor meum represents Christ being taken to Herod and mocked.
11. The GOSPEL
  • The priest reading the Gospel represents Christ being taken to Pilate and again mocked.

    THE MASS OF THE FAITHFUL
OFFERTORY and CANON OF THE MASS

12. The OFFERTORY

  • The priest uncovering the chalice represents Christ being shamefully exposed.
13. Suscipe and Offerimus...
  • The priest offering bread and wine represents Christ being cruelly scourged.
14. In spiritu humilitatis...
  • The priest covering the chalice represents Christ being crowned with thorns.
15. Lavabo...
  • The priest washing his hands represents Christ being declared innocent by Pilate.
16. Orate Fratres
  • The priest saying the Orate Fratres represents Christ being shown by Pilate to the people with the words "Ecce Homo."
17. The SECRET
  • The priest praying in a low voice represents Christ being mocked and spit upon.
18. The PREFACE and Sanctus
  • The priest saying the Preface and the Sanctus represents Christ being preferred instead of Barrabas and condemned to crucifixion.
19. Communicantes
  • The priest making the memento for the living represents Christ carrying the cross to Mount Calvary.
20. CANON Prayers
  • The priest continuing to pray in a low voice represents Christ meeting His Mother.
21. Hanc igitur
  • The priest blessing the bread and wine represents Christ being nailed to the cross.
22. HOC EST ENIM CORPUS MEUM...
  • The priest elevating the host represents Christ being raised on the cross.
23. HIC EST ENIM CALIX SANGUINIS MEI...
  • The priest elevating the chalice represents Christ shedding blood from the five wounds.
24. Memento
  • The priest praying in a low voice represents Christ seeing His afflicted Mother at the foot of the cross.
25. Nobis quoque peccatoribus
  • The priest saying aloud the words Nobis quoque peccatoribus represents Christ praying on the cross for men.

COMMUNION and THANKSGIVING

26. Pater Noster

  • The priest saying aloud the the Pater Noster represents Christ saying the seven words on the cross.
27. Fraction of the Host
  • The priest breaking and separating the host represents Christ giving up His spirit.
28. Haec commixtio...
  • The priest letting a portion of the host fall into the chalice represents His soul going to Limbo.
29. Agnus Dei...
  • The priest saying the Agnus Dei represents Christ being acknowledged on the cross as the Son of God by many bystanders.
30. HOLY COMMUNION
  • The priest administering Holy Communion represents Christ being laid in the sepulchre with the white linen over the communion railing representing the pure shroud.
31. Cleansing the Chalice
  • The priest cleansing the chalice represents Christ being anointed by pure women.
32. Preparing the Chalice
  • The priest preparing the chalice again represents Christ rising from the dead.
33. Dominus vobiscum...
  • The priest saying the Dominus vobiscum represents Christ appearing to His mother and the disciples.
34. POSTCOMMUNION
  • The priest saying the last prayers in the Postcommunion represents Christ teaching for forty days.
35. Dominus vobiscum
  • The priest saying the Dominus vobiscum just before the Ite Missa est represents Christ taking leave of His disciples with His final words in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John to "Feed My sheep" and ascending into Heaven.
36. Ite Missa est and FINAL BLESSING
  • The priest saying the Ite Missa est blessing represents Christ sending down the Holy Ghost on Pentecost Sunday.
37. LAST GOSPEL
  • The priest saying the Last Gospel, which is really the First words of the beloved Disciple Saint John, represents sending the Apostles into all parts of the world to preach the Gospel and preserving His Holy Church for all time.



Alter Christus at the Altar