"I will take up the cup of salvation"
Psalm 115: 4
To carry out the immemorial Mass of All Ages of the New Covenant, Christ has always needed consecrated men who would adhere to all He taught and never be men of the world, but to help those in the world to understand better the meaning of the cup of salvation through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
"The true Mass and the true priesthood we will always have, until the coming of the Son of Man upon the clouds of Heaven. But neither the Mass nor the priesthood has ever been understood by the world, just as it was unable to understand or accept Jesus Christ Himself."
Editor's Note: Today we bring you a retro column from Father Louis Campbell's sermon for Maundy Thursday's Evening Mass in which he emphasizes importance of the priesthood on the institution of Holy Orders by the Divine Priest and the vital necessity for priests to be as pure and worthy of the call of Melchizedech that, one ordained through the most noble of Sacraments in the carrying out of Christ's charge in Mark 16: 15-16, could fulfill and increase the number of saved souls through his exemplary sacerdotal behavior. This is carried out by virtue of his vow to preserve the Sacred Traditions and Doctrines of Christ's Church and, most vital, the administration of the most Sublime Sacrament in being the alter Christus where he is the only instrument able to carry out the necessary Transubstantiation to offer to the Father the True Presence of Jesus in the unbloody propitiatory Sacrifice of the Mass. Yes, there is nothing more sublime or necessary for Catholics. The world has never understood the sacerdotal nature of the priesthood, but in its ignorance it has greatly misrepresented this most sacred vocation in which the essence is to work counterproductive to worldly goals. The very fact that the priesthood has been so viciously attacked by satan through the unprecedented assaulting of the human vulnerabilities of so many priests and their bishops who have become lax and caused grave scandals makes the road for good, dedicated priests all the more difficult. The true Church needs men who can assimilate their suffering with Christ on the road to Calvary. Why are priests so precious and priceless to the faithful and the preservation of the True Faith? Contrary to the relaxed and, often times anathematical norms of Vatican II, only truly consecrated priests can offer, on behalf of Christ, the cup of salvation containing His Most Precious Body and Blood. [bold and italics below are editor's emphasis.]
"How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good he has done for me? The cup of salvation I will take up, and I will call upon the name of the Lord; my vows to the Lord I will pay in the presence of all his people" (Ps.115:3-5). These words from the psalms, which are prayed by the priest just before he consumes the Precious Blood at Holy Mass, should be our sentiments on Holy Thursday. How can we honor Him - Jesus Christ, Who has honored us by giving Himself to us as our Bread from Heaven? Principally in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in which we offer with Christ our High Priest a pure Victim, a holy Victim - Christ Himself, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity - to the Father.
Dom Prosper Gueranger in his great work, The Liturgical Year, comments on the sacred mysteries we are celebrating this evening:
"The Paschal Lamb, after being first presented in the temple, has been brought to the house, where Jesus is to celebrate the Supper; it is prepared together with the wild lettuce and the unleavened bread. In a few hours, the divine Master and His disciples will be standing round the table… and for the last time, they will observe the solemn rite prescribed by God to His people when they first went forth from Egypt… All the apostles are with Him; Judas it there, also, but his crime is not known to the rest. Jesus approaches the table, on which the lamb is served. His disciples stand around Him. The ceremonies prescribed by God to Moses are religiously observed…
"Then taking a piece of the unleavened bread, that had remained over from the feast, He raises His eyes to heaven, blesses the bread, breaks it, and distributes it to His disciples saying to them: 'Take ye, and eat; this is My Body'…Jesus takes the cup, and changing the wine into His own Blood, He passes it round to His disciples, saying to them: 'Drink ye all, of this; for this is My Blood of the new testament, which shall be shed for many, unto remission of sins'…
"The institution of the holy Eucharist, both as a Sacrament and a Sacrifice, is followed by another: the institution of a new priesthood…The twelve apostles are the first to partake of it; but observe what He says to them: 'Do this for a commemoration of Me.' By these words, He gives them power to change bread into His Body, and wine into His Blood; and this sublime power shall be perpetuated in the Church, by holy Ordination, even to the end of the world. Jesus will continue to operate, by the ministry of mortal and sinful men, the mystery of the Last Supper."
The true Mass and the true priesthood we will always have, until the coming of the Son of Man upon the clouds of Heaven. But neither the Mass nor the priesthood has ever been understood by the world, just as it was unable to understand or accept Jesus Christ Himself.
"An angel would not make a fitting priest to act on behalf of men. He does not possess a body subject to temptation, nor has he experimental acquaintance with human suffering. He would lack the weakness which makes for sympathetic understanding. But though a priest is like men, he must also be unlike them. He is withdrawn from among men, so that he may act in Christ's name and appear as Christ to men" (Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, The Priest Is Not His Own).
The priest is raised by the sacrament of Holy Orders to be, with Jesus, "a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedech." The priest must believe this, and know that he can never be as other men. He must pray as a priest, think as a priest, live as a priest. He must do this, remembering that human nature of itself is incapable of attaining salvation, and is in a fallen state. "There but for the grace of God go I," said St. Paul.
Jesus Himself predicted: "And as it was in the days of Noah, even so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in the days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and swept them all away; even so will be the coming of the Son of Man" (Mt.24:37-39).
In these times of trial and suffering for the Church the priest must take up the prophetic role of Jesus, interpreting for the people the signs of the times, lest they be swept away by the flood of sin which is sweeping over the world. He must take to heart the advice of St. Paul to Timothy:
"I charge thee, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead by his coming and by his kingdom, preach the word, be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, entreat, rebuke with all patience and teaching. For there will come a time when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but having itching ears, will heap up to themselves teachers according to their own lusts, and they will turn away their hearing from the truth and turn aside rather to fables. But do thou be watchful in all things, bear with tribulation patiently, work as a preacher of the gospel, fulfill thy ministry" (2Tim.4:1-5).
How can we honor Him? "The cup of salvation I will take up, and I will call upon the name of the Lord." We do not have itching ears, we do not look for fables, but we hold to the faith of our fathers. Through the ancient and venerable Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, untouched by the destroyers, through the Blessed Sacrament which is our Bread from Heaven, and through a Holy Priesthood, may we give acceptable praise and worship to God our Father, and to Our Lord Jesus Christ!
St. Peter admonishes us: "If anyone ministers, let it be as from the strength that God furnishes; that in all things God may be honored through Jesus Christ, to Whom are the glory and the dominion forever. Amen" (1 Peter 4: 11).
Father Louis J. Campbell