March 7, 2002
volume 13, no. 44

The Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar

Part Thirty-three: The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

The Perfect Plan of the Mass - SUMMARY

    The following is a summary from the out-of-print book The Glories and Triumphs of the Catholic Church published in 1907 by Benziger Brothers, compiled from approved sources with an Imprimatur from His Eminence John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York during the Pontificate of Pope Saint Pius X. Keep in mind the tone and purity of this work, well before progressivism took over in the Church. Bolded sections and blue type within brackets are by editor for added emphasis.

I. First Part: Introit through the Credo = Thirty-three years of Our Lord

1. The Preparation at the Foot of the Altar. Introibo ad altare Dei... = waiting in anticipation for the Messiah as Psalm 42 beseeches God to fulfill the divine promise.

2. The Introit = The Incarnation. The chant of the Angels is the Doxology Prayer - the Gloria Patri and it is for this reason that it separates the Introit for it also represents the Annunciation and the nine-months leading up to the Incarnation when Blessed Mary and the angels praised the Divine Child in her womb.

3. The Kyrie Eleison = the Cry of Fallen Humanity. Nine times the cry of the Church of Kyrie or Christe Eleison is made which also represent the Nine Choirs of Angels.

4. The Gloria in Excelsis Deo = the Chant of Bethlehem - praising God as the priest represents in returning from the Epistle side to the center the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

5. The Dominus vobiscum = the Effusion of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Ghost. Each time before the priest says this prayer translated to "The Lord be with you" he kisses the altar. The response each time is "Et cum Spiritu tuo" or "And with your spirit" whereby the faithful are included in the great joy of Christ's love for us for He left His Spirit and we have this opportunity seven times during the Holy Mass to beg for His seven divine gifts:

  • Gloria = the gift of Wisdom
  • Before the Gospel = the gift of Understanding
  • At the Offertory = the gift of Counsel
  • Before the Preface = the gift of Fortitude
  • Before the Agnus Dei = the gift of Knowledge
  • At the Post-communion = the gift of Piety
  • Before the Ite Missa est = the gift of the Fear of the Lord
6. The Collect = the Prayers of the Hidden Life of Our Lord. From the time of the Flight into Egypt to Christ's time as an obedient member of the Holy Family.

7. The Epistle = the Mission of the Precursor. That would be the Old Testament prophets and Saint John the Baptist in announcing the Messiah.

8. The Gradual = the Canticle of the Celestials - for it includes the Angel's Heavenly chant of Alleluia

9. The Gospel = the Preaching of Jesus Christ during His three-year public ministry.

10. The Credo = the Profesion of Faith in the Doctrine preached by Christ and affirmed as dogma at the First Council of Nicaea, hence the Nicene Creed.

11. Et Incarnatus est... - "And the Word was made flesh..." = our sign of honoring the humiliations of the Word Incarnate in the suffering He underwent in His Passion and Death. This is the gateway to the second part of the Mass.

II. Second Part: The Offertory through the Second Elevation = Retracing the sorrowful scenes of Our Lord's suffering

12. The Offertory = the Last Supper. The Lavabo represents both the washing of the feet and the priest being purified to offer the unbloody sacrifice of the altar of the Son to the Father.

13. The Incensing = the Perfuming by Saint Mary Magdalen. This ceremony of incensing the altar replicates the Magdalen's perfuming Our Lord's feet. This also represents Christ's Mercy towards us sinners.

14. The Secret = Christ praying in the Garden of Olives. When the priest turns to the faithful and says "Orate fratres" is Our Lord inviting us to pray with Him at Olivet just as He invited His apostles to do so.

15. The Preface = the Chant of Triumph. Though we have entered the Way of the Cross, we will offer all homage to God and offer ourselves to Him no matter what crosses we are given in life. We know what awaits us if we are true to Our Lord for the Preface gives us a glimpse with the Hymn of Heaven.

16. The Canon = the Passion. The priest and faithful honor God with the profoundest silence. The priest now says the prayers quietly to properly mirror Our Lord's silence. Only seven times do you hear him distinctly and that represents the Seven Last Words from the Cross. They are:

  • The First - Orates Fratres
  • The Second - The Preface
  • The Third - Nobis quoque peccatoribus
  • The Fourth - Pater Noster
  • The Fifth - Pax Domini
  • The Sixth - Agnus Dei
  • The Seventh - Domine non sum dignus

17. The Imposition of Hands = the Crucifixion. Before the transubstantiation the priest holds his hands over the bread and wine.

18. The Elevation = Our Lord Raised on the Cross. The ultimate propitiatory sacrifice.

19. The Memento of the Dead = In preparation for Our Lord decending to the dead to receive those souls since Adam into Eternity.

20. The Nobis quoque peccatoribus = the Prayer of the Good Thief. Representing the repentant sinner the priest raises his voice and strikes his breast.

21. The Second Elevation - the Death of Our Savior. Three signs of the cross made with the Host raised above the chalice represent the three hours passed on the cross.

III. Third Part: The Pater Noster to the End of the Holy Mass = Embraces all Christ's glorious life

22. Pater Noster = "Father, not My will but Thine be done...Father, forgive them for they know not what they do" (Luke 22: 22; 23: 34)

23. The Libera Nos = The Mysteries of the Burial. The priest covers the chalice with the pall which in effect carries the faithful toward the holy sepulchre.

24. The Breaking of the Host = the side of Christ is opened by a lance. The priest divides the Host into three parts, symbolizing the Blessed Trinity and the fact the Church comes forth from the open side of Christ Who cannot be divided - Three Persons in One God. From His side gushed blood and water. With the wine confected into the Body and Blood of Jesus is mixed a little water. The three broken pieces also represent the three days in the tomb.

25. The Agnus Dei = the Resurrection. This is preceded by the glorious words Christ first spoke to the disciples Pax vobiscum - "Peace be with you."

26. The Communion = the Eucharistic Repasts of Jesus Christ, Arisen with His Apostles. We joyously partake in the miraculous Mystery of the Altar after the priest has prayed on our behalf Domine, non sum dignus - "Lord, I am not worthy." We may receive Our Lord Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in Holy Communion if our souls are in Sanctifying Grace. If not, or if we have broken the Communion fast, then we receive Him in spiritual communion.

27. The Chants of the Communion = the Joy of the Apostles in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Communion Prayer said by the priest after purifying the sacred vessels or, during Solemn High Mass the chanting of the ancient Psalms.

28. The Post-Communion = the Forty Days of Christ's Glorious Life after His Resurrection. Christ represents the mystery of mercy. Christ has fully revealed Himself to His disciples, so also He has done so by entering into our hearts through Holy Communion. In this wondrous, mysterious act of union of the Mystical Body of Christ with the Body of Christ we continue the mission He has charged us with, giving of Himself to strengthen our life of grace.

29. The Ite Missa Est = the Ascension. The Benediction of His disciples and the promise He left that "Behold, I am with you all days, even to the consummation of the world" (Matthew 28: 20).

30. The Benediction = the Descent of the Holy Ghost. Recall the seven times the Dominus vobiscum. Et cum spiritu tuo are said. The final time, representing the Fear of the Lord is placed at the Placeat which symbolizes the advent of the Consoler, the Advocate, the Sanctifier as Christ promised. As the priest blesses the faithful with the sign of the cross, we are entreated to go and do as Christ asked in Mark 16: 15-16.

31. The Last Gospel = The Preaching of the Apostles and their successors. "He who hears you hears Me". The Last Gospel is actually the First Gospel of the Beloved Apostle John. We profess our commitment with the Gloria tibi Domine - "Glory be to Thee, O Lord" by making the sign of the cross on our foreheads our lips and our hearts so that we will always carry Christ with us and all He has taught will encompass all of our senses.

32. Et Verbum caro factus est = The Church's everlasting commitment to uphold Christ's teachings. We reverently and respectfully submit ourselves by bowing down and genuflecting at the words "And the Word was made flesh" followed by "and dwelt amongst us."

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For previous installments, see APPRECIATING THE PRECIOUS GIFT OF OUR FAITH Archives

Thursday, March 7, 2002
volume 13, no. 44
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