DAILY CATHOLIC   MONDAY    April 5, 1999    vol. 10, no. 66


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      We begin today an extensive series on the Church and the Mass - the sacrifice of the New Law in which Jesus Christ, through the ministry of the priest, offers Himself to God in an unbloody manner under the appearances of bread and wine.

      In this journey on the Barque of Peter, we will detail the evolution of the Mass and the Church from the early Christian times to our present day so that all may better understand the true meaning of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and our faith - the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.       We will be using various sources, but the best are four books that are out of print but provide so much solid material: "My Catholic Faith - A Manual of Religion" (1949) by Bishop Louis LaRavoire Morrow, S.T.D. from My Mission House ; "The Glories and Triumphs of the Catholic Church" (1907) from Benziger Brothers; "The Catholic Church Alone the One True Church of Christ" (1902) from the Catholic Educational Company; and "Cabinet of Catholic Information" (1904) from Duggan Publishing Co. In addition we will be using material gleaned from "The Oxford Dictionary of Popes" by J.N.D. Kelly; The Papal Princes: A History of the Sacred College of Cardinals" by Glenn D. Kittler; "Pontiffs: Popes who shaped history" by John Jay Hughes; "The Mass of the Roman Rite" by Fr. Josef Jungmann, S.J.; "The Story of the Church" from Tan Books by Fr. George Johnson, PhD; "The Story of the Mass" by Fr. Pierre Loret; "Rubrics of the Mass" by Fr. Peter M.J. Stravinskas; "The Wonders of the Mass" by Fr. Paul O'Sullivan, O.P.; and the Code of Canon Law", as well as the "Catechism of the Catholic Church"; "Baltimore Catechism"; Catholic Encyclopedia (Thomas Nelson Publishers); "Catholic Dictionary" by Fr. John Hardon, S.J.; "Dictionary of Saints" by John J. Delaney; "Butler's Lives of the Saints" from Benziger Brothers; "Saints of the Roman Calendar" by Enzo Lodi and Fr. Jordan Aumann, OP; "1999 Catholic Almanac" from Our Sunday Visitor, and numerous missals and references.

      With a better perception of what the Church stands for and what the Mass truly is, we will not so easily be swayed by new-fangled gimmicks and liturgical abuses being introduced by individual celebrants and ICEL, the International Committee for English in the Liturgy. We will discover why the basis for the use of vestments and sacred vessels, the purpose for the Rubrics of the Mass, the logic of Church Scholars and Popes through the ages for fending off changes that would water-down the faith and the Holy Sacrifice and even invalidate the greatest remembrance Christ gave to His Church.

Installment One


          Foretold in the old Testament, Christ fulfilled the prophecy that He would be immolated as the New Sacrifice. Through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass we relive everyday the sacrifice on the Cross on which the Lamb offered Himself up for the Redemption of all who believe in His words "This is My Body", "This is My Blood" offered to us as a New Covenant in which we renew this ultimate sacrifice of Christ for the remission of sins.

          As Scripture confirms, it was at the Last Supper that Jesus Christ instituted the great Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and established the Blessed Sacrament - His very Own Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity perpetuated for all through two millenniums. Too often, today, the Mass is being referred to as "a meal", "sharing of the bread", "a supper." True, that is an important aspect of the ritual, but it is so much more than those for its roots are steeped in Old Testament Law. In the Old Law, sacrifices were the ultimate oblation to God. But they were not perfect - goats and sheep, which were slaughtered for Yahweh, were unworthy offerings t one so mighty. In Malachias 1:10-11 God said to the prophet: "Who is there among you, that will shut the doors, and will kindle the fire on My altar gratis? I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord of hosts: and I will not receive a gift of your hand. For from the rising of the sun even to the going down, My name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to My name a clean oblation: for My name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts. And you have profaned it in that you say: 'the table of the Lord is defiled; and that which is laid thereupon is contemptible with the fire that devoureth it.' Malachias had foretold in the worlds "a clean oblation" the universality of the sacrifice of the Mass. This prophecy is fulfilled today for "a clean oblation" is indeed offered throughout the world in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

          Holy Mother the Church has always taught that the Mass is a true sacrifice. Saint Paul confirms this in Hebrews 13: 10-15 when he says, "We have an altar, from which they (the Jews) have no right to eat who serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the Holies by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp; and so Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people by His blood, suffered outside the gate. Let us therefore go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach; for here we have no permanent city, but we seek for the City that is to come. Through Him, therefore, let us offer up a sacrifice of praise always to God." Paul was making clear the separation of the Old Law with the New Testament instituted by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper on the night before He died.

          Christ, too, was making the separation between the Old Law and the New Law but He did not do so in a rebellious manner. Rather He chose the Passover, the occasion when the old sacrifice of the Paschal Lamb was celebrated. He became the New Lamb. It was a fulfillment of Genesis 22 where Abraham was willing to sacrifice his own son Isaac, whom he told that "God will provide Himself a victim for an holocaust" until the Angel of the Lord intervened, In Isaac's place Abraham offered up a male lamb, caught in the thornbush nearby. It was a symbol of the Lamb of God, His head ensnared with thorns, Who would be sacrificed on the cross. The similarities between the Old Law and the New Law are too numerous to detail here, but suffice it to say that Jesus exercised the rites of the Old Law to usher in the observance of the New Covenant, which He instituted on Holy Thursday.

          The very words He used in establishing the Sacrifice of the Mass, the New Covenant, were almost identical with those used in the creation of the Old Law. Though all four Evangelists differ on the exact words Our Lord said over the Bread and the Wine, one thing remains constant: The words: "THIS IS MY BODY" and "THIS IS MY BLOOD" as well as the word: "COVENANT."

          It was a fulfillment of what He had said in the Synagogue at Capharnaum in John 6. "Amen, amen I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from Heaven, but My Father gives you true bread from Heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from Heaven and gives life to the world" (John 6:32) and "I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst" (John 6:35) and finally the clincher, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has life everlasting and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood, abides in Me and I in him. As the living Father has sent Me, and as I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me. This is the bread that has come down from heaven; not as your fathers ate manna, and died. He who eats this bread shall live forever" (John 6:54-59).

          For Catholics this is one of the most important passages in Sacred Scripture for it is truly proof of the Transubstantiation which takes place at the Consecration of the Mass. It is sad our Protestant brethren don't realize Christ's real meaning here for it is not a symbol as they profess, but the re-enactment of the transformation of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior. Our Blessed Lord did not say to the Apostles that evening in the upper room, "Tell people about this", or "relate it to them", no. He said, "Do this is remembrance of Me" (Luke 22:19). By those words, He instructed the Apostles to do as He had done, offer in sacrifice to God His Body and Blood under the appearances of bread and wine: He commanded them in those words to say Mass, as the perfect sacrifice. The Transubstantiation, meaning a change of anything into something essentially different, is what the doctrine of Christ's intention is: The substance of the eucharistic elements is converted from bread and wine into that of the Body and Blood of Christ.

THIS WEDNESDAY: Installment Two

April 5, 1999       volume 10, no. 66


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