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.
Given that in America, popular piety is a mode of inculturation of the Catholic faith and that it has often assumed indigenous religious forms, we must not underestimate the fact that, prudently considered, it too can provide valid cues for a more complete inculturation of the Gospel.(43) This is especially important among the indigenous peoples, in order that “the seeds of the Word” found in their culture may come to their fullness in Christ.(44) The same is true for Americans of African origin. The Church “recognizes that it must approach these Americans from within their own culture, taking seriously the spiritual and human riches of that culture which appear in the way they worship, their sense of joy and solidarity, their language and their traditions”.(45)
Another important area in which the Church is present in every part of America is social and charitable work. The many initiatives on behalf of the elderly, the sick and the needy, through nursing homes, hospitals, dispensaries, canteens providing free meals, and other social centers are a concrete testimony of the preferential love for the poor which the Church in America nurtures. She does so because of her love for the Lord and because she is aware that “Jesus identified himself with the poor (cf. Mt 25:31-46)”.(50) In this task which has no limits, the Church in America has been able to create a sense of practical solidarity among the various communities of the continent and of the world, showing in this way the fraternal spirit which must characterize Christians in every time and place.
For this service of the poor to be both evangelical and evangelizing, it must faithfully reflect the attitude of Jesus, who came “to proclaim Good News to the poor” (Lk 4:18). When offered in this spirit, the service of the poor shows forth God's infinite love for all people and becomes an effective way of communicating the hope of salvation which Christ has brought to the world, a hope which glows in a special way when it is shared with those abandoned or rejected by society.
This constant dedication to the poor and disadvantaged emerges in the Church's social teaching, which ceaselessly invites the Christian community to a commitment to overcome every form of exploitation and oppression. It is a question not only of alleviating the most serious and urgent needs through individual actions here and there, but of uncovering the roots of evil and proposing initiatives to make social, political and economic structures more just and fraternal.
NEXT MONDAY: Installment seven - Chapter Two: Growing respect for human rights
In Heaven shall the book be read to reveal to all the journey of my Divine Son's soul as He passed from mortal life to eternal life. How great, how sublime was His holy mission. And all the while, by my prayerful vigil, my ceaseless acts of faith, hope, and love, my Sorrowful Heart cried out on behalf of all mankind for the Father to alleviate the pain, the sting, and darkness of death. The poor but heart-felt prayer of my heart touched God and He responded with love. Thus it was before dawn of Sunday morning that the Divine Soul of my beloved Son re-reentered His Body, and by God's power and authority, all was made perfect in Him Who is perfect. Only by the Father's Will did the nail marks and the lance mark remain, that all men then and in generations to come might believe that Jesus Christ, only begotten Son of God, rose from the dead, resplendent, clothed in garments of Victory, Glory and Power.
The soldiers saw nothing. They heard nothing. Their hearts were darker than the tomb. There was no crack to which God could give His wondrous Light.
How many of you, my little ones, are like the soldiers, who prefer an uncomfortable bodily rest and are too lazy, too lukewarm to let True Light penetrate. You are like these sleeping sentinels who had but to will to see and their hearts would have been opened.
The glory of my Beloved Son's Resurrection was not only for that moment. It signaled for mankind a triumph over death and sin. Sin could no longer hold men prisoner. Death could not keep the soul from its source of life, God. Unity was restored and my Divine Son proved to all the fullness of God's power and His faithfulness to His promises in the Resurrection of my Beloved Son! How all of creation rejoiced. O! What splendor shall be revealed in Heaven when in the fullness of His Time, the Father shall make known the singular splendor of this Mystery.
Yet, my beloved little children, I do solemnly tell you that such sublime understanding can come to you now. I ask each of you, as you say this mystery, to ask the Father to fill you with Divine Knowledge, to enlighten you as the world itself was illuminated in all of the glory that is His for He is God, and a foreshadowing of the Glory which He has prepared for all who truly follow Him. Take heart, my little ones. Even in these, the darkest of spiritual times, God's Mercy will illuminate. Certain souls He calls to lead and many more to gather round the Real Light. How blessed are all who have not seen, but who believe, for to them shall the Glory be given.