We continue with our second installment of 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.
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT
Many mistake the Mass for a meal by just thinking of the events of the
Last Supper, when in reality Jesus Christ consummated the sacrifice of His Body
and Blood the next day by freely willing to die on the Cross. For the two
acts (the Last Supper and the Cross) were only two parts of the one supreme
sacrifice that the Son offered to the Father. The Mass is a real sacrifice
for in this ritual a Victim is offered up for the purpose of reconciling
man with God. Jesus allowed His Passion and Death in ordered to enter into
the Institution of the Mass and therefore join them as one.
The only difference between the Sacrifice of the Cross and the Sacrifice
of the Mass is that on the former Jesus physically shed His Blood, while in
the latter there is no physical shedding of blood nor physical death
because Christ has already been immolated once. By His death He gained for
us the merit and, through the Mass, applies to us that merit and reward of
His Bloody Death through the unbloody oblation of His Body and Blood during
It is very similar to what one would see on video tape. What was taped
happened at the moment it was being filmed. When it is being played over
and over, no matter how many times, it is a re-enactment of the event. It
is and cannot be happening again. But we are reliving it. So also the
Mass for Jesus continues to offer Himself as a Sacrifice in order to unite
us with Him, to give us a gift worthy to be offered to God (cf. Mal 1:11),
"a clean oblation" and allow us the opportunity to share in the merits of
His eternal sacrifice on the Cross.
Fr. O'Sullivan states that "The Mass is the birth of Jesus Christ. He is
really born on the Altar each time that Mass is said, as He was born in
Bethlehem." St. John Damascene is attributed with saying: If anyone wishes
to know how the bread is changed into the Body of Jesus Christ, I will tell
him. The Holy Ghost overshadows the priest and acts on him as He acted on
the Blessed Virgin Mary", while St. Bonaventure assures us that "God, when
He descends upon the altar, does no less than He did when He became man the
first time in the womb of the Virgin Mary." St. Alphonsus states: "Even
God Himself could no nothing holier, better, or greater than the Mass " St.
Timothy gives one of the greatest accolades when he says: "The world would
have been destroyed long ago because of the sins of men, had it not been
for the Mass. There is nothing that obtains for us so many blessings as
Those are powerful words from great saints who understood the real purpose
of the Mass. The four main purposes for which the Mass is offered are
Adoration, Thanksgiving, Petition, and Atonement. We adore God as our
Creator and this is the worthiest gift from Him and to Him. We thank God
for His graces and favors to us for this greatest of gifts. We ask God to
hear our prayers through petition and various parts of the liturgy.
Through the most perfect vehicle of the Mass, our petitions have a clear
channel to Heaven. Finally, through the Mass we atone for the justice of
God for the sins committed against Him and reconcile ourselves with Him as
Christ said that His Blood is being shed "for many unto the forgiveness of
sin" (Matt 26:28). Through the priest Christ's sacrifice is renewed and
continued until the end of the world and therefore, in itself, becomes His
very Sacrifice every time Mass is said. For united with Him in this
Sacrifice we continue to be members of His Mystical Body, which we entered
into at Baptism. The fruits are many from Our Lord's heavenly vineyard.
The fruit of the vine becomes the fruits of Redemption, made possible by
Christ's death, a death which totally made it possible for every one of
God's children to be redeemed. Through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we
live in continuous and intimate communion with Jesus, as well as the Father
and the Holy Spirit. The fruits obtained from the Mass are a cornucopia of
graces through the Sacrifice on the Altar and prayers. We specifically
obtain the grace of Forgiveness for venial sins for all those who are not
in mortal sin, and we receive Remission of sin regarding the temporal
penalty due to sin. All we need do is remember the Good Thief whose sins
Christ forgave instantly on the Cross. He does the same for us.
The proof that our prayers are heard in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
comes from the very fact that Jesus Himself prays for us. The fruits of
attending Mass worthily and in the state of grace are that He not only
answers our heartfelt prayers, but we gain even more of the merits of
Christ for our souls as well as gaining temporal blessings. All, who
participate in the Mass, both here on earth and in Purgatory, reap the
general fruits since the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is offered for
everyone. This not only includes all who are present, or assist,
especially the priest who represents Christ, but also the person for whom
it is being offered as well as the souls in Purgatory --the Church Suffering.
TOMORROW: Installment Three