DAILY CATHOLIC   THURSDAY    April 8, 1999    vol. 10, no. 69


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      We continue with our third installment for this introductory week 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.

Installment Three


          The value of the Mass is Infinite because it is the renewal of the death of Jesus Christ. Therefore, to attend Mass devoutly is the greatest prayer we can offer. There is no more holy and divine act that can be performed here on earth that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Fr. O'Sullivan points out the importance of sharing and offering each Mass for he says, "we should have the intention of hearing and offering all the Masses being said at the same time all over the world. In this way we receive a share in these innumerable Masses!"

          The Blessed Mother is constantly reminding us of that, always drawing us closer to her Divine Son Who is ever present in the Tabernacle, but never closer to us than during Mass for the Eucharist is a sacrament that Fr. Loret describes as drawing us "into the mystery of His broken body, His blood poured out..."

          This sacrifice is accomplished at the Communion, when the species of bread and wine, now Our Lord's Body and Blood, are consumed just as His Sacrifice was accomplished when He cried out "It is consummated!" and then expired on the cross. Again, it is vital to repeat that Mass is not a remembrance or memorial of His death, but an actual renewal, in the separate consecration of the bread and wine, the death of Jesus, the separation of His Body and Blood.

          Christ had instituted the essence of the Mass, now He left it to His Church to build a lasting ritual around this New Sacrifice and liturgically give the Mass form and expression for those who would participate down through the ages.

          The Apostles were the "first priests", ordained by Christ, and after the Holy Spirit had descended upon them on Pentecost Sunday, they went out fearlessly into the world to preach the good news and celebrate the New Sacrifice.

          The passages in 1 Corinthians 10:16 and 11: 27-29 confirm that the Apostles understood that Christ's words were not to be taken figuratively, but literally! St. Augustine reaffirmed this continuous belief of Christians when he wrote, "Our Lord held Himself in His Own hands, when He gave His Body to the disciples." Bishop Morrow states that "it was only in the sixteenth century that the Protestants, breaking away from the True Church denied it and introduced a different doctrine." We wonder how, then, can they explain the powerful meaning of Christ's own words in John 6:54-59?

          That is also the principle of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. The word "sacrament" signifies a means unto holiness. "A Sacrament," the Catechism tells us, "is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace." Of all the Sacraments, the Holy Eucharist is the most outward sign instituted by Jesus and which we can receive daily. It is the greatest Sacrament. That is why the Holy Eucharist is called the Blessed Sacrament.

          Just as we are nourished in the Break of Life today, so also the early Christians, amidst fierce persecution, took their strength from the Eucharist. In the following installments we will delve into how the Church and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass evolved in the first centuries as well as the how and why Christ's disciples made a total break from Jewish Law while maintaining some of their traditions. We'll also see how the disciples' greatest persecutor Saul became God's greatest traveling evangelist Paul.

    NEXT WEDNESDAY: Installment Four: The Embryo Years - part one

NEXT WEDNESDAY: Installment Four

April 8, 1999       volume 10, no. 69


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