The second installment of this multi-part series, deals with what was foretold in the Old Testament and how Jesus fulfilled the prophecy that He would be immolated as the New Sacrifice. Through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass we relive, in an unbloody manner, 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, members of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church which Christ founded, renew this ultimate Sacrifice of Christ for the remission of sins.
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 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 the His eternal sacrifice on the Cross.
Father 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." Saint 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 Saint 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." Saint Alphonsus states: "Even God Himself could do nothing holier, better, or greater than the Mass." Saint 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 the Mass."
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"(Matthew 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 is 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.
The value of the Mass is infinite because it is the renewal of Christ's death. 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 than 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!"
Our Lady 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 the 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 the 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! Saint 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 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 Bread of Life today, so also the early Christians, amidst fierce persecution, took their strength from the Eucharist.
In the next installment tomorrow we will delve into how 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.
Former President Lech Walesa, the legendary leader of the Solidarity union, only made sixth place with Nobel Prize-winning scientist Marie Curie-Sklodowska and writer Henryk Sienkiewicz ranking higher. Former Communist leader General Wojciech Jaruzelski placed in the ninth place, which is not surprising considering that more than 20 percent of Poles believe that compromises he made during his rule hastened the fall of Communism. More than 50 percent of the population said they were convinced that his decision to introduce martial law in 1981 prevented Soviet intervention.
Poland credits Pope John Paul II, born Karol Wojtyla, for contributing to the dissolution of the Communist regime and in shaping the new Europe. Participants in the survey were asked to name the attribute of each person in the poll that describes them best. The Holy Father was described as pious and famous, Walesa as famous with a fairy-tale career, Jaruzelski as talented in achieving compromises with a sense of honor, Marie Curie was called knowledgeable, and Sienkiewicz as a talent that does not fade away after 100 years.
Another survey by the weekly "Wprost" concentrated on the question of who contributed the most to the fall of Communism in Poland, placing Walesa first place and the Pope second.
"This meeting is in order that the president is proactive in communicating with prominent Indonesian figures, including from East Timor," said Secretary of State Akbar Tanjung told reporters on Tuesday. "Various things will be discussed, including the East Timor issue." Foreign Minister Ali Alatas, who will also attend the meeting, said he had met with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in New York last week to present the plan to the international community for its approval. "For this aim, Indonesia is also ready to discuss the substantial elements of the special status for East Timor with Portugal, under the framework of the tripartite dialogue under the mediation of the UN Secretary General," he said.
Indonesia invaded mainly Catholic East Timor in 1975 and annexed the former Portugese colony the following year in a move not recognized by the United Nations. Bishop Belo was a co-recipient of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize, along with self-exiled resistance leader Jose Ramos-Horta, for their efforts in seeking a peaceful settlement. The meeting with Habibie will occur one day before the president is due to give a major policy speech on human rights.
Alatas said the Indonesian government believes that giving East Timor a special status is the real solution to the issue and could be accepted by all parties concerned. Many resistance leaders reject the special status proposal, instead demanding a referendum on independence.
US District Judge Ira DeMent last year struck down an Alabama law that would have allowed "nonsectarian, non-proselytizing, student-initiated, voluntary prayers" at all school-related events. He said the law would be coercive and lead to "excessive entanglement" between religion and government. He said eliminating administration-approved or teacher-led prayers or devotionals does not limit individual exercise of personal religious beliefs.
James appealed the judge's order to the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, but then asked the Supreme Court to bypass the appeals court and order DeMent to rescind his injunction. In the appeal, he attacked a series of court decision over the past four decades that have limited public expression of faith. "Freedom of religion is disappearing in America," he argued in the appeal. "Because of this court, a few people claiming freedom from religion can silence others in public places such as schools."
Meanwhile there's shocking news out of New York that two Americans are engaged in a controversial campaign to export a controversial sterilization drug to women in developing countries in order to limit immigration to the United States, The Wall Street Journal reported last week.
The newspaper said Stephen Mumford, 55, and Dr. Elton Kessel, 79, who are the only distributors of quinacrine pellets in the world, operate the non-profit Center for Research on Population and Security, manufacturing the drug in Switzerland and distributing it in 20 countries. Quinacrine irreversibly sterilizes women after it is inserted in the uterus and then scars the fallopian tubes. The process is painful, causing some women to faint, and may have dangerous side-effects.
Quinacrine is banned in the US and even most population control groups, as well as the World Health Organization, oppose its use. Mumford told The Journal that his organization believes Quinacrine is a way to decrease world population and reduce the potential number of immigrants to the United States from developing nations. "This explosion in human numbers, which after 2050 will come entirely from immigrants and the offspring of immigrants, will dominate our lives. There will be chaos and anarchy," Mumford said. Many demographers dispute those numbers and most claims of a dangerous population explosion that could threaten the world's food supply.
Mumford estimated that more than 100,000 women have been sterilized over the past decade. The report said the population control group is supported by anti-immigration organizations in the US.
Meanwhile things are getting worse in London as well for the British House of Commons on Monday voted to lower the age of consent for homosexuality from 18 to 16, giving to intense lobbying by radical homosexual groups and rejecting a plea by religious leaders not to further erode declining moral values.
The proposed law, which was supported by Prime Minister Tony Blair, passed the House of Commons by a vote of 333-129, but it must still be approved by the House of Lords where senior Anglican bishops who seated there may block it. Several opinion polls this week indicated a majority of Britons opposed the law. Blair said the law brings Britain into line with other European Union nations which also have the lowered age of consent.
Archbishop George Carey of Canterbury, spiritual leader of the Anglican Church, and Cardinal Basil Hume of Westminster, Catholic primate of England and Wales, were united in their opposition to the bill. "Pressures are at work to legitimize any and every lifestyle, irrespective of any difference in value quality between them," the country's Anglican bishops said in a statement before the vote. "These pressures should be resisted." They later said the vote violated the government's duty to offer "a vision of what is good."
Archbishop Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, who recently returned to Rome, said that the Israeli decision to build a new housing complex in Jerusalem, in an Arab neighborhood, is a "very grave" problem, which will cause further damage to the peace process.
However, the veteran Vatican diplomat indicated that he has changed his mind on one question: After several years of stating his opposition to a papal trip to the Holy Land, on the grounds that political conditions there would make such a visit premature, Archbishop Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo now says that a visit by Pope John Paul might actually help to unblock the peace process.
Finally, the former nuncio charged that Israel still does not allow free movement of pilgrims around Jerusalem, Nazareth, and Bethlehem. And he noted that a treaty ensuring the legal status of Church entities, signed last year, has still not been formally ratified.
The archbishop, who was posted in Jerusalem for 8 years, was a key figure in the negotiations that produced the historic 1993 accord which led to the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and the Holy See. He has recently taken up new responsibilities as apostolic nuncio to Italy.