DAILY CATHOLIC   WEDNESDAY    April 7, 1999    vol. 10, no. 68

2000 YEAR VOYAGE ON
THE BARQUE OF PETER

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    INTRODUCTION
      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.

Installment Two

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 Mass.

          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 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" (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

April 7, 1999       volume 10, no. 68
2000 YEAR VOYAGE ON THE BARQUE OF PETER

DAILY CATHOLIC

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