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제목 The Sacrifice of the Mass is the Highest Act of Worship
작성자 관리자 작성일 2017-01-17








The Sacrifice of the Mass is the Highest Act of Worship and the Greatest Treasure of the Church


The Holy Eucharist: 2/ Sacrifice


My dear brethren,
On Christmas, we have studied the first aspect of the Holy Eucharist, the Real Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ: the holy Catholic Church indeed believes and teaches that under the appearances of the bread and wine, i.e. their shape, colour, size, taste, etc., there is really and substantially present the very Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God the Father from all eternity and Son of Mary in time. “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (Jn. 1:14): He dwelt in Bethlehem, then went to Egypt, back into the Holy Land until His death and resurrection. But when He went up to Heaven on Ascension Day, He did not abandon us: He remains, in a hidden but very real manner, in the Blessed Sacrament: He still “dwells among us”. The Greek word used signifies: He pitched his tent in our midst. It certainly refers to the Tabernacle, sign of God’s presence among His people during the 40 years in the desert after the crossing of the Red Sea. Divine Wisdom had said: “my delights were to be with the children of men” (Prov. 8:31).


But what was the main purpose for which He came down from Heaven? To save us! This is indeed what the Angel had said to St Joseph: “thou shalt call his name JESUS. For he shall save his people from their sins” (Mt. 1:21). This is His mission: to save us; this is the very meaning of His Holy Name: “Jesus” means “Yahweh saves”; He is the Saviour. And how did He save us? By offering Himself on the Cross as a perfect Sacrifice! Sacrifice is the supreme act of worship, due to God alone. Christ offered to His Father such perfect Sacrifice, such perfect adoration and thanksgiving, perfect expiation for our sins, that it pleased Him more than all the sins of the world had displeased Him, thereby restoring the balance of Justice, making reparation for all sins, obtaining all graces of salvation.


Though this Sacrifice was exteriorly performed on the Cross, our Lord Jesus Christ offered from the very beginning of His life. Indeed, quoting from psalm 39, St Paul says: “Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith: Sacrifice and oblation thou wouldest not: but a body thou hast fitted to me: Holocausts for sin did not please thee. Then said I: Behold I come: in the head of the book it is written of me: that I should do thy will, O God. In saying before, Sacrifices, and oblations, and holocausts for sin thou wouldest not, neither are they pleasing to thee, which are offered according to the law. Then said I: Behold, I come to do thy will, O God: he taketh away the first, that he may establish that which followeth. In the which will, we are sanctified by the oblation of the body of Jesus Christ once” (Heb. 10:5-10). Now that passage is very important: “we are sanctified by the oblation of the body of Jesus Christ”, which happened externally “once” on the Cross, but which was “offered” as soon as Christ came into the world: “when he cometh into the world.”


The rest of the passage simply means that once the perfect Sacrifice came, the sacrifices of the Old Testament are null and void, and even completely terminated after the destruction of the Temple. St Augustine adds that, not only the Old Testament sacrifices ceased when this true Sacrifice came, but “to this supreme and true Sacrifice all the false sacrifices gave place,” that is, even the pagan sacrifices ceased at the arrival of this true Sacrifice: this was true in the Roman world at his time, this has been true wherever the Sacrifice of Christ arrived through the work of the missionaries.


Our Lord Jesus Christ did not leave His Church without worship; He rather gave her His own sacrifice, which became the Sacrifice of the Church. Our Lord Jesus Christ gave instructions to His apostles: “this do for the commemoration of me” (1 Cor. 11:24). So the Church does what He did, it transforms the bread and wine into His Body and Blood for the daily “the oblation of the body of Jesus Christ”. Our Lord Jesus Christ makes Himself really present in the Holy Eucharist, so that we may offer His very Sacrifice. This is the second aspect of the Holy Eucharist: the Sacrifice.


The Sacrifice of the Cross is truly the summit of the whole human history: all what preceded it were a preparation for it, through the many images of the Old Testament, fore-shadowing it and receiving their value from the very fact that they were a fore-shadow of it. St John Chrysostom says that the blood of the Pascal lamb protected the Hebrews from the passage of the Angel of death precisely because it was an image of the Blood of Christ. He concludes: so much more shall the very Blood of Christ (in the Holy Eucharist) protect the faithful who receive it. Similarly, all that follows the Sacrifice of the Cross flows from it; all graces now flow from the Cross, giving glory to God and saving souls.


Yet, there is a big difference: before, there were mere images, signs, shadows. But after, the Sacrifice of the Cross is truly “contained” and present in the Mass, as St Thomas Aquinas teaches, “it is suitable … for the perfection of the New Law. For, the sacrifices of the Old Law contained only in figure that true sacrifice of Christ’s Passion, according to Heb. 10:1: "For the law having a shadow of the good things to come, not the very image of the things." And therefore it was necessary that the sacrifice of the New Law instituted by Christ should have something more, namely, that it should contain Christ Himself crucified, not merely in signification or figure, but also in very truth.” IIIa, q. 75 a.1


 Hence the Council of Trent defined as a Dogma of Faith that the Mass is truly a Sacrifice: “If any one saith, that in the mass a true and proper sacrifice is not offered to God; or, that to be offered is nothing else but that Christ is given us to eat; let him be anathema.” Session 22, canon 1


In the Mass, there is the same victim as on the Cross: the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the Mass, there is the same priest as on the Cross: our Lord Jesus Christ, Who offers Himself through the ministry of the priests of the New Testament: Jesus is the main priest, who acts in and through His minister, in virtue of the Sacrament of Holy Order. And in the Mass there is the same offering as on the Cross: Christ continuing to offer Himself, to offer His Body and Blood, all His sufferings on the Cross. Indeed, the Sacrifice of the Cross was achieved by the shedding of the Blood of Christ for us; that shedding, that separation of the Blood of Christ from His Body is signified and “made present” by the sacramental separate consecration of the Body and Blood of Christ. They were really separated on the Cross; they are sacramentally separated on the altar. The sacrifice of Christ was offered in a bloody manner on the Cross and in an “unbloody” manner on the altar.


The holy Sacrifice of the Mass was prophesised in the Old Testament by the prophet Malachias, the last of the twelve small prophets, in these words: “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” (Mal. 1:11). This “sacrifice” and “clean oblation”, i.e. offering, offered “in every place”, where is it among the protestants? They don’t have a sacrifice. It could not be the offerings of pagans: it is clearly the holy Sacrifice of the Mass.


The Holy Sacrifice of the mass is truly “propitiatory”, that is, it obtains mercy and grace, it offers due satisfaction for sin, and therefore is most important, especially in our sinful world. The holy Council of Trent teaches dogmatically this: “forasmuch as, in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the mass, that same Christ is contained and immolated in an unbloody manner, who once offered Himself in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross; the holy Synod teaches, that this sacrifice is truly propitiatory and that by means of it, we obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid, if we draw nigh unto God, contrite and penitent, with a sincere heart and upright faith, with fear and reverence. For the Lord, appeased by the oblation thereof, and granting the grace and gift of penitence, forgives even heinous crimes and sins. For the victim is one and the same, the same now offering by the ministry of priests, who then offered Himself on the cross, the manner alone of offering being different.” Session 22, chapter 3


 This great truth is even sealed with a full dogmatic definition: “If any one saith, that the sacrifice of the mass is only a sacrifice of praise and of thanksgiving; or, that it is a bare commemoration of the sacrifice consummated on the cross, but not a propitiatory sacrifice; or, that it profits him only who receives; and that it ought not to be offered for the living and the dead for sins, pains, satisfactions, and other necessities; let him be anathema.” Session 22, canon 3
 

The same holy council of Trent has this to say about the Canon of the Traditional Mass: “whereas it is fitting, that holy things be administered in a holy manner, and of all holy things this sacrifice is the most holy; to the end that it might be worthily and reverently offered and received, the Catholic Church instituted, many years ago [and the Council was speaking 450 years ago], the sacred Canon, so pure from every error, that nothing is contained therein which does not in the highest degree savour of a certain holiness and piety, and raise up unto God the minds of those that offer. For it is composed, out of the very words of the Lord, the traditions of the apostles, and the pious institutions also of holy pontiffs.” Session 22, chapter 4


 The holiness of the Traditional Canon is so true and important that the holy Council of Trent joined an anathema for those who deny it: “If any one saith, that the canon of the mass contains errors, and is therefore to be abrogated; let him be anathema.” Session 22, canon 6


 The modernists, without formally abrogating it, have seriously stripped it in many ways – e.g. they suppressed 95% of its signs of the Cross – and by introducing other canons, they relegated this most holy Canon in oblivion for many faithful, who are so happy to rediscover it when they find the Traditional Mass.


While the traditional Canon is the holiest part of the Mass – hence all the faithful are kneeling down, even the altar boys, even the subdeacon and deacons – the rest of the Traditional ceremonies are also holy, and profitable to the advancement in holiness. The Council of Trent continues thus: “And whereas such is the nature of man, that, without external helps, he cannot easily be raised to the meditation of divine things; therefore has holy Mother Church instituted certain rites, to wit that certain things be pronounced in the mass in a low, and others in a louder, tone. She has likewise employed ceremonies, such as mystic benedictions, lights, incense, vestments, and many other things of this kind, derived from an apostolical discipline and tradition, whereby both the majesty of so great a sacrifice might be recommended, and the minds of the faithful be excited, by those visible signs of religion and piety, to the contemplation of those most sublime things which are hidden in this sacrifice.” Session 22, chapter 5


 There is even an anathema for those who attack these holy rites: “If any one saith, that the ceremonies, vestments, and outward signs, which the Catholic Church makes use of in the celebration of masses, are incentives to impiety, rather than offices of piety; let him be anathema.” Session 22, canon 7


 It should be noted that the Council of Trent speaks of the Traditional ceremonies in use at its time. This canon does not apply to novelties: for instance, St Pius V himself, shortly after the end of the Council of Trent, rejected the liturgical reforms that had been done recently before him (thus were novelties at his time) and imposed the ancient Roman Rite all over the Western church, all the while respecting the ancient liturgies of the East and even those ancient rites of the west that had more than 200 years of use without novelties.


It seems that, in condemning the errors of the Protestants of the 16th century, the Council of Trent condemned in advance the workings of the modernists in the 20th century. Take the example of the last anathema of that session 22: “If any one saith, that the rite of the Roman Church, according to which a part of the canon and the words of consecration are pronounced in a low tone, is to be condemned; or, that the mass ought to be celebrated in the vulgar tongue only; … let him be anathema.”


These texts of the Council of Trent help us to have a great esteem for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, truly the heart of our holy religion. In the Old Testament, once a year the high priest entered the holy of holies with the blood of the victim; that must have been a very important moment for him. In the New Testament, every day at Mass the priest offers to the Most Holy Trinity the very Blood of the perfect Victim, merely signified in the Old Testament, but truly present on the Altar of the New Testament, and begs for mercy for the whole church. From that Sacrifice comes the abundance of graces over the faithful, and even for the conversion of the unbelievers and the return of the prodigal sons. One can understand that the devil cannot stand the Mass, where he is defeated again and again, and tries all he can to denature it, to distort it and prevents its fruits. The devil hates the Mass. But when one reads some of Luther’s writings, one finds a echo of that devilish hatred for the Mass. Hence the strength of the anathemas of the Council of Trent.


The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass has four purposes: it is a Sacrifice of adoration, of thanksgiving, of propitiation and of impetration. It is a sacrifice of adoration, by which we render the supreme honour to the most Holy Trinity, acknowledging all the Divine Attributes, i.e. His ultimate Perfection in the supreme degree. In it, as creatures, we prostrate ourselves in front of our Creator, and completely subject ourselves to Him, in union with our Lord Jesus Christ who was perfectly subject to the Father: “He humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8). It is a Sacrifice of thanksgiving, rendering to God the greatest treasure we have, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself: since all what we have, we received it from God, we can only give back to God that which we have received from Him. But the very best that we received from God is His only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: “God so loved the world, as to give his only begotten Son;” (Jn. 3:16). In the Mass, we render Him back to the Father and ourselves with Him, through Him and in Him. It is a Sacrifice of propitiation, i.e. of reparation for sin as explained above. And it is a sacrifice of impetration, i.e. the supreme prayer by which we can obtain all graces, as St Paul says: “He that spared not even his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how hath he not also, with him, given us all things?” (Rom. 8:32). Truly the Sacrifice of the Mass is the highest act of worship and the greatest treasure of the Church.


Our Lord had come for that hour, the hour when He would redeem the world on the Cross. His whole life tends towards it. Thus He said to our Lady at the wedding of Cana: “my hour is not yet come” (Jn. 2:4). This hour came when He offered the Sacrifice, first on Holy Thursday when He instituted the Holy Eucharist: “Before the festival day of the Pasch, Jesus knowing that his hour was come, that he should pass out of this world to the Father: having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them unto the end” (Jn. 13:1). The Holy Eucharist is thus this supreme act of love of Christ for his own, that is, for his faithful, for each one of us. How much ought we to love the Holy Eucharist!


Not only was Jesus entire life directed towards the Sacrifice of the Cross, but He also oriented towards it the life of His Mother and the life of his Apostles. We see that when, at 12 years of age, He was the cause of great sufferings for Mary and Joseph by quitting company with them and remaining in Jerusalem. After they had sought for Him for three days in great sorrow, Jesus told them: “did you not know, that I must be about my father's business?” (Lk. 2:49). What was that “Father’s business”? It was hard to understand and the Scripture itself tells us that Mary and Joseph did not understand. Yet Mary “kept all these words in her heart” (Lk. 2:51), meditating upon them. So, that when the hour of Jesus had come, and he was led to Calvary, our Lady no longer asked Him why: she knew: Jesus was about His Father’s business: the salvation of souls! And she fully entered with Him in this work, cooperating with Him in the salvation of souls, becoming fully the New Eve, given to the New Adam as “a helper like unto himself” (Gen. 2:18).


Now as she was united with Jesus at the foot of the Cross, so is she united with Him offering Himself in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass: Mary is spiritually very present at each of our Masses, and she leads us there as she led St John the Apostle and the holy women at the foot of the Cross. She is the model of how to attend Mass, model of offering ourselves with Jesus, model of generosity in “suffering with Him so that we may be glorified with Him” (Rom. 8:17). Let us ask her to help us to attend Mass always with great Faith and devotion, to die to sin in order to live unto God, so that we may “present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing unto God, our reasonable service” (Rom. 12:1).


May she give us a great love for the Mass, a great devotion whenever we attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, a great attachment to the Traditional Mass and obtain for us the eternal fruit of this sacrifice, the salvation of our souls. Amen.


Father François Laisney