Seven Amazing Facts About the Holy Mass

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In the past I have written about the need to restore reverence and a sense of the sacred to the Mass. The very fact that anthropocentric liturgies have dominated the ecclesial landscape for decades is the best indicator that few truly understand what is happening in the Mass. We cannot recover what we do not know.

To this end I would like to highlight seven amazing facts about the Holy Sacrifice. Understanding these truths, and recollecting them while at Mass, will help enable the faithful to more fully participate within the Liturgy. Everything below comes from Lesson 27 of the 1949 revised edition of the Baltimore Catechism #3. May this current generation humbly learn from the wisdom of the past so that we may effectively catechize and evangelize the next generation.

The Sacrifice of the Mass

1. The Mass is the Sacrifice of the New Law in which Christ, through the ministry of the priest, offers Himself to God in an unbloody manner under the appearances of bread and wine.

A sacrifice is the offering of a victim by a priest to God alone, and the destruction of it in some way to acknowledge that He is the Creator of all things.

2. The principal priest in every Mass is Jesus Christ, who offers to His heavenly Father, through the ministry of His ordained priest, His Body and Blood which were sacrificed on the cross.

3. The Mass is the same sacrifice as the Sacrifice of the Cross because in the Mass the victim is the same, and the principal priest is the same, Jesus Christ.

4. The purposes for which the Mass is offered are:

First, to adore God as our Creator and Lord;
Second, to thank God for His many favors;
Third, to ask God to bestow His blessings on all men;
Fourth, to satisfy the justice of God for the sins committed against Him.

5. The manner in which the Sacrifice of the Mass is offered is different than Calvary.  On the cross Christ physically shed His blood and was physically slain, while in the Mass there is no physical shedding of blood nor physical death, because Christ can die no more; on the cross Christ gained merit and satisfied for us, while in the Mass He applies to us the merits and satisfaction of His death on the cross.

6. At Mass we should assist with reverence, attention, and devotion.  The best method of assisting at Mass is to unite with the priest in offering the Holy Sacrifice, and to receive Holy Communion.

7. The first Mass was said by our divine Saviour at the Last Supper the night before He died.

Photo Credit: The Momentum Studio

Posted on February 8, 2016, in liturgy and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. The FIRST source of the anthropocentric liturgy problem is found in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal [Paul VI version aka “Novus Ordo” Missal], No. 86 “…the priest greets all present, using one of the formularies indicated. He or some other qualified minister may give the faithful a very brief introduction to the Mass of the day.” When Mass begins with the priest’s improvisatory blathering—directed towards the congregation—it sets the stage for the rest of the Mass to continue in a similar, improvisatory manner.
    Now compare that with the following, ancient beginning of Mass: priest, facing the altar, silently says “Take away our iniquities, we beg You, Lord, that with pure minds we may be made worthy to enter into the Holy of Holies…[kissing the altar:] We pray, Lord, that by the merits of the saints whose relics are here and of all the saints, that you would deign to pardon me all of my sins.” [= conclusion of the “Prayers at the Foot of the Altar”; this conclusion is the most ancient part of this initial portion of the Traditional Latin Mass/TLM]. The even MORE ancient beginning of Mass? The completely silent prostration before the altar, which now only takes place on Good Friday. (Many parishes today simply can’t tolerate the proscribed silence here on Good Friday, so accompany this with music. How sad…)
    The SECOND source of the problem is related: moving the initial greeting (in the 1969 Order of Mass) from its ancient position—immediately before the Collect (“Opening Prayer”)—to the very beginning of Mass. In the Roman Rite of the Mass, the greeting “Dominus vobiscum”/”The Lord be with you” always has signified a climactic moment in the Liturgy: the Collect (which “collects” or sums up the psalms and petitions that have preceded it); the Gospel (which is the climax of the Scripture readings); the Preface (which begins the Canon or “Eucharistic Prayer” aka “Anaphora”), etc. Moving the initial greeting to the very beginning of Mass caused it to lose its “liturgical function” and instead it became a sort of social greeting. Thus it was inevitable that it immediately would morph into “Good morning, everyone” “Good morning Father” “Is everyone asleep? That wasn’t loud enough” “GOOD MORNING FATHER!” “Much better!” bla bla bla bla gag
    Simply fix these two massive defects in the 1969 Order of Mass and it will be the tiny start of slowly undoing a lot of damage and utter desacralization of the Mass. Simply “knowing” what the Mass “is” never will be enough to fix this. The liturgy ITSELF must make obvious what it “is”. Lex orandi, lex credendi.

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