The mass, the Eucharist, is not merely an empty ceremoney or ritual. Its power comes from the genuine presence of Christ under the appearance of bread and wine. But that is not all. The very events that made possible our salvation are re-presented to us. How could we be involved in events that occurred 2,000 years ago? There is no time with God (c.f. 2Pet. 3:8). (On the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist, see, The Catechism of the Catholic Church, section 1375.)
"47. At the Last Supper, on the night when he was betrayed, our Savior instituted the eucharistic sacrifice of his body and blood. He did this in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the centuries until he should come again... " The Second Vatican Council, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. (Emphasis added.)
"The celebration of Mass, the action of Christ and the people of God ..., is for the universal and the local Church as well as for each person the center of the whole Christian life.' In the Mass we have the high point of the work that in Christ, his Son, we offer to the Father. During the cycle of the year, moreover, the mysteries of redemption are recalled in the Mass in such a way that they are somehow made present. All other liturgical rites and all the works of the Christian life are linked with the eucharistic celebration, flow from it, and have it as their end." The General Instruction to the Roman Missal. (Emphasis added.)
See also, Catechism of the Catholic Church, section 1366.
HOLY Mass is the sacrifice of the true body and blood of Jesus Christ, really present upon the altar, under the appearances of bread and wine, and offered to God by the priest for the living and the dead.
Holy Mass is the same sacrifice as that which was offered up by Our Lord Himself on the cross of Calvary, the manner alone of the offering being different. On the cross, He actually died by the shedding of His blood. On the altar, He renews His death in a mystical manner, without the reshedding of blood. This is done at the Consecration, for by the separate and distinct consecration of the two species, namely of the bread and of the wine, the blood of Christ is exhibited as being once more separate from His body; and thus Jesus Christ is placed on the altar, and offered to heaven, under the appearance of death, as if slain again and immolated.
HOLY Mass is offered to God for four great ends, corresponding to the four great duties we owe te Him; these are:
1. To praise, honor, and adore the infinite majesty of God, Who is infinitely deserving of all the glory that can be given Him by His creatures.
2. To satisfy the infinite justice of God, Who is infinitely offended by the sins committed against Him.
3. To thank the infinite liberality* of God... for all the favors bestowed upon His creatures.
4. To petition the infinite goodness of God, ... to grant us all, needful blessings.
When Jesus Christ by the Holy Ghost offered Himself unspotted to God on Mount Calvary, He paid infinite adoration to the divine majesty, gave infinite satisfaction to the divine justice, made an infinite return to the divine liberality and moved the divine goodness by an appeal of infinite effacacy.
Now in Holy Mass, Jesus places Himself entirely in your hands, that you may offer to God the same great sacrifice of infinite value for the same most excellent ends, in your behalf as well as for others, whether living or dead. For all who devoutly assist at Holy Mass are made one with the priest, and along with him present to heaven the adorable sacrifice. What would you, therefore, do without the Holy Mass?
'Holy Mass is the sum of Christianity, the soul of faith, the center of the Catholic religion, the grand object of all her rites, ceremonies, and sacraments; in a word, it is a summary of all that is grand and beautiful in the Church of God.' --ST. LEONARD Of Port Maurice.
'When a priest celebrates Holy Mass, he honors God, he rejoices the angels, he edifies** the Church, he helps the living, he obtains rest for the departed, and makes himself partaker of all blessings.' -- Following of Christ.
'[T]hat the faithful be not deprived of the immease benefit of [this] same... sacrifice [of the Cross], Holy Church commands her children under pain of grievous sin to hear Mass on all Sundays and holydays of obligation. But ...no Catholic who has any right idea of the importance and value of Holy Mass will remain satisfied with this. He will attend Holy Mass as often as he can on week days as well. He will have masses offered for himself and others.' Fr. Fiege, in the Paraclete." F.X.Lasance, My Prayer Book (1909).
**edify: " To instruct especially so as to encourage intellectual, moral, or spiritual improvement. " American Heritage Ditionary. Also, the root word is "ediface", so edify means "to build" or "to build up the church".
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