Compiled by Marie Corpe
Holy Mass is the most perfect act of worship to God. More than nineteen hundred years ago on Calvary, Jesus Christ prayed and offered Himself for us, and in every Holy Mass He is still doing the same. He hung on the Cross for three long hours, bleeding to death for our souls that He might save us from hell and open Heaven to us.
In the Mass, Jesus bleeds in an unbloody manner and He offers Himself to pay our debt of sin. He is really and truly present under the form of Bread and Wine. Every time you go to Mass, picture yourself on Calvary, standing close to Our Blessed Lady and Saint John at the very foot of the Cross, where you can feel the Sacred Blood of God drop down upon your soul to make it pure and white as snow.
There are three principal parts of the Mass:
- the Offertory, or offering of the Bread and Wine,
- the Consecration, when the Bread and Wine are changed into Our Dear Lord’s Body and Blood,
- the Priest’s Communion, when the priest receives Holy Communion, after the last bell has rung at the “Domine non sum dignus!” — “O Lord, I am not worthy!”
At Mass, one comes into contact with God. To approach God though, just as in the Old Law when people brought their finest gifts to the priest, so it must be in the New Law. We approach God the Father through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, with our gifts — our penances and sacrifices — our offerings, along with our prayers and intentions.
Here is the one place on earth where God descends to man and man ascends to God the Father. At this moment, Catholics utilize the greatest and most powerful gift God has given. Through His gift, we can conquer the world for Him and His Mother by passing this gift onto others; bringing about conversion, spreading the Catholic faith, and spreading of God’s works.
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is rising to Heaven from morning to night somewhere in the world. The whole Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, — the Church Triumphant (those in Heaven), the Church Militant (those on earth), and the Church Suffering (those in purgatory) — benefits by the continuous offering of this Sacrifice.
St. John Masias, known as the Dominican doorkeeper, described it as follows:
The Mystical Body of Christ is like a chain. We are all linked together, being Catholics. If we are all good, the chain is strong. We keep it lubricated by our good works, prayers, Rosaries, Holy Communions and Masses. But if we are not good, the chain becomes rusty, strains, and breaks.
This is why each Catholic should unite with Christ in an inner and most important sacrifice of self — actively by doing what God wants; passively by accepting what God sends.
Also by living His two great commandments as Jesus stated in the Bible, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind.” This is the greatest and the first commandment. And the second is similar, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 22:37-40)
What better way to love God whole and completely, to love and help thy neighbor, than to pray, offer up, and participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
The Blessed Virgin Mary once told Her faithful servant Alan: “My Son so loves those who assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that, if it were necessary, He would die for them as many times as they’ve heard Masses.”
At the Consecration (of the Host and Chalice), where our prayers are strongest, we renew our intentions to be heard by the Father. By our intention, we should unite our poor sacrifices with the infinitely valuable sacrifice of Christ. He takes bread and wine, which are also symbols of our labor and sacrifice, and changes them into His Son. In this, His Son concurs by offering Himself as a victim.
We, therefore, ask God to accept our offerings through His Son. Only “by” and “with” and “in” Christ are our offerings, our sacrifices acceptable. Only “by” and “with” and “in” Him can we give due honor and glory and thanks, to God. Through the sacrifices of the Mass, we can appease God and beg favors of Him. Only through Christ our Lord can we attain union with God the Father and the Holy Ghost.
We attain ultimate union with God, the highest degree possible here on earth, when we receive His Son, His true Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity present in Holy Communion. This Divine Food, received only through the Holy Catholic Church, is the great fruit born of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
The effects of Holy Communion are many. It is an intimate union with Christ giving us spiritual nourishment for our souls, increasing sanctifying grace as well as sacramental graces in us, preserving us from mortal sin, remitting venial sins, lessening of concupiscence, strengthening against temptations, and being promised the glorious resurrection of the body. Jesus said:
Amen, amen I say unto you, except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, you shall not have life in you. He who eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, hath everlasting life and I will raise him up in the last day. For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, abideth in Me and I in him. As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth Me, the same shall live because of Me. This is the bread that has come down from Heaven; not as your fathers did eat manna and are dead. He that eateth this bread shall live forever. (John 6:54-59)
The Church’s ideal, as shown in the writings of the saints, in the pronouncements of the popes and councils, and in the sacred traditional liturgy itself, is always and everywhere daily Mass with daily Communion in the state of grace.
Pope St. Pius X, in his famous decree on daily Communion, stated: “the wish of the Church is that all Christians should be daily nourished by this Heavenly banquet and should derive therefrom abundant fruit for their sanctification.” If possible, let us then take part in the Sacrificial Banquet each day to be with our Savior who died on the Cross that we might live.
The Offertory should lead us to resolve to live in such a way that, as the priest offers up the Host on the paten, our wills, our intellects and our bodies are on the paten, too, being offered with Christ to God, to be immolated for Him.
Here we ask God clearly for the stupendous favor we seek through the Mass: to become partakers of the divinity through union with Him. We ask Him that the change of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ might be paralleled by a change in us, by the supernatural, by sanctifying grace. When once we have seen that such a supernatural dignity is possible for us mortals to attain, that God wants us to have it and inspires us to ask for it, is there any petty thing of the world that we should still desire above union with God?
St. Thomas More’s answer to some “friends” who rebuked him for going to Holy Communion so often, recalls this effect and will perhaps inspire you with reasons to make frequent, fervent Holy Communions. He told them:
Your reasons for wanting me to stay away from Communion are exactly the ones that cause me to go so often. My distractions are great, but it is in Communion that I recollect myself. Many times a day I have temptations; it is by daily Communion I get the strength to overcome them. I have many weighty affairs to manage, and I have need of light and wisdom to manage them; it is for this very reason that I go every day to consult Jesus about them in Holy Communion.
Let us follow the edifying advice of the saints in cultivating our love and devotion to Jesus Christ in the Most Holy Eucharist.