The Sacrifice of the Mass

If anyone has any comments about this, please post them.

Thanks.

THE HOLY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS

In this month of April, which is dedicated to the most Holy Eucharist, we will consider the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The late Fr. Malachi Martin once told a story from his childhood. He was asked by a Protestant neighbor what he was being taught in catechism class about the Mass. When the young Malachi Martin explained what he was being taught, the woman, who later converted to the Catholic Church, replied: “if I believed that, I would crawl to the Church on my knees”. What did the young boy say to the woman that caused such a reaction? Let us consider what the Mass is.

The Holy Mass is the sacrifice of the New Covenant. It is the “once for all” sacrifice of Jesus Christ, transcending time and space, and made present and renewed upon our altars. The Mass is the same sacrifice of Jesus Christ, made to the Father on behalf of sinners. We will examine how this mystery takes place; why it was instituted by our Lord; the four-fold intention of the Mass; and how we are to participate if we are to reap the greatest fruit.

During the Mass, at the moment of consecration, the bread and wine are miraculously transformed into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. After the consecration takes place, the very person of Jesus Christ is truly and substantially present upon the altar, but hidden under the appearance of bread and wine. This miracle, which takes place at every Mass, is the mysterium fide – the mystery of faith - of our holy religion.
Transubstantiation is the term used by the Church to describe the transformation of mere bread and wine into the body and blood, soul and divinity, of our Lord. To understand the transformation, the Church employs the metaphysical terms of substance and accidents. We will briefly discuss these terms in order to understand the presence of our Lord in the most Holy Eucharist. In metaphysical terms, the substance of a thing is what it is of itself – its nature, while the accidents are the qualities that are perceived by the senses. So, for example, the substance of bread is bread, while the accidents of bread would be the taste, smell, and feel of the bread. The substance of wine is wine, while the accidents are the color, taste and the consistency of wine. When transubstantiation occurs, the substance of bread is transformed into the living substance – the literal person, body, blood, soul, and divinity - of Jesus Christ, with only the accidents of bread and wine remaining. The bread becomes the physical body of Christ and the wine his literal blood, but through natural concomitance, the whole Christ is present under each form. In short, after the words of consecration are spoken , what appears to be bread is no longer bread, but the body of Jesus Christ; and what appears to be wine is no longer wine, but the literal and physical blood of Christ, with only the appearances (accidents) of bread and wine remaining.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem wrote the following in the year 350 AD: “As a life giving sacrament, we possess the sacred Flesh of Christ and his Precious Blood under the appearance of bread and wine. What appears to be bread is not bread, but Christ’s Body, and what appears to be wine is not wine, but Christ’s Blood” (Catechetical Lectures 22:9, 350 AD).

By the two-fold and separate consecration of the body and blood of Christ, his sacrificial death is made present and renewed. It is not another sacrifice of Jesus, but the same sacrifice made present and offered to God on behalf of sinners. God willed that it be possible for all Christians to be present at the sacrifice of His son. The means by which this is accomplished is at the Holy Mass. The late Fulton J. Sheen, one of the greatest preachers of the 20th century, once said that if Mary had closed her eyes at Calvary it would have been no different than if she were present at Mass; and if we close our eyes at Mass, it is no different than our being present at Calvary. “In the Mass we are once more at Calvary, rubbing shoulders with Mary Magdalen and John” (Bishop Fulton J. Sheen).

The difference between the sacrifice that took place on Calvary, and the sacrifice that takes place upon our altar is this: 1.) At Calvary, the purpose of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was to redeem mankind and to merit for us, while at the Mass, the purpose is to offer himself for our sins, and to apply His merits to us; and 2.) at Calvary, the sacrifice took place in a bloody manner, visible for all to see; while at Mass the sacrifice takes place in an un-bloody manner, under the appearance of bread and wine, and can only be “seen” by those who possess supernatural faith.

The Bible tells us Jesus is a Priest according to the order of Melchesidech (Heb 6:20). Why is this so? In Genesis, we read that Melchesidech was a King and High Priest who offered to God a pure sacrifice of bread and wine (Gen 14:18). At Mass, our Lord, who is the King of Kings and High Priest of the New Covenant, is offered in sacrifice to God in like manner –namely, under the appearance of bread and wine.

In the Old Testament we read the Prophecy of Malachias, which says: “from the rising of the sun even until its going down thereof, My name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is offered to My name a pure sacrifice” (Mal 1:11). This prophecy of a pure sacrifice offered to God by the Gentiles is the Holy Mass, as the Fathers of the Church recognized.

continue…

continuation

St. Justin Martyr, 135 AD: "…God speaks through Malachias, one of the twelve, as follows: ‘… for from the rising of the sun until its setting, My name has been glorified among the Gentiles; and in every place incense is offered to My name, and a clean offering: for great is My name among the Gentiles, says the Lord…’. It is of the sacrifices offered to Him in every place by us, the Gentiles, that is, of the Bread of the Eucharist and likewise of the cup of the Eucharist, that He speaks at that time” (Dialogue with Trypho, 41:8-10, circa 135AD)

St. Irenaeus of Lyon, 189 AD: “He took from among creation that which is bread, and gave thanks, saying, ‘This is My body.’ The cup likewise, which is from among the creation to which we belong, He confessed to be His blood. He taught the new sacrifice of the new covenant, of which Malachi, one of the twelve prophets, had signified beforehand: ‘You do not do My will, says the Lord Almighty, and I will not accept a sacrifice at your hands. For from the rising of the sun to its setting My name is glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to My name, and a pure sacrifice; for great is My name among the gentiles, says the Lord Almighty’ [Mal. 1:10-11]. By these words he makes it plain that the former people [the Jews] will cease to make offerings to God; but that in every place sacrifice will be offered to Him, and indeed, a pure one, for His name is glorified among the Gentiles.” (Against Heresies 4:17:5 [A.D. 189])

The Holy Mass is of infinite worth. The Cur of Ars once said: “All the good works in the world are not equal to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because they are the works of men; but the Mass is the work of God. Martyrdom is nothing in comparison for it is but the sacrifice of man to God; but the Mass is the sacrifice of God for man." The various sacrifices instituted by God in the Old Covenant pre-figured the Sacrifice of the Mass. St. Augustine wrote: “Recognize in this bread what hung on the cross, and in this chalice what flowed from His side… whatever was in many and varied ways announced beforehand in the sacrifices of the Old Testament pertains to this one sacrifice which is revealed in the New Testament".

The four-fold intention of the Mass is: 1.) To give praise and honor to Almighty God; 2.) To thank him for the benefits we have received; 3.) To make satisfaction for our sins; and 4.) To obtain the graces we are in need of. We should prepare ourselves for Mass by examining our conscience and confessing our sins. Confession is like a spiritual shower. Even if we have not committed a mortal sin, confessing our lesser sins cleanses us of them. In addition, each sin, or fault, we confess with sorrow, gains us grace to strengthen us against what we confessed. Let us not neglect so useful a remedy for our sins. As we get in the habit of frequent confession, we will notice a purification taking place within us. Faults that we were unaware of will soon be noticed, and overcome. By being faithful to regular confession, God will be faithful in helping us overcome our weakness and transform us into the likeness of his Son.

How to participate at the Mass: During Mass, our active participation should be first and foremost interior. We should unite ourselves spiritually with that which is taking place upon the altar. During the offertory, we should make our petitions known to God, placing them upon the paten, and then in the chalice. At the moment of the two-fold consecration, we should close our eyes, placing ourselves spiritually at the foot of the cross, thanking God for so great an act of love, repenting of our sins, and seeking the graces to love him more, so as to live according to His holy will.

Then, when the time for communion arrives, we should approach the altar rail with humility, acknowledging our unworthiness, and realizing that we are about receive Almighty God, truly and substantially present under the appearance of bread. The Holy Eucharist is the greatest of all the sacraments. While the other sacraments give grace, the Holy Eucharist is the source of all grace. The same God who created heaven and earth, and who is worshipped by the Angels and Saints, comes to us in Holy Communion. At Communion we receive the Great Physician, who comes to us, not for His benefit, but for our good, that we might receive a divine remedy for our spiritual ills and an increase in supernatural life - “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 life by the Father; so he that eateth Me, the same shall also live by Me” (John 6:56-58).

St. Alphonsus: “St. Dionysius the Areopagite says that the principle effect of love is to tend to union. For this very purpose did Jesus institute the Holy Communion, that He might unite Himself entirely to our souls. … Jesus Christ was not satisfied with uniting Himself to our human nature; but He would, by this Sacrament, find a way of uniting Himself also to each one of us, so as to make Himself wholly one with him who receives Him. … Because Jesus loved us ardently, He desired to unite Himself to us in the Holy Eucharist, in order that we might become the same thing with Him… Jesus Himself said this: ‘He that eateth My flesh abideth in Me, and I in him’. He, therefore, that communicates, abides in Jesus, and Jesus abides in him; and this union is not of mere affection, but it is a true and real union… The Council of Trent teaches that Holy Communion is that remedy which delivers us from daily faults and preserves us from mortal sin”.

Ultima Ratio, did you write this? If not, what is the source?

I wrote it to be an insert in our Church bulletin. I posted it here for feedback.

Ultima-
You are as close to the truth as can be i think.
Thanks for a great post.
For an expansion on this line of thought, please take a look at:

The Holy Mass-- Catalina Rivas
–revelation to Catalina from Jesus & Our Lady–small booklet–20 minute read–if you can get people to read this, it WILL change the way they see the Holy Mass.
I can email this to anyone who wants a copy, as a pdf file. PM me with your email address if you want it, or go to loveandmercy.org/2/
to view it.
They sell the booklet for 75 cents in 100 qtys, my parish is on our 5th order of 100.

Yes, it is personal revelation, but it does have an imprimatur.
I’m interested in your thoughts on this little booklet, fits very well into the subject here, as you will see when you read it.

Looks pretty good. Do make sure you go through for spelling, though: e.g., “Cur of Ars” should be “Curé of Ars”, “prinicple effect” should be “principal effect.”

Also, I’m slightly troubled by the line, “During the offertory, we should make our petitions known to God, placing them upon the paten, and then in the chalice.” There was a thread on here a week or two ago from a guy whose wife writes a list of people every week for whom she offers her attendance at Mass, and then visualizes putting the list into the chalice at the moment of consecration. Is this sort of a visualization exercise more widespread, then? Does it have some legitimate basis somewhere? For my own part, I don’t consider it appropriate to engage in this kind of exercise. The Offertory is an occasion on which we make a pure sacrifice to God, not requests of God, and I think it sullies the first to try mixing it with the second.

Ultima Ratio,

I have a few suggestions. I hope they are helpful.

After the consecration takes place, the very person of Jesus Christ is truly and substantially present upon the altar, but hidden under the appearance of bread and wine.

I think it might be inaccurate (although common) to describe Christ as “hidden under the appearances” of bread and wine. This is because substance (or in this case Christ’s substantial presence) is never accessible directly through the senses. Saying that Christ is “hidden” evokes the idea that if you could somehow “look behind” the accidents of bread and wine as a veil you would see Christ. But this is impossible. To illustrate, we never say that the substance of something is hidden under it’s appearances because appearances are what reveal the substance to us (normally). Since you can’t ever see a substance directly it can’t ever be hidden.

This miracle, which takes place at every Mass, is the mysterium fide – the mystery of faith - of our holy religion.

Just a small sytlistic note, you may want to italicize mysterium fidei, and I think it has an “i” on the end.

Transubstantiation is the term used by the Church to describe the transformation of mere bread and wine into the body and blood, soul and divinity, of our Lord.

To be absolutely consistent, you might not want to use the word “transform” because although that colloquially means “change”, when used in that sentence next to the metaphysical term “transubstantiation” it might seem odd. Just as “transubstantiate” means a change of whole substance “transform” means a change of the form. Although a “transformation” could be a substantial change, it wouldn’t be a change of the whole substance like transubstantiation is. Maybe you could use “change” or “conversion” instead?

To understand the transformation,

ditto!

the substance of a thing is what it is of itself

I don’t know if you meant “of itself” or “in itself”.

When transubstantiation occurs, the substance of bread is transformed

Another instance of “transformed.”

When transubstantiation occurs, the substance of bread is transformed into the living substance – the literal person, body, blood, soul, and divinity - of Jesus Christ, with only the accidents of bread and wine remaining.

I think you might want to take another look at this. You don’t seem to have an agreement between “substance of bread” and “accidents of bread and wine” here. Also, you later explain natural concomitance. But, here you seem to indicate that the conversion of bread is a conversion into the body and blood, soul, Divinity of Christ. Since you are speaking here of the conversion itself, i.e. transubstantiation, you may want to mirror Trent’s language and speak of the bread converting into the Body only and the wine into the Blood only.

In short, after the words of consecration are spoken , what appears to be bread is no longer bread, but the body of Jesus Christ; and what appears to be wine is no longer wine, but the literal and physical blood of Christ, with only the appearances (accidents) of bread and wine remaining.

Again, you might want to take a look at this passage. Here it looks like you are saying that after the conversion the appearance of bread contains the Body only. This is the opposite problem of above. Since you are taking about after the consecration you are talking about not just the conversion – what is made present by the power of the words – but the whole sacramental presence – what is present by the power of words* and* through concomitance (or in the case of Divinity, through the Hypostatic Union).

I have some more thoughts, particularly on the next part dealing with the Sacrifice. Any interest?

Good work though! I hope you take my comments in the spirit they are intended, and not as unduly critical.

VC

Thanks for the imput. There is a good sermon located at www.audiosancto.com that discusses placing our petitions upon the paten and within the chalice at the offertory.

Excellent critique. The only part I don’t necessarily agree with is the first paragraph. I think “hidden under the appearance of bread and wine” is a good figure of speech to convey the reality. The substance of a thing is made known by the accidents; but in the case of the Eucharist, the substance is “hidden” behind the accidents of bread.

You mentioned additional thoughts pertaining to the sacrifice. Please pass them along.

Ultima,

Great, I will keep going then!

Let me just say this about the “hidden” language. I see your point about it as a useful figure of speech. I’m aware that it is often used that way, and I see the merit of it. St. Thomas himself uses it in Lauda Sion:

Sub diversis speciebus,
signis tantum, et non rebus,
latent res eximiae.

(although I’ve no Latin to speak of, latent, here seems to mean “hidden”.)

Also, St. Thomas mentions this concept explicitly in the *Summa Theologica (*III, q. 76 a. 7, ad 1):

Our bodily eye, on account of the sacramental species, is hindered from beholding the body of Christ underlying them, not merely as by way of veil (just as we are hindered from seeing what is covered with any corporeal veil), but also because Christ’s body bears a relation to the medium surrounding this sacrament, not through its own accidents, but through the sacramental species.

What I was getting at, though, is the latter portion of this. As St. Thomas says, the Body of Christ is not only hidden as something is hidden under a veil – but also because He himself is indiscernible, since He is present in the manner of a substance. In other words, if you pulled back the veil there wouldn’t be anything to see underneath.

It’s a fine point. I don’t expect that you want to delve into it for the purposes of a bulletin insert, but I wanted to alert you to it.

Now, on to the rest. . . be with you in a bit.
VC

Interesting, though unfortunately I can’t find the one you mean. You might, though, consider changing the text of your article from saying “we should” place our petitions “upon the paten, and then in the chalice” to saying “we can” or “we may” do so, to make it clear that this is just a suggestion for a kind of private devotion, and not a rubric of the Mass or something the Church asks of us during the Offertory.

[quote=Ultima Ratio]God willed that it be possible for all Christians to be present at the sacrifice of His son. The means by which this is accomplished is at the Holy Mass. The late Fulton J. Sheen, one of the greatest preachers of the 20th century, once said that if Mary had closed her eyes at Calvary it would have been no different than if she were present at Mass; and if we close our eyes at Mass, it is no different than our being present at Calvary. “In the Mass we are once more at Calvary, rubbing shoulders with Mary Magdalen and John” (Bishop Fulton J. Sheen)
[/quote]

Maybe a more cautious approach could be taken here? I certainly understand the idea being expressed but, when you contrast it with what you say later you might see what I mean about taking a cautious approach. But, focusing on just this part for the moment, here are some thoughts.

Essentially I advocate caution for two reasons: 1) I think that the metaphysical nature of the sacrifice in the Sacrifice of the Mass is somewhat an open question and the explanation that it is a sacrifice because we are present at Calvary, or Calvary is present to us, is only one theory and 2) it is possible that those who mention being present at Calvary are speaking in a devotional fashion and not offering a theological explanation.

Reason #1 is maybe a bit too tangential to go into, but I think I can illustrate reason #2. I think that your quote from Fulton Sheen is taken from this article of his. But, when we look at the full quote:

As we offer it, we hang, as it were, onto His robes, we tug at His feet at the Ascension, we cling to His pierced hands in offering Himself to the Heavenly Father. Being hidden in Him, our prayers and sacrifices have His value. In the Mass we are once more at Calvary, rubbing shoulders with Mary Magdalen and John, while mournfully looking over our shoulders at executioners who still shake dice for the garments of the Lord.

That phrase “as it were” seems like an important qualifier. I think the devotional language is quite forceful here. It seems to me that if you take the “once more at Calvary” as a theological explanation, you may have to deal with the executioners and dice playing as well. Again, “as it were” seems important. You’ll find this phrase in the Catechism too, “1370 (. . .) In the Eucharist the Church is as it were at the foot of the cross with Mary, united with the offering and intercession of Christ.”

That note of caution makes sense to me. For instance, when you move on to your later comment

[quote=Ultima Ratio]The difference between the sacrifice that took place on Calvary, and the sacrifice that takes place upon our altar is (. . .) at Calvary, the sacrifice took place in a bloody manner, visible for all to see; while at Mass the sacrifice takes place in an un-bloody manner, under the appearance of bread and wine
[/quote]

I wonder how this explanation interlocks with the previous explanation that if Mary closed her eyes she would be at The Mass. Does that mean that if Mary closed her eyes that Calvary would also be unbloody? Or, to put it another way, how is that we can be at an unbloody Calvary?

The preceding isn’t meant to construct an argument against “being present at Calvary” (most certainly not against the devotional language). Mainly I just wanted to point out that as a theological explanation I’m not sure everything has been worked out yet.

Good show on the article. I especially enjoyed the portion about the four intentions. Any thoughts on my impressions above?

VC

By the way, Ultima Ratio – and I’m not trying to make your life hard here – don’t you need an imprimatur if you’re going to distribute a text on religious questions in church? Looking at the relevant canon, “**ooks or other writings dealing with questions of religion or morals cannot be exhibited, sold, or distributed in churches or oratories unless they have been published with the permission of competent ecclesiastical authority or approved by it subsequently” (827 § 4). I believe “permission of competent ecclesiastical authority” refers to approval of the local ordinary, as referred to in §§ 1 and 3 of the same canon and Canon 824 § 1.

Just throwing that out there.**

Good advise. Thanks.

I thought of something else about the offertory last night. Consider the prayers said by the Priest when he offers the host and the chalice:

For the host: “Recieve, O Holy Father, Almighty and Eternal God, this spotless host, which I, your unworthy servant, offer to You, my living and true God, to atone for my numberless sins, offences and negligences; on behalf of all here present and likewise for all faithful Christians living and dead, that it may profit me and them as a means of salvation to life everlasting. Amen”.

For the Chalice: “Accept, most Holy Trinity, this offering which we are making to You in remembrance of the passion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, Our Lord; and in honour of blessed Mary ever Virgin, Blessed John the Baptist, the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and of [the Saint whose relics are in the altar] and of all the Saints; that it may add to their honour and aid our salvation; and may they deign to intercede in heaven for us who honour their memory here on earth”.

It seems consistent to me to place our petitions upon the paten and within the chalice at this time. Also keep in mind that at the offertory, what is bieng offered is not our works. We can certainly offer up any prayers or works that we have, but what is being offered is primarily the sacrifice of Jesus, even though transubstantation has not yet occurred. When the consecration takes place, the petitions made at the offertory are presented to God.

I don’t think the metaphysical nature of the sacrifice of the Mass is an open question. The Mass is metaphysically the same sacrifice as Calvary. The only thing that differs is the manner in which the offering is made. The following is from the Catechism of Pope St. Pius X:

5 Q. Is the Sacrifice of the Mass the same as that of the Cross?

Answer. The Sacrifice of the Mass is substantially the same as that of the Cross, for the same Jesus Christ, Who offered Himself on the Cross, it is Who offers Himself by the hands of the priests, His ministers, on our altars; but as regards the way in which He is offered, the Sacrifice of the Mass differs from the Sacrifice of the Cross, though retaining the most intimate and essential relation to it.

[quote=] … and 2) it is possible that those who mention being present at Calvary are speaking in a devotional fashion and not offering a theological explanation.
[/quote]

I agree somewhat, but I think it is a good way of speaking because it emphasizes the reality of what the Mass is. I would agree that we are not truly present at Calvary, since this would require our transcending time and space; however, we are present in Calvary in the sense that the sacrifice that took place on Calvary does transcend time and space.
So, in reality, we are not physically present at Calvary, but the Sacrifice that took place at Calvary is really and truly present at Mass.

[quote=] That note of caution makes sense to me. For instance, when you move on to your later comment I wonder how this explanation interlocks with the previous explanation that if Mary closed her eyes she would be at The Mass. Does that mean that if Mary closed her eyes that Calvary would also be unbloody? Or, to put it another way, how is that we can be at an unbloody Calvary?
[/quote]

I think what Fulton Sheen was trying to emphasize the sacrifice. In other words, at Mass and at Calvary the exact same event is taking place. That is a good way to put to. The exact same event is taking place. The event is offered in two different ways, but the event is one and the same.

[quote=] The preceding isn’t meant to construct an argument against “being present at Calvary” (most certainly not against the devotional language). Mainly I just wanted to point out that as a theological explanation I’m not sure everything has been worked out yet.
[/quote]

But what has been worked out is that the Sacrifice taking place at Mass is the same exact sacrifice that took place at Calvary. We could say that what differs are the accidents - what we see taking place. The substance (sacrifice) is identical, but the accidents of the sacrifice are different. I think that’s a good way to put it.

Have you ever read the explanation of the Mass provided in the Catechism of Pius X? It is pretty good. Here’s a link. The section discussing the Mass is near the bottom.

Thanks. It’s very good if the purpose is more educational than inspirational. We certainly need pieces like this.

On the inspirational side it sort of misses the forest for the trees. Would young Father Martin’s neighbor be inspired by this explanation? Partially I think, but a sense of how the Mass is completely awesome is not fully conveyed. Maybe some additional text that is a littles less scholarly but more from the heart would help.

Hello Ultima,

Here is what I mean:

The physical essence of the Mass having been established in the consecration of the two species, the metaphysical question arises as to whether and in what degree the scientific concept of sacrifice is realized in this double consecration. Since the three ideas, sacrificing priest, sacrificial gift, and sacrificial object, present no difficulty to the understanding, the problem is finally seen to lie entirely in the determination of the real sacrificial act (actio sacrifica), and indeed not so much in the form of this act as in the matter, since the glorified Victim, in consequence of Its impassibility, cannot be really transformed, much less destroyed. In their investigation of the idea of destruction, the post-Tridentine theologians have brought into play all their acuteness, often with brilliant results, and have elaborated a series of theories concerning the Sacrifice of the Mass, of which, however, we can discuss only the most notable and important.

If you look at Ludwig Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, under “The Eucharist as Sacrifice” you find Section 24 “The Metaphysical Nature of the Sacrifice of the Mass”.

The question at issue regarding the metaphysical nature of the Sacrifice of the Mass is: What makes the consecration (more exactly, the double-consecration) a sacrificial action?

  1. Probable Solution (((here Ott gives a probable solution)))
  2. Theories of the Sacrifice of the Mass (((here Ott goes through some of the theories))).

As you can see form the above, the exact metaphysical nature of the sacrifice seems to have a few theories. To my knowledge, it isn’t a settled question. But I wouldn’t mind being shown that it is!

[quote=Ultima Ratio]Have you ever read the explanation of the Mass provided in the Catechism of Pius X? It is pretty good. Here’s a link. The section discussing the Mass is near the bottom.
[/quote]

Yes. Actually I had St. Pius X’s catechism in mind when I wrote my last post! For instance when you quote: Answer. The Sacrifice of the Mass is substantially the same as that of the Cross, for the same Jesus Christ, Who offered Himself on the Cross, it is Who offers Himself by the hands of the priests, His ministers, on our altars; but as regards the way in which He is offered, the Sacrifice of the Mass differs from the Sacrifice of the Cross, though retaining the most intimate and essential relation to it.Note that what it says is that the Sacrifice of the Mass is substantially the same as that of the Cross. It seems to me the the “that” is the is the word “sacrifice”. There is no question that the Mass is the same sacrifice as the sacrifice of the Cross, the question is how is it the same sacrifice? St. Pius didn’t say that the Mass is the same as the crucifixion, but I think that is what the “present at Calvary” can lead to if it is proposed in a way such that it seems like a theological answer.

I agree somewhat, but I think it is a good way of speaking because it emphasizes the reality of what the Mass is. I would agree that we are not truly present at Calvary, since this would require our transcending time and space; however, we are present in Calvary in the sense that the sacrifice that took place on Calvary does transcend time and space. So, in reality, we are not physically present at Calvary, but the Sacrifice that took place at Calvary is really and truly present at Mass.

Yes, this is more or less what I mean, and is what I mean about the exercise of caution.

I think what Fulton Sheen was trying to emphasize the sacrifice. In other words, at Mass and at Calvary the exact same event is taking place. That is a good way to put to. The exact same event is taking place. The event is offered in two different ways, but the event is one and the same.

Yes, i think you could say event. Unfortunately “event” also has the connotation of all the surrounding events, and then we are back to the idea that we are actually present at Calvary instead of virtually present.

I’ve wondered if the words “act” and “action” might be used profitably. Could we say that the sacrifice of the Mass is the same “sacrificial act” but not the same “sacrificial action”?

[quote=Ultima Ratio]But what has been worked out is that the Sacrifice taking place at Mass is the same exact sacrifice that took place at Calvary. We could say that what differs are the accidents - what we see taking place. The substance (sacrifice) is identical, but the accidents of the sacrifice are different. I think that’s a good way to put it.
[/quote]

It has it’s merits. But, then would we have to be careful of talking about “accidents” such as Mary, John, etc.? The fact is that if Mary closed her eyes Christ was still bleeding, so you can’t penetrate to the “substance” of the Sacrifice simply by ignoring the accidents. There seems something else much more mysterious about what the “substance” or “essence” of the sacrifice of Christ is.

Are you familiar with Dom Odo Casel? Ott makes mention of him, in Fundamentals and it touches on this idea of comparison between Calvary’s hill and the Mass.

VC

That first quote I gave concerning theories of sacrifice is from the Catholic Encyclopedia. I inadvertently failed to source it.

:thumbsup: It’s a lovely commentary! Keep the “hidden” part as it is, I’ve seen it put that way many times before :slight_smile: Your parish will benefit greatly from this.

ljubim and Ultima,

I just want to clarify what I meant when I referred to “hidden”. I called it inaccurate to say that but what I really ought to have said was that I think it might lead to an inaccurate understanding. (So it was I, in fact, who was inaccurate).

I understand that speaking of Christ as “hidden” has merit, and is often used, to greater or lesser effect – for instance in the quote I provided from St. Thomas. What I was trying to get at was that in this context, it might not be as valuable.

I say this because it is introduced within the following:

After the consecration takes place, the very person of Jesus Christ is truly and substantially present upon the altar, but hidden under the appearance of bread and wine. (. . .) The bread becomes the physical body of Christ and the wine his literal blood (. . .) what appears to be bread is no longer bread, but the body of Jesus Christ; and what appears to be wine is no longer wine, but the literal and physical blood of Christ, with only the appearances (accidents) of bread and wine remaining.

and since the word physical is used here it seems to me that an erroneous conclusion could be made that since Christ is “physically” present but “hidden” underneath the accidents of bread if you were to remove the accidents of bread or somehow draw them aside, as it were, then you would see Christ. But that would be a misconception.

I only offer this observation in the spirit in which it was solicited, as a general critique. I don’t want to over-state the case, I just wanted to clarify what my original point was about.

VC

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