Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin & English
“Mystérium fidéi —the Mystery of faith.” (1)
In the Catholic Eastern Churches—the Greeks, the Russians, the Ukrainians, and so on, the Sacraments are usually called “the Mysteries.” They are the same seven Sacraments, but the Eastern term does point them out as being something quite special.
Webster’s offers three religious definitions of the word “mystery” as its first choice.
a : a religious truth that one can know only by revelation and cannot fully understand
b (1) : any of the 15 events (as the Nativity, the Crucifixion, or the Assumption) serving as a subject for meditation during the saying of the rosary (2) capitalized : a Christian sacrament; specifically : eucharist
c (1) : a secret religious rite believed (as in Eleusinian and Mithraic cults) to impart enduring bliss to the initiate (2) : a cult devoted to such rites (2)
It refers to Mystery (capitalized) as a “Christian sacrament, specifically the Eucharist.” It also reminds us that mysteries are something which we can know only through divine revelation, and that they may not be fully understandable to the human intellect.
The Blessed Sacrament—the Holy Eucharist, instituted on this very night, by our Lord Jesus Christ on the day before He died, is the greatest of the Mysteries. It is, in fact, in the words of consecration, referred to as “the Mystery of faith.”
Perhaps the greatest part of this Mystery is the fact God has given human beings control over Himself! With awesome power, the priest, acting in the Person of Christ, speaks the words of consecration over the bread and the wine, and the body and blood of Jesus Christ become present on our altar. So to speak, the word becomes flesh and dwells amongst us, much as it is described in Saint John’s Gospel. (3)
And make no mistake, we are not just talking about the human body and blood of Christ—the words of the priest make the entire Christ present—humanity and divinity. God, of course, is everywhere—but in the Blessed Sacrament He is present “locally,” as He was in the Temple in Jerusalem. Even more so, for the Blessed Sacrament is a physical and tangible reality.
God is with us in the Blessed Sacrament, but we can also say that we are with Him. In the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we offer the Son to the Father, just as God the Son offered Himself on the Cross. When we assist at Mass, we stand at the foot of the Cross, making up for those who abandoned Him out of fear of the Roman authorities. We can truthfully say that we are there with His blessed Mother and His beloved disciple.
This “Mystery of faith” makes us Christ-like. On a small, yet significant scale, we receive the body and blood of Christ and it becomes part of our body and blood. More importantly, we receive His Sanctifying Grace, and we are made radically holy. Sinful men and women may repent and become the sons and daughters of God the Father; brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ.
Faith is a virtue of the intellect, so this “Mystery of faith” will enable us to God and the things of God more intimately. But it will also strengthen our will to avoid evil and to strive to please God in all we do.
Tonight, on the anniversary of this great Mystery, we will reserve the Blessed Sacrament at our altar of repose—this calls to mind the period after the Last Supper when our Lord was held captive by the Romans.. I invite you to spend some time at that altar, praying a Rosary and meditating on this Mystery. Come again tomorrow, before we begin and pray another Rosary with the sorrowful mysteries.
The priest will receive that Host from the Altar of repose in the Good Friday Liturgy. Apart from the priest, no one will receive Holy Communion until the Vigil Mass on Saturday night. It is appropriate to feel desolation, just as those at the foot of the Cross felt desolation. Only by being without It for a period can we fully appreciate the importance of the blessed Sacrament. In desolation we can appreciate the greatness of the Mystérium fidéi —the Mystery of faith.
1. From the words of consecration of the wine. http://www.rosarychurch.net/english/2mass.html
3. John i: 14 http://www.drbo.org/x/d?b=drb&bk=50&ch=1&l=14#x