Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost - 21 October AD 2012
Holy Sacrifice of the Mass—New Testament

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Latin and English
Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost
Dominica Vigesima Prima post Pentecosten

If you have read about the North American Martyrs, you have probably come across the name of a young Mohawk Indian girl who was baptized by the Jesuits, Kateri Tekakwitha — "She who bumps into things" — was born to a Mohawk warrior and a Christian mother in New York [State] in 1656. Her parents died in a smallpox epidemic that left her with weakened eyes and a scarred face. Tekakwitha was living with her uncle and aunt when the Jesuit priests—the “Blackrobes”—came to her village. She told them that she wanted to be a Christian, and on Easter Sunday, 1676, Kateri (Catherine) Tekakwitha was baptized. Kateri left her family and traveled many miles to Canada, where she found refuge at the Saint Francis Xavier Mission. Kateri cared tenderly for children, the sick, and the elderly.[1]

    Pope Benedict XVI canonized “the Lily of the Mohawks” this morning at 9:30 AM (Rome time), making her the first North American Indian saint.

    Last week I told you a little about the development of sacrificial worship of God in the Old Testament.  I mentioned that sacrifice is “the giving up something of value to appease God’s just anger, or to thank and praise Him for His goodness, or in asking Him for some important grace.”  The sacrifices of the Old Testament were of two general kinds—the sacrifice of animals, and the oblation of fine wheat.  Once a year, since entering the Promised Land, the Jewish people were to offer the Passover Sacrifice—a lamb would be ritually slaughtered at the Temple, and then taken home to be eaten by the family—a feast to kept “from age to age, an irrevocable ordinance.”[2]

    I also mentioned the priest-king “Melchisedech the king of Salem, bringing forth bread and wine, for he was the priest of the most high God”[3]  His sacrifice in bread and wine is obviously a forerunner (a “type”) of the Eucharistic Sacrifice of Holy Mass.  The messianic Psalm 109, has King David referring to his son, who is also his Lord, as “a priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech.”[4]  The Messias, whom we know to be Jesus Christ, would be both king and priest—king by being descended from David—priest by being descended from God.  And the men whom He would leave to perpetuate His Sacrifice on the Cross, would do so in the offering of bread and wine to become his body and blood.

    It was at the time of the Passover, one year before His crucifixion, that our Lord promised that He would give His disciples His flesh and His blood to eat and drink.[5]  It is not at all coincidental that this promise was made just after He fed a crowd of five thousand with just a five loaves of bread, and the leftover fragments of those loaves filled twelve baskets.[6]  It was this sort of miracle that would make it possible for the Blessed Sacrament to be present in all the tabernacles of the world at the same time.  Yet, some of His disciples could not accept the possibility of His giving them His body and blood—“ After this many of his disciples went back; and walked no more with him.”[7]  That He didn’t call them back, and didn’t tell them that He was speaking only figuratively, tells us that He actually meant His true body and true blood.

    A year later, at the Passover in Jerusalem, He made good on His promise.  As he ate the sacrificial meal with His Apostles, He took some of the unleavened bread and a cup of wine and gave it to them, saying, “Take it and eat.  This is My body…. This is My blood, the blood of the covenant, which is to be poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”[8]   And He commanded the Apostles, “Do this as a memorial of Me.”[9]  Immediately following the supper, He went to Gethsemane where He would be taken by those who would crucify Him—even in time, the Eucharist and the Cross are close together.

    By our Lord’s words we know that what appeared to be bread and wine were one with His body and blood about to be sacrificed on the Cross, and that His Apostles were empowered to do what He had done, so that generations to come, thousands of miles away, “from the rising to the setting of the sun,” could stand at the foot of the Cross and receive the bread of life.  There is but one Sacrifice of the Cross, as Saint Paul wrote to the Hebrews: “for this He did once, in offering himself,” but that sacrifice is re-presented wherever and whenever Mass is offered.[10]

    Sometimes Protestants quote Paul’s words in an effort to say that the Mass is not a sacrifice.  But the very same Saint Paul, a few chapters later, speaks in clear sacrificial terms, describing the practice of the Christians relative to those who rejected Christ and remained with the Temple:  “We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle [the Temple] have no right to eat.”[11]  Saint Paul wrote in Greek, and the word he used for “altar” was the same word (θυσιαστήριον, thusiastērion, thoo-see-as-tay'-ree-on) that was used to describe the sacrificial altar of the Temple in the Septuagint (Greek) translation used by the Jews of the Old Testament—it was not a table, and Paul is saying that Christians offer this sacrifice which those of the Temple may not partake.[12]

    In writing to the Corinthians, Saint Paul not only speaks of the real presence, saying that anyone who shall eat or drink “unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord,” but also that “as often as you shall eat this bread, and drink the chalice, you shall shew the death of the Lord, until he come.” [13]

    The constant tradition of the Church, both East and West has been the acceptance of the true presence of our Lord in consecrated bread and wine, and the sacrificial nature of the Mass, which re-presents the sacrifice of the Cross in time and place.  The deviant teaching that the Eucharist is merely symbolic and non-sacrificial was an innovation of Luther and the so-called “reformers” in the sixteenth century.  They at least had the honesty to stop referring to themselves as “priests,” for that title among Christians, Jews, and pagans refers to “one who offers sacrifice to God.”  Modernist Catholics who deny the sacrificial nature of the Mass should be as honest as their Protestant counterparts, whom they hold in such high esteem, and whom they mimic with their Protestantized liturgy.[14]


[8]   Matthew xxvi:26-28

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