Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Retreat 2000
Saint Thomas Aquinas Seminary - September 27-30 AD 2000
Conference II - "The Cross, the Mass, Confession, and Communion."
Ave Maria!

    One of the central difficulties encountered by modern day Catholics centers around a lack of understanding—or positive misunderstanding—of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  In this conference, we will try to put the Cross, the Mass, Confession, and Holy Communion into proper perspective.  To do this, we are going to follow the example given us in Saint Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews, and take a look first at the Old Testament forerunner of the Catholic Faith, and see how God ordered His chosen people to worship Him before the time of Christ.

    If you are not generally familiar with the Old Testament, I would like to suggest that sometime in the next few weeks you leisurely read through the Books of Genesis and Exodus, and then just skip Deuteronomy and perhaps Leviticus.  But most of what we are going to cover today will probably seem familiar, even if your Old Testament knowledge is restricted to the "Bible stories" of years ago.

    We know, to begin with, that Adam and Eve, through their sin, had lost the ability to communicate with God and to do things that were meritorious in His sight.  God promised a Redeemer, but the fulfillment of that promise would be many centuries down the road.  Through the pages of the Old Testament, we see the efforts of men to deal with their shortcomings, and the opportunities given by God to restore, at least partially, the bridge of communication and friendship between God and man.

    We generally think of four things that make up this communication between God and man -- we often say that their are four different kinds of prayer, or perhaps, four different reasons for praying:

    ○ Adoration, by which we praise God simply for His awesome and overpowering goodness.

    ○ Thanksgiving, in which we thank God for all of the good things He has given to us and to those around us.

    ○ Appeasement, by which we ask God's forgiveness for our sins and of those around us;  and by which we ask for God's mitigation of the punishments that are due to our sins.  Make a mental note that this is, more technically, called "propitiation."  If you hear the words "propitiatory sacrifice," you will know that they mean a sacrifice offered for the forgiveness of sin and the remission of punishment.

    ○ Petition, the fourth kind of prayer, is the one we often associate with children and childhood, in that when we "petition" God, we are simply asking Him for the things we feel we need in our material and spiritual lives.  (All such prayers are answered, but sometimes the answer is "no.")

    All four of these kinds of prayer are good, and show respect for God—even when we are just asking for things—but, of course, there ought to be some balance in our prayer life.  We ought to employ all four forms in some degree.  I mention these four forms of prayer, because in a sense, man had to learn them all over, "from scratch," as we say.  And we will see elements of them, more clearly discernable as the history of man's prayers and sacrifices goes on.

    The word "sacrifice" is key to our understanding, because much of the prayer offered by God and commanded by God took the form of a sacrificial offering.  That offering might be of one's time and thought, voice, or song; what we usually just call prayer—it might take the form of fasting and abstinence from legitimate material things, given up as a form of prayer—but chiefly, when we use the word "sacrifice" we are speaking of a victim being slain for God;  usually a valuable animal, killed and somehow destroyed in God's honor—a way of returning some of God's bounty to Him.

    Saint Paul tells us that "there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood."[1]  And that shedding of blood began very shortly after the fall of Adam and Eve made it necessary.  Bishop Fulton Sheen, may have been stretching a bit, but he used to say that the very first sacrifice was the one claimed by God Himself when He killed animals in order to make clothing out of their skins to cover the newly discovered nakedness of Adam and Eve.[2]  It is interesting to pause and think about how this event demonstrates the connection between sin and suffering in the world;  how our sins effect even the non-human world around us.  Bishop Sheen also used to speak of our salvation history as "a veritable river of blood," for as we will see, it was almost always traced through some sort of bloody sacrifice -- and often through great quantities of blood.

    The first man to act as an acceptable priest before God was Abel, the second son of Adam and Eve.[3]  Able, called "Able the just," is even mentioned in the Canon of the Mass, following the Consecration, as we ask God to accept our Offering, even as He accepted the offerings made by His acceptable priests, even before the He gave His Law to Moses.

    Noe should be mentioned, for we see that when delivered from the flood, he offered to God a sacrifice "from all of the cattle and birds that were clean."  And we see the value of this sacrifice when "the Lord smelled a sweet savor and said, 'I will no more curse the earth for the sake of man: for the imagination and thought of man's heart are prone to evil from his youth: therefore I will no more destroy every living soul as I have done."[4]  We see that God was pleased with Noe's sacrifice of his material goods, and was even moved by it to overlook some of our sinful inclinations as a result.

    Next mentioned in the canon of the Mass is Abraham.  The story of his sacrifice is frighteningly memorable, as he left home for the mountain on which he believed God expected him to offer his son Isaac as the victim.[5]  We know, of course, that this was more of a sacrifice of his will, a test of obedience—but it also "sets the stage," so to speak, for the idea of God offering His only Son on the Cross.  Abraham was obedient, also, in circumcising himself and his sons, a tangible symbol of his covenant with God, as well as a sacramental shedding of blood.[6]

    And closely associated with Abraham is the priest and king of Salem, Melchisedech.  Actually he preceded Abraham in the Scriptural account, mentioned immediately after the rescue of Lot from Sodom.[7]  Of all the Old Testament priests, Melchisedech seems to be the one who most closely foreshadows our Lord and the New Testament priesthood.  He is mentioned in the Psalms, and is commented on at relative length by St. Paul in the Epistle to the Hebrews.  Every Sunday at Vespers we pray a Psalm that is universally acknowledged as referring to the coming Messias:

    “Thine is princely power in the day of Thy birth ... before the daystar, like the dew, I have begotten Thee.... Thou art a priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech.”[8]

    King, and priest, and forever—three concepts that will certainly pertain to Jesus Christ in the New Testament.

    We don't know much about the worship of the Jews during their captivity in Egypt.  There is a several hundred year void in the accounts after Joseph, the great grandson of Abraham, became steward for the Pharaohs in that pagan land across the Red Sea in Mediterranean Africa.  By the other end of that period, God's people have been reduced to slavery and yearn to be free.  In retrospect, we can look back and see this a symbolizing the slavery of mankind to sin.  But God sends a "deliverer," a sort of semi-Messias in the person of Moses.

    Moses, of course was a Jew, but one put into a basket and set adrift by his mother to avoid the sentence of death passed on all Jewish male children; one who was found and raised as her own by the Pharaoh’s daughter .[9]  It was this same Moses who grew up, and became God's instrument for the deliverance of His people.  The story, if you are not familiar with it, can be found in the first few chapters of the Book of Exodus, and is also summarized in Psalms 104 and 105.

    What is significant for our purpose today is the sacrifice commanded by God before the final plague is sent on Egypt to force the release of Israel.  After frogs, and serpents, and locusts, and flies, and flaming hail, and water turned to blood failed to convince Pharaoh that the Jews were more trouble than they were worth, God sent the angel of death to destroy all the first-born in Egypt;  from the son of Pharaoh on down to the first-born even of the animals.[10]  And God arranged to protect the first-born children of the Jews by having them offer a wonderful sacrifice, known even to this day as the "Passover."

    Each Jewish family was to sacrifice an unblemished male lamb, and to consume that lamb with unleavened bread and wild lettuce.  Whatever remained was to be burned in the fire, except for the lamb's blood, which was to be used to anoint the doors of the Jewish homes, so that the angel of death would know to "pass-over" the houses of the Jews and spare their first-born from death.  And God commanded that this Passover sacrifice be an annual event, celebrated each year from the 14th to the 21st of the lunar month of Nissan.[11]

    As you probably know, the Passover supper just before our Lord's crucifixion was the basis for the Sacrifice of the New Law, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

    But before we get ahead of events, we should also mention that God required many more sacrifices of the Jews once they escaped from Egypt, wandered in the desert, and finally built His temple in Jerusalem under King Solomon.  The sacrifices that began in the desert are extremely important, for with them God adds several new dimensions to the worship He expects from His people -- many of which continue on, even into the worship of the New Covenant of Jesus Christ.

    First, God describes the plan of a portable sanctuary that the Jews are to make out of the finest available materials, and set up wherever they made camp in the desert.  The Temple in Jerusalem would be set up in a similar manner, with even more detailed specifications.[12]  The description, found in Exodus 25-30 and 36-40, goes into precise detail.  Everything is sumptuous; with purple and scarlet drapes, and gold ornaments, and the best available woods.  Not only is there a walled off place for prayer, but there is an altar, and candle sticks, and various items of equipment for conducting the sacrifices.  There is a table for the unbloody sacrifice of hot loaves of bread that will be replaced with fresh ones when they cool.  There is the "Ark," a gold plated wooden box that will eventually contain the tablets of the Commandments, a sample of the miraculous "bread from heaven" with which God fed His desert wanderers for forty years, and the staff of Aaron, His first officially designated priest.

    Second, there is to be a "holy of holies," a section of the sanctuary that is curtained off from the sight of men -- the place in which God Himself will dwell, seated on a throne above the Ark of the Covenant.  Please understand what I am saying -- the Jews had the Real Presence of God in their sanctuary.  When they traveled through the desert He guided them, a pillar of cloud visible by day, and a pillar of fire at night.  When the cloud settled over the Ark they would stop, when it lifted they would again move through the desert.[13]  When they settled down in Jerusalem, the Real Presence of God would dwell in the holy of holies in the Temple until the day of our Lord's crucifixion—when the curtain would be "torn from the top to the bottom"—torn by forces from above, rather than by those below.[14]

    It is only with God's revelation of His Law to Moses, and with the construction of this traveling sanctuary, that God requires a special group of men be set aside for Him as His priests.  Up until this time, we have seen that the offering of sacrifice to God was largely the concern of the father of a household, or perhaps, a king for his people.  But now, the work of sacrificing would belong exclusively to the sons of Moses' brother Aaron.[15]  And the number, kind, and frequency of sacrifices would dramatically increase.

    You can get an idea of the complexity of the Jewish sacrificial system in the first eight chapters of Leviticus.  Only clean animals from the herd or the flock (cattle or sheep) could be offered;  not old, not blind, not in any way imperfect.  The poor might offer turtledoves or pigeons.[16]  There were also cereal offerings; fine flour or grains, or flour baked or fried into cakes;  always unleavened, always wheaten.[17]

    There were holocausts, in which the entire sacrificial victim, "a male without blemish" was destroyed by fire after having its blood poured out.  There were peace offerings, made in celebration when someone had fulfilled a vow.[18]  There were sin offerings; either on behalf of the priests, or the nation, or of its rulers, and even for private persons.[19]  There were offerings for guilt, and for purification from uncleanness.[20]   Some of the sacrifices were incompletely consumed by the fire, with a portion going to feed the priest and his sons; others to feed the priest and his entire family.  The peace offerings might be eaten by anybody who was ritually clean, so the one offering the sacrifice might invite his friends and family for a sacrificial dinner.[21]

    In all cases, sacrificial or otherwise, the Jews are to drain the blood of the animal.  Sometimes it is just poured out, sometimes it is ritually sprinkled on the altar or even the people, but it is never taken as food or drink.  Blood is the symbol of sin and forgiveness, of uncleanness and purification, of life and death -- absolutely never a part of the Jewish diet.

    “Since the life of a living body is in its blood, I have made you put it on the altar, so that atonement may thereby be made for your own lives, because it is the blood, as the seat of life, that makes atonement.”[22]

    These sacrifices went on, more or less continuously, from the time of the Exodus (approximately 1440 B.C.) until the Babylonian Captivity, and then again until the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. — roughly 1,500 years.  And it was into this culture that our Lord Jesus Christ was born in about 6 or 7 B.C.

    If I might digress briefly, our Lord's birth was one of the things that distinguishes the Judeo-Christian religion from virtually all others.  Our God personally intervened in human history—not just in legend, and not just through prophets or other human representatives—but personally.  "The Word" who was "with God" "in the beginning," and "through whom all things were made" "took flesh of the Virgin Mary and was made man."[23]  More than a prophet like Mohammed, more than a legend like Rama and Crishna or Mars and Jupiter, more than a philosopher like the Buddha or Confucius—God the Son of God entered into the history of people in fact and in the flesh.

    When Jesus was born the Romans controlled Judea, but they were, by the standards of the time, "enlightened rulers," who went out of their way not to disturb the religion of their conquered peoples.  By all accounts, Mary and Joseph were able to live the normal religious life of Jewish people.  Their major observances are recorded in Scripture and observed in the Church's liturgy.  The were betrothed according to Jewish custom.[24]  Our Lord was circumcised on the eighth day of his life, the first shedding of His holy blood.[25]  Forty days after His birth they went to the Temple, where, because He was the firstborn Son, he was redeemed with a sacrificial offering;  and where Mary, even though she was utterly without sin, offered another sacrifice to commemorate her purification from the blood of childbirth.[26]   Every year at the Passover, the Holy Family returned to the Temple in order to offer the Passover sacrifice there -- a seventy-five mile trip or so, long before automobiles and interstate highways.  That pilgrimage was the occasion of our Lord being "lost" and then found in the Temple.[27]

    It was just before the Passover that our Lord changed water into wine at Cana of Galilee—a foreshadowing of changing wine into His precious blood;  that first Passover of His public life, on which He drove the money changers out of the temple, and spoke of rising from the dead on the third day.[28]   It was just before the following Passover that He fed 5,000 people through the miraculous multiplication of loaves of bread (another foreshadow of the Holy Eucharist), and walked upon the water.[29]   And at the very same Passover, our Lord spoke to the crowds, "I am the Bread of Life.... if anyone eats of this Bread he shall live forever ... and the Bread that I give is My flesh for the life of the world."[30]

    This we have to look at more closely—indeed, every Catholic ought to re-read that sixth chapter of Saint John's Gospel every six months or so.  (And, while you are at it, read John's account of the Last Supper as well).  In John vi, Our Lord is absolutely explicit:  He was going to give them "bread from heaven," just like their forefathers had received the Manna from heaven during the Exodus.[31]  But Jesus' Bread, quite unlike the Manna, would bring eternal life to those who ate It.  Those who did not eat It "would not have life" in them.  "I am the Bread of life.... the Bread that I will give you is My flesh for the life of the world."  "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me and I in him."[32]

    Not surprisingly, there were scoffers:  "How can He say,’ I have come down from heaven.'"?   "How can this man give us His flesh to eat?"   "This is a hard saying.  Who can listen to it?"  And the Scriptures record that "From that time many of His disciples turned back and no longer went about with Him."[33]  These were the rationalists of His time, the forerunners of those who would deny the Real Presence of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.  They had seen Him multiply loaves, walk on water, heal the sick, and even raise the dead, but this was too much for their limited faith.

    And notice:  He did not call them back!  Certainly, if our Lord was not completely serious about giving us His actual flesh and blood in Holy Communion, He would have clarified His words.  He would have chased after them;  "Come back!  You misunderstood Me.  I didn't really mean it!"  But, of course, He said no such thing.  He let them go with little more than the comment that "no one can come to me unless he is enabled to do so by My Father."  Not everyone, apparently, has the gift of Faith.  Not everyone, apparently, can accept the saving reality of the Real Presence.  But he who does?  Our Lord completes the sentence: "no one can come to me unless he is enabled to do so by My Father, but he who does, I will raise him up on the last day."[34]

    Apparently, this eternal life is something more than spiritual;  it includes physical life as well.  "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has life everlasting, and I will raise him up on the last day."[35]  There, He says it again.  Beyond spiritual immortality we have a promise bodily resurrection on the last day of the world—a promise that is keyed, clearly, to the reception of the Blessed Sacrament.

    On the third Passover of our Lord's public life, we see these promises take on the nature of reality.  During Holy Week each year we re-live the events of this unfolding reality.  In the traditional Mass we read each account of the Last Supper and Crucifixion.  With very good reason, we do not abbreviate them and read the accounts of the Crucifixion in isolation from the Last Supper.  Saint Matthew's account is read on Palm Sunday,  Saint Mark's on Tuesday, and Saint Luke's on Wednesday.

    Then an interesting thing happens:  since Saint John does not describe the institution of the Blessed Sacrament, we read his account of the washing of the apostles' feet, following Saint Paul's description of the institution in his letter to the Corinthians.[36]  That same night—Holy Thursday, the night of the Last Supper—the priest consecrates not one, but two, large Hosts.  One he receives in Communion, before distributing Communion to the congregation as usual.  The second Host is reserved overnight for the liturgy of Good Friday, at which St. John's account of the Crucifixion is read, and the priest alone receives that second Host in Holy Communion.  The Friday liturgy is essentially the culmination of the Mass of Holy Thursday, in just the same way as the Sacrifice of the Cross was the culmination of the Last Supper.  According to the Jewish reckoning, by the way, these events took place on the same day, which extended from sundown on Thursday until sundown Friday.

    Quite purposefully, the tabernacle remains empty until the day of the Resurrection.

    What we observe in Holy Week—and, indeed, every time Mass is ever offered—is our Lord, gathered together with the Apostles to celebrate the final Passover sacrifice.  He takes bread and wine into His hands, things that had been ordered by God centuries ago, and gives the two to the Apostles:  "This is My body, which shall be given over for you.... this is My blood which shall be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.... do this in memory of Me."[37]   And almost immediately thereafter they go out to the Garden of Gethsemane, where in fact His body is "given over" by the traitor who rested his hand on the Lord's table;  He is taken into captivity, and by three o'clock the next day His blood is in fact poured out.  There is no symbolism here, but reality—the harsh reality of the God-man offering Himself up in sacrifice for the redemption of all and for the forgiveness of the sins of many.

    There is no symbolism here, for the words of our Lord, spoken that Thursday night and spoken day in and day out by His priests are the fulfillment of the promise—"This is My body" and "This is My blood" are to be taken completely literally because our Lord told us to take them literally back in that sixth chapter of Saint John's Gospel.  Remember?  He did not call back the scoffers who would no longer walk with Him.  He did not call them back and tell them that He was going to give them a symbol of His body and blood;  He said nothing about giving them a subjective presence that depended upon the will or the faith of the congregation;  He said nothing about being present by virtue of the congregation being the body of Christ.  What He did say was that He would give us His flesh and His blood, and if we did not eat and drink them we would not have life in us.  Nothing symbolic in this at all.

    Likewise, not symbolic, are the words and actions of His priests in re-presenting His Last Supper and Crucifixion each day in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  The priest is not a narrator or a presider as some mistakenly hold, he is taking the place of Jesus Christ in offering the sacrificial bread and wine.  He is "alter Christus," "another Christ."  He is the human agent through whom Jesus Christ makes His body and blood present to us, and allows us to stand at the foot of the Cross to witness His eternal Sacrifice, no matter how far we may be separated from It in time or space.  Two thousand years and seven thousand miles or so are reduced to the time and distance it takes us to drive to daily Mass!

    And again, we take this literally, because our Lord did not restrict the need to eat His flesh and drink His blood to the few people in the crowd—in fact, He told His Apostles to go out into the world and "make disciples of nations ... teaching them to observe all I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all days, even unto the consummation of the world."[38]  Note that He did not say: "I will be with you symbolically...."  We also take it literally because it was taken literally by the Apostles and the early Christians -- those who were in the best position to know what Christ said and what He meant, even where not recorded in detail in Scripture.  Remember that "there are many other signs that Jesus worked in the sight of His disciples (and many other things that Jesus did) that are not recorded in this book."[39]

    Moments ago, I referred to "the final Passover sacrifice," the day on which the Passover lamb yielded to the true "Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world."[40]  Our Lord "came not to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfill them."[41]  The sacrifices of the Old Testament were commanded by the Father for the sanctification of His ancient people—they were good in their time and place—but they have now given way to something better—imperfection must yield to perfection.

    Let me read just a few "snatches" from Saint Paul's Epistle to the Hebrews -- which, by the way is "must"; reading:

    “He is the mediator of a superior covenant, enacted on the basis of superior promises.... in saying ‘a new covenant’ He has made obsolete the former one, and that which is obsolete and is grown old is at its end....[42]  When Christ appeared as high priest of the good things to come, He entered once for all into the greater and more perfect tabernacle ... not by virtue of the blood of goats and calves, but by virtue of His own blood, into the Holies, having obtained eternal redemption....  He has appeared for the destruction of sin by the sacrifice of Himself....  Christ was offered once to take away the sins of many;  the second time with no part in sin He will appear unto the salvation of those who await Him....[43]  And then saying, "Behold, I come to do Thy will, O God," He annuls the first covenant in order to establish the second.  It is through this will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all.[44]

    Now, there are just a few more details that we must consider while all of these facts are fresh in our minds.

    The first is that by the shedding of His precious blood, by His death on the Cross and then by His Resurrection on Easter Sunday, our Lord conquered sin and death.  Each and every son and daughter of Adam and Eve was redeemed—each and every one—Jew and Gentile alike—was made radically capable of eternal happiness in Heaven.  Our Lord had, as we say, opened for us the gates of heaven that had been closed by the sin of Adam and Eve.

    Nonetheless, it remains for each person to respond to that opportunity for salvation as an individual.  We are not saved as a group, or a committee.  There is a need for personal faith, the belief in the things that God has revealed to us about Himself.  There is a need for personal good works, the doing of the things that God has revealed that He wants us to do in this life.  We must live the virtues of Faith, Hope, and Charity, and keep God's Commandments, and practice the various works of mercy toward those around us.  Some of these things will be the subject of another conference during this retreat.

    But we ought to recognize from what we have learned in this conference that God has also allowed us to benefit from the Sacrifice and Resurrection of our Lord in an individual way, for our specific salvation;  as well as we benefit from it in the general sense of mankind's redemption.  I am speaking, of course, about the Mass and the Sacraments.  All of the Sacraments can be understood to derive their power from the Sacrifice of the Cross:

    Baptism has its efficacy precisely because Christ was able to reverse the effects of original sin.  Through it (or at least the desire for it) we die to sin and rise with Christ as we come out of the waters.  Sacramental Baptism marks our souls with a "character," an eternal sign that we have been united to the Trinity through the Church.

    In Confirmation, the soul that has received the created graces of Baptism receives within itself the uncreated grace of God the Holy Ghost dwelling within it—something quite impossible if our Lord had not renewed human nature on the Cross, or had not gone to the Father to send us "the Advocate, the Spirit of Truth."

    The Holy Eucharist, the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, is obvious.  Here we are invited by the Eternal High Priest to share in the sacrificial meal, just as the people of the Old Testament shared the Passover sacrifices or the Peace offerings we mentioned earlier—but the sacrificial Victim of whom we receive is God the Son of God Himself.  Greater holiness on earth would seem beyond all human capacity. 

    In Penance, the priests who offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass are able to dispense some of Its forgiving graces to us as individuals.  It is no coincidence that our Lord established this Sacrament only after He established His priesthood, and carried out His Sacrifice.  The priests of the new law can forgive sins or "retain" them precisely because they "other Christs," other "offerers" of the one Holy Sacrifice.

    For precisely the same reason, when one of us is sick, we "bring in the priests of the Church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And ... and the Lord will raise him up, and if he be in sins they shall be forgiven him."[45]  The priests and their oil can forgive sins and raise the sick only because the sacrifice of the Cross has won victory over sin, suffering, and death.

    The connection of Holy Orders to the Cross is obvious;  a priesthood without a sacrifice would be meaningless, as would be a sacrifice without a priesthood.  We need only to ask you to pray for many good and holy vocations to the priesthood of Jesus Christ.

    Our Lord raised matrimony to the dignity of a Sacrament for the baptized who receive it.  The sacrifices involved in this Sacrament may be quite different from those of the Cross, but they are real nonetheless.  This Sacrament of love is a living representation of God's love for His people;  and perhaps only parents can appreciate the concept of God sending His only-begotten Son into the world.

    Finally, let me suggest that the Mass itself, if we can somehow distinguish it from the reception of Holy Communion, is the ultimate source of forgiveness and grace.  It is a sort of "time machine" that brings us to the foot of the Cross and allows us to be associated with the unique sacrifice that replaced all of the blood of the Old Testament.

    Holy Mass makes us more than we could otherwise be, and makes our prayers the prayers of Christ and His Blessed Virgin Mother.  For a few moments, God looks down and sees not a sinful man standing at the altar, but sees and hears, instead, Jesus Christ Himself.   What more hallowing experience could there be than to speak those words in the person of Christ, "This is My body..." and then to have the Father look down and agree?  What could be more hallowing for those who are not priests than to join with the priest and the Church in offering the sacrifice of the Cross?  What could be more profitable than to join our prayers with the prayers of Christ in offering the perfect gift to God the Father?

    Pray the Mass with attention, preferably with a missal in your hand if you are unable to hear or understand everything that is being said;  at least meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary if a missal in unavailable.  If nothing more, remember the words we say at the Offertory: 

    Accept, O Holy Father, almighty and eternal God, this spotless victim, which I, Thine unworthy servant offer unto Thee my living and true God, to atone for my numberless sins, offences, and negligences;  for all here present and likewise for all faithful Christians, living and dead, that it may profit us as a means of salvation unto life everlasting.  Amen

    Whenever you go to Mass, from now on, understand that you are giving worship to God in the perfection of sacrificial worship that began many millennia ago. 


[1]   Hebrews ix: 22.

[2]   Genesis iii: 21.

[3]   Genesis iv: 1-7.

[4]   Genesis viii: 20-22.

[5]   Genesis xxii: 1-14.

[6]   Genesis xvii: 23-27;  xxi: 1-5.

[7]   Genesis xiv: 17-20.

[8]   Psalm cix.

[9]   Exodus i: 15 - ii: 10.

[10]   Exodus xi: 5.

[11]   Exodus xii: 1-28.

[12]   III Kings vi, vii.

[13]   Exodus xl: 31-36.

[14]   Matthew xxvii: 51.

[15]   Exodus xxviii & xxix;  Leviticus viii & ix;  Deuteronomy xviii: 1-8

[16]   Leviticus i

[17]   Leviticus ii.

[18]   Leviticus iii.

[19]   Leviticus iv.

[20]   Leviticus v.

[21]   Leviticus vii: 19.

[22]   Leviticus xvii: 1-14.

[23]   John i;  Credo.

[24]   Matthew i: 18;  Luke i: 27;  (Espousal - January 23rd).

[25]   Luke ii: 21;  (Circumcision - January 1st).

[26]   Luke ii:  22-24;  (Candlemas - February 2nd).

[27]   Luke ii: 41-52;  (Holy Family - 1st Sunday after Epiphany).

[28]   John ii:  1-25;  (2nd Sunday after Epiphany)

[29]   Matthew xiv: 13-36;  Mark vi: 34-58;  Luke ix: 12-17;  John vi: 1-21 (4th Sunday of Lent; Saturday after Ash Wednesday).

[30]   John vi: 22-72  (Ember Wednesday in Lent;  Corpus Christi;  Masses for the Dead).

[31]   Exodus xvi: 15ff.

[32]   John vi: 35, 52, 57.

[33]   John vi: 42, 53, 61, 67.

[34]   John vi: 44; reiterated in 66.

[35]   John vi: 55.

[36]   John xiii: 1-15;  1 Corinthians xi: 20-32.

[37]   Matthew xxvi;  Mark xiv;  Luke;  Luke xxii;  1 Corinthians xi: 20-32.

[38]   Matthew xxviii: 19-20.

[39]   John xx: 30;  xxi: 25.

[40]   John i: 29.

[41]   Matthew v: 13-19.

[42]   Hebrews viii: 6 & 13

[43]   Hebrews ix: 11-12, 26-28

[44]   Hebrews x: 9-10.

[45]   James v: 14-15.


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