Continuation of the booklet “The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass” by Fr. Mateo Crawley-Boevey:
The Divine Majesty of Mass
In the celebration of the Mass, there is an action performed by the celebrant, which shows the majesty of the Sacrifice and admirably sums up the entire ideal of the glorification of the Father and the Trinity by the adorable High Priest and Mediator. At this sublime moment, the nine Choirs of Angels, the whole Assembly of Heaven and Purgatory seem to surround the celebrant, drinking in his words and holding their breath at the divine majesty of his gestures.
Shortly after the Consecration, the priest takes the divine Host into his hands, and traces the cross over the Precious Blood in the Chalice saying: “Through Him, with Him and in Him, be to Thee, God the Father, in union with the Holy Spirit, all honor and glory.” At this, he lifts the Chalice and Host together towards Heaven.
Let us stress the grandeur of this divine action. St. Paul himself could not have found words, coming down from the third heaven as he did, capable of expressing the depth of this liturgical formula, so rich as it in meaning.
Through Him, the God-Man of Bethlehem, Tabor and Calvary, really present in the hands of the priest as He was in the arms of His Mother.
With Him, the God-Man crucified, dead and alive again. He Who has mounted to Heaven and sits at the right Hand of the Father, to whom the Father has given all power in Heaven and on earth.
In Him, the God-Man, by whom and for whom everything has been created: who has been constituted immortal King, and the Judge who will come in the clouds of Heaven to pass sentence on the living and dead.
Through Him, with Him and in Him, may there be infinite glory to the august and adorable Trinity.
Should a miraculous light come down upon the celebrant disclosing to him the full meaning of his action, he would die on the spot: not from fright, but out of wonder and joy. It was the signal privilege of the Blessed Virgin to anticipate the offering made by the priest by the oblation She made of Her Son to His Father in Bethlehem, in the Temple of Jerusalem and on Calvary. Can you see, now, how the Mass is the official hymn of glory, the only one worthy of the August Trinity?
In this hymn, there is a stanza which Christ Himself taught the Apostles. He sings it at the Altar through the mouth of His Church. “Our Father, who art in heaven… Father, hallowed be Thy name! Father, thy Kingdom come! Father, Thy Will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”
Just think of it! The One who is saying this prayer is none other than the Incarnate Word, the Son of God and Son of Mary, Who, at the Altar, sings the glory of His Father and our Father. The creation of the universe out of nothing is but a tiny spark of glory compared to the glory rendered at the Altar to the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity by Jesus Christ, the High Priest. Keeping our eyes and hearts fixed on the Golgotha of Calvary, let us make a bold and imaginative supposition, even as Our Lord did when He painted the incomparable pictures of His sermons and parables.
The Divine Reality of the Mass
Suppose the movies, the radio and TV had already been invented during the times of the Roman Emperors, Augustus and Tiberius, and were even more greatly developed than they are now. Suppose also that when Caesar had been told of the effect of the preaching of Jesus on the people of Palestine, and how the Sanhedrin had brought about His execution, the Emperor sent orders to Pilate to forward to Rome the proceedings of the trial together with a film record of the drama of the execution of the “so-called” King of the Jews.
How moved we would be at witnessing the sound-picture of the deicide of Good Friday, should it be shown in our churches as a preparation for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass! This moving picture would be somewhat of a natural and scientific perception of the divine drama on our Altars. We would be able to hear the Seven Last Words of Jesus, the blasphemies of His enemies hurled at the divine Victim. Like Mary, John and Magdalene, we would be eye-witnesses and, like them, watch Calvary’s scene through three hours: from noon until three o’clock of that First Good Friday.
But, the Faith that cannot deceive presents for us a far greater reality than that picture could ever be. An intelligent and pious assistance at Mass leads us through the veil of mystery to perceive the reality. The film would be like the Holy Shroud of Turin, an historical monument. The Mass is a present reality.
For nearly twenty centuries, Mass has been offered uninterruptedly in the Catholic Church. It is the same sacrifice as that of Good Friday when Jesus crucified was both Priest and Victim. The Mass which has been renewed, reproduced and prolonged through all these ages, is our daily Mass. It is not a beautiful religious pageant, nor a marvelous picture taken, let us say, by the Angels; no, it is the amazing divine reality of Calvary in exact reproduction on the Altar, with only the Suffering and shedding of blood left out. The Eucharistic Victim is now glorious and can suffer no more.
On the basis of these principles, the Council of Trent declares that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is above all a work of strict justice, which pays the price of our sins with the “Blood of the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.” It is a truth of the supernatural order that the Holy Sacrifice saves us by appeasing the Divine Justice when the same price that was paid on Calvary is offered again in the Chalice. Without this ransom, which alone is sufficient, there would be no remission of sins. Happily, Jesus died crying out, “Father, forgive them.”
Once the work of strict justice has been accomplished, mercy shines forth like a burning sun. Heaven and rebellious earth are reconciled. But God demands that we continue to apply the Precious Blood of our Redeemer to the wounds of our sinful souls. The Blood, shed on Calvary, now fills the Chalice of the Mass.
There is a difference, however, between the Golgotha of Jerusalem and the Calvary of our Altars. Even though bathed in the Precious Blood, the latter is a glorious Tabor. I say glorious, for the Victim there immolated is the risen God-Man who conquered death on Easter Sunday. While the Altar is a Tabor, it is also a Calvary radiant in the splendors of the Resurrection.
So wonderfully brilliant is the High Priest’s glory hovering over the Altar, but visible only to the bewildered eyes of the Angels, that even the saintly Cure of Ars would not have dared to celebrate Mass, nor the Little Flower to approach Holy Table, were it not for the veil of Mystery that conceals that tremendous glory from the eyes of the celebrant and the faithful. But, thanks to the shadow of Mystery, the Altar is not only accessible, but even attractive, in spite of the fact that it brings us nearer Heaven than Moses was on Mt. Sinai.
Seen in the light, the official prayer of Christ the Mediator during Mass is the only one which can pierce the clouds, touch and ravish the Heart of the Faith. His appeal is omnipotent, springing as it does from the Heart of the all-powerful Mediator. He tells us Himself that the Father always hears Him (Jn. 11:42). When He prays, it is a command: His word affects what He asks, for He is God!
Therefore, when we visit the Blessed Sacrament, make our Eucharistic Adoration or our Night Adoration at home and, above all, when we assist at Mass, our prayer should always be the Canon of the Mass. This liturgical formula is sanctified and venerable from its dogmatic content as well as its antiquity. At any time of the day or night, we can unite ourselves to thousands of priests who at that moment are elevating the Host and the Chalice, like a bow in the heavens. By this simple elevation of our hearts, we may renew the Christmas song of the angels, “Glory to God in the highest.”
To be continued…
~Damsel of the Faith