Continuation of the booklet “The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass” by Fr. Mateo Crawley-Boevey:
“He delivered Himself for us”
“There is a scriptural passage which vividly describes the unity among the Mysteries of the Incarnation, the Redemption and the Mass: “He delivered Himself.” (Eph. 5:2) Let us consider its doctrinal import.
The Word of God, for the glory of His Father and the Redemption of sinful men, delivered Himself up to death, to the death of the Cross and, in addition, to the immolation of the Divine Eucharist throughout the centuries. He is, then, our Victim of love for expiation of our crimes and transgressions. At the Altar, He is the holocaust of expiation and propitiation, appeasing the wrath of the Father, His Heart vanquishes this wrath and keeps it captive forever.
During Mass, there is a transcendent and peculiarly priestly action: the Consecration. When the priest performs this act, he partakes of the Priesthood of Christ, invested as he with a unique power by Jesus Christ Himself on Holy Thursday.
As He came into the world, Our Lord said, “Father, behold I come to do Thy Will, by dying a cruel and ignominious death.” This is the Innocent One, the Just, the Holy One who is speaking! That we might be less unworthy of celebrating with such a High Priest, that we might participate more intimately in His Eucharistic Sacrifice, it is necessary that we know how to deny ourselves. It is thus that we adhere in spirit and truth to the Victim of the Cross and Altar. We must never forget that it is in this daily dying to ourselves, in this abandonment of our will to the Wisdom and Love of the Father, that the most genuine and sublime celebration of the Holy Sacrifice consists.
In order truly to communicate with His Body and Blood, one should communicate in His Life and Death. He continually offers Himself. As it is for Him, so it should be for us in celebrating Mass with Him, an unreserved self-surrender. You cannot separate the Victim from the celebrant and keep the integrity of the Mass, for the celebrant must be like Jesus Christ, a victim. Let us not be deceived. Only a love as strong as death gives us a solution of this sublime Mystery. Only the heroes of love know how to die in this way, for they alone know the meaning of self-surrender. They alone, with complete understanding, desire to reproduce in themselves the “He delivered Himself” of Christ, His total surrender on the Altar.
The Precious Blood of the Chalice
Now, let us ponder the saving mission of the Chalice, the Chalice of Salvation, which is offered for the redemption of many. Our souls have been redeemed at a great price. In the Eyes of the Father, we have cost the torrent shed on the Cross, the last drop of the Savior’s Blood: “Thou hast redeemed us to God in Thy Blood.” (Apoc. 5:9)
Redeeming grace comes to us in many ways. In the first place through the Sacraments, then through the preaching of the Gospel, missionary activity, through the prayers and good works of the Communion of Saints, through the mediation of Mary, etc. But the primary source of all salvation, the power of all divine fruitfulness, is the redeeming Blood of Jesus Crucified. In making the Stations, we say, “We adore Thee, O Christ, and we bless Thee, because of Thy Holy Cross, Thou hast redeemed the world.”
The redeeming Blood shed on Calvary is the Precious Blood in the Chalice of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Mass is the same redeeming wonder of Holy Thursday crowned by the miracle of Good Friday. Holy Mass embraces the drama of the cenacle and the divine tragedy of Calvary: the mystical immolation of Holy Thursday and the bloody sacrifice of Good Friday! But the celebrant and faithful can and should realize another marvel which is required of the priest in the Holy Sacrifice, and by those who offer the Divine Victim with him. This moral miracle consists in fufilling and imitating the “total surrender of Christ to His Father” by a like surrender on their part to the Will of the Father. “Father, into Thy hands, I commend My Spirit.” (Luke 23:46)
To surrender ourselves in this way is to die daily to ourselves, by a slow immolation of abandonment to the Father, to His Will, for His Glory, in union with the surrender of Christ on the Cross and on Calvary. This self-surrender on our part would perfect and crown the sacrifice with Jesus Christ, and like Jesus Christ, as offerers who give themselves up and as victims who immolate themselves.
There, you have the complete celebration of Holy Mass. In effect, we add to the thrice-holy liturgical rite, the total and voluntary gift of ourselves to the Father, through Christ the High Priest, with Christ the Mediator and in Christ the Victim. This complete and integral celebration goes beyond the period of a half hour and extends through the whole day, permeating our very life. As a matter of fact, before, during and after the liturgical celebration of the Altar, we must offer ourselves with a tremendous love and generosity, unceasingly and unreservedly to the Father Who has delivered His Son out of love for the Father and for us has become a Victim! Two Victims in one and the same immolation!
Priests and faithful alike should be firmly convinced that the sacramental rite, divine though it is, will not give us, of itself and with no activity on our part, that spiritual participation in the death of Christ which we assuredly will obtain by our self-surrender and our moral death. If we allow the Lord to offer Himself alone without giving ourselves with Him, we greatly detract from the accidental and exterior glory of the Father, and lose for ourselves an immense treasure that has been laid up for us.
Here, we can apply the axiom which says that, while sanctity pre-supposes the prevenient love which we receive freely, in practice it consists in the generous love we give in return. To deliver oneself through Jesus Christ is, then, a greater love of sanctity than the mere acceptance of His gifts. Whoever sets about a life of full and complete submission to the Will of God, particularly when it involves a crucifixion after the fashion of Gethesemane and Calvary, is a wise lover who knows how to surrender himself with complete abandonment.
When a priest mounts the Altar with these sentiments, he offers the Holy Sacrifice completely, for he is actually living it. Similarly, when a fervent Catholic goes to the altar rail filled with this spirit, he assimilates the grace of his own sanctification. The thoroughly Christian life is a living Mass!
Here is a great source of consolation for the many souls who sorrow as they yearn for the conversion of someone dear to them. And, there are many Christian families with prodigals and publicans. The Christian wife, the model mother, the pious daughter, endure a noble and holy anguish at the sight of a husband, son or father, who being far from God, is nothing but a moral corpse. He works hard to earn money and enjoys life to the full, but he totters on the brink of hell. Death draws near, like a thief in the night, to take him by surprise. His spiritual accounts are far from being balanced!
How many holy souls, fervent religious, zealous priests, go through this same torment at the sight of souls in such danger! What can be done? What secret of mercy will being about a moral resurrection which is harder to accomplish than the resurrection of Lazarus? To convert an ungrateful and hardened sinner is a greater feat than raising the dead. Can it be done at all? Yes! With the merciful omnipotence of the Holy Sacrifice! In the balance of justice and mercy, one Mass weighs more than all the good works of the Saints put together. We should indeed follow the example of the Saints and perform good works, penances, almsgivings and prayers. But to give a miraculous efficacy to these good works, let us put them as so many drops of water into the Precious Blood of the Chalice.”
To be continued…
~Damsel of the Faith