Soul Food Talk # 3 – The Mass and Holy Eucharist

SOURCE: THE LAMB’S SUPPER- The Mass as Heaven on Earth, by Dr. Scott Hahn, Doubleday 1999.

[1.] Before we understand the nature of sacrifice, let us look at the SITE of sacrifice in the Old Testament. Jerusalem sits on three mountains, the Mount of Olives (where Jesus ascended into Heaven) directly to the east of the city, the high ridge of Mt. Moriah, slightly west, then, Mt. Zion itself. The names Mt. Zion and Mt. Moriah are sometimes used interchangably.

[2.] In the book of Genesis,[14:18-20] we see the first priest, the great Priest/King Melchizadek who, contrary to other priests in Israel or in the pagan tribes, offered sacrifices of grain and wine instead of animals. He was the priest and king of Salem, (which later became known as Jeru-Salem – City of Peace).

[3.] Abram (later known as Abraham), was sent by God into King Melchisadek’s region to claim the land of Canaan as his inheritance. There he rescued his nephew Lot, who had been kidnapped, returned to tithe 1/10 of the captured loot to King/Priest Melchisadek, and was blessed by him. God sealed his covenant with Abraham by means of animal sacrifice.

[4]. Later, [Gen. 22],God would require of Abraham that he sacrifice his only son Isaac in the land of Moriah (site of the future city, Jerusalem). The angel stayed Abraham’s hand, and instead he offered a ram for the sacrifice. Solomon would later build the first temple on Mt. Moriah. Here the Passover lambs were sacrificed yearly; many other animal sacrifices were also offered. (In the year 70 AD before the destruction of the temple, about 250,000 lambs were slain here.)

[5.] Lastly, Calvary or Golgotha was located on one of the northern hillocks of Mt. Moriah. (The Book of Leviticus had prescribed years before that sacrifices should be slain north of the altar. This, indeed, was where Jesus was slain.)

SOURCE: His Grace The Most Reverend John Charles McQuaid, D.D. ,Archbishop of Dublin, Primate of Ireland. CATHOLIC TRUTH SOCIETY of IRELAND No. Dd 1320a (1963).

Our Divine Redeemer, in His mercy, found a means of establishing a Sacrifice which would not only recall and represent His death but also apply to each and every man the Savior’s merits and satisfaction. And by the same Sacrifice so instituted, mankind would be enabled to offer to God unceasingly a perfect tribute of public adoration. This is the unique and holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In substance, the Mass is the same as the ‘Sacrifice of the Cross’.

[7.] Today upon our altars, the Precious Blood is shed for us and separated from the Body, not indeed physically, but sacramentally, under a sign or symbol that expresses death: the separate consecration of the substance of the bread which now becomes His Body, apart from and previous to the consecration of the substance of the wine which now becomes His Blood.

The effects of Holy Mass, in regard to us sinners, are measured by the disposition of our souls. As a sacrifice of reparation, the Mass obtains for those, who are not obstinate in resisting God, the graces by which they are led to genuine repentance and to the fruitful reception of the Sacraments. In like manner, the Holy Sacrifice remits, immediately and unfailingly, for the living and the dead, the temporal punishment due to sin, in the measure of the charity of those who assist at Mass or for whom the Mass is offered. As a sacrifice of supplication, the offering of Jesus Christ in Mass cannot fail, of itself, to obtain the graces and the temporal benefits we need for our salvation. But it must be remembered that Holy Mass avails to win for us only that which the Providence of God sees fit to give, in proportion to the fervour and the perseverance of our prayers. It follows that they benefit most fully by the Holy Sacrifice who properly unite with Jesus Christ in the offering of Himself in Mass. But they draw the greatest grace who assist at Mass with deepest faith and firmest adherence to the loving Will of God. One attitude of soul we would emphasize beyond all others: the effort to unite ourselves more closely with the offering of Himself which Our Divine Redeem makes to God in the Sacrifice of the Mass. This attitude is a conscious understanding of the truth that by the character of Baptism, by the grace of Christ, we are members of that Body of which Jesus Christ is Head. It is then a disposition of complete surrender to the claims of God. It is a readiness to carry the Cross of His Will in all the aspects of our life. It is a permanent inclination to do always that which is pleasing to God the Father after the model of Our Savior, Jesus Christ.

[ 9]. Dr. Hahn adds that we should attend seriously to the penitential rite with careful self-examination and advises that when possible we take time to recollect ourselves, arriving early to Mass. Furthermore, we should frequent the Sacrament of Reconciliation and contemplate and study to learn as much about the Mass and the Holy Eucharist as possible. Finally, if we participate in the Mass with great love, devotion, and fervor, we will find the Holy Spirit infusing us more and more with His light. “A fifth-century monk of Mount Sinai testified that ‘when that fire enters us, it at once drives the evil spirits from our heart and remits the sins we have previously committed…And if after this, standing at the entrance to our heart, we keep strict watch over the intellect, when we are again permitted to receive those Mysteries, the divine body will illumine our intellect still more and make it shine like a star.’ So the brightness of the Mass goes home with us as the perpetual day of the heavenly Jerusalem. As we grow in grace, our mass becomes a light burning within us, too, even amid our work and family life.”


[10.] –1077 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He destined us before him in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” [Eph.1,3-6]

[11.] –1082 In the Church’s liturgy the divine blessing is fully revealed and communicated. The Father is acknowledged and adored as the source and the end of all the blessings of creation and salvation. In his Word who became incarnate, died, and rose for us, he fills us with his blessings. Through his Word, he pours into our hearts the Gift that contains all gifts, the Holy Spirit.

[12.] –1083 … until the consummation of God’s plan, the Church never ceases to present to the Father the offering of his own gifts and to beg him to send the Holy Spirit upon that offering, upon herself, upon the faithful, and upon the whole world….power of the Spirit, these divine blessings will bring forth the fruits of life “to the praise of his glorious grace.” [Eph. 1,6]

II.    CHRIST’S WORK IN THE LITURGY –Christ glorified . . .
[13.] –1085 In the liturgy of the Church, it is principally his own Paschal mystery that Christ signifies and makes present. When his Hour comes, he lives out the unique event of history which does not pass away: Jesus dies, is buried, rises from the dead, and is seated at the right hand of the Father “once for all.”8 His Paschal mystery is a real event that occurred in our history, but it is unique: all other historical events happen once, and then they pass away, swallowed up in the past. The Paschal mystery of Christ, by contrast, cannot remain only in the past, because by his death he destroyed death, and all that Christ is – all that he did and suffered for all men – participates in the divine eternity, and so transcends all times while being made present in them all. The event of the Cross and Resurrection abides and draws everything toward life.

[14.] –1088 ” By his power he is present in the sacraments so that when anybody baptizes, it is really Christ himself who baptizes. He is present in his word since it is he himself who speaks when the holy Scriptures are read in the Church. Lastly, he is present when the Church prays and sings, for he has promised ‘where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them.”‘

[15.] –1091 In the liturgy the Holy Spirit is teacher of the faith of the People of God….

[16.] –1097 In the liturgy of the New Covenant every liturgical action, especially the celebration of the Eucharist and the sacraments, is an encounter between Christ and the Church. The liturgical assembly derives its unity from the “communion of the Holy Spirit” who gathers the children of God into the one Body of Christ. This assembly transcends racial, cultural, social – indeed, all human affinities.

[17.] –1098 The assembly should prepare itself to encounter its Lord and to become “a people well disposed.” The preparation of hearts is the joint work of the Holy Spirit and the assembly, especially of its ministers. The grace of the Holy Spirit seeks to awaken faith, conversion of heart, and adherence to the Father’s will. These dispositions are the precondition both for the reception of other graces conferred in the celebration itself and the fruits of new life which the celebration is intended to produce afterward.
The Holy Spirit recalls the mystery of Christ.

[18.] –1099 The Spirit and the Church cooperate to manifest Christ and his work of salvation in the liturgy. Primarily in the Eucharist, and by analogy in the other sacraments, the liturgy is the memorial of the mystery of salvation. The Holy Spirit is the Church’s living memory. [JOHN 14, 26: “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name – he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.”]  The Holy Spirit makes present the mystery of Christ.

[19.] –1104 Christian liturgy not only recalls the events that saved us but actualizes them, makes them present. The Paschal mystery of Christ is celebrated, not repeated. It is the celebrations that are repeated, and in each celebration there is an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that makes the unique mystery present.

[20.] –1105 The Epiclesis (“invocation upon”) is the intercession in which the priest begs the Father to send the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, so that the offerings may become the body and blood of Christ and that the faithful by receiving them, may themselves become a living offering to God. [Rom. 12,1] [See the Eucharistic prayers I-III]

[21.] –1106 Together with the anamnesis, the epiclesis is at the heart of each sacramental celebration, most especially of the Eucharist: You ask how the bread becomes the Body of Christ, and the wine . . . the Blood of Christ I shall tell you: the Holy Spirit comes upon them and accomplishes what surpasses every word and thought. . . . Let it be enough for you to understand that it is by the Holy Spirit, just as it was of the Holy Virgin and by the Holy Spirit that the Lord, through and in himself, took flesh. [St. John Damascene]

[22.] THEOLOGY OF THE MASS (St. John the Baptist, Green Bay): The Sacrifice of the Mass is not merely an offering of praise and thanksgiving, or simply a memorial of the sacrifice on the Cross. It is a propitiatory sacrifice which is offered for the living and dead, for the remission of sins and of the punishment due to sin, as satisfaction for sin and for other necessities. Pope Paul’s 1965 encyclical, The Mystery of Faith, described the Mass as reapplying the power of Calvary “for the forgiveness of those sins which we daily commit” (#27). The 1967 Instruction on the Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery said that the Mass is simultaneously “a sacrifice, a memorial, and a banquet” (#1). …we re-link ourselves to Calvary. In the Mass, Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary is perpetuated by the priest, who offers it anew to the Father. It is not a new sacrifice, but rather the same sacrifice that Jesus offered on the cross 2,000 years ago. The Eucharist is not a matter of “repeating” that action but of reestablishing our bond with it. The species of the Host is the sacrament of Christ’s Body, and is substantially Christ’s glorified body. The species contained in the chalice is the sacrament of Christ’s Blood, and is substantially Christ’s glorified blood. By giving us the Mass, our Lord ensured for us a means of applying to all generations the graces merited on His Holy Cross.

[23.] Dr. Scott Hahn: “When Christ comes at the end of time, He will not have one drop more glory than He has at this moment, when we consume all of Him! In the Eucharist we receive what will be for all eternity, when we are taken up to heaven to join with the heavenly throng in the marriage supper of the Lamb. At Holy Communion we are already there.”

[24.] In our beginning notes on the SITE of sacrifice, we saw the holy city Jerusalem cited again and again. We must remark the city once more, but this time the glorified city of the Book of Revelations as described in Hebrews 12:21-24: “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge Who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel.”

Pope Paul VI: “The Mass is the most perfect form of prayer!”
Pope Benedict XV: “The Holy Mass would be of greater profit if people had it offered in their lifetime, rather than having it celebrated for the relief of their souls after death.”
St. Thomas Aquinas,Doctor of the Church:  “The celebration of Holy Mass is as valuable as the death of Jesus on the cross.”

St. Gregory, Doctor of the Church:  “The heavens open and multitudes of angels come to assist in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.”

“It is most true that he who attends holy Mass shall be freed from many evils and from many dangers, both seen and unseen.”

St. Augustine, Doctor of the Church:  “The angels surround and help the priest when he is celebrating Mass.”

“He who devoutly hears holy Mass will receive a great vigor to enable him to resist mortal sin, and there shall be pardoned to him all venial sins which he may have committed up to that hour.”

“He [who attends Mass with all possible devotion] shall be freed from sudden death, which is the most terrible stroke launched by the Divine Justice against sinners. Behold a wonderful preservative against sudden death.”

St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church:   “Without doubt, the Lord grants all favors which are asked of Him in Mass, provided they be fitting for us; and, which is a matter of great wonder, ofttimes He also grants that also which is not demanded of Him, if we, on our part, put no obstacle in the way.”

St. John Chrysostom, Doctor of the Church:  “When Mass is being celebrated, the sanctuary is filled with countless angels who adore the divine victim immolated on the altar.”

St. Anselm, Doctor of the Church:   “A single Mass offered for oneself during life may be worth more than a thousand celebrated for the same intention after death.”

St. Teresa, Doctor of the Church:  Once, St. Teresa was overwhelmed with God’s Goodness and asked Our Lord “How can I thank you?” Our Lord replied, “ATTEND ONE MASS.”

St. Leonard of Port Maurice:     “I believe that were it not for the Holy Mass, as this moment the world would be in the abyss, unable to bear up under the mighty load of its iniquities Mass is the potent prop that hold the world on its base.”

“A soul assisting with adequate devotion at holy Mass renders more honor to God than that which all the Angels and all the Saints put together render with all their adorations.”

In having Masses said for the suffering souls in Purgatory: “the holy Mass not only shortens their pains but also extends great immediate relief to those poor souls … the charity you exercise toward poor souls under purification will all redound to your own good.”
In having Masses said for your own soul: “… get celebrated all the Masses possible in your circumstances not only for the souls departed but for your own. Do this for two motives: first to obtain a good and holy death – it being the invariable opinion of theologians that there is no more efficacious means for attaining so holy a purpose. Another motive is that you may yourself issue quickly from Purgatory and fly away into eternal glory, there being no means more adapted for obtaining from God a grace so precious as that of going direct to Heaven, or at least a short detention on the way, than Indulgences duly gained, and the holy Sacrifice.”

St. John Vianney, Patron Saint of Parish Priests:     “When we receive Holy Communion, we experience something extraordinary – a joy, a fragrance, a well being that thrills the whole body and causes it to exalt.”
“If we really understood the Mass, we would die of joy.”
“There is nothing so great as the Eucharist. If God had something more precious, He would have given it to us.”
“When we have been to Holy Communion, the balm of love envelops the soul as the flower envelops the bee.”

St. Padre Pio, stigmatic pries:        “It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do without Holy Mass.”
Revelation of Christ to St. Gertrude the Great:      For each Mass we hear with devotion, Our Lord sends a saint to comfort us at death.
Revelation of Christ to St. Mechtilde:        He who is in the habit of devoutly hearing holy Mass shall in death be consoled by the presence of the angels and saints, his advocates, who shall bravely defend him from all the snares of infernal spirits.

• At the hour of death the Holy Masses you have participated in devoutly will be your greatest consolation.
• Every Mass will go with you to Judgement and will plead for pardon for you.
• By every Mass you can diminish the temporal punishment due to your sins, more or less, according to your fervour.
• By devoutly assisting at Holy Mass you render the greatest homage possible to the Sacred Humanity of Our Lord.
• Through the Holy Sacrifice, Our Lord Jesus Christ saves us from many of our negligences and omissions.
• He forgives us all the venial sins which we are determined to avoid.
• He forgives us of all unknown sins which we have never confessed.
• The power of Satan over us is diminished.
• By piously attending Holy Mass we afford the Souls in Purgatory the greatest possible relief.
• Through Holy Mass we are preserved from many dangers and misfortunes which could otherwise befall us.
• We shorten our Purgatory by every Mass.
• Through the Holy Mass we are blessed in temporal goods and affairs.
• When we participate at Holy Mass devoutly, offering it to Almighty God in honour of any particular Saint or Angel, thanking God for the favours bestowed on us, etc., we afford that Saint or Angel a new degree of honour, joy and happiness, and draw his special love and protection on ourselves.
• Every time we assist at Holy Mass, besides other intentions, we should offer it in honor of the Saint of the day.


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