From the Editor’s Desk (Wednesday, February 1, 2017, Gaudium Press) The Mass is the act of worship to God par excellence, the most complete paradigm of homage due to the Creator. Of infinite value, nothing can be compared to its celebration since only the Mass fully satisfies the Eternal Father. That is why it is not difficult to find in the inspired narratives of the Holy Scriptures, figures and / or notable analogies to the liturgy of the Mass.
In previous meditations we had the opportunity to make the relation between the Eucharistic celebration and some high points of the history of salvation, as the Annunciation of the Angel Gabriel to Mary, the Last Supper in the Cenacle, the meeting of the disciples of Emmaus or the book of Revelation. Today we will see how in the Mass the Paschal Mystery is lived in fullness: suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus, because in its sequence, the celebration makes present the painful path of Jesus. We will draw from a reflection of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, the popular Capuchin saint. Let’s get started.
The unbloody Sacrifice of the Mass begins with the sign of the Cross; nothing more meaningful. From the beginning of the celebration to the offertory, we meditate on Jesus in the Garden of Olives in an atrocious agony, foreseeing the sins and how much mankind, that was going to be redeemed, would be ungrateful (“He came to what was his own, but his own people* did not accept him”(John 1:11).
The readings, we may say, are addressed to each faithful in a personal way, just as Jesus spoke to the apostles in Gethsemane: “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? ” (Mt 26:40). That was his complain seeing his apostles sleeping. Today it is up to us to listen attentively to the Lord and say: “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa”.
The Offertory is related to the moment in which Jesus is taken prisoner by the soldiers under the command of the apostle who betrayed Him. By letting Himself being arrested with no resistance, He makes it clear that He is offering Himself for a sacrifice.
The Preface is the song of praise and gratitude that Our Lord addresses to the Eternal Father who has made it possible for His Hour to come at last.
It can be said that from the beginning of the Eucharistic Prayer to the Consecration we find Jesus in prison, in his cruel flogging, in his coronation of thorns and in his via crucis along the streets of Jerusalem; these are the different stages of His redemptive sacrifice which, after the cross, will culminate in an empty tomb.
The Consecration of bread and wine is, mystically, the crucifixion of the Lord. In it Jesus offers his body and his blood. The acclamation that follows the consecration and the prayers of the faithful are the act of worship of the Church who remains on Calvary, offering to the Father the redemptive sacrifice of Christ, the head of the mystical body.
The “mementos” remind us of the compassionate faithful, but also those who caused His death – then and throughout time – and, finally, the dead: for all we pray at Mass: righteous and sinful, alive and deceased. Jesus prayed for all in his passion: “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34)
At the doxology, the “Through Him, with Him and in Him” corresponds to the cry of Jesus: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Lk 23:46) The Sacrifice is accepted by the Father. Mankind will no longer be in breach with God; they will be reunited Him and with each other. On this occasion the children pray to their common Father: “Our Father who art in heaven …”.
In the breaking of the bread we remember the sacrifice that is accomplish by the death of Christ. We are before a broken, torn apart and annihilated God, Bossuet will say. But of a God who, by his immolation, triumphs over sin and death.
The moment in which the priest breaks the Host and drops a small piece into the Chalice containing His Precious Blood, signifies the moment of the Resurrection, when the Body and Blood are reunited again. In fact, it is the living and glorious Christ that we receive in holy communion.
The final blessing with the sign of the cross gives us the strength to live to celebrated the mysteries and protects us from the enemy’s stalking. Because daily life must also be, in its way, a sacrificial offering, as the Mass is.
It is not uncommon to find in sacristies, at the place we the priest dresses himself for the celebration, a little board with a phrase meant to remind him of the greatness of what he is going to do: “Celebrate this Holy Mass as if it were your first Mass, your last Mass, your only Mass.”
If people would know the greatness of the Mass and would live accordingly, everything would change in the Church and in the world. Here is a point of examination of conscience for clergy and laity, a subject directly related to the first commandment of the Law.
Unfortunately, too many consider going to Mass is a waste of time. On the other hand, when it comes to going to a restaurant, to the gym, or sitting at the computer or lying in Morfeo’s arms, they take it as a delicious and refreshing Sunday. Poor souls! they do not know what they lose … and that they get lost!
Rev. Fr. Rafael Ibarguren,EP –
Honorary Counselor of the World Federation of the Eucharistic Works of the Church / Federación Mundial de las Obras Eucarísticas de la Iglesia