Wednesday, September 29, 2010
1.) Our Lord's Sacrifice consists in His complete self-renunciation--an immolation that began with the first instant of His earthly existence and terminated on Calvary's Cross.
2.) Our Lord's Sacrifice consists above all in the preferring of God's will to His own: a preference shown by His oblation, which persists eternally. This perfect love of Christ for His Father was stabilized by His death and will abide throughout eternity.
Death fixes us in the dispositions we have at the moment of dying. Our degree of charity at death will mark our degree of glory for eternity. The set of our hearts at death remains as the final disposition of our wills. Our Lord, at the moment of His death on the Cross, attained (so to speak) the climax of His love for His Father. And it is precisely these sublime dispositions of our Lord toward His Father at the moment of His death that are made actual in the Mass. Now do you see why the Mass is of such great value?
Is the Mass the same as Christ's Sacrifice on the Cross, or is it a different Sacrifice? It is the same Sacrifice. Christ offered Himself once for all. "...[We] are sanctified by the oblation of the Body of Jesus Christ once" (Heb 10:10).
To understand this, we have only to go back to the concept of oblation, renunciation, and choice. The renunciation is summarized by Christ's death accepted once and for all. On Calvary, this act of renunciation was made once, and it passed.
But above all, our Lord's Sacrifice consists in this constant desire for His Father's will in preference to His own; and this preference remains eternally fixed in heaven. Suffering passes--the fact of having suffered remains.
It is the same thing for us when we renounce anything. The act of self-denial is, like all acts, temporary; but the disposition of the will to deny itself for a greater good remains just so long as we do not take it back. Death fixes us forever in the dispositions in which it finds us. Christ's Sacrifice persists in heaven, because the legacy of His life made on the Cross has never been cancelled. That which He gave was given for all time....Christ's immolation is eternal. St. John, in his vision of heaven, sees Jesus as "a Lamb standing upright, yet slain (as I thought) in sacrifice" (Rev 5:6).
This is understandable. The purpose of our Lord's Sacrifice having been to glorify God, the act whereby He glorifies Him must, of necessity, be eternal.
When the priest brings Christ down upon the altar, he renders Him present such as He is in heaven; and He is in heaven with the same loving dispositions that He had on Calvary at the moment of His death.
The Mass is, therefore, not a new Sacrifice by Christ; but the same Sacrifice actualized in the present. "We know that Christ rising again from the dead, dieth no more" (Rom 6:9).
The Mass is thus the perpetual prolongation of the Sacrifice made on the Cross. Consequently, every Mass is the one immolation of Christ repeated in the Act of Oblation. By the same act of the will, Jesus offers at the Last Supper His death in the future; on Calvary His death in the present; in heaven and on the altar His death in the past.
This special presence of Christ on the altar is peculiar to the Mass and demonstrates its grandeur.
When we celebrate the other mysteries of Christ's life, we merely commemorate them. There is no real renewal of the mystery on the day devoted to it. At Christmas, the Church recalls to our minds the Savior's birth, but this birth does not really take place--is not actualized in the present. On Ascension Thursday, our Lord does not renew His ascent into heaven. It is quite otherwise for the Mass. It is no simple symbolic representation, for the same Sacrifice that Christ accomplished on the cross is made truly present in an unbloody manner on the altar.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
We have seen that Christ is the center of religion and the universe. The creation, over which Christ reigns, is willed by God for His glory. We are beings created solely for the praise and the glory of God.
How can such a frail creature as man offer acceptable praise to the Blessed Trinity? In this way. The Word of God was incarnated, became one of us, and to each one of us gave something of Himself in such a way that we are enabled through Him, with Him, and in Him, to fulfill our religious duties toward God, duties that may be summarized in two acts, as follows:
- Our continual offering of Jesus Christ to God the Father.
- Our offering of ourselves with Him and like Him in complete self-surrender and self-sacrifice, so as to become one with Jesus Christ.
For Christ alone can glorify God as He deserves. Christ, equal to the Father by His Godhead, lowered Himself to our level by the Incarnation. As man, Christ is able to bow before God and render Him true adoration in humility, submission, and obedience. As God, Christ offers His Father homage of infinite worth.
It is the Incarnation that empowers us to offer God to God in the Person of Jesus Christ. Hence the grandeur and incomparable superiority of the Mass over all other acts of religion.
Why so many Masses? In order that the thought of offering Him up to God the Father may be continually present to our minds, Christ has willed to re-present the offering up of His Sacrifice.
But the Christ who thus offers Himself in the Mass is not just "Jesus, the Son of Mary," but the total Christ--Christ complete, entire. That is, all the members of the Mystical Body offer themselves with Christ, their Head. Hence, the active role we should play in the Mass.
Pope Pius XII recalled this truth in his encyclical on the Mystical Body (Mystici Corporis): "In it, the priest not only represents our Savior, but the entire Mystical Body; and each of the faithful in particular. The faithful themselves, moreover, united to the priest in a common will and prayer, offer up to the Eternal Father the Immaculate Lamb brought down on the altar by the voice of the priest. They offer Him, by the hands of the same priest, as a most pleasing Victim of propitiation and praise, for the necessities of the whole Church. And just as the Divine Redeemer, dying on the Cross, offered Himself as Head of the human race, to the Eternal Father; in the same way, in this 'clean oblation,' He not only offers Himself as Head of the Church to the Heavenly Father, but in Himself He also offers His mystical members; since all--even the most infirm and feeble--are contained in His loving heart."
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
The Mass is the means whereby we may become the prolongation of Christ.
Through the offering of ourselves with Christ.
Through the consecration of ourselves through Christ.
Through the communion in Christ
to the greater glory of the Blessed Trinity and the sanctification of our souls. The Mass reminds us at one and the same time of God's CONdescension toward man, and of man Ascension toward God! For the Mass sums up the twin mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption, at the same time that it applies to us their fruits. Crib and Cross manifest to mankind God's love for all; whereas the Mass stresses His love for the individual.
One ought, then, to look on the Mass as the sum total of man's ascensions toward God, because it presupposes and completes them. The sinner derives from it abundant graces of conversion. The just man finds fervor in it--outstripping himself from one Consecration to another. Through the Mass man offers to God praise that is worthy of Him.
This, then, is the place that the Mass occupies in God's plan. Like Christ, it is at the center: as a sun to bring light and warmth, to transform and uplift all creation and bring it back to its Creator in a hymn of thanksgiving.
The Mass ought to occupy ALL the place in our lives. We ought to:
- Offer ourselves up, like Christ on the Cross.
- Consecrate ourselves, "transubstantiate" ourselves--dying to our life of sin; to live, henceforth, the life of Christ.
- Unite ourselves to Someone stronger than ourselves, communicating with Christ through reception of His Sacred Body, in order to identify ourselves ever more closely with Him, so that--our bodily members belonging more to Him than to us--we may be able to accomplish divine and supernatural works.
- Render--through Christ--perfect praise to the august Trinity.
It was bearing His Cross that He came--weighted down under the burden of our sins. He climbed Calvary's hill and reddened it with His blood. He was barbarously crucified on a Cross, and died between two thieves.
Let us look for a moment at our suffering Savior. Taking place before our horrified gaze is the drama that dominates the world. Christ was "made sin" for us, writes Saint Paul.
On the high hill of Calvary, overlooking the world, a terrible struggle is taking place between Love and Hate--a struggle of unheard-of force. As a result of this fearsome combat, Hate dies in the blood of his immolated Victim. The last words of Christ are a shout of triumph: "Father, it is consummated."
Love has conquered Hate.
Sin is now in full flight. A moment ago, an enormous tidal wave, make up of all the crimes of earth, had sought to engulf within its corrupt depths Him who offered Himself as the Life of the World. Now, Life descends victorious from Calvary, driving back Sin to its ultimate retrenchments. God's plan now unfolds in all its majesty--the return to the Father, to the Father's House.
How may we bring about this return? By following Christ the Way, in what is to be henceforth His sorrowful way. "If anyone wishes to follow Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me." Integrated into Christ by Baptism, I (and not somebody else) ought to die to self, an live the life of Christ. "Christ died for all; that they also who live, may not now live to themselves, but unto Him Who died for them, and rose again" (2 Cor 5:15).
With Saint Paul we should say, "Those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, I fill up in my flesh, for His body, which is the Church" (Col 1:24).
If our good works, sacrifices, and sufferings are to count for eternity and be pleasing to God, it is necessary for us (as we have seen above) to be united to Christ. It is through Him, and with Him, and in Him that we become recipients of God's loving-kindness and mercy.
Our union with Christ, our integration into His Mystical Body, is effected by the sacraments. It is by Baptism that we are introduced into Christ's mystical family. It is through Baptism that we receive divine life; become adopted sons of God the Father; brothers of Jesus Christ; temples of the Holy Spirit, and heirs of heaven!
But how should we offer up--following our Lord's example--our adoration, thanksgiving, satisfactions, and petitions to God? How should we nourish the divine life within us?
By means of the Mass--the Sacrifice of the Mystical Body.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Radical pro-abortion youth have written a document that the UN General Assembly is considering accepting. This would be disastrous. The document was written under the careful scrutiny of the UN Population Fund and International Planned Parenthood Federation. It calls for all the usual craziness: abortion on demand, comprehensive sex education…all for kids!
A group of smart young people have drafted a counter document that we will present to the UN later this month or early next month. This document will show the UN that radical youth DO NOT TALK FOR ALL YOUTH!
In order to make the necessary big splash, we need as many signatures as we can get. We need you to please sign THIS document right now and then send this note to everyone in your address book? Will you put this email up on Facebook? Will you circulate it among all of your family and friends.
I am often asked what you can do to help our cause at the UN. Here is something you can do that will make a HUGE DIFFERENCE!
UN delegations have requested our help in countering the radical youth document. Your signature on THIS document will help good pro-life delegations fight back against the radical pro-abortionists who want to undermine the morals of our children.
Act now and sign THIS document and then send this email to everyone you know.
Time is running out. We need 50,000 names in three weeks!
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
At this tragic moment in the history of humanity when the Blessed Trinity could have, conceivably, left us in our state of hopeless misery, Jesus intervened: "Father, these men are for Me the sign and expression of Thy love. They are My children. They are Mine, for it was for My sake that you gave them life and being. Never will I abandon them! Since they are incapable of knowing My joy, I am determined to share their misery."
Christ was to have come in glory like the bridegroom whose arrival on the wedding day is joyously awaited by the wedding guests. Now His coming will take place under the reign of Sin; in a body capable of being crushed by suffering, with a heart that affliction will overwhelm, He will come to destroy sin, this "wall of separation" between God and man--between man and man, He will reconcile in His blood heaven and earth. He will unite the peoples.
One day, in the long procession of men groping in the shadow of death, Christ appeared. To this poor, purblind race of ours, He revealed the Father's wondrous plan. "The Father Himself loves you.... He has not abandoned you.... I am your Savior.... I am Life."
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Monday, September 6, 2010
Alas, man is free to destroy God's harmonious plan! Everything is in equilibrium, because everything tends toward God. All things cohere, because all things are submissive to the Author of life and being. But this adhesion to God is effected in a free act of love. The freedom with which man is adorned, gives to the entire creation an incomparable majesty. God thus receives a praise that is spontaneous. This very freedom, however, exposes the one enjoying it to immense peril. Let man but once refuse to spread forth his hands in a gesture of oblation, and the whole order of things falls apart. But one day man, in a gesture of pride and egoism, rejected his priesthood. His role of mediator no longer satisfied him. Man "would be like God." Through his lips, Satan once more uttered his cry of rage, "I will not serve!"
By his refusal, man shattered the universe. For the universe rested on man as the arch on the keystone. The entire universe turned against man its betrayer. In chorus, it hurled back into the teeth of man the cry that man had dared to address to God, "I will not serve!"
First of all, man's own body revolted. Man, terror-stricken, suddenly beheld within himself the unleashing of sinful passions. Henceforth, seven fetters, which theology is later to designate by the title of "Capital Sins," will shackle his formerly free impulses--Adam and Eve "perceive themselves to be naked."
Man is deeply stricken in the very harmony of his being: "I will multiply your sorrows and your conceptions; in sorrow shall you bring forth children."
Social discord now corresponds to inner imbalance. "You shall be under your husband's power, and he shall have dominion over you."
Looming up on the horizon, in addition to these "domestic squabbles" are quarrels between families, wars between city and city, between nation and nation, world war, revolution.
The animal kingdom, over which man formerly reigned, rises up in its turn. The earth itself refuses to cooperate with man. Only at the cost of a struggle, will man be able to wrest from it miserably a few meager fruits: "Cursed is the earth in your work. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to you."
Man is broken, disoriented. Suffering is to be, henceforth, his earthly portion. "In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread.... In sorrow shall you bring forth children."
Man created to be the friend of Christ, has gone astray in the disobedience of Adam. Humanity, separated from Christ, is without form or beauty. Will God remain deaf, insensible, to the cry of His distressed creature? Will He punish or pardon?
Man, having come from God, must return to God: his Final End. "Thou hast made us for Thyself, O God," cried St. Augustine, "and our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee!"
The creation--a work of sheer mercy, a stooping of the Creator toward the creature--returns to God, chanting a hymn of praise and thanksgiving. A feather from a bird, a ray of light, a finely modulated voice, a drop of water falling to earth, a hastening ant, a seed sprouting from the earth, the stars that whirl in the firmament with never a collision; all are directed by God to that magnificent end for which He has ordained them--man's pleasure, Christ's happiness, and finally, the glory of the Most Holy Trinity.
In God's plan, it is not man who is the center of the universe, but Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word. God created all things for Christ. For the sake of Christ Jesus in whom the Father already had "placed all His delight" and for the sake of Mary, His Mother, "full of grace," God decided to create man and the universe.
To this Son, in whom He is well pleased, friends were to be given--and so man was created. (The race of man represents the "friends of the Bridegroom" mentioned by our Lord in the Gospel.) To this Son whom He loves, the Father will give a house and a garden--and so the universe was created. Man, created for Christ, is loved in Him. We thus form, as it were, a "wedding gift" from God the Father to Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom.
In Him, through Him, and for Him, we are pleasing to the heavenly Father. Without Him we are nothing. This is very important for an understanding of the Mass. Our sacrifices are of value only through their being united with Christ's Sacrifice. Since all have issued from the heart of God solely to give pleasure to Jesus, all then are brothers. Creation itself is our kin. The universe and I, what are we, if not a delicate thought of the Father toward His Divine Son?
The creation, launched into existence by God's loving power, will forever have something unfinished about it, until that time when it shall return to the Source of its perfection; there to receive from that same Source its final perfection and beatitude. Thus the general plan of creation appears to us as an image and prolongation of the fecundity of the Most Blessed Trinity. The chronological order of the plan is as follows: (1) Creation of the heavens; (2) Preparation of the earth; (3) Creation of minerals, vegetation, and animals; (4) Creation of man.
King though he may be of that creation predating his own existence, man, however, is not creation's final goal.
Man--simple link in a chain that must go back to God--paves the way for the coming of the blessed Virgin Mary. Mary, God's jewel case, in which reposed He Who upholds all things, Jesus Christ! Christ is the center of the universe. He is before all things: "He is before all creatures" (Col 1:17). "The firstborn of every creature" (Col 1:15). "In the beginning was the Word..." (Jn 1:1).
"In Him...through Him...unto Him...all things!" (Col 1:16,17)