Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Does the Mass differ in any way from the Sacrifice of the Cross?
We have seen that on the Cross, Christ expressed inner adoration toward His Father, by loving Him more than the thing most precious to Him--His own life. We find the same interior adoration in the Mass, since Christ's preferential love for His Father persists eternally.
The difference appears in the outward expression of Christ's inner sentiments. On the Cross, Christ manifests His love for His Father by His death in a bloody manner. In the Mass, Christ offers Himself to His Father in a non-bloody manner.
What sign, then, in the Mass gives outward expression to Christ's inner adoration? For the Mass, like the Sacraments, has a visible sign that signifies and actualizes the Sacrifice. This sign is the separate Consecration of the bread and wine, representing the separation of our Lord's body and blood on the Cross. The active Consecration--that is, not yet accomplished, but in process of accomplishment--effectively signifies Christ's Sacrifice; since it renders present on the altar the same Sacrifice as that of Calvary.
Note that the Real Presence of Christ in the tabernacle is not, properly speaking, a sacrifice; since the exterior sign--the Consecration--is lacking. Where the exterior element is lacking, there can be no sacrifice.
2.) BY THE MODE OF OFFERING
Two things are needed to make a sacrifice: (a) Renunciation or immolation; (b) preference, choice, oblation or offering.
Now on the Cross, as in the Mass, it is the same Victim that is immolated--our Lord. A difference exists, however, in the method or mode of oblation. In the Mass, it is still our Lord who offers Himself as He did on Calvary, but through the ministry of His priests.
Nevertheless, the priest is merely Christ's representative. There is only one priest--Jesus Christ. But our blessed Lord, in His great mercy, and in order to make us participate still more intimately in His Sacrifice, has self-imposed the condition whereby He cannot offer Himself on the altar without His priests. Thus, on the Cross, Christ offers Himself by Himself in our name. In the Mass, it is the priest who, in the name of all the people, offers Christ exteriorly. For interiorly, it is always Christ who offers.
3.) AS TO TIME AND PLACE
The Sacrifice of the Cross occurred at a given moment in a given spot on the earth. Christ offered His death in the present. In the Mass, Christ offers Himself throughout the whole universe, exactly as the prophet Malachi had prophesied, and at each moment of the day and night. He offers His death as an accomplished historical fact.