Month: May 2018

FINAL PERSEVERANCE AND THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS CHRIST

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DEVOTION TO MARY AND PERSEVERANCE IN FAITH


 “But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43)

“The beauty of Jesus is inexhaustible. Like the Vision of God in Heaven, it is ever diversified, yet always the same, always cherished as an old and familiar joy, yet ever surprising and refreshing the spirit as being, in truth, perpetually new. He is beautiful always, beautiful everywhere, in the disfigurement of the Passion as well as in the splendor of the Resurrection, amid the horrors of the Scourging, as well amid the indescribable attractions of Bethlehem. But above all things our Blessed Lord is beautiful in His Mother.

If we love Him we must love her. We must know her in order to know Him. As there is no true devotion to His Sacred Humanity, which is not mindful of His Divinity, so there is no adequate love of the Son, which dis-joins Him from His Mother….

Now it is our daily task to love Jesus more and more…and unerring experience has told us that we never advance more rapidly in the love of the Son than when we travel by the Mother, and that what we have built most solidly in Jesus has been built with Mary. There is no time lost in seeking Him, if we go at once to Mary; for He is always there, always at home. The darkness in His mysteries become light when we hold it to her light, which is His light as well. She is the short road to Him. She has the “grand entry” to Him. She is His Esther, and speedy and full are the answers to the petitions which her hands present” (From: Chapter One of “The Foot of the Cross” by F.W. Faber, slightly adapted, emphasis added).

Comment: The unerring wisdom of the saints and the church is that devotion to Mary is a sure and safe means of persevering in our love of Jesus. The first beats of our Lord’s Sacred Heart took place in her womb, and her own heart was pierced by a sword when she stood faithfully by Him at the foot of the Cross, when he bequeathed her to us, saying, “Behold, Your Mother.” If Jesus has given us such a tremendous gift – His very mother, the Mother of God – than we should have every confidence in approaching her tender, maternal heart with love and true devotion.

The spiritual journey wearies and tires us. Discouragements seem to lurk around every corner. Our great need is for perseverance. Devotion to Mary is a tried and tested means of perseverance, according to the experience of the saints.

On their difficult path through history, between the “already” of salvation received and the “not yet” of its fulfillment, the community of believers knows they can count on the help of the ‘Mother of Hope’. After experiencing Christ’s victory over the powers of death, she communicates to them an ever new capacity to await God’s future and to abandon themselves to the Lord’s promises” (Saint Pope John Paul II).

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Image: Our Lady of Good Counsel by Pasqualle Sarullo (Public Domain, U.S.A.).

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ON THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING ATTENTIVE TO THE INDWELLING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

THE HOLY VIRGIN WAS COMPLETELY DOCILE TO THE HOLY SPIRIT

GOD’S GREAT GIFT TO US IS THE PERSON OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

“And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spiritwhom he has given us” (Romans 5:5)

“…if there be among the gifts of God none greater than love, and there is no greater gift of God than the Holy Spirit, what follows more naturally than that He is Himself love….” (Saint Augustine)


Saint Pope John Paul II‘s encyclical on the Holy SpiritDominum et Vivificantem, contains wonderful insights into the nature and mission of the Holy Spirit. In this short note, I will discuss the concept or revelation of the Holy Spirit as “Person-Gift” as developed by John Paul II in the encyclical.

You get married. What an incredible gift you have been given by God: the gift of another person. Truly, excepting God and grace, it is hard to fathom a greater gift than this – your spouse. Marital love then blossoms into the gift of another person: a child destined to praise God for all eternity! These are amazing gifts. These are persons made in the image and likeness of God.

In Dominum et Vivificantem John Paul II points out that in the Old Testament “the personality of the Holy Spirit is completely hidden” (17). But in the New Testament the “Holy Spirit is revealed in a new and fuller way,” not only as a gift from Jesus but as a “Person-Gift” (22). Just as Jesus Christ in His Incarnation is a Person-gift from the Father, so too is the Holy Spirit a Person-gift from God the Father and Jesus. This giving of the Holy Spirit as a gift to us is truly the greatest of all possible gifts, for the Holy Spirit is the “personal love” proceeding from the Father and the Son, which John Paul II calls “uncreated Love-Gift.” It is “through the Holy Spirit [that] God exists in a mode of gift” (10). The Holy Spirit is “Person-Love” and “Person-Gift” (10).

In light of the above insights of John Paul II we can begin to understand why Jesus was so anxious to leave the apostles and return to the Father (“If I go, I will send him [the Holy Spirit] to you,” John 16:7). Jesus wanted the apostles – and us – to receive the ultimate gift of His love – the “Person-Gift” and the “Person-Love” of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is “the Lord and giver of life”; he is the “Infinite Spirit” of love and the “inexhaustible source” of eternal life. Our Lord’s death, Resurrection and Ascension therefore converge to bring forth a most incredible gift: “The Holy Spirit as a Person who is the gift” (23).

The “eternal love” of the Father and the Son is a Person-Gift: this Person-Gift is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the final gift, the gift of God’s own life within us, justifying us, sanctifying us, filling our hearts with love, a love “welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14). And so we say, with renewed fervor, in the words of that ancient hymn of the church, Come Holy Spirit, Creator Blest, and in our souls take up Thy rest.”

Dear friend, draw closer to the Holy Spirit – Who is the greatest GIFT you have ever been given!

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Image: The image of Mary and the Apostles at Pentecost, by Fidelis Schabet, 1867 (photo image released into the public domain by the author per Wikipedia).

P.S. Mary’s life began (as the Immaculate Conception) in profound union with the Holy Spirit, and the angel greets her accordingly as “full of grace.” The progress of the spiritual life is to draw ever closer to the Holy Spirit. It is thus that Saint Louis DeMontfort has such high regard for the prayer,Veni Creator Spiritus. The basic or fundamental truth is that we are made whole, or become our true selves, when united to God. Mary was given this gift of union with God from the very beginning. Mary is our model in the spiritual life.

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THE HOLY SPIRIT IS THE COMFORTER OF LONELY HEARTS

“And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” (Galatians 4:5).

“And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.” (Romans 5:5)

In this note we will be discussing the tremendous comfort and strength the Holy Spirit can bring to someone suffering from loneliness, ostracization, and the crushing difficulties of life.

A great spiritual writer of the twentieth century wrote the following:

“God the Holy Spirit is the divine friend of the human souls to whom he is sent. Jesus sends his Holy Spirit to us in order, among other purposes, to banish from our life on earth that which constitutes one of the great pains of our present existence. There are few things so hard for a man to bear as loneliness and isolation. Man is not made to live alone. In a world which is ever hostile to Christ and will always hate his followers as it hated him, the Christian necessarily suffers from a certain measure of ostracism.

Moreover, the Christian has to bear the loneliness that, with the advance of years, is the common lot of mortals. Death and other causes tend to thin the ever narrowing circle of one’s friends and acquaintances. How frequently the pathos of this abandonment shows in the eyes of the aged whose contemporaries have vanished year by year.

Jesus has provided for the comfort of lonely hearts. When it comes to a human creature, neither to love nor to be loved by anyone, then existence has turned to dust and ashes. The disciples of Christ need never experience this dread starvation, this withering of their powers of affection, seeing that they may, by grace, possess within themselves in the closest intimacy a Person who, by the Word of Truth [Jesus], has been declared to be preeminently a consoler (John 14:16) – a Person who may be loved without limits and who repays every mark of affection by more than the hundredfold in warmth and tenderness. Consider for a moment the POWER of loving in the Holy Spirit who is love personified, who IS the personal love between the Father and the Son!

The Holy Spirit has not only an infinite capacity for friendship – He has, as well, an infinite power to make his friendship effective for the consolation and comfort of those he loves. In the great trails of life, notably in the bereavement caused by the death of those dearest to us, how impotent we find the well-meaning efforts of our friends to touch our grief with healing. When the soul is burdened by a great sorrow, nothing can bring alleviation and strength except that which can penetrate and change the spirit of man. This the Divine Friend – the Holy Spirit – alone is capable of doing.

How frequent an experience it is to find the faithful who, when faced with an overwhelming calamity, which should normally paralyze and crush them, manifest a courage, calm and resolution, traceable to no natural source. The origin of this mysterious peace and confidence is the Paraclete, the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. Their turning to God in their distress has provoked the inner and direct action of the Holy Spirit on the substance of the soul itself.

All that love demands is that it be given free scope to express itself. The affection of the Holy Spirit for the soul he inhabits and adorns is not only strong and ardent…it is faithful as well. Let us train ourselves to be open to this potent, strengthening influence of the Divine Friend within our souls by a constant, loving attention to His presence. The Holy Spirit is the consoler of hearts because Jesus expressly sent Him to us in order to find comfort in all the trials and adversities of life, and Jesus further promised that the Holy Spirit would abide with us forever in a never ending friendship of love (John 14:16).”

This long quote, significantly edited and adapted, is from The Holy Spirit by Father Edward Leen (Scepter Publishers), pages 160-163. Father Leen, who belonged to the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, wrote extensively on spiritual topics and his books are full of powerful spiritual insights.

Dear Friend, be ever more attentive to the presence of the Holy Spirit in the depths of your soul, and of His infinite capacity to help you through the daunting difficulties of this present life, through a most remarkable and intimate friendship that will never end.

Thomas L. Mulcahy, M.A.

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BY ASCENDING INTO HEAVEN JESUS LED OUR HUMAN EXISTENCE INTO GOD’S PRESENCE

 

             “For our citizenship is in heaven”  (Philippians 3:20)

Jesus’ Ascension establishes humanity’s true destiny in Heaven. I picture Jesus returning to the Father in Heaven, saying, “FatherMission Accomplished,” and then saying, “Father, let us breathe forth our Holy Spirit upon the world through my risen and Glorified body.” It was good, then, for Jesus to ascend back to the Father so that the Holy Spirit could be given to us to guide us, likewise, to our heavenly home.“If I go [back to Heaven],” says Jesus, “I will send him [the Holy Spirit] to you” (John 16:7).

One lesson we clearly glean from our Lord’s Ascension is that the entire trajectory of Jesus’ earthly life was Heaven. He, Jesus, is the first born of many brethren (Romans 8:29). Therefore, the absolute true meaning of life is Heaven. Saint Paul says it beautifully: “Our citizenship is in Heaven” (Philippians 3:20). To truly understand the meaning of life we must get this principle straight. Take a look at your Passport: I hope it says “Citizen of Heaven.” Heaven is your true home. We are pilgrims here on planet earth.

Another lesson we glean initially from our Lord’s Resurrection, and ultimately from his Ascension, is the incredibly profound meaning of the the ultimate destiny of the human body. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read the following very significant words: “The Father’s power ‘raised up’ Christ his Son and by doing so perfectly introduced his Son’s humanity, including his body, into the Trinity. Jesus is conclusively revealed as ‘Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his Resurrection from the dead’ ” (CCC 648, my emphasis). “Christ’s Ascension marks the definitive entrance of Jesus’ humanity into God’s heavenly domain, whence he will come again….” (CCC 665). Consequently, any claim that Christianity devalues the body or human nature is misguided. Pope Benedict XVI, in a homily in 2005, stated: “Christ’s Ascension means … that He belongs entirely to God. He, the Eternal Son, led our human existence into God’s presence, taking with Him flesh and blood in a transfigured form. The human being finds room in God; through Christ, the human being was introduced into the very life of God.” C.S. Lewis adds:

“Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.”

Christ’s Ascension also signifies the beginning of the final hour of human history. By Christ’s Ascension into Heaven the final age – indeed the final “hour” – of the world has begun. The Catechism states: “Since the Ascension God’s plan has entered into its fulfillment. We are already at ‘the last hour’. ‘Already the final age of the world is with us, and the renewal of the world is irrevocably under way; it is even now anticipated in a certain real way, for the Church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity that is real but imperfect’ ” (CCC 670). All Christians are living in “end times,” which means that we should be diligently preparing for the return of the Lord who is already present to us through the Holy Eucharist. 

Finally, our Lord’s Ascension shows that He is the King and High Priest of all creation. There are powerful words in the Epistle to the Hebrews about Jesus’ ongoing priestly ministry in Heaven (words that should really give us great encouragement!). In the seventh chapter of Hebrews we read: “… because Jesus lives forever [in Heaven], he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” (Hebrews 7:24-25; CCC 519). Is it not incredibly encouraging to know that Jesus is always living to make intercession for you! Does not that revelation of his incessant intercession for you fill your heart with confidence!

Moreover, the author of Hebrews identifies Jesus’ never-ending priesthood in Heaven as the true fulfillment of the Order of Melchizedek, the very first priesthood mentioned in the Old Testament (see Genesis 14). In fact, the Order of Melchizedek is mentioned multiple times in Hebrews! This is a very significant point for Catholics because the “thanksgiving offering” made by the priest Melchizedek in the Old Testament was that of bread and wine (Genesis 14:18), which constituted a “communion sacrifice” per Dr. Scott Hahn. Jesus is identified in Hebrews as “the mediator of a new covenant” (Hebrews 12:24). The true sacramental sign of this New Covenant is identified by Jesus as the Holy Eucharist (“This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” – Luke 22:20). As such we are advised in Hebrews not to neglect ‘to meet together” for the New Testament liturgy (Hebrews 10:25), the Mass, of our High Priest, Jesus Christ (see CCC 692). Jesus ascended into Heaven is the true High Priest at every Mass.

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Sources: Significantly, Luke 22:20 is the only place in the Gospels where Jesus uses the term, “New Covenant.” For the material in this note on Hebrews and the High Priesthood of Jesus, as it pertains to the Order of Melchizedek and the Eucharist, I am relying predominantly on Dr. Scott Hahn and The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible. See also Dr. Hahn’s audio commentary on Hebrews. The quote from Pope Benedict XVI found at

Ascension Thursday and meeting Christ face-to-face 

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THE ASCENSION MEANS THAT JESUS IS LORD OF ALL FOREVER

 File:Jesus ascending to heaven.jpg

“Of all the feasts of Our Lord, I venture to say that…the Ascension is the greatest, because it is the supreme glorification of Christ Jesus” (Blessed Columbra Marmion)

INTRODUCTION

In this short note I wish to make four points about the Ascension of Jesus into Heaven.

1. JESUS ASCENDED TO THE RIGHT HAND OF HE FATHER

In the Ascension Jesus is lifted up, is raised higher and higher, until we can see that He is above all else! If there are earthly powers, if there are heavenly powers, if there are demonic powers, Jesus is “Lord of the cosmos” and all creation is subject to him (see CCC 668), for “to which of the angels did God ever say, ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet’?” (Hebrews 1:13). Only Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father, “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come” (Ephesians 1:21). In the Ascension, then, we see in the clearest terms that Jesus is Lord, or rather the Lord-God.

It is the ascension of the risen Lord Jesus into Heaven that marks his sovereign Lordship over all things! If in his earthly life Jesus humbled himself to a remarkable degree in order to save us from sin, his ascension constitutes his “supreme exaltation” in light of the “incommensurable glory conferred upon His Holy Humanity” (Blessed Columbra Marmion).

Saint Paul puts it this way:

“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death– even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phillipians 2: 8-11).

We read in Marks’s Gospel that after Jesus ascended into Heaven he “sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand” (Mark 16:19). “By ‘the Father’s right hand’ we understand the glory and honor of divinity, where he who exists as Son of God before all ages, indeed as God, of one being with the Father, is seated bodily after he became incarnate and his flesh was glorified” (CCC 663). “Being seated at the Father’s right hand signifies the inauguration of the Messiah’s kingdom, the fulfillment of the prophet Daniel’s vision concerning the Son of man: ‘To him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.’ After this event the apostles became witnesses of the ‘kingdom [that] will have no end'” (CCC 664).

2. WE TOO WILL ASCEND ONE DAY TO THE FATHER!

The Lord’s Ascension was essentially for us! After all, his mission of redemption was for us. Thus Jesus said to the apostles, and says also to us, “I ascend to My Father and to your Father, to my God and your God” (John 20:17). Really, those are pretty amazing words which demand our attention and meditation. Jesus also said that, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 20:17).

“The lifting up of Jesus on the cross signifies and announces his lifting up by his Ascension into heaven, and indeed begins it. Jesus Christ, the one priest of the new and eternal Covenant, ‘entered, not into a sanctuary made by human hands. . . but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.’ There Christ permanently exercises his priesthood, for he ‘always lives to make intercession’ for ‘those who draw near to God through him’. As ‘high priest of the good things to come’ he is the center and the principal actor of the liturgy that honors the Father in heaven” (CCC 662).

Finally, Saint Paul states that we too already have a seat reserved in Heaven with Jesus due to God’s great love for us in Christ Jesus:

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2: 4-7).

3. WE ARE STILL UNDER ATTACK UNTIL THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS

“Though already present in his Church, Christ’s reign is nevertheless yet to be fulfilled ‘with power and great glory’ by the King’s return to earth. This reign is still under attack by the evil powers, even though they have been defeated definitively by Christ’s Passover. Until everything is subject to him, ‘until there be realized new heavens and a new earth in which justice dwells, the pilgrim Church, in her sacraments and institutions, which belong to this present age, carries the mark of this world which will pass, and she herself takes her place among the creatures which groan and travail yet and await the revelation of the sons of God.’ That is why Christians pray, above all in the Eucharist, to hasten Christ’s return by saying to him: Marana tha! ‘Our Lord, come!’ “ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 671).

4. THE ASCENSION IS A DEMONSTRATION OF GOD’S IMMEASURABLE POWER THAT FLOWS THROUGH TO US THROUGH FAITH IN JESUS

The power that flows to us in faith through an appreciation of Christ’s Ascension is really quite extraordinary. In order to understand what God’s power is capable of doing in us, we are given the supreme example of what it did in Jesus Christ. “All this is said to exalt our sense of the Divine power that so raised up and exalted the God-Man, Christ Jesus – [that is] the same power that still works in believers” (Pulpit Commentary). What Saint Paul is saying in the amazing quote from Ephesians below is that, through the trajectory of Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension, we can see the immense greatness of God’s power, and through a special spiritual blessing we can further see that this same power is at work in our own lives even here on planet earth, all of which is a great source of hope and confidence for us.

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come”  (Ephesians 1: 18-22).

CONCLUSION

Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven clearly manifests his universal Lordship over all things. “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way” (Ephesians 1:23).

Thomas L. Mulcahy, M.A.

 

P.S. See also, pertaining to the High Priesthood of Jesus in Heaven,

The meaning of Jesus’ Ascension | Catholic Strength

Thomas L. Mulcahy, M.A.

References: My primary and key reference for the content of this note is Christ In His Mysteries by Blessed Dom Columbra Marmion (B. Herder Book Co.), Chapter 16.

Image:  Ascension by John Singleton Copley, 1775, Public Domain, U.S.A.

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JESUS ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN IS THE HIGH PRIEST AT EVERY MASS

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“Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer (Hebrews 8:3). Now the main point of what we are saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven” (Hebrews 8:1)

The reason why the daily Mass is the greatest event on planet earth each and every day is because it makes present to us in time and space the ever-living prayer within the heart of Jesus Christ ascended into Heaven. What is this prayer? It is the offering of Jesus to the Father of his Calvary sacrifice that is perpetuated by our Eucharistic liturgy (just as Jesus commanded it to be when he instituted the Eucharist on Holy Thursday as a memorial of his passion and death).

Imagine you have your own personal priest…and that priest is able to offer on your behalf a most beautiful sacrifice to God –  a sacrifice of Infinite value, a sacrifice which is a universal cause of all graces, a sacrifice containing every possible grace needed for your sanctification. How awesome would that be!  And what does Hebrews 8:1 say?: – it says that we do have such a priest who is in heaven right now. And this high priest, says Hebrews, is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices on our behalf (Hebrews 8:3) And how is this done?: – most especially through the Mass, through the Eucharistic sacrifice, through the gifts of bread and wine. And so the true priest at every Mass is Jesus (see CCC 1137).

It is true that the Holy Mass is the Memorial of Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary. But as a memorial ceremony normally involves the remembrance of someone who is dead, the Mass is altogether unique because Jesus is alive – indeed He is Risen and Glorified!  Jesus is the true Priest who celebrates each and every Mass! So when you go to Mass you are going to a liturgical gathering to pray with Jesus and to join in with Jesus to offer to the Eternal Father Jesus’ Infinite sacrifice which won our redemption. It is therefore an awesome privilege to attend Mass and to make this offering to the Father with our High Priest, Jesus, and to offer yourself to the Father in union with Jesus. In Holy Mass the sacrifice of Calvary is made present to us in a sacramental manner through the ongoing priestly ministry of Jesus Christ (see CCC 1362-1368).

Indeed, there are additional powerful words in the Epistle to the Hebrews about Jesus’ ongoing priestly ministry in Heaven (words that should really give us great encouragement!). In the seventh chapter of Hebrews we read: “… because Jesus lives forever [in Heaven], he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” (Hebrews 7:24-25; CCC 519).

Moreover, the author of Hebrews identifies Jesus’ never-ending priesthood in Heaven as the true fulfillment of the Order of Melchizedek, the very first priesthood mentioned in the Old Testament (see Genesis 14). In fact, the Order of Melchizedek is mentioned multiple times in Hebrews! This is a very significant point for Catholics because the “thanksgiving offering” made by the priest Melchizedek in the Old Testament was that of bread and wine (Genesis 14:18), which constituted a “communion sacrifice” per Dr. Scott Hahn. Jesus is identified in Hebrews as “the mediator of a new covenant” (Hebrews 12:24). The true sacramental sign of this New Covenant is identified by Jesus as the Holy Eucharist (“This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you” – Luke 22:20). As such we are advised in Hebrews not to neglect ‘to meet together” for the New Testament liturgy (Hebrews 10:25), the Mass, of our High Priest, Jesus Christ (see CCC 692).

CONCLUSION:
The Mass, then, is the ever-living prayer present in the heart of Jesus Christ.  It’s where the full power of Christ’s universal sacrifice and offering is made present on earth. What a privilege it is for us to attend this daunting and holy ceremony which connects heaven and earth, and to unite our hearts and our prayers to Jesus’ loving oblation to the Father. And then to partake of the fruit of this sacrifice – the supernatural food which feeds our souls. At Mass Jesus is the priest, the victim and our holy communion. “Praise be Jesus Christ, now and forever.”


Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Sources: My source for this note is Father Garrigou-LaGrange’s essay, “Assistance at Mass, the Source of Sanctification,” Chapter 31, Volume 1, of The Three Ages of the Spiritual Life, pages 407-413 (TAN). It is Father Garrigou-LaGrange who states that the the Mass is “the oblation ever living in the heart of Jesus” (p.407). Father Garrigou-LaGrange also states that the Mass “is the greatest act of each of our days,”  that the Mass is “a universal cause of graces,” and that the Mass contains “all the graces we need for our sanctification.” You can see that I have incorporated these precise observations of Father Garrigou-LaGrange in my note. I am also relying on Scott Hahn’s talk, “The Meal of Melchizedek,” and his book, The Lamb’s Supper. The following sections of The Catechism of the Catholic Church, mentioned in The Lamb’s Supper, reinforce some of the key ideas in this note pertaining to the profound value of the Mass:

The celebrants of the heavenly liturgy

1137 The book of Revelation of St. John, read in the Church’s liturgy, first reveals to us, “A throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne”: “the Lord God.”1 It then shows the Lamb, “standing, as though it had been slain”: Christ crucified and risen, the one high priest of the true sanctuary, the same one “who offers and is offered, who gives and is given.”2 Finally it presents “the river of the water of life . . . flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb,” one of most beautiful symbols of the Holy Spirit.3

. . . is present in the earthly liturgy . . .

1088 “To accomplish so great a work” – the dispensation or communication of his work of salvation – “Christ is always present in his Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the Sacrifice of the Mass not only in the person of his minister, ‘the same now offering, through the ministry of priests, who formerly offered himself on the cross,’ but especially in the Eucharistic species. 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.”‘11

1089 “Christ, indeed, always associates the Church with himself in this great work in which God is perfectly glorified and men are sanctified. The Church is his beloved Bride who calls to her Lord and through him offers worship to the eternal Father.”12

. . . which participates in the liturgy of heaven

1090 “In the earthly liturgy we share in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the Holy City of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle. With all the warriors of the heavenly army we sing a hymn of glory to the Lord; venerating the memory of the saints, we hope for some part and fellowship with them; we eagerly await the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, until he, our life, shall appear and we too will appear with him in glory.”13

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IS HEBREWS 7:25 THE MOST ENCOURAGING VERSE IN THE BIBLE?

 

“Consequently, [Jesus our High Priest in Heaven] is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25)

The upcoming Feast of the Ascension lifts our eyes towards Heaven where we see through verses like Hebrews 7:25 that Jesus’ ongoing ministry in Heaven is truly a most extraordinary enterprise for the well-being of souls on earth.

In addition to John 3:16, Hebrews 7:25 is one of the most powerful and encouraging verses in the Bible. If John 3:16 pertains, in particular, to Jesus’ Incarnation and Passion, Hebrews 7:25 pertains to Jesus’ ongoing priestly ministry in Heaven. Hebrews 7:25 shows that Jesus “exercises an ongoing priestly ministry in Heaven, where he intercedes for the saints at the Father’s right hand” (Ignatius Catholic Study Bible). And the Catechism of the Catholic Church states (at 519):

All Christ’s riches “are for every individual and are everybody’s property.” Christ did not live his life for himself but for us, from his Incarnation “for us men and for our salvation” to his death “for our sins” and Resurrection “for our justification”. He is still “our advocate with the Father”, who “always lives to make intercession” for us (Hebrews 7:25). He remains ever “in the presence of God on our behalf, bringing before him all that he lived and suffered for us” (Hebrews 9:25).

Hebrews 7:25 tells us very clearly that Jesus, in Heaven, is mightily at work for our good – that, in fact, he always lives to make intercession for us.” Now if the realization that Jesus always lives to make intercession for you doesn’t fill your heart with great encouragement, I’m not sure what will! Moreover, the verse also states that Jesus is “able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him.” Not only does Jesus have the power to save you, but he has the power to save you to the uttermost if you draw near to him. Dearest God, these are powerful words from your Holy Spirit!

Now when you visualize Jesus in your heart during prayer, you can see him there in Heaven living his priestly life to constantly intercede for you. This realization will fill your heart with strength, gratitude and fortitude, increasing your confidence in the prayers you make, and increasing also your love for Jesus. And nothing is more important than drawing close to Jesus in love so that he may save you to the uttermost.

I encourage you to meditate on Hebrews 7:25. Dear friend, Jesus always lives to make intercession for you!

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Note: For a discussion on how Hebrews 7:25 pertains to Mass, see my previous post, The Mass is the Ever-Living Prayer of Jesus Ascended into Heaven, via this link:

The Mass and the Order of Melchizedek | Catholic Strength

Reference: See Catechism of An Interior Life by the great Father Olier, pertaining to the application of Hebrews 7:25 to interior prayer (Part II), a very valuable reflection.

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