the sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice

IN EVERY MASS THE SACRIFICE OF CALVARY IS MADE PRESENT IN A SACRAMENTAL MANNER THROUGH THE ONGOING PRIESTLY MINISTRY OF JESUS CHRIST

“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).

The time-transcendent dimension of Jesus’ unique and unrepeatable sacrificial death on Good Friday is such that he is referred to as “the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). Dr. Scott Hahn comments: “The Mass is the ‘once for all,’ perfect sacrifice of Calvary, which is presented on heaven’s altar for all eternity. It is not a ‘repeat performance.’ There is only one sacrifice; it is perpetual and eternal, and so it needs never be repeated. Yet the Mass is our participation in that one sacrifice and in the eternal life of the Trinity in heaven, where the Lamb stands eternally “as if slain’ (Rev. 5:6).” It is in this light that Jesus could institute the Holy Eucharist on Holy Thursday as the true memorial and making present of his sacrificial death which would be historically consummated the following day, Good Friday. “The sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice” (CCC 1367).

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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MOVING MOUNTAINS BY LIVING MORE PROFOUNDLY BY THE MASS

 


    “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood” (Luke 22:20)


At every Mass, Jesus offers himself completely to the Father for the life of the world. It is through this offering of Jesus that souls are being saved and prepared for a blessed eternity of unimaginable joy! By way of our sacramental life, we are called to enter into this offering of Jesus which is made present to us on our altars. The Mass makes present the saving action of God in human history.

Father George Kosicki once roughly estimated that about “4-5 Masses begin each second,” and that “there are are approximately 8-9 thousand Masses going on at any moment” (Intercession: Moving Mountains by Living Eucharistically, p. 22, Faith Publishing Company). Even if Father Kosicki’s rough calculations are on the high side, it is truly inspiring and breathtaking to consider that at any given moment thousands of Masses are being said throughout the world and the infinitely perfect sacrifice of Jesus’ Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity is being lovingly offered to the Eternal Father. What a wonder! What an amazing phenomenon!

In his Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist, Sacramentum Caritatis, translated as “Sacrament of Charity,” Pope Benedict XVI urges Catholics to “rediscover the Eucharistic form which their lives are meant to have,”
thus making of our lives “a constant self-offering to God….” (#72). At every moment of the day we can offer our personal sacrifices and our sufferings in union with all the Masses being said throughout the world. Saint Paul
urges, among other things, that “prayers” and “intercessions” be “offered for all men” because God “wants all men to be saved and come to know the truth” (1 Tim. 2: 1-4). By “living Eucharistically” we can fulfill this all-important obligation of intercession by offering our merits and sacrifices for the salvation of souls in union with all the Masses being said throughout the world. Right now, at this very moment, you can unite the offering of yourself to the offering of our High Priest Jesus through all of the Masses being said in the world. This is a beautiful way to give your heart to the Lord.

We might pray: “I unite myself through Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, to all the Masses being said at this moment throughout the world, so as to offer myself and this day more completely to God through Jesus Christ in union with His sacrifice at Calvary” (Saint Pope John Paul II demonstrates in Salvifici Dolores, #26, that the very nature of meritorious, redemptive suffering is to spiritually unite ourselves to the cross of Christ, “and the sacrifice of Christ and the sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice” (CCC 1367; see also CCC 1368, 2010 and 1475).

Father Kosicki says: “Always and everywhere I can offer up the present situation. Nothing is too small to offer, nothing insignificant when offered Eucharistically, when offered in union with Jesus for the salvation of souls to the glory of the Father. It is called intercession. We are called to it” (Intercession, p.23).     

Do you have a thirst for souls? Our Lord taught Saint Faustina an effective way to intercede Eucharistically for the salvation of souls. He taught her a prayer of intercession known as The Chaplet of Divine Mercy. As Father Kosicki explains, “The Chaplet of Divine Mercy holds a special place of honor as a Eucharistic prayer because it is a continuation of the offering of the Mass” (p.31). In the Chaplet “we intercede with the power of the Eucharist” by offering to the Eternal Father the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.” Father Kosicki mentions that Our Lord encouraged Saint Faustina to say the Chaplet without ceasing (diary, #687). Here, then, by lovingly saying The Chaplet of Divine Mercy is a powerful way to intercede for the salvation of souls.

It is a tremendous grace to be Catholic, to participate in Holy Mass and to receive Holy Communion. Indeed, with profound gratitude to Jesus Christ, we are the special beneficiaries of Malachi’s prophecy that from the rising of the sun until its setting a pure sacrifice will be offered to God, and we can intercede for others through the Infinite Merits of Jesus’ sacrifice. Saint John Paul II has urged Catholics to make the Eucharist the very center of their lives (see The Mystery and Worship of the Eucharist, #7), and so I close with his own words taken from his Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia:

“The Second Vatican Council rightly proclaimed that the Eucharistic sacrifice is “the source and summit of the Christian life”. ‘For the most holy Eucharist contains the Church’s entire spiritual wealth: Christ himself, our passover and living bread. Through his own flesh, now made living and life-giving by the Holy Spirit, he offers life to men’.  Consequently the gaze of the Church is constantly turned to her Lord, present in the Sacrament of the Altar, in which she discovers the full manifestation of his boundless love.”

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Ref. I am relying entirely on Father Kosicki’s book, Intercession: Moving Mountains by Living Eucharistically, (Faith Publishing Company). Father Kosicki passed into eternal life on August 11, 2014.

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