The Sacrifice of the Mass
781. What is the Mass?
The Mass is the sacrifice of the Christian dispensation in whichthe very body and blood of Jesus Christ under the appearances of bread and wine are offered to God by a lawfully ordained priest.This sacrifice of the Mass is offered to render honor and glory to God, to thank Him for His benefits, to make reparation for the sins of mankind, and to beg of God the graces and blessings we need. It represents and continues in our midst the one great sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, and is offered for all the purposes for which He died.
782. Christ meant His disciples, each time they broke bread, to remember His death, and so renew their love for Him each time.
He meant that, but far more also. Not only were we to remember His death for us, but He left His very body under the appearances of bread so that we might reoffer to the Father, Him who was our victim on the Cross. Not only were we to remember His death; wewere to show His death as often as the celebration occurred, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Malachy. “For from the rising of the sun even to the going down, My name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to My name a clean oblation; for My name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts.” Mal. I., 11. Nor were we merely to renew our love for Him. He was to renew His life in us.So He said, “As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live by the Father, so he that eateth Me, the same also shall live by Me.” Jn. VI., 58. It is difficult to understand why you should wish to belittle the greatness of His gift.
783. Hebrew X., 12, says that Christ’s was a finished or perfected work or sacrifice.
The Catholic Church teaches that the Sacrifice of the Cross wasa complete and perfect Sacrifice. The Mass is not a new sacrificing of Christ in the same sense, but is a new offering and application of the Christ sacrificed on Calvary. The absolute Sacrifice occurred on Calvary, the Mass is a relative Sacrifice, deriving its value from the Cross. Just as prior to His death on Calvary, Christ offered His Body and Blood at the Last Supper saying, “This is My Body which is given for you, this My Blood which is shed for you,” so in the Mass, not now by anticipation but in retrospect, Christ the Victim is offered to His Father.