3. What takes place in the sacrifice of the Mass
3. What takes place in the sacrifice of the Mass is this: The priest at the altar, as the representative of Christ, offers up bread and wine to almighty God; he changes these substances into the body and blood of Christ, and destroys them by consuming them.
Thus it is not the priest, but Christ Himself, Who in the Mass is the sacrificing Priest.
From the words of the consecration it is evident that the priest is only an instrument of which Our Lord makes use, for the priest says: “This is My body, this is My blood,” although he does not change the bread and wine into his own body and blood. It is not the man who causes the oblation upon the altar to be changed into the body and blood of Our Lord, it is Christ Himself; Christ, our High Priest, Who is holy, innocent, undefiled, separate from sinners, purer than all the celestial spirits (Heb. vii. 26). Hence the sacrifice of the Mass does not lose its value, supposing the officiating priest should be living in sin. The Council of Trent declares that the sacrifice of the Mass cannot be defiled through the unworthiness or malice of him who offers it. “This oblation is holy,” says St. John Chrysostom, “be the priest what he may; for man does not consecrate, but Christ.”
Christ is also the Victim which is immolated in the Mass.
Christ is the Priest Who offers the sacrifice, and He is likewise the Victim which is offered. The Priest and the Victim are one and the same. Christ our Paschal Lamb, once immolated upon the cross, is daily immolated anew upon our altars. Christ offered Himself, because among all the treasures of heaven and of earth He could find nothing that could serve as a worthy oblation to be offered to the Blessed Trinity. The sacred humanity of Our Lord is the most precious, the most perfect work of God. Even the inexpressible beauty of the Mother of God is, in comparison to the humanity of Christ, as a flaming-torch beside the noonday sun. Even the graces and prerogatives which God has bestowed upon the angels and the saints, all taken together, fall far short of the graces and excellences appertaining to the sacred humanity of Christ. By reason of its intimate union with the Godhead it is enriched with boundless treasures and endowed with infinite dignity.
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4. There are three distinct parts in the sacrifice of the Mass: the offertory, the consecration, and the communion
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