5. THE RELATION WHICH THE MASS BEARS TO THE SACRIFICE OF THE CROSS
1. The sacrifice of the Mass is a living renewal of the sacrifice of the cross, for in the Mass, as upon the cross, Christ immolates Himself.
Only in the Mass He sacrifices Himself in an unbloody manner under the appearance of bread and wine, whereas on the cross He sacrificed Himself in a bloody manner as man.
Since it is impossible for the faithful to be present at Our Lord’s sacrifice of Himself upon the cross, He has provided a means whereby they can at least assist at the repetition of that sacrifice, and gain the same merit that would have beer; theirs had they actually stood be neath the cross on Calvary. The Son of God foresaw that, despite all His bitter Passion, many millions of mankind would not be saved; for their sake He offered Himself to His heavenly Father, expressing His readiness to hang upon the cross, not for three hours only, but until the Last Day; and as this could not be, He devised in His wisdom a plan whereby He could daily suffer anew in a mystical manner, in the holy sacrifice of the Mass, and anew move His Father to compassion. The Mass is consequently no mere image of the sacrifice of the cross; it is not a bare memorial of it, it is the self same sacrifice which was consummated on Calvary (Council of Trent, 22, 3), and accordingly it is of the self-same value and of the self same efficacy. In the Mass the Passion and death of the Son of God take place again in a mystic manner, His blood is shed afresh. In it He displays His wounds to His heavenly Father, to save man from perdition; He sets before Him the bitter anguish He endured at His death as vividly as if His Passion were but just ended. To say Mass therefore, is to immolate the Son of God anew in a mystic manner. The principal ceremonies of the Mass demonstrate, as we have seen, that the oblation once offered upon the cross is renewed upon the altar.
2. In the sacrifice of the Mass all the sacrifices made by Our Lord are also renewed.
In the Mass Christ does not only sacrifice His humanity, as upon the cross, but with it He offers all that He did and suffered during the thirty-three years of His life on earth, placing it all forcibly before the Holy Trinity, though with all lowliness. The prayers which He sent up to heaven while on earth are all repeated and summarized, as it were, in the Mass, and presented to God the Father with the same urgency as if they were but just uttered. All this He offers for the salvation of each individual who is present at the Mass. Our Lord said once to St. Mechtilde: “I alone know and fully understand how I offer Myself daily upon the altar; it surpasses the comprehension of the seraphim and cherubim, and all the heavenly hosts.”
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