The Holy Mass is a priceless Spiritual Treasure! Yet, perhaps it is only in times like we have now, when Holy Mass is not celebrated in a public manner, that we can come to deeper understanding and profound gratitude for this Spiritual Treasure.
This time we are in offers each one of us great opportunities to grow in love for God. I encourage you to persevere in prayer, especially devotion to our Lord’s Divine Mercy, the Virgin Mary and the Holy Rosary, and to St. Joseph.
This week I share with a beautiful meditation on the Holy Mass. I encourage you to take time with this and read it through a few times this week.
Meditation for Thursday of the 4th Week of Lent – The Holy Mass and Personal Self-Surrender
“The first reading of today’s Holy Mass (Exodus 32:7-14) relates the intercession of Moses before Yahweh so that He should not punish His people’s infidelity. He invokes moving reasons: the good name of the Lord among the Gentiles, the faithfulness of His people to the Covenant made to Abraham and his descendants. And, in spite of the infidelities and the inconstancy of the chosen people, God forgives once more. Moreover, God’s love for His people, and through His people for the whole human race, will yet reach its supreme manifestation: for God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).
Christ’s total self-surrender on our behalf, which reaches its culmination on Calvary, is an urgent call to us to correspond to His great love for each one of us. On the Cross, Jesus consummated His total self-surrender to His Father’s Will, and showed His love for all men, for each and every person. He… loved me and gave Himself for me (Galations 2:20). Faced with this unfathomable mystery of love, I should ask myself, what do I do for Him? How do I correspond to His love?
On Calvary, our Lord, Priest and Victim, offered Himself to His Heavenly Father, shedding His Blood, which became separated from His Body. This is how He carried out His Father’s Will to the very end.
It was the Father’s Will that the redemption should be carried out in this way. Jesus accepts it lovingly and with perfect submission. This internal offering of Himself is the essence of His sacrifice. It is His loving submission, without limits, to His Father’s Will.
In every true sacrifice there are four essential elements and all of them are present in the sacrifice of the Cross: priest, victim, internal offering and external manifestation of the sacrifice. The external manifestation must be an expression of one’s interior attitude. Jesus dies on the Cross, externally manifesting (through His words and His deeds) His loving internal surrender. Father into Thy hands I commend My Spirit (Luke 23:46). I have finished the task You committed to Me, I have fulfilled Your Will. He is, both then and now, at once Priest and Victim. Since, then, we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we have not a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning (Hebrews 4:14-15).
This internal offering of Jesus gives full meaning to all the external elements of His voluntary sacrifice – the insults, the stripping of His garments, the crucifixion.
The Sacrifice of the Cross is a single sacrifice. Priest and Victim are one and the same Divine Person: the Son of God made man. Jesus was not offered up to the Father by Pilate or by Caiphas, or by the crowds surging at His feet. It was He who surrendered Himself. At every moment of His life on earth Jesus lived a perfect identification with His Father’s Will, but it is on Calvary that the Son’s self-surrender reaches its supreme expression.
We, who want to imitate Jesus, who want only that our life should be a reflection of His, must ask ourselves today in our prayer: do we know how to unite ourselves to Jesus’ offering to the Father and accept God’s Will at every moment? Do we unite ourselves to Him in our joys and our sorrows and in all the activities that make up each one of our days? Do we unite ourselves to Him at the more difficult times, such as moments of failure, pain or illness, and at the easy times, when we feel our souls filled with joy? My Mother and Lady, teach me how to pronounce a ‘yes’ which, like yours, will identify with the cry of Jesus made before His Father: non mea voluntas (Luke 22:42) – not my will but God’s be done (St. Jose Maria Escriva, The Way of the Cross, 4th Station).
To help us to meditate today on the unity that exists between the Sacrifice of the Cross and the Holy Mass, let us fix our attention on the interior oblation that Christ makes of Himself, with a total self-surrender and loving submission to His Father. The Holy Mass and the Sacrifice of the Cross are one and the same Sacrifice, although they are separated in time. There is made present once again, not the sorrowful and bloody circumstances of Calvary, but the total loving submission of Our Lord to His Father’s Will. This internal offering of Himself is identical on Calvary and in the Holy Mass: it is Christ’s oblation. It is the same Priest, the same Victim, the same oblation and submission to the Will of God the Father.
The external manifestation of the Passion and Death of Jesus goes on – in the Holy Mass, through the sacramental separation, in an unbloody manner, of the Body and Blood of Christ through means of the Transubstantiation of the bread and wine.
In the Holy Mass, the priest is only the instrument of Christ, the Eternal and High Priest. Christ offers Himself in every Holy Mass in the same way as He did on Calvary, although now He does so through a priest, who acts in persona Christi. This is why every Holy Mass, even though it is celebrated privately by a priest, is not a private action, but the action of Christ and of the Church. In the Sacrifice that she offers, the Church learns to offer herself as a universal Sacrifice, and applies the unique and infinite redeeming virtue of the Sacrifice of the Cross for the salvation of the whole world (St. Paul VI, Encyclical: Mysterium Fidei, 4)
Christ Himself, in each Holy Mass, offers Himself up, thus manifesting His loving surrender to His Heavenly Father. This is expressed now in the Consecration of the bread and, separately, in the Consecration of the wine. This is the culmination – the essence, the very nucleus, of the Holy Mass.
Our prayer today is a good time to examine how we attend Holy Mass and how we take part in it. Are you at Holy Mass with the same dispositions that Our Lady had on Calvary? Do we realize that here it is the presence of the one and the same God and the consummation of the same Sacrifice? (St. John Vianney, Sermon on Sin) Perfect love, a total identification with God’s Will, will demand an offering of oneself, a desire to co-redeem.
As it is essentially identical with the Sacrifice of the Cross, the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass has an infinite value. In each Holy Mass there is offered to God the Father an infinite act of adoration, thanksgiving and reparation, quite independent of the specific dispositions of the people attending, or of the celebrant (priest). This is because Christ is at once the principal Offerer and the Victim who offers Himself. Thus there is no more perfect way of adoring God than by offering the Holy Mass, in which His Son, Jesus Christ, is offered as the Victim, and at the same time acts as the High Priest.
There is no more perfect way of thanking God for everything that He is and for His continual mercy towards us: there is nothing on earth that can be more pleasing to God than the Sacrifice of the Altar. Each time Holy Mass is celebrated, reparation is made for all the sins of the world, because of the infinite dignity of the Priest and of the Victim. We have here the only perfect and adequate reparation, to which we must unite our acts of sorrow. It is the only adequate Sacrifice that we men can offer, and through it our daily occupations; our sorrows and our joys can take on in it an infinite value. The Holy Mass is really the heart and the center of the Christian world (St. John Paul II, Homily at the Seminary of Venegono, May 21, 1983). In this Holy Sacrifice, there is engraved whatever is most profound in the life of every human being: the life of the father, the mother, the child, the elderly person, the young man and the young woman, the teacher and the student, the man of culture and the uneducated man, the nun and the priest – of each one without exception. It is in this way that man’s life becomes inserted, by means of the Eucharist, into the mystery of the living God (St. John Paul II, Homily at the 20th Italian National Eucharistic Congress, May 22, 1983).
The fruits of each Holy Mass are infinite, but in us they are conditioned by our personal dispositions, and thus limited.
Mother Church invites us to share conscientiously, actively and piously in the most sublime action which takes place each day (cf. Vatican Council II, Sacrosanctum Concilium, 11 and 48). We have to try to be attentive and recollected, particularly at the moment of the Consecration. For these moments we will try to penetrate into the Soul of Him who is at once Priest and Victim in His loving oblation to God the Father, just as on Calvary. This Sacrifice will then be the central point of our daily life, as it is of the liturgy and of the life of the Church. Our union with Christ at the moment of the Consecration will be the more complete the greater our identification with God’s Will; the greater our dispositions of self-giving. In unity with the Son we offer the Holy Mass to the Father and, at the same time, we offer ourselves through Him, with Him and in Him. This act of union must be so profound and true that it permeates the whole of our day and has a decisive influence on our work, on our relations with others, on our joys and failures: in fact, on everything we do.
If when the moment of Communion arrives and Jesus finds us with these dispositions of self-surrender, of loving identification with the Will of God the Father, what will He do but pour out the Holy Spirit with all His gifts and graces on to us? We have many aids to enable us to live the Holy Mass well. Amongst others we have the help of the Angels, who are always present there in large numbers to give honor to this holy mystery. If we unite ourselves to them and their intentions we must indeed receive much favorable influence from their company. The choirs of the Church militant unite and join in with Our Lord in this Divine Act: in Him, with Him and through Him, in order to win over the heart of God the Father and to make His mercy forever our own (St. Francis de Sales, Introduction to the Devout Life). Let us turn to them in order to help us avoid distractions. Let us make the effort to take more loving care of this unique moment in which we share in the Sacrifice of the Cross.” (From: In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez)
Through the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God, St. Joseph, St. Michael and St. Paul, may God bless us with the graces we each need to grow in holiness this Lenten Season! In Christ through Mary, Fr. Kasel
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