Over the last several weeks this Pastor's Desk column was devoted to an explanation of the changes coming in the holy Mass next year. As stated last week, there will be pamphlets available later on this year to prepare us for these changes. It is good to spend some time reflecting on what the Mass is. People who do not go to Mass most likely do not understand it. Those who do go to Mass often take it for granted and miss the depth of its meaning and beauty.
We describe the Mass as holy because Jesus Christ is both the Priest and Victim of this Sacrifice. The priest celebrant is in persona Christi, that is, in the person of Christ. The Mass is the same Sacrifice that took place on Calvary nearly two millennia ago. Jesus offers to His Father the same death at the altar as He did on the Cross. Each and every Mass is infinitely pleasing to the Father.
The priest offering the Mass has the same power as Our Lord. Our Father in Heaven fixes his eyes on the offering. He sees, not so much the priest celebrant, but only his Son. Therefore, God, the Father, accepts this offering completely because it is the most pure and most fitting sacrifice. This is so even though it is offered through unworthy and imperfect hands.
The holy Sacrifice on the Cross and the holy Sacrifice of the Mass make satisfaction for sin—for all sins. Without this satisfaction no one could hope for eternal life. Its effects applies to both the living and the dead. It obtains for us infinite benefits: a super abundance of divine grace and merits. Yet, its limitation is only that of the recipients, that is, the priest and the faithful. We can never exhaust the unfathomable treasures of the Mass. May we become more and more conscious of this wondrous Gift. That is why the Church and the Saints have urged us to prepare for Mass. It means spending some time in prayerful thought even before leaving home to go to church. Even before going to sleep the night before going to holy Mass, a consideration of what happens in the Mass should bring a joyful expectation.