In every sacrifice there must be an offering, a victim, and the one who does the offering, a priest. The holy Mass is a true sacrifice: the same sacrifice that took place on Mt. Calvary two millennia ago. But, unlike any other sacrifice, in the holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Jesus is at once both the Priest and Victim. He was not offered up by the chief priest of the Temple, nor by Pontius Pilate. He surrendered Himself to the Father. He said in his last agony: "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit." (Lk. 22:46)
The event on Calvary and each Mass are separated in time. Each Mass makes present the same self offering of Jesus; there no longer is the pain and blood of that first Good Friday. As on the Cross, our Lord makes the same submission to the will of his Father. That is why each Mass is perfect and holy. It is the greatest prayer in which one can participate.
In the holy Mass Jesus offers Himself through a priest. Each priest is in the person of Christ (in persona Christi). Moreover, because the faithful are members of Christ’s Body, they offer themselves up through the priest. We offer up our work, our joys, our sorrows and sufferings through the celebrant. We are united with Christ in his Offering. Therefore, the Mass is not a private action, even if it is offered quietly without a congregation. It is never a particular priest’s Mass. Rather, it is the action of Christ and the Church.
In each holy Sacrifice of the Mass, there is the perfect offering of adoration, thanksgiving and reparation, independent of the dispositions of the priest and the people at that Mass. Christ is the One Who principally offers the Sacrifice of each Mass. This is why there in nothing more pleasing to God than the Mass.
The benefits to be gained from just one Mass are limitless. But the effectiveness of these benefits is dependent upon the disposition of the recipients. If those participating are prepared for the holy Mass, if they really want to offer themselves, then, the Mass will be fruitful in their lives. If a person goes to the Mass expecting to be entertained or to have a catharsis, he will completely miss the point.
Let us try to spend our time in Mass with the spirit of self surrender and the desire to do the will of God the Father. Then, we will know the true gifts of this Sacrifice; we will realize the love of Jesus poured out into us.