W ith Palm Sunday we begin our approach to the commemoration of the Paschal Mystery on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. If you saw and remember the movie The Passion of the Christ, at the Crucifixion, the scene was interspersed with scenes from the Last Supper. This cinematic technique was a very good way of showing what the Holy Mass is. The Last Supper was the first Mass. Although separated by time, each and every Mass is the same Sacrifice that took place on the Cross on Good Friday. Christ offers Himself to the Father in an unbloody manner for the redemption of the world. When you are at Holy Mass, it’s like being at the foot of the Cross two millennia ago.
It is fitting that the adjective “holy” be attached to the word ‘Mass.” In Poland and among Polish people everywhere, this Sacrifice is always and invariably called “Msza Œwiêta” that is “Holy Mass” and rightfully so. The Priest and Victim of each holy Mass is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The ordained priest, offering the holy Mass, is in persona Christi-- in the person of Christ.
I never cared for the term “Eucharistic Liturgy” to describe this Divine Sacrifice. It sounds so cold. Actually, “liturgy” comes from the Greek meaning “work of the people.” Something holy, on the other hand, tells us that it is of and from God.
One of the things that I remember and that made a strong impression on me occurred several years ago in a previous assignment. I was offering the holy Mass for the school children on first Friday. During and after the sign of peace the kids became rambunctious and didn’t settle down until I paused and stared at them. After Mass, having just returned to the rectory, I heard the principal, Sister DeLourdes, through the speaker that received audio from the church. She reminded them very kindly and gently where they were. She said that carrying on was inappropriate during the Sacrifice of the Mass. She informed the children that during holy Mass “the very angels in heaven bow down in adoration. ” Yes, the angels and saints bow down in adoration! Realizing this, can we do less? Should we have a nonchalant or mundane attitude during holy Mass? Can we stand at the foot of the Cross without reverence?
Our gratitude should go to Bl. John Paul II and emeritus Pope Benedict for beginning the restoration of the Sacrifice of the Mass. This work, as well as other duties, will be continued by our new Holy Father Pope Francis for whom we are grateful to God. He has been part of this restoration. We have a holy Pope who knows what holy really means. May he always have the support of our prayers.