Newsletter for Sunday 3 September 2017

1 Sep

We are Saved Through the Mass

The first thing one notices on coming into St Mary’s is the stunning depiction of the crucifixion scene above the High Altar.  And indeed, the Church insists that there should be a cross on or above every altar where the Mass is celebrated – and not just an empty cross, but one depicting the crucified Christ in His agony.  In today’s Gospel, Our Lord predicts His passion, death and resurrection, but the disciples are scandalised by this, since they do not yet realise this is how the human race will be saved.  When Jesus stretched out His arms and died on the cross, He reconciled the whole human race with the Father, and earlier He had told use told us it is by His saving death that He wants us to remember Him.  On the night before He died, He took bread and gave it to His disciples saying, “This is My Body which is given for you.” And then over the chalice He said, “This is the chalice of My Blood poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.  Do this in memory of Me.”

That which He had prefigured at the Last Supper, He realized fully the following day when He was crucified and poured out His Blood on the cross for all of us.  At every Mass, His death is made present on the altar.  Therefore, if Christ’s death on the cross is the most important event in human history because by it we are saved, it follows that Holy Mass too is the most important event in human history. Calvary and the Mass are one and the same.  The priest at every Mass is Jesus – not Fr Paul or Fr Simon, or even Pope Francis, but JESUS. In the words of Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen, “Picture then the High Priest Christ leaving the sacristy of Heaven for the altar of Calvary.  He has already put on the vestment of our human nature, the maniple of our suffering, the stole of priesthood, the chasuble of the Cross.  Calvary is His cathedral; the rock of Calvary is the altar stone; the sun turning to red is the sanctuary lamp; Mary and John are the living side altars; the Host is His Body; the wine is His Blood.  He is upright as Priest, yet He is prostrate as Victim. His Mass is about to begin” (1895-1979).

Fr Paul Gillham IC

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