BY THE VERY REV. DOM PROSPER GUÉRANGER, ABBOT OF SOLESMES
If there be any time in the year, when the holy Sacrifice of the Mass should excite the heart of the Christian to devotion, it is Passiontide. During these days set apart for the celebration of the death of our Redeemer, the faithful soul can scarcely turn her thoughts from her Jesus expiring on the cross; she envies those who were witnesses of the sublime mystery on Calvary; she wishes that she could have stood at the foot of the cross, have compassionated the sufferings of her Saviour, have heard His last words, and reverently have taken up each drop of the precious Blood and applied it to her own wounds.
These holy desires have not been given to the Christian that they might be nothing but desires; God has given him the means of carrying them into effect, for the sacrifice of the Mass is no other than the sacrifice of Calvary. Jesus offered Himself but once on the cross for our sins; but He renews the offering, by an unbloody, yet real and complete, immolation on our altars. He comes down on the altar as soon as the sacred words of consecration are pronounced by the priest, and He comes as the Victim of the world’s salvation. His Body is really present there, under the appearance of bread; the chalice contains His Blood under the species of wine; and why this mystic separation of the Body and Blood of the Man-God, who can die now no more, if it be not to represent before the divine Majesty the real death which was once suffered in a bloody manner on Calvary, and to renew, in man’s favour, the merits and fruits of that death?
This is the sacrifice of the new Law, as far above all the sacrifices of the old, both in holiness and efficacy, as the Creator is above all His creatures. Our Jesus in the omnipotence of His love, has invented a means for uniting His dignity, as immortal King of ages, with His office of our Victim. He can die now no more; but His death is truly represented on the altar: it is the same Body, bearing on it its five precious Wounds; it is the same Blood, which redeemed us. If it were possible for Him to die again, the power of the mysterious words, which produce the presence of His Blood in the chalice, would be the sword of His immolation.
Let, then, the Christian approach with confidence; on the holy altar, he will find his Saviour dying for him, and offering Himself as the great High Priest. Yes, He is there, with the same love He had for us on Calvary; He is there making intercession for all men, but, in a special manner, for those who are present at the Mass and unite themselves with Him. Let us see, in the action of the holy sacrifice, that same immolation of which we have read the history in the Gospel. Let us hope for everything from that adorable goodness which thus makes use of omnipotence in order to facilitate, by such stupendous means, the salvation and sanctification of man.