THE PUBLISHING APOSTLE'S
HOLY MASSAmong the various methods proposed in order to follow the Mass devoutly and fruitfully, we counsel the apostle to choose the one in honor of Jesus Master Way, Truth and Life.
Following this method the Mass is divided into three parts: from the beginning to the Offertory; from the Offertory to the Pater noster inclusive; from the Pater noster to the end.
The first part, from the beginning to the Offertory excluded, is dedicated to the honor of Jesus Truth, "scientiarum Dominus".1 Here, the mind, in adhering to the truths
set out, makes an act of love of God. This conforms to the spirit of the Church. Out of respect for the Divine Teacher who had preaching precede his Passion and Death, the Church has an instruction on the truths of the faith precede the celebration of the divine Sacrifice.
In the past, in this part of the Mass, the catechumens and the faithful were instructed. An explanation of the truths they would later profess was impressed on the former while the mysteries of the faith they had already received were expounded for the latter.
This usage has, basically, been conserved. It is a fact that in every age the Church has recommended that pastors explain to the faithful the meaning of the readings that are set out in the Mass, particularly that of the Holy Gospel.
The readings of the Mass change every day. While they reflect the day's liturgical characteristic they do contain, so to speak, a comprehensive instruction.
The main truth is ordinarily stated in the Introit [Entrance antiphon] and in the Oremus [opening Prayer], to indicate, as it were, that what must be believed is a law through prayer, a norm for life. This truth is expounded and developed in the Epistle, particularly in the Gospel; and validated in the other parts.
To follow the Mass with the "way,
truth and life" method, so as to make it a rule of life, our aim should be to single out and perfect these truths.
In practice - During the introductory prayers, which the priest says at the foot of the altar, we ask pardon of God for the things that stop us from approaching him, Holy of Holies. Having listened to the main teaching in the Introit, we ask, in the Kyrie and in the Oremus, for the grace to be able to grasp and understand it. The Epistle and the Gospel are read and meditated on in the light they throw on the feast or the liturgy of the day. Then follow acts of faith and protestations of our desire to reject every doctrine contrary to the Gospel. We beseech [the Lord] to increase our faith and our knowledge and, for the apostle, the grace to convey his thoughts.
This part concludes with the recitation of the Credo, as a declaration of our adherence to the truth put before us and as a solemn profession of all the truths of Christian doctrine.
The second part, from the Offertory to the Pater noster inclusive, includes the preparation, the celebration and the application of the Sacrifice.
Here, the will, in professing to practice the instructions and examples set out, makes an act of love of God.
The aim here is to honor Jesus Christ Way. In this part, in fact, Jesus shows himself to be our Way especially in a threefold manner. Our Way as regards the Sacrifice of the Cross, of which the Mass is a renewal, because it is only in him that we can adore God and pay him the honor he merits; render him due thanks for his countless benefits; appease his justice offended by our many sins and repay him worthy satisfaction; petition him for ourselves, for the whole Church, for the world and for those in Purgatory.
In this his mystical immolation, moreover, Jesus Christ shows himself to be our Way, or model, in fulfilling his Father's will right up to the complete sacrifice of self, right up to death - a model of holiness, indeed holiness itself. Those who follow in his footsteps walk uprightly, become perfect, and are made holy.
We are talking here not of symbol, remembrance or recollection; this is supreme reality. We are talking here of that which constitutes the center of all Christian worship, the one and basic source of grace, the most perfect sacrifice: this is the work of [Jesus who is] Man and God.
In this second part of the Mass, Jesus Christ again shows himself Way for the apostle. His teaching is love of neighbor, even of one's enemies, right up to
the sacrifice of self: "Ego vadam immolari pro vobis."
In practice - This consists in following the liturgical action step by step, and meditating on it, as the Church wishes.
The Offertory sees the preparation of the offering of the victim for the well being of all humanity: "pro nostra et totius mundi salute"; we affirm before God to be ready to give ourselves wholly to him. Thus, together with the bread and wine, we place on the altar our external gifts, our body and its soul with its faculties - mind, will and heart - our sufferings and our needs. It is the offering of one's own being, one's own life.
The Preface is a solemn prayer of blessing and thanksgiving, a "sacrificium laudis". Here, in union with the Angels, the Saints, and in particular with the incarnate Word, we renew the offering of ourselves to God; we praise his majesty and proclaim his holiness.
In the Consecration - while Jesus Christ, having transformed our offerings into his Body and Blood, offers himself to the Father - we offer up Christ so as to be included in his sacrifice and to share in it with him and through him. After having prayed to the Father to accept the offering of our whole self [= ourselves], we make an act of adoration and of thanksgiving, as well as an act of satisfaction for our own sins and those of all. We petition for new
graces and plead mercy for ourselves, for the world and for the souls in Purgatory; we promise that we want to imitate Jesus Christ in his way of obedience to the Father right up to death and we ask for the strength and the power to know how to sacrifice ourselves for others.
This goes from the Pater noster to the dismissal. The aim is to honor Jesus Christ Life of souls, because here we ask specifically to live in Christ.
The focal point is Communion. Here, the Sacrifice consummated, the Father gifts us with his Son. We are in God and God is in us to communicate his life to us: "Ego veni ut vitam habeant et abundantius habeant."
This is the closest possible union between Creator and creature. It is a union that is physical and moral, mystical and real, transforming, yet of its nature permanent. It is a union which, by virtue of the circuminsession, leads to a special union with the three divine Persons of the Blessed Trinity.
This part of the Mass is especially a prayer of request, a prayer for the sanctification of our heart and our spirit.
Preparation precedes Communion, which is
the essential act, and thanksgiving follows.
Preparation begins with prayers that specifically beseech sorrow for sin, detachment from creatures, and love of union with God.
Thanksgiving consists of acts or some form of adoration which, while expressing our gratitude to God, implore him to grant us, his children, to spend our life with him and for him.
In practice - We need to carry out two acts: to receive Communion and to present our petitions to God.
Our Communion (if not sacramental, at least spiritual) is to be as holy and complete as possible with the adherence of our mind, our will and our heart to Jesus Christ so that in his union with us he may transform us in him. A fervent preparation is to precede Communion and, insofar as possible, a worthy thanksgiving is to follow.
Our petitions to God are to flow from an apostolic heart, a heart overflowing with love of God and of people's souls. Let us ask for God's glory and the good of people; let us commend to him our own personal needs and those of society. Let us pray for the Church militant and purgative, for ourselves and for everyone, following the instruction of the Divine Teacher in the Our Father.
1 * "Lord of the sciences."