Compiled from meditations of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate (FFI).
On Calvary, Our Lord, Priest and Victim, offered himself to his heavenly Father, shedding his Blood, which became separated from his Body. This is how He carried out his Father’s will to the very end. It was the Father’s will that the Redemption should be carried out in this way. Jesus accepts it lovingly and with perfect submission. This internal offering of Himself in total self-surrender is the essence of his Sacrifice. It is his loving submission, without limits, to his Father’s will.
In every true sacrifice there are four essential elements: and all of them are present in the Sacrifice of the Cross: priest, victim, internal offering and external manifestation of the sacrifice. The external manifestation must be an expression of one’s interior attitude. Jesus dies on the Cross, externally manifesting (through his words and his deeds) his loving internal surrender. “Father, into thy hands I commend my Spirit.” Jesus is both Priest and Victim. “Having therefore a great high priest that hath passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God: let us hold fast our confession. For we have not a high priest, who can not have compassion on our infirmities: but one tempted in all things like as we are, without sin” (Hebrews 4: 14-15).
The Sacrifice of the Cross is a single sacrifice. Priest and Victim are one and the same Divine Person: the Son of God made man
Christ offers himself in every Mass in the same way as He did on Calvary, although now he does so through a priest, who acts ‘in persona Christi’. This is why every Mass even though celebrated privately by a priest, is not a private action, but the action of Christ and of the Church. In the sacrifice that she offers, the Church learns to offer herself as a universal sacrifice, and applies the unique and infinite redeeming virtue of the Sacrifice of the Cross for the salvation of the whole world.
As it is essentially identical with the Sacrifice of the Cross, the Sacrifice of the Mass has an infinite value
In each Mass there is offered to the Father an infinite act of adoration, thanksgiving and reparation, quite independent of the specific dispositions of the people attending, or of the celebrant.
Thus there is no more perfect way of adoring God than by offering the Mass, in which his Son, Jesus Christ, is offered as the Victim, and at the same time acts as High Priest. There is no more perfect way of thanking God for everything that He is and for his continual mercy towards us: there is nothing on earth that is more pleasing to God than the Sacrifice of the altar. Each time Holy Mass is celebrated, reparation is made for all the sins of the world, because of the infinite dignity of the Priest and of the Victim. The Holy Mass is really the heart and centre of the Catholic Church, the Mystical Body of Christ. We have here the only perfect and adequate reparation, to which we must unite sincere repentance for our transgressions with our acts of sorrow.
It is the only adequate sacrifice that we men can offer, and through it our daily occupations; our sorrows and our joys can take on in it an infinite value. It is in this way that man’s life becomes inserted, by means of the Eucharist, into the mystery of the living God. The fruits of each Mass are infinite, but in us they are conditioned by our personal dispositions, and thus limited. Our union with Christ at the moment of the Consecration will be the more complete the greater our identification with God’s will; the greater our dispositions of self-giving.
We, who want to imitate Jesus, who want only that our life should be a reflection of his, must ask ourselves today in our prayer: do we know how to unite ourselves to Jesus’ offering to the Father and accept God’s will at every moment? In unity with the Son we offer the Holy Mass to the Father, and at the same time, we offer ourselves through Him, with Him, and in Him. This act of union must be so profound and true that it permeates the whole of our day and has a decisive influence on our work, on our relations with others, on our joys and failures: in fact, on everything we do. Let us ask Our Lady: ‘My Mother and Lady, teach me how to pronounce a yes which, like yours, will identify with the cry Jesus made before his Father: “Not, my will but Thine be done”’ (Luke 22:42).