Do this in commemoration of me. (Luke xxii. 19). St. Thomas says that the Redeemer left us the Most Blessed Sacrament that we may ever remember the blessings He has obtained for us, and the love He showed us in dying for us. And hence the Blessed Eucharist is called by the same holy Doctor Passionis Memoriale, a memorial of the Passion.
It is the opinion of sound Theologians that by these words: Do this in commemoration of me, priests are bound when celebrating to call to mind the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ. And the Apostle would seem to require the same of all who communicate. As often as ye shall eat this bread and drink this cup, ye shall show forth the Lord’s death. (1 Cor. xi. 26). St. Thomas writes that it was for this very end the Redeemer left us the Most Holy Sacrament, namely, that we might ever remember the blessings He has obtained for us and the love He has shown in dying for us. And hence the same holy Doctor calls the Blessed Eucharist a Memorial of the Passion: Passionis Memoriale..
Consider therefore that in the Sacrifice of the Mass it is the same Holy Victim Who gave His Blood and His Life for you. And the Holy Mass is not only the Memorial of the Sacrifice of the Cross; it is the same Sacrifice; for He Who offers it, and the Victim offered, are the same, namely, the Incarnate Word. The manner alone is different. The one was a Sacrifice of Blood; this is unbloody: in the one Jesus Christ really died, in the other He dies mystically. “One and the same Victim,” says the holy Council of Trent, “only the manner of offering is different.” Imagine, therefore, when you are at Mass that you are on Calvary and offering to God the Blood and Death of His Son. And when you communicate, imagine that you are drawing His Precious Blood from the Wounds of your Saviour.
O Lord, I am unworthy to appear before Thee, but encouraged by Thy goodness I come this morning to offer unto Thee Thy Son. Ecce Agnus Dei! Behold the Lamb here Which Thou didst behold one day sacrificed for Thy glory and for our salvation upon the Altar of the Cross! For the love of this Victim so dear to Thee, apply His merits to my soul and pardon all the offences great and small that I have committed against Thee. I grieve with my whole heart for having offended Thy Infinite Goodness.
And Thou, my Jesus, come and wash away in Thy Blood all my stains ere I receive Thee this morning. Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum, sed tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur anima mea! I am not worthy to receive Thee, but Thou, O heavenly Physician, art able with one word to heal all my wounds. Come and heal me.
Consider, moreover, that in every Mass the work of Redemption is renewed: so much so that if Jesus Christ had not died once upon the Cross, the celebration of one Mass could procure for the world the very same blessings we have received through the Death of our Redeemer. Tantum, valet celebratio missae quantum mors Christi in cruce. The celebration of the Mass is of as much value as the Death of Christ on the Cross (St. John Chrysostom). Therefore all the merits of the Passion are applied to men by means of the Sacrifice of the Altar.
According to the Council of Trent the time of the celebration of Holy Mass is precisely, then, that time in which the Lord is on His throne of grace to which we are exhorted to have recourse that we may obtain the Divine mercy and find grace in seasonable aid. (Heb. iv. 16). St. John Chrysostom says that the Angels wait for the time of Mass to intercede with greater efficacy in our favour, and he adds that what is not obtained at Mass is with difficulty obtained at any other time.
O miserable being that I am! How many graces have I lost, O my God, from having neglected to ask Thee for them during Mass! But since Thou now givest me new light I will no longer be negligent. I unite, then, O Eternal Father, my prayers with those of Jesus Christ. I hope for all through Thy merits, O my Jesus, and through thy intercession, O my Mother Mary.
(Holy Thursday Meditation – by St Alphonsus Liguori)