The Catholic Mass 11
THE CRUCIAL MOMENT
ALL the early part of the Mass is composed of prayers, readings from the Scriptures andhymns (more often said now than sung except at a solemn celebration of Mass).But the essential part of the Mass comes about half way. At that point you will notice thepriest bow low over the altar, the whole congregation goes very silent, then the priest goesdown on one knee, stands, raises the white consecrated Host (See text 10) above his head andgoes down on one knee again. He does the same with the chalice in which is the consecratedwine. And the server rings the bell at each of these movements, six times in all.After that there are more prayers, the people come to receive Holy Communion and at theend the priest turns round and says the Latin words:“Ite missa est” — Go it is the dismissal.That word missa has become the name for the whole service — the Mass.
WHAT happens at that central most solemn point? This happens. The priest recalls the nightbefore Christ died on the cross. And he says:“The night before He suffered He took bread into His holy and venerable hands andhaving raised His eyes to heaven unto Thee, O God, His Father Almighty, giving thanks toThee, blessed, broke it and gave to His disciples, saying: Take ye all and eat of this
for this isMy Body
. In like manner, when the supper was done, taking also this goodly chalice intoHis holy and venerable hands, again giving thanks to Thee, He blessed it and gave it to Hisdisciples, saying: Take ye all and drink of this f
or this is the Chalice of My Blood of thenew and eternal covenant, the mystery of faith, which shall be shed for you and formany unto the forgiveness of sins.
As often as you shall do these things, ye shall do themfor a commemoration of Me.”At that moment the bread and wine is changed into the Body and Blood of Christ andChrist offers Himself to God for the living and the dead. (text 10.)
THE MASS AND THE CROSS
TO understand the Mass it is necessary to read again what we said about Christ's death on thecross. As the head of the human race He offered Himself to God on the cross. And thereforethe human race could at last say to God:“We have made amends for the sin by which we cut ourselves off from you.”That was on the cross on Calvary. But the night before, at the Last Supper, Christ had madethe same offering of Himself although no blood was shed. Body and blood, under theappearances of bread and wine, were separated. In fact, because He is the living Christ, withHis Body there is His Blood, His Soul, His Humanity and His Godhead. But the separation atthe Last Supper vividly represented the separation of body and blood which in fact occurredwhen He died next day. Then He said to His Apostles:“Do this for a commemoration of Me.”What He commanded His Apostles to do the priest does every day at the traditional LatinMass.Page 3 of 6