The Sacrifice of the Mass,
the Highest Form of Prayer...

"For from the rising of the sun even to the going down,
my name is glorified among the Gentiles,
and in every place there is sacrifice,
and there is offered to my name a clean oblation,
for my name is great among the Gentiles,
said the Lord of Hosts."
Malachi 1:11

This is a clear prophecy of the Mass that we celebrate today.
In every place there is sacrifice, as the Catholic Church is truly
worldwide. Every minute of every day, somewhere in the world,
a 'Clean Oblation' is offered to the Lord of Hosts.
This 'Clean Oblation' is the Holy Eucharist,
the true Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

This prophecy is fulfilled by the Catholic Church.

The Mass is the highest form of prayer that can be offered up to GOD.
It is the source, the center, and the summit of the Catholic Church.

Sacrifice, the supreme act of worship: Heb 9:11-14,10:1-10

The Sacrificial Lamb in Scripture...

"And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son." "...Isaac asked his father,...where is the Lamb for a burnt offering?" "And Abraham said, My Son, GOD will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering..." Genesis 22:6-13
This is a prefigurement of the "Lamb of GOD", Jesus Christ. The wood
which was laid upon Isaac prefigures the Cross laid upon Jesus. GOD
did provide a ram in verse 13 for a burnt offering. "And Abraham lifted
up his eyes, and looked, and behold a ram caught in a thicket by his horns;
and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt
offering in the stead of his son." The horns of the ram caught in the
thicket represent the Crown of Thorns. GOD saved the son of Abraham,
but He would not save His own Son.

Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, "Go and procure
lambs for your families, and slaughter them as Passover victims. Then
take a bunch of hyssop, and dipping it in the blood that is in the basin,
sprinkle it on the lintel and the two doorposts with this blood...For the
Lord will go by, striking down the Egyptians. Seeing the blood on the
lintel and the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and not
let the destroyer come into your houses to strike you down."
Exodus 12:21-23
The blood of the sacrificed Lamb saved GOD's chosen people. Later, the
blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, will save the people who have chosen GOD.

The next day John saw Jesus coming to him, and he said, "Behold the
Lamb of GOD, who takes away the sins of the world." John 1:29

And looking upon Jesus as He walked by, he said, "Behold the Lamb
of GOD." John the Baptist said this to the first two disciples of Christ,
Andrew and John. John 1:35-39

"He shall be led as a sheep to the slaughter, and shall be dumb as a
lamb before His shearer, and He shall not open His mouth."
Isaiah 53:7, Acts 8:32

"And bearing the cross for himself (Isaac, remember?) He went forth to the place called the Skull, in Hebrew Golgotha." John 19:17

"Then they crucified Him." Mark 15:24. GOD did not save His own Son.
"...but one of the soldiers opened His side with a lance, and immediately
there came out blood and water." John 19:34
The blood of the Lamb (of GOD) that redeemed the world.

"You were not redeemed with corruptible things...but with the precious
blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot."
1 Peter 1:18-19
The blood of the Lamb of GOD redeemed us all.

"And I saw, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, a Lamb standing as if slain..." Revelation 5:6

"After this I saw a great multitude which no man could number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb clothed in white robes, and with palms in their hands." Revelation 7:9

The Sacrifice of the Mass:

Why do some believe that Christ is sacrificed again and again in each and every Mass, when Scripture plainly states that He was sacrificed on Calvary once and for all? Heb 10:10
Many do not realize it, but Christ Himself offered the first Mass at the Last Supper when He offered (sacrificed) Himself to His Father in an unbloody manner, that is, under the form of bread and wine, in anticipation of His bloody sacrifice on the cross to be offered on the following day.
In the Mass, Christ continues to make that offering of Himself to His Father, by the hands of the priest.
"And while they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke: and gave to his disciples, and said: "Take and eat. This is my body." And taking the chalice, he gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying: "All of you drink of this. For this is my blood of the new covenant, which shall be shed for many unto remission of sins", Mt 26:26-28.
Christ ordered His Church to perpetuate that sacrificial rite for the continued sanctification of His followers, saying, "Do this in remembrance of me," Luke 22:19.
The Catholic Church complies with His order in the Mass. The Mass is a re-enactment of Our Lord's one sacrifice of Calvary. It is that same sacrifice, not another, Heb 10:12.
We, are in time, and to us it would seem that this one sacrifice was consummated 2000 years ago. GOD, however is outside of time and space.
Everything is now in GOD's eyes, and so we are taken back to that one sacrifice as if it were happening now at each and every Mass.
The Catholic Church teaches that the sacrifice on the Cross was a complete and perfect sacrifice of the Lamb of GOD, offered once.
St. Paul bears witness that the sacrificial rite which Christ instituted at the Last Supper is to be perpetuated, and that it is not only important for man's sanctification, but is the principal factor in man's final redemption.
In 1Cor 11:23-26, St. Paul told how, at the Last Supper, Our Lord said: "For as often as you shall eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes."
During the Breaking of the Bread, we say twice, "Lamb of GOD, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us," and a third time, "Lamb of GOD, you take away the sins of the world, grant us peace."
Thus at every Mass the faithful have a new opportunity to worship God with this one perfect sacrifice and to absorb more of Christ's saving and sanctifying grace of Calvary. This grace is infinite, and the faithful should continuously grow in it. The Mass is offered again and again, because of our imperfect capacity to receive.
Finally, the holy sacrifice of the Mass fulfills the Old Testament prophecy:
'For from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to my name a clean oblation: for my name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of hosts'. (Mal 1:11). The Sacrifice of the Mass is offered every day throughout the world, and in every Mass the only truly clean oblation is offered, that is, Christ Himself; thus the Mass is the perfect fulfillment of this prophecy.

Prefigurements of the sacrifice of the Mass:
Gen 14:18,22:9-14, Ex 16:4,13-36, Num 11:6-9, Deut 8:3-16, Josh 5:12,
Neh 9:15-20, Wis 16:20, Psa 78:24,105:40, Isa 55:10, Dan 12:11, Mal 1:11, John Chapt 6, Heb 9:4, Rev 2:17

The Mass:
Mt 26:26-28, Lk 22:19, Acts 2:42,20:7, 1Cor 10:16,11:17-34,
Heb Chapt 7-10, 1Pet 2:5, Rev 8:1-5

His Sacrifice was once for all:
Heb 9:22-28,10:10-14

What do the Church Fathers have to say about the Mass?

The Didache, or teaching of the Apostles, 70 A.D.
14:1, "But on the Lord's Day, after that you have assembled together,
break bread and give thanks, having in addition confessed your sins,
that your sacrifice may be pure."

St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 180 A.D.
4:17:5, He taught the new sacrifice of the New Covenant, of which Malachi,
one of the twelve prophets, had signified beforehand, "...For from the rising
of the sun to its setting, My name is glorified among the Gentiles, and in
every place incense is offered to My name, and a pure sacrifice;

St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 180 A.D.
4:18:2, Sacrifice as such has not been reprobated. There were sacrifices
then, sacrifices among the people; and there are sacrifices now, sacrifices
in the Church. Only the kind has been changed; for now the sacrifice is
offered not by slaves but by free men.

St. Cyprian of Carthage, Letter to Cecil, 253 A.D.
63:4, Also in the priest Melchisedech we see the Sacrament of the
Sacrifice of the Lord prefigured, in accord with that to which the Divine Scriptures testify, where it says; "And Melchisedech, the King of Salem, brought out bread and wine, for he was a priest of the most high
GOD (Gen 14:18)."

St. Ambrose of Milan, Commentaries on David's Psalms, 381 A.D.
38:25, We saw the Prince of Priests coming to us, we saw and heard Him
offering His blood for us. We follow, inasmuch as we are able, being
priests; and we offer the sacrifice on behalf of the people. And even if we
are of but little merit, still, in the sacrifice, we are honorable. For even if
Christ is not now seen as the one who offers the sacrifice, nevertheless it
is He Himself that is offered in sacrifice here on earth when the Body of
Christ is offered. Indeed, to offer Himself He is made visible in us, He
whose word makes holy the sacrifice that is offered.

St. Gregory of Nazianz, Letter to Amphilochius, 383 A.D.
171, Cease not to pray and plead for me when you draw down the Word
by your word, when in an unbloody cutting you cut the Body and Blood
of the Lord, using your voice for a sword.

St. John Chrysostom, The Priesthood, 386 A.D.
3:4:177, When you see the Lord immolated and lying upon the altar, and
the priest bent over that sacrifice praying, and all the people empurpled by
that precious blood, can you think that you are still among men on earth?
Or are you not lifted up to heaven?

St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the Epistle to the Romans, 391 A.D.
8:8, Reverence, therefore, reverence this table, of which we are all
communicants! Christ, slain for us, the Sacrificial Victim who is placed thereon.

St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on the first Epistle to Corinthians, 392 A.D.
24:1:3, He says, "Do not redden the platform of idols with the slaughter
of dumb beasts, but My altar of sacrifice with My Blood." What is more
awesome than this? What, pray tell, more tenderly loving?

St. Augustine of Hippo, Letter to Boniface, 408 A.D.
98:9, Just as the Sacrament of the Body of Christ, therefore, is in a certain
way the Body of Christ, and the Sacrament of the Blood of Christ is the
Blood of Christ, so too the Sacrament of faith is faith. To believe, however,
is nothing other than to have faith.

St. Augustine of Hippo, The City of GOD, 420 A.D.
10:20, Christ is both the priest offering Himself, and Himself the victim.
He willed that the sacramental sign of this should be the daily sacrifice
of the Church..

St. Gregory I, Dialogues, 593 A.D.
4:60, He is now risen from the dead and dies no more, and death will no
more have dominion over Him, for He lives immortally and incorruptibly
in Himself, is immolated for us again in this mystery of the sacred oblation.
For His body is eaten there, His flesh is distributed among the people unto salvation, His blood is poured out, no longer in the hands of the faithless but in the mouth of the faithful. Let us take thought, therefore, of what this sacrifice means for us, which is in constant representation of the suffering of the only begotten Son, for the sake of our forgiveness.

The Council of Trent (1545-1563) defined the Mass...

The Twenty-second Session, Being the sixth under the Sovereign Pontiff,
Pius IV., celebrated on the seventeenth day of September, MDLXII.


The sacred and holy, ecumenical and general Synod of Trent--lawfully assembled in the Holy Ghost, the same Legates of the Apostolic See presiding therein--to the end that the ancient, complete, and in every part perfect faith and doctrine touching the great mystery of the Eucharist may be retained in the holy Catholic Church; and may, all errors and heresies
being repelled, be preserved in its own purity; (the Synod) instructed by the illumination of the Holy Ghost, teaches, declares; and decrees what follows, to be preached to the faithful, on the subject of the Eucharist, considered as being a true and singular sacrifice.


On the institution of the most holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Forasmuch as, under the former Testament, according to the testimony of the Apostle Paul, there was no perfection, because of the weakness of the Levitical priesthood; there was need, God, the Father of mercies, so ordaining, that another priest should rise, according to the order of Melchisedech, our Lord Jesus Christ, who might consummate, and lead to what is perfect, as many as were to be sanctified.
He, therefore, our God and Lord, though He was about to offer Himself once on the altar of the cross unto God the Father, by means of his death, there to operate an eternal redemption; nevertheless, because that His priesthood was not to be extinguished by His death, in the last supper, on the night in which He was betrayed,--that He might leave, to His own
beloved Spouse the Church, a visible sacrifice, such as the nature of man requires, whereby that bloody sacrifice, once to be accomplished on the cross, might be represented, and the memory thereof remain even unto the end of the world, and its salutary virtue be applied to the remission of those sins which we daily commit,--declaring Himself constituted a priest for ever, according to the order of Melchisedech, He offered up to God the Father His own body and blood under the species of bread and wine; and, under the symbols of those same things, He delivered (His own body and blood) to be received by His apostles, whom He then constituted priests of the New Testament; and by those words, Do this in commemoration of me, He commanded them and their successors in the priesthood, to offer (them); even as the Catholic Church has always understood and taught. For, having celebrated the ancient Passover, which the multitude of the children of Israel immolated in memory of their going out of Egypt, He instituted the new Passover, (to wit) Himself to be immolated, under visible signs, by the Church through (the ministry of) priests, in memory of His own passage from this world unto the Father, when by the effusion of His own blood He redeemed us, and delivered us from the power of darkness, and translated us into his kingdom. And this is indeed that clean oblation, which cannot be defiled by any unworthiness, or malice of those that offer (it); which the Lord foretold by Malachias was to be offered in every place, clean to his name, which was to be great amongst the Gentiles; and which the apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthians, has
not obscurely indicated, when he says, that they who are defiled by the participation of the table of devils, cannot be partakers of the table of the Lord; by the table, meaning in both places the altar. This, in fine, is that oblation which was prefigured by various types of sacrifices, during the period of nature, and of the law; in as much as it comprises
all the good things signified by those sacrifices, as being the consummation and perfection of them all.


That the Sacrifice of the Mass is propitiatory both for the living and the dead. And forasmuch as, in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the mass, that same Christ is contained and immolated in an unbloody manner, who once offered Himself in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross; the holy Synod teaches, that this sacrifice is truly propitiatory and that by means thereof this is effected, that we obtain mercy, and find grace in seasonable aid, if we draw nigh unto God, contrite and penitent, with a sincere heart and upright faith, with fear and reverence. For the Lord, appeased by the oblation thereof, and granting the grace and gift of penitence, forgives even heinous crimes and sins. For the victim is one and the same, the same now offering by the ministry of priests, who then offered Himself on the cross, the manner alone of
offering being different.
The fruits indeed of which oblation, of that bloody one to wit, are received most plentifully through this unbloody one; so far is this (latter) from derogating in any way from that (former oblation). Wherefore, not only for the sins, punishments, satisfactions, and other necessities of the faithful who are living, but also for those who are departed in Christ, and who are not as yet fully purified, is it rightly offered, agreeably to a tradition of the apostles.


On Masses in honour of the Saints. And although the Church has been accustomed at times to celebrate, certain masses in honour and memory of the saints; not therefore, however, doth she teach that sacrifice is offered unto them, but unto God alone, who crowned them; whence neither is the priest wont to say, "I offer sacrifice to thee, Peter, or Paul;" but, giving thanks to God for their victories, he implores their patronage, that they may vouchsafe to intercede for us in heaven, whose memory we celebrate upon earth.


On the Canon of the Mass. And whereas it beseemeth, that holy things be administered in a holy manner, and of all holy things this sacrifice is the most holy; to the end that it might be worthily and reverently offered and received, the Catholic Church instituted, many years ago, the sacred Canon, so pure from every error, that nothing is contained therein which does not in the highest degree savour of a certain holiness and piety, and raise up unto God the minds of those that offer. For it is composed, out of the very words of the Lord, the traditions of the apostles, and the pious institutions also of holy pontiffs.


On the solemn ceremonies of the Sacrifice of the Mass. And whereas such is the nature of man, that, without external helps, he cannot easily be raised to the meditation of divine things; therefore has holy Mother Church instituted certain rites, to wit that certain things be pronounced in the mass in a low, and others in a louder, tone. She has likewise
employed ceremonies, such as mystic benedictions, lights, incense, vestments, and many other things of this kind, derived from an apostolical discipline and tradition, whereby both the majesty of so great a sacrifice might be recommended, and the minds of the faithful be excited, by those visible signs of religion and piety, to the contemplation of those most sublime things which are hidden in this sacrifice.


On Mass wherein the priest alone communicates. The sacred and holy Synod would fain indeed that, at each mass, the faithful who are present should communicate, not only in spiritual desire, but also by the sacramental participation of the Eucharist, that thereby a more abundant fruit might be derived to them from this most holy sacrifice: but not therefore, if this be not always done, does It condemn, as private and unlawful, but approves of and therefore commends, those masses in which the priest alone communicates sacramentally; since those masses also ought to be considered as truly common; partly because the people communicate spiritually thereat; partly also because they are celebrated by a public minister of
the Church, not for himself only, but for all the faithful, who belong to the body of Christ.


On the water that is to be mixed with the wine to be offered in the chalice.
The holy Synod notices, in the next place, that it has been enjoined by the Church on priests, to mix water with the wine that is to be offered in the chalice; as well because it is believed that Christ the Lord did this, as also because from His side there came out blood and water; the memory of which mystery is renewed by this commixture; and, whereas in the
apocalypse of blessed John, the peoples are called waters, the union of that faithful people with Christ their head is hereby represented.


On not celebrating the Mass every where in the vulgar tongue; the mysteries of the Mass to be explained to the people. Although the mass contains great instruction for the faithful people, nevertheless, it has not seemed expedient to the Fathers, that it should be every where celebrated in the vulgar tongue. Wherefore, the ancient usage of each church, and the rite approved of by the holy Roman Church, the mother and mistress of all churches, being in each place retained; and, that the sheep of Christ may not suffer hunger, nor the little ones ask for bread, and there be none to break it unto them, the holy Synod charges pastors, and all who have the cure of souls, that they frequently, during the celebration of mass, expound either by themselves, or others, some portion of those things which are read at mass, and that, amongst the
rest, they explain some mystery of this most holy sacrifice, especially on the Lord's days and festivals.


Preliminary Remark on the following Canons. And because that many errors are at this time disseminated and many things are taught and maintained by divers persons, in opposition to this ancient faith, which is based on the sacred Gospel, the traditions of the Apostles, and the doctrine of the holy Fathers; the sacred and holy Synod, after many and grave deliberations maturely had touching these matters, has resolved, with the unanimous consent of all the Fathers, to
condemn, and to eliminate from holy Church, by means of the canons subjoined, whatsoever is opposed to this most pure faith and sacred doctrine.

Mass Liturgy Colors...

White: the symbol of innocence and triumph, is used on all feasts of the joyful and glorious mysteries of Our Lords life, such as Christmas, Easter, and feasts of the Blessed Mother.

Red: the color of blood, is used on all feasts of our Lords Cross and Passion, on feasts of the Apostles and martyrs, on Pentecost and Masses of the Holy Spirit.

Purple: a symbol of penance and expiation, is used during the penitential season of Advent, Septuagesima, and Lent.

Green: the color of budding and living vegetation, is the symbol of hope. It is used on the Sundays after Epiphany and Pentecost.

Old Rose: permitted in place of purple on the third Sunday of Advent, and the fourth Sunday of Lent.

Gold: permitted in place of white, red, and green vestments.

Black: the color of death and mourning, is used for services of Good Friday, and Masses for the Faithful Departed.

Mass Vessels...

The Chalice: a cup of precious metal, the inside of which must be gold or gold plated, used to hold the Precious Blood.

The Paten: a small plate of precious metal that holds the Sacred Host.

The Ciborium: a cup of precious metal with a cover of the same material, that holds the Sacred Hosts.

The Purificator: a small linen cloth used by the priest to dry his fingers and the Chalice.

The Corporal: the linen cloth spread by the priest on the Altar at the beginning of the Mass. The Chalice and the Ciborium rest upon it.

The Pall: a small square of stiffened linen, or of cardboard covered with linen, used to cover the Chalice.

The Chalice Veil: a cloth covering of the same color as the Chasuble, that conceals the Chalice and Paten up to the Offertory and after the communion.

The Burse: a flat square container of cloth, the same color as the vestments.
It is placed over the veil on top of the Chalice.

Mass Vestments...

The Amice: a square of white linen wrapped around the neck and covering the shoulders.
The Alb: a long white linen garment reaching to the feet.
The Cincture: a cord used as a belt to gird the Alb.
The Maniple: an ornamental vestment of colored silk or damask,  worn over the left arm.
The Stole: a long scarf like vestment worn about the neck.
The Chausuble: the outer vestment put on over the others.
The Dalmatic: outer sleeved tunic worn by deacons in place of a Chausuble.

Please see the companions to this document for more,
"The Mystery of the Holy Eucharist", and "The True Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist".

Written and Compiled by Bob Stanley, December 3, 1998
Updated October 17, 2004

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