That we may draw close to the Eucharist in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass I would like to offer 2 things: 1) A reflection about the Holy Mass on this page, and 2) A talk which I gave entitled "The 3 Veils of Accidental Appearance" to show the first thing Our Lord did after His resurrection was to prove he would remain with us to the end of time in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by clicking "here".
For the reflection on this page ask yourself this question:
"If I could be guaranteed the winning lottery numbers for $100 million dollars not only on Sunday, but every single day of my life, the only caveat being I had to get up at 3 AM and drive 100 miles to collect my prize, would I go?"
We all know the answer, and it is "I sure would." We could never get enough of our lottery winnings. We would get to bed early so we could get up early, we would have our car tanked up full of gas, and we would keep it in perfect mechanical condition so we could collect our prize every single day. We would brave any kind of weather, and we would have a spare car to collect our prize in case our first car didn't start. If all that failed we would call a friend or a taxi to collect our prize.
Do we love Our Lord with the same passion and enthusiasm winning lottery numbers? Would we get up at 3 AM every day and drive 100 miles to be at Holy Mass? Would we brave any weather, and do whatever we must to get there? Sadly, we don't and we wouldn't. We give our hearts to material things before we give our hearts to God and what it means to be with Him for all eternity.
We go about saluting people who are famous in Sports and Hollywood types who are most often Godless people. We hail them as the new role models of society with wild enthusiasm trying to get close to them for self interested, egotistical reasons. We act as though our own self worth is measured by the ones we hail, as though if we could only be touched by their shadow their worldly fortunes would somehow come to us and make us whole and entire. Do you think children do not see and emulate this? Look at how they are acting, and dressing, and wanting to be the next STAR. Christ spoke about the consequences for leading the little ones astray, and this applies to parents before it applies to anyone else. As the parents live so will their children, the acorn does not fall far from the tree.
Meanwhile, with complete and abject indifference to all that matters the Saints are cast off as role models, relegated to the dustbin of inconsequential history because they are not "exciting enough", they are not worldly minded enough for modern tastes. At the same time many have stopped going to Mass altogether, or they receive Holy Communion unworthily because they have not confessed mortal sin thereby bringing judgment on their own souls.
We marvel at, and greet new cures for illness with enthusiasm and unbounded optimism, but we barely have time for the physician of both soul and body. We scant consider whether the important thing in this life is not how long men will live, but how many will be raised to Eternal Life and arrive in Heaven.
Being of strong faith in a world so much in need of God has even come to be seen as weakness of heart and mind. Human respect causes men to care more about what other men say of them rather than what Christ says of them, and what he will say TO them at judgment. Words of men are dust in the wind, and all the while, Jesus Christ, the great lover of mankind longs for our love where he comes to meet us that he may become one with us in the Holy Eucharist.
If our indifference to such a great treasure to be found in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass does not give us some sense of ingratitude, if we do not have a sense of something lacking within us that we would have such a passion for the lottery but indifference to Holy Mass, we need to consider where we are in the spiritual life. This life is the threshold to where we will spend eternity.
A great example of those who cherished the Holy Mass is found in the Catacombs. The faithful went to their death in the early Church professing belief in the Holy Mass. How many do you think would be willing to suffer this end, this beginning, in our day? If we ever expect to appreciate Holy Mass, in spite of ourselves, we have to take action. We have to return to an appreciation of the sense of the sacred and ask for the grace to rid ourselves of the indifference towards the Holy Eucharist that makes heaven blush. When you get right down to it, how can you teach your children about the inestimable treasure in Holy Mass if you do not treasure it yourself? Think about what this means: in the Holy Eucharist is Jesus Christ, the very Word of God incarnate, the God/man, body, blood, soul, and divinity, the Holy One who wills you into existence and keeps you in existence. He gives his life for you that you may have life to the full here and be with him forever in the next, and we barely have time for him, if any time at all.
Remember, Christ said "He that eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, has everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day. [John 6:55]
If we knew our final day on earth was today would we want to have confessed and received Holy Communion? For all intents and purposes, the end of the world for us as individuals is our final day on earth, and we know not the day or the hour, so it would behoove us not to be indifferent to so great and necessary a treasure as is the Holy Eucharist.
We have to look at two contributing factors that have brought about such indifference to the Holy Eucharist and then what the Holy Mass actually means for us in our day to day life, to our struggles in life, and to the core of our being which cries out with the need to love and be loved. We also need to understand why a 'Crucifix' should represent the reality of Calvary in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
First, let me be clear about the Holy Mass for non-Catholics, and for many Catholics as well.
The Church does not teach that Christ is put to death over and over at each Catholic Mass. He dies one time and one time only, but it is a great error, in fact, it is heretical to think of Calvary as an event that came and went in time 2,000 years ago. It is a one time sacrifice as an event, but it is an event that is present to all of time and place, and to deny that is to deny the very divinity of Jesus Christ, and we will see why.
The Church also teaches that at Mass the crucifixion of Christ on the altar comes to us in an unbloody manner. This means the manner in which Christ comes to us is not a re-crucifixion, but that it is Christ in the Priest who says the words of Consecration with and through the Priest which makes Calvary, an event which is present to all of time, substantially accessible to us in the Holy Mass without killing Christ again and again. There is no re-crucifixion; it is the same crucifixion which took place on Calvary.
Second, although Catholic crucifixes represent Calvary with the body of Christ on the Cross, most people are not brought to think about the reality of Calvary as being present in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass when they look at a Crucifix, until now, and that is what the Holy Mass Crucifixes are intended to remedy.
To begin with, a true representation of Calvary in the Mass must include the elements necessary for the consecration in the Mass which is why there is wheat and grapes on the Holy Mass Crucifix. As the wheat must die to self to become bread, and as the grapes must be crushed to yield wine, this is representative of the passion of Christ where he is crushed for our sin and dies on the Cross that we may have life with him in the resurrection. The wheat and grapes are also representative of the need for us to die to self to become fully alive in Christ.
A representation of the Eucharist at the heart of the Holy Mass Crucifix reminds us that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and Calvary are inseparable, that they are one and the same reality, and on the cross is the self-same victim for our sin, Jesus Christ.
The Holy Mass is where Jesus meets us substantially; body, blood, soul, and divinity which he promised to do when he said "I will be with you till the end of time". He comes to us in the Mass to unite himself to us that we may share in his divinity, and in light of this we must look at what this means for us in our day to day life, and we are about to see why.
The Council of Chalcedon teaches:
"... One and the same our Lord Jesus Christ ... homousious (same substance, same essence) with the Father in godhead, and the same homousious (same substance, same essence in our human nature ) with us in manhood, like us in all things except sin; begotten before ages of the Father in godhead; the same in the last days of us and for our salvation [born] of Mary the Virgin ... acknowledged in two natures without confusion, without change, without division, without separation - the difference of the natures being by no means taken away because of the union, but rather the distinctive character of each nature being preserved, and [each combining in one person and hypostasis - not divided or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and only-begotten God, Logos, Lord Jesus Christ ... .
In God there are 3 Divine Persons in the essence of the one God. Jesus is the 2nd person of the Most Holy Trinity and He alone became man, so let us look at the Incarnation of God as man.
Suppose for a moment I was to draw a large circle on a chalk board and I said the circle represents the size of God. I then put a small dot at the center of the circle and said the dot represents the human nature of Jesus joined to the 2nd Person of the Blessed Trinity who is a Divine Person. Would this be an accurate representation of the Incarnation? No, it would not, so let us see why it fails.
First of all, you cannot draw a circle big enough to represent God because in fact He is infinite in being and transcends, or goes beyond any size, dimension, or spatial extension (something that takes up space in a place). Nor can you divide God in his essence because God is immutable (cannot be changed or divided) in his divine essence. You simply cannot put something "on" God like you can put a book on a table, or a dot on a chalk board. He is infinitely beyond spot, or place, or size, or form, because he is the transcendent one before which all of time, and all that belongs to it, past, present, and future, is present to him as one in the eternal now.
So then, given the fact there is no "place" or "spot" on the 2nd Person of the Most Holy Trinity, we now have to look at what it means when we speak of the Incarnation; when God becomes fully man while remaining fully God.
It means that God, by his transcendent power, takes the human nature he created from Mary for himself and makes it "consubstantial" (one substance) with his very infinite, omnipresent, transcendent, divine person, as Jesus Christ in the Incarnation. The human nature of Jesus (body and soul) is made ONE with his DIVINE PERSON, and since there is no place or spot on his Divine Person the human nature of Jesus is fully one in substance with his omnipresent Divine Person, and a Divine Person is infinitely transcendent and omnipresent to all of time and place. Does this mean the human nature is of Jesus is not subject to the limits and constraints of human nature? No, but we will see its relationship to omnipresence in his divine person.
We can look closer at the Incarnation in light of our own human nature and then we will look at the human nature of Jesus incarnate.
As a human person you and I are composite being, meaning we each have a physical body, and a soul which is spirit. The body will always be the body and the soul will always be the soul, and never the two shall mix, or become confused as to their distinct substance, or mingle in any way.
This question is now put to you:
"How many persons are there in you?"
The self evident answer is there is only ONE person in you, not two. There is not a YOU PERSON for your body and a different YOU PERSON for your soul. There is only ONE PERSON in YOU and that is YOU. Yet, your body and your soul come together in a substantial union in the ONE PERSON of you without mingling in their nature. That is what we are as a human person. Are we now to say the fact of what we are, the fact that God brings together 2 natures in one person is beyond his doing for himself, that he cannot join 2 natures in one divine person for himself? It is infinitely easier for him to do this for himself than for us to flick on a light switch, in fact in his omnipotence, which is the unlimited power to do anything he wants, there is no effort at all to join human nature to his divine person.
Now we look at the Person of Jesus compared to us as persons.
" Jesus has a human body and a human soul just the same as you and I.
" He is ONE PERSON who is a DIVINE PERSON. We are ONE PERSON who is a HUMAN PERSON.
" He is ONE DIVINE PERSON with 2 natures; we are ONE HUMAN PERSON with 2 natures.
" As a DIVINE PERSON he has a DIVINE and HUMAN nature. As a HUMAN PERSON we have a BODY and SOUL.
We must also be mindful of this fact: in the case of Jesus, his human soul, though it is spiritual in nature like ours, is NOT the divine nature of Jesus which is also spiritual. His DIVINE NATURE which is Spirit is distinct from his HUMAN SOUL which is also spirit.
To be clear, even though Jesus has a human nature just like ours in all things but sin, Jesus is NOT a human person. There is only one person in Jesus and that person is divine, not human.
He is God, and as God he took human nature and made it consubstantial (one substance) with his divine PERSON, but NOT with his divine Nature. Just as our body and soul will never mingle in their nature the human nature Jesus will never mix, or mingle, or fuse, or become divine in nature. His human nature and divine nature will always and forever be distinct in nature. His two natures come together and subsist in the ONE divine person of Jesus of Nazareth. This is why as a divine person Jesus cannot suffer in his divine nature, but as man, in his human nature, he can. So, in truth, we are not only made in the image and likeness of God, we are made in the image and likeness of the Incarnation itself.
Consider this, if you suffer a cut on your finger it is your body that is cut because it is mutable, but your soul is not cut because your soul is of a spiritual substance which is immutable; your soul cannot be cut into pieces and it cannot bleed.
In the case of Jesus, as man, in his human nature, his body can be cut, and bleed, and suffer, and die like ours, but as God, in his divine nature, he cannot be cut, suffer, or die. This is why on Calvary God did not die as God because God cannot die as God, and he did not die as a human person because he is not a human person. He who is fully God and fully man died as man.
St. Thomas Aquinas says this of the Incarnation:
"Jesus of Nazareth, the man, was the Second Person of the Triune God.
The Second Person of the Trinity is eternally existent.
Jesus of Nazareth, the man, is not eternal.
The Second Person of the Trinity existed independently (antecedent to) Jesus of Nazareth.
Jesus of Nazareth does not exist apart from the Second Person of the Trinity.
Jesus of Nazareth is the Second Person of the Trinity by virtue of the Second Person of the Trinity.
The Second Person of the Trinity is Jesus of Nazareth by virtue of the Second Person of the Trinity.
Jesus of Nazareth existed only through (on account of) the incarnational union.
The Second Person of the Trinity merely existed in the incarnational union.
Jesus of Nazareth, the man, and the Second Person of the Trinity are numerically identical."
The one divine person, the 2nd person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, died as man in his HUMAN NATURE without dying or changing in any way as a DIVINE PERSON in his DIVINE NATURE. This is the reason his sacrifice on Calvary is inestimable, this is why Holy Mass is inestimable. As a victim who is both God and man, his sufferings as man atone for the sin of man, and this reality is in the Mass as we shall see.
The human nature of Christ is the means and instrument through which the Eternal Word performs God's will for redeeming human beings from sin. This is how he "lives (present tense)" as God and man to make intercession for us. During his earthly life Jesus of Nazareth, God the Son/Word was, indeed, particularly present to location as a specific man with the constraints and limitations of human nature as to time and place, but he is not a human person, he is a divine person.
As a divine person the Eternal Word continued to be omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent, and Jesus is the Eternal Word of God who became man, in which the human nature he takes for himself becomes an instrument of his divine person.
In Jesus, the divine and human nature subsist in the one person of Jesus Christ who is divine, so at the same time we see both omniscience and finite knowledge, omnipresence and particular location, omnipotence and limitations present in the same person, but not the same nature.
As stated, the human nature of Jesus, body and soul, is one in substance with his divine, omnipresent person, but his human nature has all the limitations and constraints of human nature, so it cannot be said that the human nature of Jesus is present to all of time and place by virtue of his human nature. However, his human nature which is one in substance with his divine person serves as an instrument and function of his omnipresence as a divine person. As an instrument of his omnipresent divine person in whom there is no limitation as to time and place the human nature of Jesus is present to all of time and place.
In fact, this is the reason we are able to receive the VERY SAME BODY and BLOOD of the LORD, with all of the constraints and limitations of human nature still in place, at Holy Communion 2,000 years AFTER Jesus walked the streets of Jerusalem. Jesus does not have a different human nature at Holy Mass, it is the very same human nature he took from the Blessed Virgin Mary. He is present to us body, blood, soul, and divinity even now because the human nature of Jesus is an instrument of his omnipresence as the 2nd person of the Trinity. The body and blood of the Lord is present at every Mass that is said, and in every tabernacle where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved throughout the world, but there is more to consider.
In the Eternal Word of God there are no parts or segments of omnipresence because that would mean there is mutability to omnipresence which is impossible in the essence of an immutable God. The specific limitations of Jesus's earthly existence are a function of the eternal Word's omnipresence, omniscience, and omnipotence, as a divine person because in Jesus the man the Eternal Word had united to a particular human nature that is one with the 2nd Person of the Trinity.
Jesus even spoke of this as the God/Man. The 2nd person of the Trinity did not take flesh until he took flesh, therefore the human nature of Jesus was not present before the time of Abraham, but once Jesus took flesh his human nature (with all of its constraints and limitations) being an instrument of his omnipresence, he can and did in fact say as both God and man "Before Abraham came to be I AM." He did not divest himself of his human nature to say this. If you deny this you deny his divinity which is exactly what the Jews did when he told them he was before Abraham as a divine person now incarnate as the God/man. This is in fact why the Jews set out to kill him because they knew Jesus was claiming to be God when he said this. This was a claim to be present to all of time as a divine person who is now God and man, now in time and outside of time at the same time. He said this as God and man which only God can claim as man.
Jesus also said to his church "I will be with you to the end of time." Consider Jesus speaking to the Apostles when he said that. He did not say "I will be with you till the end of time as a divine person after I shed my human nature."
By saying "Jesus is present to all of time and place in his human nature" we are not saying his human nature grows in size until it becomes bigger than the universe, it would be absurd to say such a thing. However, in his omnipresence as a divine person he transcends the universe. If you deny his human nature, with all of its constraints and limitations, is an instrument and function of his omnipresence you are saying he shed his human nature in order to be with us in omnipresence to the end of time. That would be an outright denial of the fact that the consubstantial union of Christ's human nature to his Divine Person still exists as God and man, and that would be an outright attack on his reign in glory even now as God and man.
Of course he did not shed his human nature, he rose from the dead with it, and he promised to be with us as God and man to the end of time. He is present in the present for all time as both God and man, in real time, at any time.
Nor can you take one instant of his earthly life (take the moment he said to the Jews "Before Abraham came to be I AM") and say only that instant of his earthly life is present to all of time. That would be to breach the consubstantial union with his human nature to his Divine Person; it would be to try to cut out a segment of omnipresence (omnipresence is not mutable) to say his human nature is consubstantial with his divine person in that moment only. No, you cannot do that, you cannot cut out a piece of consubstantial union in time in which the human nature of Jesus is one in substance with his Divine Person like you are cutting a piece out of a pie. So, in fact, every single instant of his earthly life, and this includes the event of Calvary, is present to all of time and place as a function and instrument of his omnipresence as a divine person.
Therefore, Calvary, being an event in his earthly life which takes place in his human nature which is the instrument of redemption for the 2nd person of the Trinity, is every bit as much present to all of time and place as a function of his omnipresence as it was 2,000 years ago. He is the Alpha and the Omega who is before us and ahead of us, Who Was, Who Is, and Who is to Come.
Remember, the Jews claimed that Jesus blasphemed when he said "Before Abraham came to be, I AM," but who was it that really blasphemed against God? If you deny that Calvary is present to all of time you do as well.
We must now look at the Catholic Catechism which states:
460 "The Word became flesh to make us "partakers of the divine nature":78 "For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine son-ship, might become a son of God."79 "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God."80 "The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods."81
How is it that we share in the divinity of Christ? Jesus takes the human nature that he took from Mary and makes it one with his Divine Person (not divine nature), but he also takes his very same human nature and makes it one in substance with our own human nature which the Council of Chalcedon teaches "... and the same homousious (same substance, same essence) in our human nature." It is very important, however, to understand the distinction of persons between us and Jesus remains even when he becomes one with us in our human nature. He remains a divine person only, we remain a human person only.
Even among human persons (which Jesus is not, he is a divine person) we all share in the one substance of human nature as distinct persons, and in fact, we even proceed one person from another which is a reflection of the procession of distinct persons existing in one essence in God. For us there is a beginning point in time, in God who is Eternal there is no beginning point for the procession of persons in the essence of the One God, there is co-eternal existence in the distinct persons of the One God.
We share in the divinity of Christ by virtue of the fact that his human nature which is consubstantial with his divine person is also consubstantial with our human nature, all of which is accomplished by his transcendent power.
We can now look at the distinction between the priesthood of the laity by virtue of baptism, and the priesthood of the ordained by virtue of Holy Orders.
We know that Jesus makes his human nature one with our human nature, but in the priesthood of the ordained the very person of the Priest becomes the very priesthood of Christ which continues in time and place through the man who is ordained. Upon ordination Christ confers numerous powers to the man who is ordained, among which is the power to absolve sin and to say Holy Mass to make Calvary substantially accessible to us so that we can receive the literal Body and Blood of the Lord.
The substantial reality of Calvary is present and available to us through the veil of the Sacramental Priesthood of Christ. When the Priest says these words of consecration, "This is my body ... this is my blood which shall be shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sin," we are actually at Calvary. This is accomplished by the fact that Christ, in his human nature which is an instrument of his omnipresence and which is one with the human nature of the Priest, by his transcendent power acting with and through the Priest, makes the substantial reality of Calvary which is present to all of time accessible and available to us. The only thing that changes through time is that more and more people are able to be at Calvary when they are born into time.
What does this mean in practical terms in our day to day living as the laity, meaning those who are not ordained to the priesthood?
It means Christ wishes to enter into every moment of our life to share everything with us so he can sanctify it, joy and suffering alike. We have but to offer all of it to the Lord as a spiritual sacrifice that he joins to his own sacrifice on Calvary in Holy Mass. This is what Catholics mean when we say "offer it up," we offer up what we suffer to Christ so that he may enter into our suffering to make it become redemptive suffering. To understand this let's go back for a moment to the distinction between Jesus as a divine person and us as a human person.
Imagine for a moment a river which has a bridge over it, on one side of the bridge stands Jesus, a divine person, and on the other side, us, a human person. We as human persons can never cross over that bridge and become a divine person; there will always be only three divine persons in the essence of the One God. However, Jesus can walk over that bridge to our side. If you understand Jesus as the Groom, then understand his human nature as the bridge by which he comes to be one with his Bride, which is us in our human nature, we are the Bride. In this you will see the reason for the Incarnation, you will hear him say "I have come to you to be one with you. Let me be one with you, let me help you, let me be your strength. There is no longer any reason to fear. I will take care of you, I will nourish you, I will cherish you, I will feed you, I will protect you, I will guide you. I will give you my own inheritance to be one with me. I will give my all for you, I will even give up my life for you so that when our flesh becomes one the atonement accomplished in my flesh burns away your sin so that you do not perish in your sin." This is the Holy Mass in which there is an exchange of vows between the Groom and the Bride. The Groom, says "This is my body ... this is my blood which is being shed for you for the remission of your sins." The Bride responds by saying "Amen, so be it." Even though we are poor hands at cooperating with all that Christ offers to us, how can we be indifferent to this reality, to such a love as in the Holy Mass?
Jesus exchanges vows with us while he is on the Cross, and it is in the Mass where he wants to meet us in our suffering. This is why Christ said "Take up your cross and follow me." Where did he go with the Cross? He went to Calvary. Where do we think we go to meet Jesus with our cross, to McDonalds for a Happy Meal? No, we meet Jesus on Calvary in the Holy Mass. The form of the Cross, or the type of suffering we carry takes many forms and comes in so many ways, but the type of Cross we carry is irrelevant. The important thing to understand is that Christ wants to enter into our suffering no matter what form it takes so that our suffering becomes one with the suffering of Christ on the Cross which is accomplished by his transcendent power.
Christ wants to enter into the condition of our suffering to sanctify it with his own suffering, and together the Father sees the one offering of Christ with our suffering made one with his Only Begotten Son. We don't just share in the divinity of Christ with joys; we enter into the divinity of Christ on the cross, which is why our suffering takes on a co-redemptive value. This is exactly what Saint Paul tells us in Colossians 1:24:
"Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church (Colossians 1:24)."
Paul clearly understands that our suffering joined to the suffering of Christ does not add to the sufficiency of Calvary, but the suffering of all those (including Paul's own suffering) who belong to Christ is gathered through time as we come to exist and made (by the transcendent power of Christ) one suffering, one offering to the Father, which, in total, is the sufficiency of Calvary.
Until the suffering of everyone (in total) who will belong to Christ through time is united to him on Calvary, the sufficiency of Calvary which is waiting for our suffering, the suffering of Christ is lacking which is exactly what St. Paul stated; and it is the only reason he could make such a claim as he did in Colossians 1:24. All grace accorded to the saved in that one sufficiency of Calvary will be the fruit of the one offering to the Father, which consists of our suffering made one with Christ; the suffering we offer to Christ becomes co-redemptive. Therein we have the economy of salvation, not one extra grace will be accorded to those who rejected grace because salvation is 100% sufficient and efficient.
In other words, Christ asks us to redeem the world with him which is exactly what St. Paul stated, for the sake of his body, the church. So this is not a violation of the fact that Jesus is the only mediator between God and man. Satan and his minions do everything possible to come between us and this reality, between our suffering made one with the suffering of Christ on the Cross, namely, in Holy Mass. He will convince people to reject this reality, to reject belief in the Holy Mass, to forsake the weekly obligation of Mass, to minimize it second to sports events, to take away a sense of sending anything in our day through our angel to Christ in the Blessed Sacrament that it be made one with him. Satan hates the Holy Mass more than anything else, and you can take that to the bank with the winning lottery ticket.
In fact, St. Paul explains "co-redemption" and that it is a reality rooted in the Power of God Himself. In 2nd Corinthians 4:7-12 we read:
7: "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us." (We are the earthen vessel, and why is the earthen vessel a treasure? Because we, along with our suffering, are made one with Christ).
8: "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;"
9: "persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;"
10: "always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies." (How can they be carrying around the death of Jesus in their body if Calvary is over and done with? They cannot, which means they are united in their suffering to the literal death of Christ on Calvary.)
11: "For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh." (What value is there in being given up to death for Jesus if there is no value in what they offer? The only reason their offering can have value is if it is united to the only reality that has value in the matter of redemption which is Christ who dies for us on Calvary).
12: "So death is at work in us, but life in you." (For there to be life in the other, which is grace in the soul of the other, because of the death at work in "us", the only way grace can be given to the other soul is due to the fact that the suffering of the faithful is one reality with Christ on Calvary. This is co-redemption suffering because life is given to the unbelievers as a result of Paul's suffering. The only way Paul can speak of his suffering as something that gives life to the soul of the unbelievers is if the transcendent power of Christ makes Paul's suffering one with Christ's own suffering on the Cross, and so it is with all of those who belong to Christ).
The prayers, sacrifices, supplications, and therefore the sufferings of the Saints are united to Christ as a sweet aroma to God the Father in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
As stated, but not to be missed, we can also unite our joys and sufferings to the Mass throughout the day when we are not at Mass. We can unite our heart and our thoughts to the Mass which is ever present being said on Catholic Altars throughout the world at any given time of day or night. We see this in the words of St. Peter when he tells us the Saints can suffer and offer spiritual sacrifices. In 1st Peter 2:5 we read:
"And like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."
Apart from Jesus our suffering remains as dumb anguish, and the simple fact is the Lord wants to divinize our suffering no matter how small or trivial the suffering we think it may be. If we let him enter into our suffering he grafts it to the Cross with his own suffering. This becomes an opportunity for us to be charitable towards those we love, those who persecute us, and for others who we may never meet or know in this life, only in the next. Jesus opens doors of opportunity for us in whatever suffering we encounter in life, and given that all crosses are the roads that lead to Calvary we would do well to practice this highest degree of love. Wide is the road that leads to destruction, but all roads upon which the weary trod who will be raised to eternal life lead to the Holy Mass.
Is there more Scripture to support this understanding of suffering united to Christ? Yes, there is more.
In Acts 9:4-5 we read:
4: 'And he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute ME?"
5: "And he said, "Who are you, Lord?" And he said, "I am Jesus, whom you ARE persecuting;"
This is irrefutable evidence from Jesus Himself that He is suffering in His faithful, and this is years after He ascended into glory.
I would also like to note that Jesus did not say,
" Why do you persecute those who believe in me?
"Why are you persecuting My Church?
" Why are you persecuting My Friends?
"Why are you persecuting my institution?
Jesus said "Why do you persecute "ME"? I am Jesus, whom you ARE persecuting." (Not who HAS BEEN persecuted)
It would be impossible for Jesus to declare this fact, this reality, if Calvary was not present to all time and place. He could not suffer in his faithful if Calvary is over and done with.
In Acts 22:7-8 we read:
7: "And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, `Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
8: "And I answered, `Who are you, Lord?' And He said to me, "I AM JESUS OF NAZARETH WHOM YOU ARE PERSECUTING."
And in Acts 26:14-15 we read:
14: "And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, `Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It hurts you to kick against the goads."
15: "And I said, `Who are you, Lord?' And the Lord said, "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting."
We see the same in Hebrews 6:6:
6: "And are fallen away: to be renewed again to penance, CRUCIFYING AGAIN to themselves the Son of God, and making him a mockery."
Paul clearly speaks of crucifying Christ again, yet the event of Calvary had come and gone. We did not exist when Christ died on Calvary, how then can our sins literally crucify him if we did not yet exist? Our sins literally crucify him when we come to exist because Calvary is an event present to us when we come to exist and sin, each and every time we sin.
In 8:34-39 we read:
34: "Who is to condemn? Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes (again, present tense) for us?"
I would like to note that Paul confirms Jesus is in glory "interceding" (present tense) for us. He does not say "Who HAS interceded for us."
35: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?"
36: "As it is written, "For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."
Paul is identifying our sufferings as being joined to Christ who was led to the slaughter.
37: "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us."
38: "For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,"
39: "nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
To fail to see Calvary as an everlasting sacrifice is to deny the very priesthood of Jesus Christ.
In Hebrews 6:20 we read:
20: "â€¦ Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a High Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek."
This verse does not say "He WAS a High Priest" and that His role as High Priest ended on Calvary. Jesus is ahead of us in time, and he is in glory at the same time as the High Priest Forever.
The function of a High Priest is to offer sacrifice for sins. It would be impossible for Christ to fulfill his function as the eternal High Priest if He does not have an everlasting sacrifice to offer in atonement for our sins at the right hand of His Father in glory. When Jesus said "It is finished" on the Cross the redemptive sacrifice on Calvary had been accomplished, but it is a sacrifice present to all time and place.
If you deny that Jesus is the Eternal High Priest you would be rejecting what you have just seen in Scripture. If you deny the role of a priest is to offer sacrifice you would be denying Jesus is the Eternal High Priest yet again. If you deny that Jesus, as the Eternal High Priest, needs a perpetual sacrifice to offer you would be attacking the very priesthood of Jesus Christ.
To reject the fact that Calvary is present to all of time and place is to see the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross as being less than an animal sacrifice, and in fact you would have rejected redemption itself.
Look closer now at Jesus in Glory at the right hand of God the Father.
Hebrews 7:25 tells us:
25: "Consequently he is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them."
This verse says "to save", not "has saved", and it would be impossible to "draw near to be saved" if Calvary is an event of the past that is not present to all of time and place. This verse tells us that Jesus "lives" (present tense) to make intercession for us, and he offers to the Father his sacrifice on Calvary as he makes (present tense) intercession for us as the Eternal High Priest. This is the Catholic Mass. It is NOT a "re-crucifixion" of Jesus.
We see this in Revelation 5:5:
"Then one of the elders said to me, "Weep not; lo, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals."
Jesus is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David.
In Revelation 5:6 we read:
"And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth."
Jesus is the lamb and a lamb is slain for sin, and in John 12:32 we read:
"and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself."
By saying the Father no longer needs to see Jesus on Calvary anymore because "it is finished", or that it is over and done with as an event, is to step in between Jesus and the Father to say "No more, no suffering for me, Lord." Peter tried that once, he was not going to let Christ go to the Cross for him, and Christ said "Get thee behind me, Satan." Jesus is the Lamb that is slain and upright on the Cross in Revelation as a perpetual sacrifice. In fact, Scripture just told us that the Lamb standing upright on the cross is still standing between the Throne of God and sinners as the perpetual sacrifice Christ offers to the Father when we come to exist and sin and stand in need of redemption.
We are "one" IN the Lord IN the "One Bread."
St. Peter tell us the same, that we are bonded to God and therefore with each other in the Mass where we become partakers of His divine nature.
In 2nd Peter 1:4 we read:
4: "by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature."
Does the Book of Revelation indicate the same? Yes, in Revelation 2:7 we read:
7: "He, who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God."
Paradise was lost on earth in Eden, but it is restored in the Paradise of Heaven on earth where the earth is united to Heaven in the Mass.
In Revelation 22:14 we read:
14: "Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates."
This means we have to do something. It is not enough to say that Jesus died for me and it ends there. We must confess, consume the Lamb of God, and serve Him in love. This is how we wash our baptismal robes.
In Zechariah 12:10 we read:
10: "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of compassion and supplication, so that, when they look on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a first-born."
How can we look upon Him who was pierced if it is all over as an event 2,000 years ago? We look upon him who was pierced in the Holy Mass.
The Lord said "Blessed is he who believes and has not seen." For a defense of Catholic teaching on the Mass from a Scriptural perspective click Here.
If we truly appreciated what the Mass is we would do whatever it takes to get to Mass, daily, if possible; and at a minimum we should send what we suffer in our day to Christ in the Holy Eucharist as a spiritual offering so he makes even that one with his own suffering. There is so much loneliness and suffering in the world, it should become a veritable treasure to the world and the Church if it is only given to Christ.
One example of loneliness is felt among many couples who are unfulfilled in their marriage. Very often one of the spouses wants a deeper relationship in God while the other is not interested, perhaps dabbling in pornography and infidelity, or is just indifferent over time. To the one who wants a relationship in God you feel as though the rest of your life is destined to dumb anguish and meaningless days, trying to get through each day without giving in to despair. You live waiting for your spouse to respond to the prayers you offer for them, but nothing. It only gets worse, or so it seems, and as long as your spouse does not respond you feel you can never be fulfilled in this life. You are greatly mistaken. There is fulfillment waiting for you in spite of what you may think. You need to look to God for fulfillment first; the very loneliness you experience in this unfulfilled marriage should be seen as God speaking to you.
Perhaps your marriage suffers because you put aside counsel of the Church before you married and what you suffer now are the consequences for a choice you made, but none of us are exempted from the consequences of our choices. If that is the case it does not have to end there, you are still called to sanctification. He calls those who suffer in marriage to himself as your first love, above all persons and things, and if you respond to God you will be fulfilled in ways you could never have imagined. As the Groom of the Church he knows what ingratitude is in a covenantal relationship, just look at all of us who sin against him, and are indifferent to him.
The sorrows and loneliness you experience should become a stepping stone to God because in the end the only relationship that matters is your relationship with God. If you turn to God in your loneliness you will be surprised to see that Christ is suffering over your spouse more than you are. In fact he is suffering over what you are personally suffering more than you are yourself, and that is because he who is the truly innocent one in all of this is one with you in your own human nature; your suffering is one with his suffering.
Look at what comes of this when you look to Christ first. You end up looking at Christ in a way you did not see him before, and suddenly you no longer feel alone and abandoned because you see Jesus, the truly innocent one who is in Gethsemane, alone, suffering, and wanting your company as you suffer together over your spouse. We cannot begin to fathom what it is he suffers as a man regarding those things we suffer, and the reasons we suffer. He is love in his essence as a divine person, and we pass him by every day like he is of no account, even when it comes to those things we suffer. You can change all that, you can stand in for the Apostles who fell asleep and keep him company as he suffers over your spouse, and what you suffer because of it. Who better than you to keep him company over a spouse you both suffer over? Meet Christ in Gethsemane in the Holy Mass so he is not alone in this and in all suffering.
There is yet another way to understand your suffering. All suffering given to God can become 'creature comfort', meaning the sinful creature gets to console the sinless God/man. Just imagine what that means! And more, does the Creator want and appreciate the consolation of the sinner while he suffers for them? He sure does.
When Veronica stepped forward to wipe the face of Jesus it was her sin which caused Christ's suffering, yet, she stepped forward and wiped his face in compassion, and to prove he appreciated her gesture of compassion he miraculously left the image of his face on her veil.
When the apostles, who were sinners as well, accompanied him to Gethsemane Christ did not want to be alone, he wanted their company, but they fell asleep.
We also have the angels, creatures who did not sin, who came and consoled him after his 40 days in the desert, and in Gethsemane where they ministered to him after the apostles fell asleep.
The amazing gift is that Calvary is present to all of time, and therefore all of his life is present to all of time. We can meet him in any place grace inclines us to meet him in his earthly life. We can meet him at the foot of the Cross, in Gethsemane, in Bethlehem, in the Temple, any place grace inclines us to God, even when we can only send our angel to Holy Mass to make a spiritual offering united to the Mass.
We can approach him, like Veronica, knowing that we are sinners, knowing that what he is suffering is caused by our own sin. Nevertheless, we can approach him and say:
"Lord, I know I have done this to you, I am sorry, but I don't want you to be alone. I don't like being alone myself, so take my suffering, take my loneliness, regardless of whatever form my suffering takes, and make it one with your own so that you can do with it whatever you wish, and for whomever you want. If by uniting my suffering to that of your own can lighten the load of your Cross let me help you, Lord, if what I am suffering can in any way be the cause of one less drop of blood spilled in your sweat, let it be done, Lord."
If you present yourself to Christ in this manner he will look at you, and you will be to him as a willing Simon of Cyrene and Veronica who was moved to compassion for HIS sake, and there will be a look of love between you and Jesus that you could never have imagined. He will show you this is the greatest love known in the world because your suffering which was once dumb anguish and loneliness now has a redemptive value because he makes it one with his own suffering.
For your act of compassion and kindness, not because of what YOU get out of it, but to glorify God for this great opportunity, like Veronica, he will leave the imprint of his face on your suffering and it will manifest itself to others in the virtues of long patience, forgiveness, kindness, and all the transformative virtues.
In reality, your suffering becomes the equivalent of Veronica's veil which you can take up to wipe the face of Christ, and others will see the face of Christ on the veil of your very person, his image will show forth in you. Your life will become fulfilled in God with a mission you did not know was possible as Christ turns your suffering from "Mission Impossible" to "Mission Accomplished", depending on whether or not you want to join him in his mission of saving souls with him.
In Holy Mass there begins a conversation between Christ and you, where you discover a new found love in Christ that he has for you and that you have for him; it is here he will elevate you in the spiritual life. Bitterness will drip off like dross because you now experience what it is for Christ who still loves you in spite of your own sins against him where and when you were also unfaithful to his grace in your own life.
We, in all of our pride, ingratitude, ineptitude, shortcomings, failures, bitterness, and grudges against those who slight us in the least way, or in very serious ways, stand under the shadow of Christ on the cross who looks at us from the altar at Holy Mass and sees us as we are. We cannot begin to fathom what we must look like to the eyes of pure innocence, we hope to have some sense of what that is so that we can approach him with contrite hearts. We have all been unfaithful to grace, but hatred has no place in the heart of one who understands they themselves have been forgiven of so many sins.
There is more room in your heart now for God to speak with you in a much more personal and tender way. He will make a heart of flesh where a heart had been turned to stone because of bitter sorrows, disappointments, and failures in those we live with. To some degree, in one way or another, everything we see in others we are guilty of ourselves in our relationship with Christ, and when we come to see that mercy can take root in our hearts because if we truly want mercy for ourselves we will come to understand we must extend mercy to others.
Now you can live what Saint Paul spoke of when he said "While death is at work in us (believers), life is at work in you (unbelievers)."
In Holy Mass you and Christ have a new found, and much deeper relationship that does not depend at all upon anyone else in this world for you to be complete and fulfilled in him. God is first, you are made for him, and as far as your spouse is concerned you are simply trying to offer what you suffer that they may get to heaven. You can live in this quiet relationship where Christ dwells in your heart as he said he would with the Trinity, and what awaits you in the life to come begins here on earth. The base of the cross is now planted on the Calvary of your own personal suffering. Graces will be accorded to the unfaithful spouse that they repent of a misguided and badly chosen way of life before they die, but if they don't, well, it is their choice; you cannot force someone into heaven. They may get what they want and they won't like it, but you will get what you are made for, God himself.
Any type of suffering can be united to Christ if we will only offer it to him, and in each of them is a path to Christ in the Holy Mass just as we have seen in a suffering marriage. The suffering can be divorce, abuse, illness of any kind, loneliness, loss of a loved one, tragic accidents, the list is endless, but it can all be the equivalent of Veronica's veil if we have the will to give it to Christ so that he makes it one with his own suffering on Calvary where we meet him substantially on Calvary in the Holy Mass. Be sure to consider your suffering as Veronica's veil with which you can wipe the face of Christ in his sorrows.
Within the heart of every man and woman ever born cries out the need to love and be loved, regardless of material wealth or status. The heart of Christ is for us, he knows every thought and need we have, yet, we do not avail ourselves of this treasure as we should. Some tragically turn to alcohol, drugs, immorality, and despair to bury their pain and emptiness, but such things are merely a temporary anesthetic that dulls the pain for a moment, only to wake up to a deeper sorrow. Do not look for escape, look to be fulfilled in the Holy Mass.
Please consider offering up any sacrifices you may endure in your day for the purpose of this Apostolate. Each time you look upon a Holy Mass Crucifix offer your joys and sufferings, your entire day and all that is in it, to the Lord for an increase of devotion to the Holy Mass for yourself and for others, for an increase of devotion to the Holy Eucharist in the form of Eucharistic Adoration, Novenas, and for vocations to the Priesthood. Grace will be granted to you through the intercession of the Most Holy Virgin Mary. We can meet in heaven through the Holy Mass.
God Bless You,