GUEST POST: Christ’s love isn’t just warm feelings: it’s His death on the Cross.

Over at Bonfire of the Vanities Fr. Martin Fox has posted the text of his Sunday sermon (18th Sunday of Ordinary Time).   It was about Holy Mass, sacrifice, participation… why we have Mass.

For a long time I have been saying rather bluntly, we go to Mass and participation, in the final analysis, because one day we are all going to die.

That said, here are Fr. Fox’s concluding points. Be sure to read the rest over there:

Our nation is in a financial crisis–and we all wonder how it will work out.
Our world is in a spiritual crisis.
The fate of governments and the economy, the end of wars and famine,
are ultimately about whether we will accept Christ as our king.
And if you want to pray for our nation, for family, for the world–
there is no more powerful prayer than Jesus giving his all on the Cross!

We just heard Paul say that nothing can conquer the love of Christ–it will triumph.
But the “love of Christ” isn’t just his warm feelings for us: it’s his death on the Cross.
It’s the Mass!

In the first reading, God promised to renew his “everlasting covenant” with us.

In the Eucharistic prayer we pray at every Mass, we hear Jesus say, “this is the cup of my blood, the blood of the new and everlasting covenant… shed so that sins may be forgiven.”

In a moment, I’ll go to that altar and I will offer this Sacrifice.
Know that I am completely unworthy of it.
It truly frightens me because I am a sinner.
That’s how awesome this is. Pray for me, please. Join with me.

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Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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14 Responses to GUEST POST: Christ’s love isn’t just warm feelings: it’s His death on the Cross.

  1. Maltese says:

    We just heard Paul say that nothing can conquer the love of Christ–it will triumph. But the “love of Christ” isn’t just his warm feelings for us: it’s his death on the Cross.
    It’s the Mass!

    Indeed! The Holy Sacrifice is not a “gathering of the people” as Protestants and most Novus Ordo devotees believe. It is truly the Unbloody Sacrifice of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The mass IS Sacrifice!

  2. Pachomius says:

    “Our nation is in a financial crisis–and we all wonder how it will work out.
    Our world is in a spiritual crisis.
    The fate of governments and the economy, the end of wars and famine,
    are ultimately about whether we will accept Christ as our king.”

    A cynic writes: submitting to Christ as King really worked out for the Western Roman Empire.

    More seriously: God never promised earthly success to anyone in exchange for faith. I thought that was what the point of the Parable of the Dragnet (and, indeed, the Book of Job: the Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away, and al that…).

  3. Tom Esteban says:

    “In a moment, I’ll go to that altar and I will offer this Sacrifice.
    Know that I am completely unworthy of it.
    It truly frightens me because I am a sinner.”

    Wow. Really brings it home, doesn’t it? I wonder how many priests have (sadly) lost this sense of awe and fear of God and replaced it with the (more liberal) ‘Jesus is my pal’ kind of attitude? It’s inspiring to hear a priest really understand and appreciate the position he is in.

  4. Liz says:

    Beautiful. It’ s a good reminder.

  5. In the long run, it worked out pretty well for the Western Roman Empire.

  6. HighMass says:

    Domine non sum dignus, ut intres sub tectum meum: sid tantum dic verbo, et sanabitur anima meum.

  7. flyfree432 says:

    Indeed! The Holy Sacrifice is not a “gathering of the people” as Protestants and most Novus Ordo devotees believe.

    Even though it is not mostly their fault, but the failure of our priests and bishops to catechize them. I would also say that most NO attendees (virtually the entire Church) do not believe the Mass is just a gathering of people. I think most have at least some internal sense that something else is going on just by being before Christ’s presence even if they were so poorly catechized they don’t know what it is.

  8. BLB Oregon says:

    Wonderful.

    It brings up a question, though, which starts from this passage in the Catechism:
    “1346 The liturgy of the Eucharist unfolds according to a fundamental structure which has been preserved throughout the centuries down to our own day. It displays two great parts that form a fundamental unity:
    – the gathering, the liturgy of the Word, with readings, homily and general intercessions;
    – the liturgy of the Eucharist, with the presentation of the bread and wine, the consecratory thanksgiving, and communion.
    The liturgy of the Word and liturgy of the Eucharist together form “one single act of worship”;170 The Eucharistic table set for us is the table both of the Word of God and of the Body of the Lord.171″

    My question has to do with the “single act of worship” passage, and the passage in the homily where the priest says, “In a moment, I’ll go to that altar and I will offer this Sacrifice.” I realize that he’s doing something different “in a moment” than he’s doing during the homily, but I wonder about in what sense it is also part of a single act (and hence a reason that the laity ought not be proclaiming the Gospel or giving the homily during the Mass).

    When I used to prepare children for First Holy Communion and when we train altar servers, we take great pains to stress that the Mass is a single act of worship, that we don’t have the “readings part” and _then_ the “worship part”, but that both are part of one act that is all worship, and that how we attend to Mass during the Liturgy of the Word is different from other kinds of listening or learning because _listening to Scriptures during Mass is also worship_.

    I also allude to this passage: “You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. And even when you were dead (in) transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he brought you to life along with him, having forgiven us all our transgressions; obliterating the bond against us, with its legal claims, which was opposed to us, he also removed it from our midst, nailing it to the cross; despoiling the principalities and the powers, he made a public spectacle of them, leading them away in triumph by it.” Col 2:12-15

    Anyway, I tell them if you are baptised, then your life is not yours, but belongs to Christ, is buried in his death, and is, so to speak, rolled up and covered by His passion and death and in that sense we are as the Body of Christ covered by Him and offered on that altar with him…not as our individual offering, as if we are something to offer outside his Death and Resurrection, but in the sense of having handed our lives over to be covered by that offering, we are joined into Him and by that are able to be offered to God in Christ. I explain that the Liturgy of the Word can be thought of not in terms of small case “words” but as in “the Word” talked about in the opening of the Gospel of John. Anyway, we go through “Fides ex auditu” and get to the idea that this is why the Liturgy of the Eucharist is always preceded by the Liturgy of the Word….that is, that along with renewal of baptism or the Penitential Rite, listening during the Liturgy of the Word in an attitude of worship and being opened up by the action of the Holy Spirit is a necessary part of being prepared to be offered within the Sacrifice of the Mass.

    I’m trying to tell them that in order to be “all there” for the Liturgy of the Eucharist, you need to see the Penitential Rite/renewal of baptism and the Liturgy of the Word as leading up to it and being part of that one single action.

    We also cite this, from the Compendium:
    “In the Eucharist the sacrifice of Christ becomes also the sacrifice of the members of his Body. The lives of the faithful, their praise, their suffering, their prayers, their work, are united to those of Christ. In as much as it is a sacrifice, the Eucharist is likewise offered for all the faithful, living and dead, in reparation for the sins of all and to obtain spiritual and temporal benefits from God. The Church in heaven is also united to the offering of Christ.” and
    “The Eucharist is a pledge of future glory because it fills us with every grace and heavenly blessing. It fortifies us for our pilgrimage in this life and makes us long for eternal life. It unites us already to Christ seated at the right hand of the Father, to the Church in heaven and to the Blessed Virgin and all the saints.”

    Which is to say that at Mass we are in the company of all of Heaven, by the grace of God willingly part of the one offering of everything that exists, smack in the middle of that never-ending moment of victory and thanksgiving, praise and worship where “at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

    The question is: is there a sense in which the priest giving a homily is very much already in that position that he will also be “in a moment”, or is that not quite the way to put it?

    That was kind of convoluted; I hope you see my question. I don’t know how the “wow” factor of what Mass is could possibly be overstated, but obviously it can be mis-stated, and I don’t want to do that.

  9. Banjo pickin girl says:

    BLB, I think at the homily the priest is not acting in persona Christi capitis (sp?). He is of course celebrating Mass as the homily is part of that but it isn’t with the same intensity so to speak as when he is at the altar and beginning the preparations for Communion. I seem to recall reading that in the old style Mass the priest removes the chasuble for the homily to drive this home, that he is speaking as himself, a man. The homily is to deepen the understanding of the Gospel lesson which deepens the understanding of the part of the liturgy that follows.

  10. BLB Oregon says:

    “I seem to recall reading that in the old style Mass the priest removes the chasuble for the homily to drive this home, that he is speaking as himself, a man.”

    I can see what you’re saying, but this passage does not sound quite right. The homily is delivered by a man, yes, but not “speaking as himself”. Rather, he is bound to speak from the deposit of faith handed down from the Apostles. As Fr. Jeremy Driscoll put it, “That one of the ordained is preaching is meant to be a guarantee in the assemby that what is heard is the Church’s apostolic faith, and not merely the private thoughts and experiences of an individual….the bishop has carefully watched over the training of those whom he ordains as deacons and priests, making certain that they are capable of representing the apostolic faith.”

    In another place, he wrote, “We have already noted that the risen Lord said to his disciples, ‘As the Father has sent me, so I send you’ (John 20:21). This ‘as’ and ‘so’ express a huge mystery; indeed, nothing less than an echo of the trinitarian mystery in which the Son comes forth from the Father. In that same way, from those same mysterious depths, the apostolic preacher comes from the risen Lord. Thus, the pattern according to which the Lord preached must become the pattern of every Christian preacher. Jesus expressed that pattern precisely: ‘My teaching is not my own but is from the one who sent me.’ (John 7:16)”

    I am not saying that the homily is on par with the consecration, but maybe I’m not getting this quite right even as far as I’m going?

  11. Banjo pickin girl says:

    Beats me! (we are not required to know everything or even to guess).

  12. Fr Martin Fox says:

    Thanks Father Z for the post, and thanks for all the comments on my homily!

    BRB: speaking strictly, you are right in raising your observation that the Sacrifice of the Mass begins with the beginning of the whole Mass. I was not meaning, in my homily, to undermine that, but to emphasize that what happens at the altar is the core of the Mass, and to draw people’s attention to it. I wanted folks to consider and appreciate better the sacrificial reality of the Mass, which is so attenuated these days for various reasons.

  13. BLB Oregon says:

    Hi, Fr. Martin,
    If I understand you correctly, the main thing is to emphasize that even the Liturgy of the Word aims at the offering on the altar. We do talk about it in terms of the Penitential Rite and the Liturgy of the Word being where the Holy Spirit has an effect on the people, aiming them towards being covered in the offering on the altar. We teach that in the parts leading up to the Liturgy of the Eucharist, God prepares us to be enfolded into that Sacrifice, to be enfolded in Christ’s Death and Resurrection, to be made part of His perfect Sacrifice.

    IOW, it is not only so very true that
    “I’ll go to that altar and I will offer this Sacrifice.
    Know that I am completely unworthy of it.
    It truly frightens me because I am a sinner.
    That’s how awesome this is. Pray for me, please. Join with me.”
    but it is OK to teach that we, unworthy as well, are enfolded in that Sacrifice, are meant by the grace of God to be buried and to die within that Sacrifice, and by that are meant to gain the life won by that Sacrifice, and that the parts leading up to the Liturgy of the Eucharist prepare us to re-enter the truth of that awesome transformation which has ultimately made us one in Christ, and therefore alive.

    I mean that Jesus is not alone on the altar. If we are to join in his Life, we have to be joined to his Death. We have to be included on the altar, enfolded in His Sacrifice by consenting to be enfolded by grace and ultimately claimed in the entirety of our souls by the Good News. We have to let go and hand it over and let ourselves be hidden in that place, and in the end to let everything that is not one with Christ be stripped away. That is where the first parts of the Mass are intended to aim us, is that right? We’re trying to explain why they’re part of the Sacrifice, not some separate activity, even though they are a different part.

    I didn’t mean to say that you were mis-stating things by pointing out the one aspect. I wanted to be assured that we are stating the connections between the two aspects of Mass as fully as we can without mis-stating it in the way we teach it. This is such a great mystery, there is always that danger.

    We are aiming at the same thing, though, which is to address the attenuated appreciation of what happens at Mass.

  14. Fr Martin Fox says:

    BRB:

    I think you understood me correctly. I’m very glad my homily stimulated so much thought!