The Meaning of the Mass
“The Holy Mass is the One and Only Sacrifice of the New Testament. In the Mass Our Lord Jesus Christ, through the ministry of the priest, offers Himself – His Body and Blood – to God the Father. This offering is made under the appearances of bread and wine. It is a mystical immolation made in an unbloody manner.
By a sacrifice is meant an oblation of something in which a notable change is wrought and offered to God alone in witness of the supreme honour and reverence that man owes Him as his Creator, Master, Beginning and End.
God, our Creator, Master, our Beginning and End
The Sacrifice of the Mass was instituted by Our Lord Himself. In instituting it He left His Church a Sacrifice by which the bloody Sacrifice offered on Calvary should be renewed to the end of time, and the merits of that Sacrifice might be applied in behalf of the living and the dead for for the remission of sins.
The Sacrifice of the Mass was instituted by Our Lord Himself
The separate consecration of the bread and the wine in the Mass represents the actual separation of the Body and Blood of Our Lord in His Death on the Cross.
The Mass is not, however, a mere representation of the Sacrifice of the Cross. It is, in all truth, the actual Sacrifice of the Cross that is renewed on the altar [for the spiritual act is outside and above the material concepts of time and space]; for the Victim offered is the same – Christ on the altar offering Himself through the ministry of the priest, even as on the Cross He offered Himself. The only difference consists in the manner of offering. Through the Sacrifice of the Mass God bestows on us the graces that were merited for us by Christ’s Sacrifice on the Cross.
The Mass is offered for four purposes:
a) To adore God. That is why it is called the Sacrifice of Praise.
b) To thank God. That is why it is called the Eucharistic Sacrifice.
c) To obtain grace and benefits. That is why it is called an Impetratory Sacrifice.
d) To satisfy the justice of God for the sins committed against Him, and make reparation to Him. That is why it is called a Propitiatory Sacrifice.
Although the Mass may be offered in honour of Our Lady, the Angels and the Saints, it is offered to God alone, since supreme dominion, which the Sacrifice of the Mass implies, belongs to God alone.
The Mass belongs to God alone
Since the Mass is the heart and soul of the Church’s worship, it is not offered for the benefit of the celebrant only, but for all the faithful, both living and dead, and in an especial manner for those whom the celebrant commemorates in the Mass.
The Mass may be offered for some particular person, either living or dead, and also for some particular intention.
The best way of assisting at Mass is to unite with the celebrant in offering the Divine Victim to God, vividly recalling Our Lord’s Sacred Passion and Death on the Cross, and uniting ourselves to Jesus by sacramental or, at least spiritual communion .”
– Fr Gebhard, 1952