Tag Archives: Eucharistic Sacrifice




All good works added together are not equal to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, for they are the work of man, and the Mass is the work of God. Martyrdom is nothing in comparison. It is the sacrifice which man makes to God of his life; the Mass is the sacrifice which God makes to man of His Body and Blood.


At the voice of the priest Our Lord descends from heaven, and encloses himself in a little Host. The glance of God is arrested at the altar. “This,” He says, “is my Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased. He can refuse nothing to the merits of the offering of this Victim.


How beautiful to think that after the Consecration the good God is present, as He is in Heaven! If man really understood this mystery, he would die of love. God considers our weakness… Oh! if we had faith, if we understood the value of the Holy Sacrifice, we should be much more zealous in assisting at it.

– Bl. Cure d’Ars, from: Laverty & Sons (eds.), 1905


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Question: “I would like to know whether watching Mass on television fulfils one’s obligation. My husband never goes to church, but he does watch Mass on TV every Sunday. I attend Mass regularly, although I have missed church recently because of my health.

Answer: The simple answer to your question is ‘no’. Watching Mass on television does not fulfil one’s Sunday obligation. Assuming that your husband is a Catholic and is in reasonable health, he is required to be at Mass in person. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in section 2180, specifies that the Sunday obligation is satisfied by ‘assistance’ at Mass, and every commentator I have read views that to mean attendance at a Eucharistic celebration.

Such reading would seem logical since Jesus said (Matthew 18:20): ‘Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.’ The Eucharist has a community dimension which strengthens the faith of participants. It was with deliberate purpose that Jesus directed his memory to be kept alive by his disciples sharing a meal.

Although taking holy Communion at Mass is not required to satisfy the Sunday obligation, it seems clear that those who participate most fully are the ones who receive back from the Lord the sacred food offered in sacrifice. That gift, of course, is not available to television viewers.

The televised Mass has great value for those whose illness or infirmity precludes them from being in church. It would be incorrect to say watching TV fulfills their obligation. Simply put, there is for them no obligation. They are dispensed.

But the housebound can derive real spiritual benefit from following the prayers and readings of the Mass on television. I would suggest that they can multiply that benefit by asking to be placed on their parish’s Communion list so that a Eucharistic minister will visit them regularly.”

– This article by Fr Francis Doyle was published as part of the feature “Questions and Answers” in the Catholic Universe newspaper, issue Friday 14th August, 2015. For subscriptions please visit (external link).


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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.

Active participation

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



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We hail thy Presence glorious,

O Christ our great High Priest,

O’er sin and death victorious,

At thy thanksgiving feast;

As thou art interceding

For us in heaven above,

Thy Church on earth is pleading

Thy perfect work of love.


Through thee in every nation

Thine own their hearts upraise,

Offering one pure Oblation,

One Sacrifice of praise:

With thee in blest communion

The living and the dead

Are joined in closest union,

One Body with one Head.


O Living Bread from heaven,

Jesus, our Saviour good,

Who thine own self hast given

To be our souls’ true food;

For us thy body broken

Hung on the Cross of shame:

This Bread its hallowed token

We break in thy dear name.


O stream of love unending,

Poured from the one true Vine,

With our weak nature blending

The strength of life divine;

Our thankful faith confessing

In thy life-blood outpoured,

We drink this Cup of blessing

And praise thy name, O Lord.


May we thy word believing

Thee through thy gifts receive,

That, thou within us living,

We all to God may live;

Draw us from earth to heaven

Till sin and sorrow cease,

Forgiving and forgiven,

In love and joy and peace.

– Bishop R. G. Parsons, 1882-1948


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“Jeanne Jugan was born on October 25, 1792, in the midst of the French Revolution, in the little village of Petites Croix, near Cancale (Ille-et-Vilaine), as the sixth child of a poor fisherman. At the age of only six years she lost her father, who never returned from a fishing expedition at sea. Twice the young girl received marriage proposals. Each time she declined. With regard to a sailor who asked for her hand in 1816, she explained to her mother: ‘God wants me for himself. He wants me for a work that has not yet been started.’

In 1817 Jeanne Jugan began to work in the Hospital Rosais in Saint-Servan, caring for the sick. In this connection she accepted the invitation of a certain Mademoiselle Lecoq to live at her house, not really as a domestic servant but rather as a friend and co-worker. With this pious lady she would call on the sick, day after day, for fifteen years and assist them. During this time Jeanne Jugan became a member of the Third Order of Saint Eudes in the Society of the Heart of the Admirable Mother (Societe du Coeur de la Mere admirable).

After the death of Mademoiselle Lecoq, Jeanne Jugan, together with her friend Francoise Aubert, rented a simple house in Saint-Servan; this served not only as their home, from which they went out to visit poor sick people, but also as a place where they took them in to care for them. The first woman they took in – and Jeanne Jugan gave up her own bed for her – was the blind, half-lame Widow Harraux.


This laid the cornerstone for the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Poor, which was founded later. Gradually, as the poor sick people who were cared for in the house were joined by still other poor, old individuals, additional helpers, notably the eighteen-year-old orphan Virginie Tredaniel and her friend Marie Jamet, came also to care for the sick, and, together with Jeanne Jugan and Francoise Aubert, they formed the foundation of the future community of Sisters. So as to provide the necessary support for this little community of Sisters, they began collecting alms. This was to become and remain a characteristic feature of the Little Sisters of the Poor.

In 1842 Jeanne Jugan was elected superior of the little community, which more and more was assuming the form of a religious order. On this occasion two priests stood by her side, namely, the secretary (later the provincial) of the Hospitaller order of Saint John of God, Father Felix Massot, who instilled much of his order’s spirituality into the women’s community as it was being formed; and the chaplain in Saint-Servan, Father Augustin Le Pailleur, who indeed was a great help to the Sisters but who began to falsify the history of their congregation, in that he eventually presented himself as its founder and allowed himself too much influence over its direction. When Jeanne Jugan was reelected the superior of the small community in 1843, he considered the election invalid and appointed Marie Jamet as superior, though she was only twenty-three years old, whereas Jeanne Jugan, at age fifty-one, was assigned merely to collect alms, and she was prevented from having any part in the direction of the institute she had founded. In 1852 she had to go back to the novitiate house, which was located first in Rennes, then in La Tour Saint-Joseph (Saint-Pern). Here Sister Jeanne Jugan, who after professing vows had taken the religious name Sister Marie of the Cross, was sentenced to apparent inactivity for twenty-seven years, until her death on August 29, 1879. During all these years, however, she was for the novices of the growing congregation of nuns the embodiment of the ideal of the Little Sisters of the Poor and the living rule of this institute.

Jeanne Jugan was endowed with heroic humility; in 1879; when she fell asleep in the Lord, the community of the Little Sisters of the Poor – which had been approved definitely on March 1, 1879, by Pope Leo XIII – numbered 2,400 Sisters in 177 houses, and these were not only in France but had spread beyond Europe and America. At the beatification of Sister Jeanne Jugan on October 3, 1982, Pope John Paul II charcterised her as follows:


Et exultavit humiles! And he lifted up the lowly! These well-known words of the Magnificat fill my spirit and heart with the feeling of joy since I have just declared the humble foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor one of the Blessed…[A] close reading of the Position on the virtues of Jeanne Jugan, as well as of recent biographies about her and her evangelical charity, inclines me to say that God could glorify no more humble a servant than her. Dear pilgrims, I have no fears about encouraging you to read or re-read these works which speak so well of the heroic humility of Blessed Jeanne Jugan as well as of that wondrous divine wisdom which so carefully arranges events destined to help a vocation to flower and a new order to blossom, an order which is at once ecclesial and social.

Having said this, I would like to meditate with you and for you on the reality of the spiritual message of the new Blessed Jeanne. Jeanne invites all of us, and I quote here from the Rule of the Little Sisters, ‘to share in the bliss of spiritual poverty which leads to total abandonment and lifts the soul to God.’ She invites us to this much more by her life than by those few words of hers which have been recorded and which are so marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit such as these: ‘It is so beautiful to be poor, to have nothing, to wait simply on the good God.’ Joyfully aware of her poverty, she depends completely on Divine Providence which she saw in her own life’s work and that of others.


Still, this absolute confidence did not make her inactive. With the courage and faith that characterises the woman of her native land, she did not hesitate to beg on behalf of the poor whom she cared for. She saw herself as their sister, their ‘Little Sister’. She wanted to identify with all of the elderly who were often so sickly and even abandoned. Is this not the Gospel in its pure form? (cf. Mt 25:34-41). Is this not the way which the Third Order of St John Eudes had taught her, ‘…to have one life, one heart, one soul, one will with Jesus,’ to join together all those whom Jesus singled out, the little ones, and the poor? Thanks to her daily exercises of piety – long periods of silent prayer, participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice and reception of Holy Communion more frequently than was the custom at that time, thoughtful recitation of the Rosary which she never stopped, and fervently kneeling as she made the Stations of the Cross – the soul of Jeanne was steeped in the mystery of Christ the Redeemer, especially in his passion and his cross. Her name in religion, Sister Mary of the Cross, is a real and moving symbol of this. From her native village of Petites-Croix (in English, Little Crosses – was this a coincidence or a sign?) until her departure from this world on 29 August 1879, this foundress’ life can be compared to a long and fruitful Way of the Cross, lived in the joyful peace of the Gospel.


Must we not recall here that four years after the foundation of the Order she was exposed to the abusive and public meddling of some of her first companions? She allowed herself to be stripped of the office of superior, and a little later she went back to the Motherhouse for a retreat which was to last twenty-seven years, without the slightest complaint. Saint John Eudes, her spiritual [father], used to say, ‘The real measure of sanctity is humility’. Speaking to the Little Sisters, she would often say, ‘Be little, stay little! If we begin to consider ourselves as something, we would no longer be praising God, and we would collapse!’ Jeanne really surrendered herself to the spiritual life. In her long retreat at the Tour Saint-Joseph, many novices and Little Sisters came under her decisive influence and she left on her Congregation the stamp of her spirit by the quiet but eloquent radiance of her life.

In our day, pride, the search for success, and temptation to power all run rampant, and sometimes, unfortunately, even in the Church. They become an obstacle to the coming of the Kingdom of God. This is why the spirituality of Jeanne Jugan can attract followers of Christ and fill their hearts with simplicity and humility, filled with hope and the joy of the Gospel, strengthened by God and by forgetfulness of self. Her spiritual message can lead all those baptised and confirmed to a rediscovery and a practice of that realistic chaity which is stunningly effective in the life of a Little Sister, or of a lay person whenever the God of mercy and hope reigns over her completely.


Likewise, Jeanne Jugan has left us an apostolic lesson in reality. You could say that she received the Spirit as a kind of prophetic intuition born of the needs and deep desires of the elderly: their desire to be respected, esteemed and loved; their fear of loneliness and at the same time their wish for independence and intimacy; the sadness of feeling no longer useful; and very often, a desire to deepen their life of faith and to live it all the more. I would even add that, never having read the beautiful words of Gaudium et Spes, Jeanne already secretly agreed with what they say about establishing a great human family where all men are treated as brothers (n. 24) sharing the world’s goods according to the law of justice (n. 69) which is inseparable from the law of charity. Though the structures of the social security system have done away which much of the misery of Jeanne Jugan’s time, still her daughters come across the misery of the elderly in many different countries today. And even where these structures do exist, they often do not provide the kind of home atmosphere the elderly so deeply desire and need for their physical and spiritual well-being. You can see it today: in a world where the number of older people is constantly growing…, the timeliness of the apostolic message of Jeanne Jugan cannot be disputed. From the start, the foundress wanted her Congregation not to limit itself to the West of France, but to become a real network of family homes where each person would be received, honoured and even, to the extent possible, brought to a new widening of his or her existence.


The timeliness of the apostolate undertaken by this foundress can be seen from the fact that there are today constant requests to be admitted to these homes and to found new ones. When she died, two thousand four hundred Little Sisters were ministering to the needs of the poor and aged in ten countries. Today, there are four thousand and four hundred of them in thirty nations and on six continents. The whole Church and society itself must admire and applaud the amazing growth of this little seed of the Gospel, sown in the soil of Brittany, and here, a hundred and fifty years later, so poor in possessions but rich in faith.

May the beatification of their dear Foundress bring to the Little Sisters new strength to be faithful to the charism of their mother. May this event have the effect of drawing more and more young girls throughout the world into the ranks of the Little Sisters. May the glorification of their fellow country-woman be a vigorous call to the parishioners of Cancale and the whole Diocese of Rennes to the faith and love of the Gospel. Finally, may this beatification be a source of joyous hope for all the aged of the world, thanks to the great witness of that lady who loved all of them so much in the name of Jesus Christ and of his Church!”
– “Example of Courage and Humility for Today’s World”, L’Osservatore romano, October 18, 1982


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