What is the
Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? A Primer
for Clueless Catholics
A PRIMER for CLUELESS CATHOLICS
You haven’t the foggiest idea what is going
on during Mass.
You may not even know why you're there.
The reasons are many:
It's what Catholics do and I am Catholic.
I want my kids to grow up in this tradition
that comes from my parents, grandparents,
and forebears throughout the 2000 years
preceding my coming into this world
It is something good to do and it is
holy ... although why it is good and
why it is holy remains a mystery to
My friends go ... although they do not
know why either.
I need God’s help, and if I go to Mass
He will look favorably on me.
God is there ... although just how He
is there, I do not understand – after
all, God is everywhere, right?
– so why is this place so special?
Do not be ashamed. It is not your fault.
There are answers – good answers
– for all the questions this short list
were never taught.
It is really that simple. No one took the
time to sit down and talk with you about
what is the most important event
in your life – and it occurs
every 7 days. In fact, whatever else you
do during the other 167 hours of the week
(job, school, charity – in fact, every
other responsibility, necessity,
or good work) however good, kind, lofty,
noble, pales in significance to the Mass.
Before you go further in this brief study
– and it is a study that we invite
you to – of the single most important thing
in your life, we must make a promise
to you first: it will not be dry
or boring, nor will it be fraught with meaningless
pieties. You will understand what the Mass
is, why it is holy, and why you must be
there. This is our promise to you.
It will not be "socially correct",
sanitized to sensitivities, or keeping in
step with the passing fads that blow through
the pews and across the Altars as so many
shifting winds following that elusive mantra
of "what is in vogue". There is perpetuity
in the Church, and unchangeable elements
of the Mass. Hopefully, we will enable you
to see beyond the Mass so often presented
as entertainment, hosted by an entertainer,
to the deep and very sacred reality within
as we most often call it, is really
“The Most Holy
Sacrifice of the Mass”.
a moment on those 7 words, for they contain
quite nearly everything that you will need
to know in order to understand why you go
to Church, or why you ought to.
The Mass, first and foremost,
is a Sacrifice. Not a figurative
sacrifice, not a mere remembrance of something
done long ago, and not a metaphor. It is
a real sacrifice. At Mass you are witnessing
– even participating in – a sacrifice, very
real and very present.
Does that surprise you?
We do not hear very much about this – but
unless we understand this most
fundamental, this absolutely central
aspect of the Mass, nothing else makes sense.
Our lack of understanding the Mass as a
Sacrifice contributes to most of
the confusion that surrounds our going there
and being there.
But what is the nature of this Sacrifice,
and how is it enacted? Who does the sacrificing
and who or what is sacrificed? How do
we ourselves participate in it?
Tomorrow we will begin to understand.
any graphic above to expand it)
What we have learned today:
The Mass is a Sacrifice
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you can find a
Traditional Latin Mass in your diocese
(the Tridentine Mass of 1962, prior to the many
unfortunate changes and liturgical abuses common
to nearly every Mass celebrated in the vernacular
subsequent to Vatican II) ... we have one suggestion:
GO! Find one. If you have
experienced little of sanctity ... and
much in the way of silliness ... if you have
encountered (wo)man more than you have encountered
God ... if you have left as empty as you had
arrived ... go to a Tridentine Latin
Mass (yes, it is both approved and encouraged
by Pope Benedict XVI through his Motu Proprio
Summorum Pontificum). If you were
born after 1960 you will experience something
you have never before encountered; something
of unutterable beauty, sanctity, solemnity,
and ceremony that your forbears knelt before
for over 1000 years.
You will find God.
Absolutely everything, every
gesture, every act, is directed to God Who is
the sole focus of the Most Holy Sacrifice
that we call the Mass
— and not to a music "Ministry" or a
priest as an entertainer
— most often a comedian
— who demand your applause ... at
the foot of the crucified Christ. If you
have never really and truly experienced "the
utterly sacred" and have no idea what it means,
what that experience is ... the experience of
proximity to God Himself ... go
to a Tridentine Latin Mass! Your life in, with,
and through Christ will never be the same again.
You will know what "worship" really is
... and how very different it is from the many
forms of self-adulation you have encountered
in every vernacular Mass (no two are exactly
alike). Instead of the exaltation of man, you
will find the exaltation of God
— and come to realize
the vast gulf between the two and the paltry
exchange that has been traded off when man chose
to worship God on his own terms and sought
to share the very Throne with Him.
who cannot find a Latin Tridentine Mass, or
whose bishop or pastor, in defiance of Rome,
deliberately suppresses it — we offer the following
as a way of attending the vernacular Mass without
losing your faith as a consequence of it:
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