The Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass: A Primer
for Clueless Catholics
A Sacred Darkness
far, we have learned this: that
IS PRIMARILY A
Unless we begin to grasp this, we can go no
further. We are, as it were, standing at the
door looking in, aware that we are in the vestibule
of something deeply sacred. Beyond the doors
we will encounter something that we have never
experienced in our lives: the Sacrifice not
of bread and wine; not even a merely
still less a symbolic, Sacrifice. No. We will
witness the Sacrifice of a Human Being.
We will witness death.
As in most things of great importance, our eyes
will betray us. You know well of what I speak.
The world of appearances
that surrounds us
so often as a lie. It is among the greatest
of paradoxes that we are blinded by our sight,
and given sight by our blindness. Things are
so seldom what they appear to be: the fluted
columns of marble
within most Churches are
really plaster, and the voice that greets you
in kindness in the vestibule will calumniate
you as soon as you leave. Our eyes tell us that
this man is sinful and that woman pious, seeing
nothing of the humility in the one and the pride
in the other. How much love, and how much malice,
is concealed from our eyes. Why, the very sky
itself is not blue, but only appears so.
At the door of the Church, you enter, or ought
to enter, a sacred darkness. The world lies
without. God lies within. Appearances must fall
away the moment you anoint yourself with the
Holy Water and sign yourself with the Cross.
The world has passed. You have entered another
dimension in which time itself is anointed with
eternity. Your eyes will avail you nothing here.
Here they will distract you, vex you, call you
to your neighbor and away from God. Your ears
will not be deafened by a sacred silence, but
will contend with a thousand words that have
no place in Church and in the presence of the
The only one who will not compete for your attention
is God. The humility of God is stunning.
To Whom have you come this day? To God. Where
No, He is not upon the Altar. Not yet. Nor is
He in the statues, if any remain. He is not
even on the Crucifix ... at least not yet.
But He is here. No, no ... not in the mindless
aphorism that God is everywhere.
He has deigned to come to a place, a specific
place, and to dwell there in utter humility;
a place before which you can actually kneel,
lift up your face, close your eyes, and look
upon Him. ... as He looks upon you. He confines
Himself for you, because He knows your littleness.
But where?, you ask with incredulity.
is the Living God, that I may be before Him?
How this can be you will soon understand, but
right now it is only important that you realize
that He is there right before you. Not symbolically,
not metaphorically but Body, Blood, Soul,
and Divinity, He is there! As really and truly
as I would be, could I stand before you. You
could ... in fact,
... even touch Him!
The difference between His being there before
Soul, and Divinity and His being
absent from you is the blink of an eye
an eye that sees not upon opening, but closing.
It is the difference that Mary, the Mother of
God, experienced as she stood at the foot of
the Cross and closed her eyes in her unfathomable
Was Jesus still on the Cross before her as she
He is no less present to you when you kneel
before Him ... and close
In the Tabernacle
... in that little gold House of the Living
God within which He dwells really and truly
... in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar
... under what only
to be a humble Host; what, to the eyes, is only
bread. Bread? Yes, Bread!
The Bread of Angels
that has come down from Heaven
and which to
eat is life everlasting (St. John 6:48-52).
He is there!
You will find the Tabernacle behind the Altar
or, sadly, often shunted off to the side,
but if you look carefully, you will find it,
and when you find it you will find Him! Most
often it has a little door (for Him Who is
Gate) upon which two engraved angels face each
other in adoration of Him within. But they are
made merely of gold. You are made in the very
image of God!
Do no less than the angels ... and adore Him
Who awaits you there.
What we have learned today:
JESUS CHRIST is
present, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity
really as you or me in the Tabernacle
... under the
of Bread ... HE IS THERE!
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