The Altar is Calvary

St. Alphonsus de’ Liguori went so far as to say, “God Himself cannot bring about an action holier and greater than the celebration of a Holy Mass.”  Why?  Because Holy Mass can be said to be a synthesis summing up the Incarnation and Redemption; It contains the Birth, Passion and the Death of Jesus—mysteries which God accomplished for our sakes. The Second Vatican Council teaches that “at the Last Supper, the night in which He was betrayed, Jesus initiated the Eucharistic Sacrifice of His Body and Blood, in order to continue the Sacrifice of the Cross throughout the centuries until His return.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 47).

Earlier, Ven. Pope Pius XII had also formulated this stupendous insight:  “The altar on Golgotha is not different from the altar of our churches; even this is a mountain [like Mt. Golgotha] on which stands a cross and the One crucified, where the reconciliation between God and man takes place.”  St. Thomas Aquinas, in an enlightening passage, wrote, “The celebration of Holy Mass has the same value as the Death of Jesus on the Cross.”

For this reason, St. Francis of Assisi said, “Man should tremble, the world should quake, all Heaven should be deeply moved when the Son of God appears on the altar in the hands of the priest.” Indeed, since it renews the Sacrifice of Jesus’ Passion and Death, the Holy Mass, taken alone, is great enough to restrain divine justice.  “All the wrath and indignation of God yield before this offering,” writes St. Albert the Great.

St. Teresa of Avila said to her daughters, “Without the Holy Mass what would become of us?  All here below would perish, because that alone can hold back God’s arm.”  Without it the Church certainly would not last and the world would become hopelessly lost.  “Without the Mass, the earth would have already been destroyed by the sins of men many ages ago,” teaches St. Alphonsus de’ Liguori.  “It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do so without the Holy Mass,” said Saint Pio of Pietrelcina.  He was echoing St. Leonard of Port Maurice, who had said, “I believe that if there were no Mass, the world would by now have sunk into the abyss under the weight of its wickedness.  The Mass is the powerful support which sustains it.” (from Jesus Our Eucharistic Love by Fr. Manelli)

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