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“Salus animarum supemus lex esto” — ”the salvation of souls must be the supreme law in the Church.” Canon Law 1752


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What is the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? A Primer for Clueless Catholics

The Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass: a Primer for Clueless Catholics



The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

Part I

We are Clueless


Admit it.

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:
  • Its 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 through them.
  • It is something good to do and it is holy ... although why it is good and why it is holy remains a mystery to me.
  • My friends go ... although they do not know why either.
  • I need Gods 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 brings up.

ou 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.

The Basics:

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 it.

The Mass, as we most often call it, is really short for, The Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

 Linger 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.


Lord ... dost THOU come to me ...? The Sacrifice at Calvary that occurs during the Mass Holy Communion --- Receiving the Real Body and Blood of Jesus Christ

(click any graphic above to expand it)


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If 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 are in the Greater Boston area, three immediately come to mind:

  • Sacred Heart Traditional Catholic Church,

    321 South Broadway
    Lawrence MA 01843 (Dominican Fathers, Brothers, and Sisters). They offer the Pre-Vatican II Traditional Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Latin only, daily, weekends and Sunday (High Mass) 10 AM, 9AM on weekdays and PietaSaturdays, 978-686-7921  Please visit their website at  Men and women must observe a very strict dress code. Remember
    Sunday Best?  Men: suit up. Women: no hemlines above knee, no bare shoulders, no plunging necklines, no dresses with slits beyond the knee, head-covering required (mantillas are provided if needed). Would you really meet the President of the United States or the Queen of England in your gym clothes or a hoodie? Here, you go to meet the King of Kings — Christ Himself! Will you do less? Sacred Heart Church is the only Church listed that does not recognize Vatican II and has kept the Mass unchanged as it has been prayed by Holy Mother Church for over 1500 years. DIRECTIONS: From the I-93 and I93 interchange it is a twenty minute drive north: Take Rte I-93 North for 14 miles (16 minutes) to I-495 North for about 1 mile to exit 41B and stay on Rte 28 which becomes South St. Sacred Heart Church is about 1 mile down and on your left. You cannot possibly miss it. Ample parking all around.


    Sacred Heart Traditional Catholic Church Front Entrance Sacred Heart Church Lawrence MA Bell Tower-1 Sacred Heart Church Lawrence MA Bell Tower-view 3 Sacred Heart Church Lawrence MA Sign Sacred Heart Church Lawrence MA Cloister Wall Sacred Heart Church Lawrence MA built 1899 Sacred Heart Church Lawrence MA Convent Dominican Fathers and Brothers: Ordo Praedicatorum: Laudare, Denedicere, Praedicare - To Praise, to Bless and to Preach Archway of the Annunciation

    (Click on any image to expand it)


  • St. Benedict Abbey,

282 Still River Road Still River, MA. 01467. 978-456-8296 The Benedictine Abbey, and the Saint Benedict Center (Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary) for many valiant years retained the Traditional Latin St. Benedict Center Still River MAMass — until it relented to pressure from the Vatican and was eventually reconciled with it. In turn it was eventually allowed to celebrate the “Extraordinary Form of the Mass” (the last Traditional Catholic Latin Mass, dated 1962, and re-instituted by Pope Benedict XVI in his Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum in July 2007. From the junction of I-93 and 95 (Rt. 128) it is approximately an hour drive west. It only offers The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Latin only.


  • Mary Immaculate of Lourdes,

    270 Elliot Street, Newton, MA 02464  617-244-0558  See our review here. Mary Immaculate of Lourdes is a large parish that offers the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Homepage:  Sunday 10 AM High Mass in Latin according to the “Extraordinary Form of the Mass” . The Novus Ordo is also celebrated daily at Mary Immaculate of Lourdes. Approximately 15 minutes east from Rte 95 (128) and about a 45 minute drive south from the junction of I-93 and 95 (Rt. 128) it is approximately an hour drive west.



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. 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 2 millennia.

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.

For those 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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Scio opera tua ... quia modicum habes virtutem, et servasti verbum Meum, nec non negasti Nomen Meum 
I know your works ... that you have but little power, and yet you have kept My word, and have not denied My Name. (Apocalypse 3.8)


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