What is the
Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? A Primer
for Clueless Catholics
A PRIMER for CLUELESS CATHOLICS
the foggiest idea what is going on during
You may not even know why you're there.
The reasons are many:
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 short
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:
Find one! If you are in
the Greater Boston area, three immediately
come to mind:
321 South Broadway
Lawrence MA 01843
(Dominican Fathers, Brothers, and Sisters, O.P. — Ordo
distinctive white tunic, or habit, and black scapular of the
Dominicans are the first intimation that things at Sacred Heart are
different from most parishes — and distinctly different from
Novus Ordo parishes — the more one enters into the Church. Holy
statuary, beautifully crafted, abounds. There is a Communion
Rail! An Altar of marble
(an Altar of
Sacrifice!) majestically ascends to the Sanctuary — in place of the
dreary wooden “table of
the Lord” that became the pseudo-Catholic
equivalent of Protestant disdain for the
Sacraments ... and most especially “the Holy
Eucharist as really and truly the Body,
Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord and
Savior Jesus Christ.” And
the Mass is entirely in Latin
(the homily in English)! It is Holy Mother
Church in every way prior to its appalling
disfigurement by Vatican II. In a word, it
unapologetically, vibrantly, and
282 Still River
Road Still River, MA. 01467.
Benedictine Abbey, and the Saint Benedict
Center (Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of
Mary) for many valiant years retained the
Traditional Latin Mass — 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 offers
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
in Latin only.
Street, Newton, MA
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”
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
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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