When Our Blessed Lord taught the apostles to pray the Our Father, he did so in the fullness of his humanity; uniting himself with his brothers he addressed his Father as “our Father.” The implication of this is profound. The Father in heaven is now also “our Father.” Jesus makes this evident by his use of the plural pronoun: “Give us this day our daily bread; forgive us our trespasses” and so on with the other petitions. This shows us how Jesus prays with his people. In the Eucharistic Prayer, the central prayer of the Mass, the priest also uses the plural pronoun.
In the Mass, the words have greater significance. While the priest uses the plural pronoun “we” in the Eucharistic Prayer, it is Jesus who addresses the Father as head of the body made up of the faithful who are part of that mystical body. When we say that the priest offers the Holy Sacrifice in persona Christi we must believe this reality. It is not correct therefore to see the priest just as the presider or leader of the worshipping community.
Jesus Christ makes use of the priest’s voice, hands and gestures, but it is the Lord himself who carrying out the action. As the body of Christ, we are united in this deed the same way that our physical body is united to the head. We must also realise that it is Jesus, himself the victim, who offers himself to the Father as a pure sacrifice. Through the action of the Holy Spirit, the bread and wine presented become his own body and blood. This is the blood of the new and eternal covenant, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins, and for all the intentions named in the Eucharistic Prayer.
The Father, with “serene and kindly countenance” is asked to accept the offering from his only Son, who gave his life for humanity.
“In this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and is offered in an unbloody manner.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1367). It is impossible for us to offer God anything that surpasses the Mass in its greatness, because in the Mass it is Christ who offers himself as a holy and living sacrifice.
Our prayers, fasting, almsgiving and hours of Adoration are all a good way of bringing us closer to God and of increasing our own holiness. We can intercede for our needs and the needs of the whole Church. Through the treasury of merits gained by Our Blessed Mother and the saints as well as Jesus, we can obtain indulgences for ourselves and the souls in Purgatory. Nevertheless all of this is small in comparison with what Jesus in his divinity is able to offer the Father. It is through the sacrifice of Christ that we may be admitted into the company of saints, not by our own merits, but through the granting of the pardon obtained through Christ, true God and true man.
In every Mass, Jesus Christ pays the debt still owed by us and mediates on behalf of the entire Church. We therefore do best of offer up our intentions in union with the Lord himself.
St. Lawrence Justinian tells us “There is no prayer or good work so great, so pleasing to God, or as useful to us as the Mass.” The holy patriarch of Venice describes the manner in which Christ intercedes for us. “When Christ is spiritually slain on the altar, he calls upon his heavenly Father; he shows him his wounds, which in virtue of his earnest supplication man may escape eternal damnation.”
In these days, we don’t hear much about avoiding the eternal damnation which is part of the Church’s deposit of faith. Yet this is made clear in the words of the Mass, in particular during Eucharistic Prayer I the Roman Canon, when the memory of the Blessed Virgin Mary and many of the great saints of the Church is invoked. Speaking in persona Christithe priest asks the Father that through the merits and prayers of the aforesaid saints, we may claim his protection and help, and be counted among the flock of those he has chosen.
The Fathers of the Church claim the world would have been destroyed had it not been for the Mass, The sins of humanity are so great that it is only through the sacrifice of Jesus offered daily that the wrath of God can be held back, and at the same time many blessings obtained for his children. Many of the great saints of the Church have testified to the inestimable value of the Mass. In the words of St. Bonaventure: “The Mass is a compendium of all God’s love, of all His benefits to men, and each Mass bestows on the world a benefit not less than what was conferred on it by the Incarnation.” St. Alphonsus tells us that even God himself could do nothing holier, better, or greater than the Mass.
We are accustomed to requesting a Mass to be offered for the dead, but it is even more important to have Mass said for the living. By this means, the whole merit of the Mass will be applied to the soul of the person for whom the Mass is offered. The merit is increased if the person is able to actually attend the same Mass.
In the first letter of St. John the beloved apostle, we are told: “We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the just, and he is the propitiation for our sins.” In other words, the Son of God himself is our defender and intercessor. The way in which this happens is unsurpassed in the holy sacrifice of the Mass. We learn fromSacrosanctum Concilium that every liturgical action is an action of Christ himself, and there is no other action of the Church that can equal the effectiveness of the Eucharistic liturgy. “Every liturgical action because it is an action of Christ the priest and of his body, which is the Church, is a pre-eminently sacred action.”
With special thanks to http://lexcredendiblog.wordpress.com