Post by Admin on Jul 23, 2020 11:48:55 GMT
On the Blessed Eucharist as it is a Sacrifice
by Bishop Richard Challoner
Published in 1874
Published in 1874
Consider, first, that the blessed Eucharist is not only a sacrament, in which we receive the body and blood of Christ, for the food and nourishment of our souls, but it is also a sacrifice, in which this same body and blood of Christ is offered up to God, in remembrance of His death and passion, for the honour and glory of God, in thanksgiving for all His benefits, to obtain pardon for all our sins, and grace in all our necessities. Sacrifice is a sovereign act of religious worship, due to God alone, inasmuch as it testifies, by the oblation made to Him, that He is the sovereign Lord of all things, the Master of life and death, our first Beginning and last End. Now from the beginning of the world, the children of God were accustomed to offer sacrifices to Him; and this was the solemn worship in which they met together to join in paying their homage and adoration to Him. In the old law, a great variety of these sacrifices was prescribed of burnt-offerings, of sin-offerings, of peace-offerings, &c.; but all these were but figures, and imperfect shadows, of the great Sacrifice, which was reserved for the law of grace, and which we celebrate in the blessed Eucharist; a sacrifice, in which the Son of God Himself is both Priest and Victim.
Consider, secondly, that as the law of Moses was to give way to the law of Christ, of which it was a figure, and the priesthood of the sons of Aaron was to yield to him that is a Priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech; so all those ancient sacrifices of the old law, which were but figures and shadows, were to make way for the new sacrifice of Christ's institution, which is no other than that of His own body and blood, not as prefigured by the flesh and blood of calves or lambs, but as exhibited in truth; once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross; daily, to the end of the world, in an unbloody manner, on our altars, under the forms of bread and wine, agreeably to the priesthood and sacrifice of Melchisedech, which he offered in bread and wine; Gen. xiv. 18. Hence, in the thirty-ninth Psalm, spoken in the person of Christ, the sacrifice of His own body is substituted in the place of all those ancient victims in these word--Sacrifice and oblation thou didst not desire; but thou hast fitted a body to me (for so St. Paul reads it, Heb. x. 5.) Burnt-offering and sin-offering thou didst not require: then said I, Behold I come. And this new sacrifice of the Christian church, this clean offering, which should be offered in every place among the Gentiles, is foretold Malachi. i. 11, and there accepted of by the Lord, at the same time as He declares He will receive no more of the Jewish sacrifices, ver. 10.
Consider, thirdly, that this great sacrifice of the Eucharist essentially consists in the consecration of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, and in the offering up of this same body and blood to God, by the ministry of the priest, as a perpetual memorial of the sacrifice of the cross, and a continuation of the same to the end of the world. For, by the separate consecration of the bread into the body of Christ, and of the wine into His blood, performed by the priest, in the name and person of Christ, our great High Priest, Christ Jesus presents Himself to His Father upon our altars, as slain for us, and His blood as shed for us, and under this figure of death, offers up His own body and blood, to answer all the ends and intentions for which we ought to offer sacrifice to God. Not as if there were any insufficiency in His sacrifice of the cross, by which He completely redeemed us, and opened to us the fountain of all mercy, grace, and salvation; but that we might have, in this eucharistic sacrifice, a standing memorial of our redemption; a daily means of applying the fruit of it to our souls; a daily communion one with another, by joining together in the solemn worship of sacrifice, as the children of God had always done from the beginning, and a daily means of uniting ourselves, in these mysteries, with our High Priest and Victim, Christ Jesus, and of coming to God, with Him and through Him.
Conclude to frequent, daily, this great means of salvation, which our Lord has prepared for us, in the eucharistic sacrifice: admire and adore the wonders of the power and goodness of God manifested to us therein, and resolve to correspond with them by faith, hope and love.
On the Excellence of the Eucharistic Sacrifice
Consider, first, that the excellence and dignity of a sacrifice is to be estimated by the excellence and dignity of the victim that is offered, of the priest that makes the offering, and of the ends for which the oblation is made. Now, all these things concur to recommend, in the highest degree, the sacrifice of the blessed Eucharist; which, in substance, is the same with that which the Son of God offered upon the cross, because both the victim is the same, and the chief priest is the same; and both the one and the other answer the same ends, though in a different manner. See then, my soul, and admire the excellence of this great sacrifice which is offered on our altars; a sacrifice in which the whole passion and death of Jesus Christ is solemnly acted by Himself in person, in such manner as to be Himself both the Priest and the Victim; the Sacrificer and the Sacrifice. Christ Jesus, the Son of God, was the great High-Priest of God and men, Who solemnly offered His own body and blood upon the cross, a sacrifice to God for all mankind; His body and blood was the Victim by which we were redeemed. And this same great High-Priest of God and men officiates also in person in the sacrifice of the altar, and there offers up the same Victim of His body and blood to His heavenly Father, in our behalf. O, can any thing be more divine than such a sacrifice, in which a God is the Priest, and a God the victim
Consider, secondly, the noble ends and intentions, for which this sacrifice is daily offered, by the Son of God in person, upon our altars; where He presents Himself, attended by His heavenly host, as the High-Priest of heaven and earth, and solemnly offers His body, as delivered up, broken and slain, and his blood as poured out. First, as a sacrifice of sovereign adoration and homage, praise and glory to God on high, infinitely more honored by this worship, which He here receives from His own Son, mystically dying on our altars, than by all the holocausts and burnt-offerings of the patriarchs and prophets, and all the homage, which all the saints put together either have, or ever could offer to Him, although their whole being were to evaporate to His glory. Secondly, He offers up His body and blood as a sacrifice of a general thanksgiving, of most sweet odour in the sight of God, for all His graces, blessings, and communications of His goodness, to any of His creatures; for our creation, preservation, redemption, &c.; for His own great glory; for the whole church of heaven and earth; and for all that He has done in favor of Christ, (the great Head of the church of heaven and earth,) according to His human nature. Thirdly, He offers His body and blood, together with His whole passion and death, as a sacrifice of a general propitiation for the sins of the living and the dead, in favor of whom He represents to His eternal Father the blood of the everlasting covenant. And fourthly, He offers the same body and blood, as a sacrifice of a general supplication for His whole family, that is, for His whole church, and for all its pastors and people; that all graces and blessings may be derived to their souls, from the fountains of their Saviour. O, infinite Goodness, what treasures hast thou opened for us, in these divine mysteries!
Consider, thirdly, that, as often as we go to celebrate or assist at these sacred mysteries, it may be proper to represent to ourselves, that we are called upon, as by a royal proclamation from heaven, to be sanctified, and to come along with our great HighPriest, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and with His whole church of heaven and earth, and to join in a most solemn sacrifice, that is going to be offered to God for all the great ends above-mentioned. Yes, Christians; for it is a most certain truth, that, in this divine sacrifice, we present ourselves at the altar of God, before the throne of His mercy, with Jesus Christ, His Son; at our head; and in the society of His whole family, the whole people of God, wherever they are, (for this sacrifice is offered by Jesus Christ in the name of them all,) and that, by the hands of this our HighPriest, and with the concurrence of His whole church, we here offer up to God the most acceptable victim that can be presented to His divine Majesty, the most agreeable adoration and thanksgiving that can be offered, the most powerful atonement for sin, and the most effectual means for obtaining all graces and blessings, by offering up the passion and death of the Son of God.
Conclude to approach always to these most sacred and sublime mysteries, with the most profound veneration, lively faith, and ardent devotion; and ever to join your intention, according to all these four ends, with the principal Offerer, Jesus Christ, and with His whole church.
On the Blessed Eucharist, as it is a Sacrifice of Adoration and Praise
Consider, first, the indispensable obligation incumbent upon man, as a rational creature, made by God, and for God, to present his homage of adoration, praise, and glory, to his Maker. For this reason, the children of God, from the beginning, offered up sacrifices to the Deity; for this reason, they instituted holocausts, or whole burnt-offerings, in which the whole victim was consumed by fire, evaporating on God's altar, in testimony of His being the sovereign Lord of all; for this reason, the Psalms were composed by divine inspiration, and appointed to be sung, together with musical instruments, to the praise and glory of God, and to accompany the sacrifices offered in the temple of God. Such was the zeal of these ancient servants of God for paying Him the best homage they were able of adoration and praise; and such ought to be, at all times, the sincere disposition of all that believe in God, as to be willing to adore and praise, worship and serve, this their first Beginning and last End with all their power, and to consecrate their whole being to His glory. See, my soul, if this be thy disposition.
Consider, secondly, how little is all that man can offer, of his own fund, even though his whole being were to evaporate to the glory of God, when compared with the infinite majesty of God, and the homage and adoration which He deserves. If the whole creation could be made one holocaust, or burnt-offering, for the glory of God, alas! it would be all no more in the eyes of so great a King, than as if a grain of chaff were to be burnt in honour of some earthly monarch; because there is no proportion between that which is finite, and that which is infinite; and therefore the whole creation, compared to God, is less than one grain of chaff, compared with an earthly monarch, or even with the whole creation. How mean, then, is all that man can offer of his own, or of any other creature's! and how unworthy and insufficient to be made a sacrifice of adoration and praise to the divine Majesty! See then, my soul, how greatly we are obliged to the Son of God, Who, by the institution of the blessed Eucharist, has furnished us with a sacrifice of adoration, homage, praise and glory, worthy of God, as being of an infinite value, by reason of the infinite dignity, both of the Priest and Victim.
Consider, thirdly, how our Lord, expiring and dying upon the cross, in obedience to His Father's will, offered Himself in sacrifice in such manner, that His death was not only in the nature of a sin-offering, or a sacrifice of propitiation for the sins of the world, but also in the nature of a burnt-offering, (in which the whole victim is given to God without reserve,) or a sacrifice of adoration, homage, praise and glory. As then, in the blessed Eucharist, Christ Himself, in person, celebrates His own death, and offers up the same sacrifice, in substance, with that which He offered expiring upon the cross; so we have here the same adoration, homage, praise and glory, offered by Christ, as God's High-Priest, and our High-Priest, to His eternal Father; and this sacrifice of adoration, homage, praise and glory, He has made over to us; so that we are enabled, by joining with Him in these sacred mysteries, to offer up daily to our God a homage and adoration of infinite value.
Conclude with admiration of the infinite power, wisdom, and goodness of God, manifested to us in the institution of this divine sacrifice, by means of which a Victim of infinite value is daily offered, and will be daily offered, to the end of the world, upon a million of altars, by a Priest of infinite dignity, to give infinite honor and glory to His divine Majesty, and to be, at the same time, an inexhaustible Source of all good to us. O, let us daily and hourly join our adoration and praise with that which is, in every place, offered by our High-Priest, in these divine mysteries, and it will not fail of being acceptable through Him.
On the Blessed Eucharist, as it is a Sacrifice of Thanksgiving
Consider, first, that we are also indispensably obliged to return due thanks to God for all His bounties, favors, and mercies to us; and that, as these are boundless and infinite, He has a right to call for a return of all the gratitude and love we are capable of; and that nothing less than an infinite thanksgiving can be equivalent to the debt we owe Him. But O, how little is all that our store can afford towards discharging so immense a debt! If we should even offer Him our whole being, and this could be a return for the great benefit of our creation, by which He has given us this being, what should we have left to give Him? or what return should we be able to make Him for our redemption, for our preservation, for our vocation, and for so many others His benefits; and above all, for that eternal free love of His for us, which is the source of all these benefits? See, then, how good our God has been, in furnishing us, by the means of the eucharistic sacrifice, with a standing fund to enable us to discharge this infinite debt, and to render Him a thanksgiving worthy of Him.
Consider, secondly, that, as all the thanks-offerings of the law of nature, and of the law of Moses, fell infinitely short of answerIng, in a proper and sufficient manner, the obligation incumbent on mankind, of returning due thanks to God; the Son of God Himself became man, to make Himself our Priest and Victim, and, in that quality, to offer up in our behalf a worthy sacrifice of thanksgiving, no less infinite, by reason of the dignity of His person, than those favors and mercies were, for which He makes this return of thanks. This sacrifice of thanksgiving He offered once upon the cross, and now offers daily in the Eucharist, upon a million of altars, throughout the world; and, in this offering, He expects that His whole family of heaven and earth should join with Him, that with Him, and through Him, they may make a daily return of worthy thanks for all God's blessings, bestowed upon both Him and them. See, my soul, thou be never wanting in this duty.
Consider, thirdly, what this thanksgiving is, that we are to offer up daily to God, in the sacrifice of the blessed Eucharist--a sacrifice which takes its very name from thanksgiving. First, we are to return thanks to God for His own great glory, manifested in all His works. Secondly, we are to thank Him, in particular, for the great work of our redemption. Thirdly, we are to offer up to Him this sacrifice, in thanksgiving for the incarnation and birth of his Son, and for all the blessings bestowed upon Him, according to his human nature; for His doctrine and miracles, for His passion and death, for His resurrection and ascension, and for all that power which is given Him in heaven and earth. Fourthly, we are likewise to offer up this sacrifice, in thanksgiving for ourselves, and for the whole church, triumphant, militant and patient; and for all that mercy, grace, and salvation, which has, at any time, been derived upon any man from the sovereign Source of all good, through Jesus Christ. See, Christians, how much we all, in general, have to thank God for, besides the special favours, for which each one in particular stands indebted to the divine bounty. But infinite thanks be to His infinite goodness, who has provided for us this sacrifice of infinite value, in which we may daily present ourselves before Him, in the company of Jesus Christ His Son, and make Him a suitable and acceptable offering, through Him, for all His favours.
Conclude to unite, daily, thy intentions with those with which Jesus Christ daily offers this sacrifice upon all the altars throughout His church. The thanksgiving offered by Him, and nothing less, will be equal to thy debt.