How the Shedding of Christ's Blood is Renewed in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (AKA Catholic)
St. Augustine, says: “The Blood of Christ is shed for sinners in Holy Mass.”
These words are so plain that they need no elucidation, and they are uttered by one so trustworthy that no one can dispute his testimony. We will next listen to St. Chrysostom, who expresses himself thus: “The Lamb of God is immolated for thee, His Blood flows mystically upon the altar; the Blood contained in the chalice is drawn for thy cleansing from His sacred side.” This passage has been expounded as follows:
“Once for all Christ shed His Blood in a visible and painful manner, but at this we could not be present. This shedding of blood is, however, repeated daily in an invisible manner: His hands are wounded, His feet are transfixed, His side is pierced, His Blood is made to flow, but in a manner of which our senses cannot take cognizance. We can appropriate to ourselves His infinite merits by our glowing desire, by our contrition and sorrow, by Holy Communion, but above and beyond all by hearing Mass.”
These words deserve attentive consideration; they are those of a learned theologian [a Father and Doctor of the Church], and he expressly tells us that by no means can we participate in the merits of Christ so surely as by assisting at Mass, adding these words: “In the Mass, the priest, by the prayer of Consecration, draws, as it were, the Blood from the Saviour’s side, in order to apply it to thee for thy cleansing, thy sanctification, the forgiveness of thy sins.” Many other authorities might be cited in confirmation of this statement, but we will content ourselves with the testimony of the learned Father Natali, who says: “The same Blood which flowed from the side of Christ is in the chalice after the words of Consecration have been spoken, and it is shed for us for the remission of sins.”
Now the priest does not content himself with saying: “This is the chalice of My Blood;” he continues: “which shall be shed for you and for many, for the remission of sins.” As the first part of the sentence is certainly fulfilled, with no less certainty will the latter part be fulfilled. Consequently, the Sacred Blood of Christ is verily and indeed shed in the Mass “for you and for many;” that is, for you who are present and for the many who are absent, for those who hear Mass and for those who would gladly do so if they could and who therefore desire a memento in it. These are the “many” for whom Christ’s Blood is shed in Holy Mass for the remission of sins.
This proof is of greater force than any other, for the authority upon which it rests is none other than the truth which comes from the lips of God Himself. How sublime a mystery is this! How unspeakable is the love of Christ for us poor sinners! Is it really possible that our adorable Jesus, who shed His Blood to the last drop for us, should shed it again and again for us— daily, hourly—for the remission of our sins and for our eternal salvation? How great are the graces, the blessings they receive who assist at Holy Mass!
“As often as the Blood of Christ is shed,” says St. Ambrose [a Father and Doctor of the Church], “it is shed for the remission of sins.” What greater inducement can we have to hear Mass than the assurance that by doing so we can obtain remission of our sins? We are not left in doubt as to whether the chalice really contains Christ’s Blood, for God has revealed this truth and made it evident by numerous miracles, of which one will now be narrated.
We read in the writings of Cesar of Heisterbach that about the year 1220 there lived in the archdiocese of Cologne a female recluse who had retired from the world and taken up her abode in a kind of cell built onto the wall of a church, where she led a life of contemplation and penance. This recluse had a special devotion for Holy Mass, and a small window was constructed in the wall of her dwelling to enable her to assist at it. But the evil enemy, finding her on other points defended against his assaults, contrived to instill into her mind a tormenting doubt as to the Transubstantiation of the wine into the Blood of Our Lord. This temptation was so strong that it quite overthrew her faith, and she even communicated her doubts to some women with whom she conversed through a window. But God had compassion on His servant and wrought a visible miracle to deliver her from error. One day, when the priest of a neighboring parish was saying Mass, through carelessness (or perhaps by the special permission of Providence) he overturned the chalice after the Consecration. He was horror struck, but still more so when he observed that the wine which was spilt had assumed the appearance and color of blood. At the conclusion of the Mass, he tried in every way to wash the stain out of the corporal, but all was in vain. When the next Sunday came, he took the bloodstained corporal up into the pulpit, told the congregation what had occurred and with tears held up the corporal to their view. This made a great impression upon the people, who were much touched at the sight of the Saviour’s Blood, and the conviction was borne in upon the priest that the miracle was intended to confirm the faith of those who were tempted to doubt. Accordingly, he made it known far and wide; at length he went to the dwelling of the recluse of whom we have spoken, told her all that had happened and exhibited the blood-stained corporal to her also. As soon as she saw the marks of the Precious Blood, she fell to the ground, bewailed her fault with bitter tears and humbly begged the pardon of all who were present. She then made aloud a profession of faith, saying: “I steadfastly believe that in the consecrated chalice the true, natural Blood of Christ is really present, the same that was shed for us upon the Cross, and in this belief I hope to live and die.” The priest returned home, and on again placing the corporal in water, he found to his astonishment that the stains instantly disappeared. When the recluse heard this, she perceived that God in His mercy had worked this wonder for her good, and this conviction served to establish her still more firmly in faith.
Something similar is told of Father Peter Cavagnelas, a monk of the Order of St. Jerome. For a longtime he was a prey to terrible doubts as to whether the Blood of Christ was present in the Sacred Host. One day, when in saying Mass he came to these words of the Canon, “We most humbly beseech Thee, Almighty God, to command these things to be carried by the hands of Thy holy Angel to Thy altar on high, in the sight of Thy Divine Majesty,” and according to the rules of the rubric, bowed down profoundly, behold, a cloud descended upon the altar and concealed both the Host and the chalice from his sight! The priest felt much alarmed, for he knew not what this thing meant. He made an act of sincere contrition and lifted up his heart in fervent prayer to God. After a time, his petition was heard; the cloud lifted, and he saw the Sacred Host suspended over the chalice. While he gazed upon it with reverence, he perceived that Blood was dropping from it; this continued until there was exactly the same quantity as there had been wine in the chalice. Joy filled his heart; all his doubts vanished; thenceforth nothing ever obscured his firm faith in the presence of the Blood of Christ in the Sacred Host.
These two stories show that the Body and Blood of Christ are both present at the same time in each of the elements, although by virtue of the prayer of Consecration, the Body of Christ is principally under the form of bread in the Sacred Host, His Blood under the form of wine in the sacred chalice.
Here we may pause, and endeavor to realize what an immense grace it is for us to possess the adorable Blood of Christ in the Mass. The Catholic Church owns no greater, more costly treasure, for a single drop of this Blood, which is united to the person of the Divinity, outweighs in value all the riches of Heaven and of earth. This Precious Blood is not only present with us in the Mass, we have it for our very own (as was said in Chapter 5 ). and as our own we may offer it to Almighty God.
Most Precious Blood of Jesus, have mercy on us!