Rorate Caeli

A Return to Sacrifice, in order to Save the Sacrament

Tintoretto, The Crucifixion (Scuola Grande di San Rocco)

Editorial: Radicati nella fede, June 2014
Newsletter of the Catholic community of
Domodossola and Vocogno, Diocese of Novara, Italy

June is the month of Corpus Christi. It is the month of the great feast dedicated entirely to Our Eucharistic Jesus. As in all parishes, we too are preparing to celebrate it on Sunday 22nd of June, seeing that the Thursday of the Solemnity is no longer a feast day in Italy. We will celebrate it mainly, with a solemn procession after the sung Mass, by carrying the Most Sacred Host through the streets of the town.

This should be the most important procession of the year, since here we are not carrying a venerated statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary nor a saint or relic, but Jesus Himself, living and real in the Most Blessed Sacrament; living and real with His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. This procession should be the most solemn, filled with adoration and holy respect for Our Lord Who is passing by.

Certainly many will sense distinct melancholic thoughts arising: “it is no longer like this in our towns now, Corpus Christi can’t be celebrated as it once was; the streets used to be adorned and the sides along the way used to be covered with the most beautiful drapes; and do you remember the altar- stops? There was a competition to see who could make the most beautiful altar! And the people – how they used to kneel…! Yes, it’s no longer like that. Today, if all goes well, Corpus Christi is the procession of a small remnant of believers who still adore the Most Holy Eucharist. For Our Lady’s procession we can hope for one or two more Catholics – but for Corpus Christi…!”

These are all realistic considerations, but we would be wrong if we only complained without thinking about it all more deeply.

Why has the spirit of adoration been lost? Why do so many baptized souls not recognize the Lord passing by in the Sacred Host anymore?

Among the “conservatives” many will say that it was all caused by certain factors: a) the moving of the tabernacles in churches – from the altars they were relegated into some corner; b) genuflections are no longer made; c) receiving Communion standing and in the hand; d) the reduction if not the disappearance of Eucharistic fasting, etc...

All of which are true, but these are not the main causes – the real one is deeper.

It all began with the disastrous reform to the Rite of the Mass which followed the Second Vatican Council.

With the pretext of translating the Mass into the vernacular in 1969 - it was changed radically, practically re-made and purged of all the explicit references to the Propitiatory Sacrifice – in order to please the Protestants.

In fact, the Mass was increasingly transformed into a Holy Supper and this was done basically, so that the priests and the faithful [could] be nurtured at the “two tables” of the Word and the Body of Christ; in short, the Mass was done so as to have Communion.

So the central and determining factor of the Sacrifice of Christ disappeared from the everyday life of Catholics. It was for this Jesus instituted the Eucharist so that His sacrifice on the Cross be perpetuated - the sacrifice, which alone cancels sins and placates Divine Justice.

It is essential that each day in all the churches of the world, the Sacrifice of Christ be offered, so that the world may be saved from the abyss. What has this all got to do with the presence of Jesus in the Host, Adoration and Corpus Domini? It is simple. If the Mass is no longer intended as the oblation of Christ on the altar of the Cross, but is intended merely as a holy meal, the presence of Christ Himself is put at risk.

A great writer wrote:

“There are two great realities in the Mass, the sacrifice and the sacrament. These two great realities are fulfilled at the same instant, at the moment when the priest pronounces the words of consecration over the bread and wine. When he finishes the words of consecration of the Precious Blood, the Sacrifice of Our Lord is fulfilled and Our Lord is also present at the that moment, as is the Sacrament of Our Lord as well. […] This mystical separation of the species in the bread and wine fulfills the sacrifice of the Mass. Thus, these two realities are achieved at the consecration. They cannot be separated. And this is what the Protestants did; they simply wanted the sacrament without the sacrifice. This is the danger of the new Masses. Sacrifice is no longer spoken of; it seems that sacrifice has been set aside. You only hear talk about the Eucharist, and having a “Eucharist” as if it were merely a meal. The risk is present that we have neither one nor the other. It is very dangerous. In the measure that the sacrifice disappears, the Sacrament also disappears, since it is the Victim Who has been presented in the Sacrament. If there is no sacrifice there is no Victim.”

“If there is no sacrifice there is no Victim.” These are strong but very logical words which conform to the faith. Without entering into extremely delicate sacramentary reflections we can easily say, that what has happened in the lives of Catholics is this: the obscuring of the sacrificial character of the Mass has caused the loss of awareness of Christ’s substantial presence in the Sacrament.

The Old Mass meets the emphasis of the propitiatory Sacrifice of Christ’s substantial presence in the Sacred Host.

The New Mass meets the emphasis of the Eucharistic banquet, Holy Communion, and – strangely enough – the almost complete disappearance of the spirit of adoration.

It is not a coincidence: if there is no Sacrifice, there is not even a Victim – and Jesus is not present.

This is why it is a mistake to curtail the liturgical disaster with some simple work of “maquillage”, by perhaps bringing the exterior signs of adoration back – incense, candles, altar rails and kneelers, nocturnal adoration, but with no concern [however] of a return to the correct rite of the Mass i.e. the Mass of Tradition.

Those who stop at exterior signs are making a mistake, when they occupy themselves with a vague sentiment of tradition and play merely with aesthetics which deceive.

The answer is a return to the complete Catholic clarity of the Propitiatory Sacrifice expressed in the right Mass.

A return to the right Mass will rectify the procession of Corpus Christi as well and [even] before that, it will rectify the lives of Christians who are called to participate in the Sacrifice of Christ with every fiber of their being.

[Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana]