What is the Holy Sacrifice
The Holy Sacrifice is offered to the Holy Trinity
First of all, we must never forget that the Mass is a Sacrifice, an act by which the Church gives to Almighty God, officially and in the name of all, worship of the highest kind, adoration or latria, which is due to Him alone, in virtue of the supreme excellence of His divine Being from which everything comes and to which everything must return. Therefore the Mass is offered only to the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity.
What the priest offers to God as an acknowledgment of His sovereign dominion over all creatures, is none other than our Lord Jesus Christ, who, by His sacrifice on the cross has rendered to His Father an infinite act of worship, consisting of adoration, thanksgiving, expiation and impetration. The sacrifice of the Mass, by placing on the altar the Victim of Calvary, enables us through Him to adore God in a suitable manner, to thank Him worthily for all His favors, to render Him full satisfaction by the offering of the Blood of Jesus, and to address to Him requests which are always heard because they are made in His name, who by the very act of showing His glorious wounds to His Father, intercedes unceasingly for us in heaven and in the Eucharist on earth. More- over, since all the mysteries of our Savior’s life have helped, in union with Calvary, to bring about our salvation, the Church commemorates them in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by the different feasts of the Proper of the Time or Temporal Cycle, which is the Cycle of Christ. At Christmas, for instance, she offers to God the divine Child of the manger, with all that stage in our Lord’s life that has specially contributed to the Father’s glory; and by that means ensures to us the application, quite special also, of the graces which Christ merited for us, and which will enable us to practice each year more and more the virtues of which the Son of God and Mary then gave us an example.
The Holy Sacrifice Offered in Honor of the Saints
But the Mass is offered also in honor of the saints, as the proper of the Saints or Sanctoral Cycle shows. In this way is emphasized the fact, that it is to the Sacrifice of Calvary and to the Eucharist that the saints owe the graces which God gave them in such abundance. And the saints themselves are honored when the work of the most High is glorified in them.
We offer to the saints also a fitting homage when we unite their memory with our Lord’s at the altar. This is done on the anniversary of their death and every day in the Canon of the Mass. As members of the mystical body of Christ it is right to associate them with the sacrifice of their Head, since by their sufferings and often by their martyrdom, they have mingled their blood with that of this divine Victim. Moreover the Church encloses the relics of the saints, especially those of the martyrs, in the altarstone at the very spot where the priest places the Sacred Host. “It is the whole city of the redeemed,” says St. Augustine, “the assembly and company of the saints, which is the universal sacrifice and which is offered to God by the High Priest, who offers Himself for us in His Passion.”
We render to the saints the greatest honor we can give them when we offer to God, in their name, the Blood of Jesus to adore the most High and thank Him for Hid favors to them. The saints, full of zeal for the glory of the Holy Trinity, are beholden to us if we honor God in union with their intention, for this increases their joy. The efficacy of their merits in the past and their prayers in the present is in a special way increased, when these are offered to God closely united with the merits and prayers of Christ Jesus, the universal Mediator, and this happens especially on their feast-day when Holy Mass is celebrated in their honor. “Most humbly we pray.” says the Church in the Collect for the feast of All Saints, “that since so great is the number of Thine elect pleading for us, we may partake, in all their fullness, of Thy abounding mercies.”
Most willingly does God accept the offering of the Blood of Christ made through the saints as intermediaries.