All Should Offer Their Bodies and Blood at Mass

All Should Offer Their Bodies and Blood at Mass

Pontifical Household Preacher Explains Uniqueness of Christ's Sacrifice and Our Participation

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 12, 2010 ( What makes Christ the Priest unlike any other priest, either from the Old Testament or from any other cult, is that his priestly sacrifice is he, himself.

But that uniqueness is also the calling shared by priests and laity, to "imitate that which is celebrated" every day at Mass.

This was the reflection offered today by Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the Pontifical Household, in his second Lenten sermon of the year, given in the presence of Benedict XVI and the Roman Curia. The Capuchin is focusing his homilies on the priesthood in this Year for Priests. In Advent he meditated on the priest as servant of Christ, in the power and the unction of the Holy Spirit. During Lent, he is looking at the priest as steward of the mysteries of God.

"To be a priest 'according to the order of Jesus Christ,' the presbyter must, like him, offer himself," Father Cantalamessa said. "On the altar, he does not only represent the Jesus [who is] 'high priest,' but also the Jesus [who is] 'supreme victim,' the two things being, moreover, inseparable. In other words he cannot be content to offer Christ to the Father in the sacramental signs of bread and wine, he must also offer himself with Christ to the Father."

The preacher shared his own experience of this sacrifice: "As a priest ordained by the Church, I pronounce the words of the consecration 'in persona Christi,' I believe that, thanks to the Holy Spirit, they have the power of changing the bread into the body of Christ and the wine into his blood; at the same time, as member of the body of Christ [...] I look at the brethren before me or, if I celebrate on my own, I think of them whom I must serve during the day and, turning to them, I say mentally together with Jesus: 'Brothers and sisters, take, eat, this is my body; take, drink, this is my blood.'"

Father Cantalamessa clarified that this mutual offering is necessary.

"The offering of the priest and of the whole Church, without that of Jesus, would neither be holy nor acceptable to God, because we are only sinful creatures," he said, "but Jesus' offering, without that of his body which is the Church, would also be incomplete and insufficient: not, be it understood, to procure salvation, but because we receive it and appropriate it. It is in this sense that the Church can say with St. Paul: 'in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions.'"

And the preacher offered a simple example to illustrate his point.

"Let us imagine," he said, "that in a family there is one child, the first born, most devoted to the father. He wishes to give him a present for his birthday. However, before presenting it to him he asks all his brothers and sisters secretly to add their signature on the gift. It then arrives in the hands of the father as the indistinct homage of all his children and as a sign of the esteem and love of them all but, in reality, only one has paid its price.

"And now the application. Jesus admires and loves the heavenly Father. He wishes to give him every day, until the end of the world, the most precious gift he can think of, that of his life itself. In the Mass he invites all his 'brothers,' who we are, to add their signature on the gift, so that it reaches God the Father as the indistinct gift of all his children. [...] But, in reality, we know that only one has paid the price of such a gift. And what a price!"

Laity, too

Father Cantalamessa proposed that laypeople, too, are called to offer themselves with Christ in the Mass.

"Let us try to imagine what would happen if also the laity, at the moment of the consecration, said silently: 'Take, eat, this is my body. Take, drink, this is my blood,'" he proposed. "A mother of a family thus celebrates her Mass, then she goes home and begins her day made up of a thousand little things. But what she does is not nothing: It is a eucharist together with Jesus! A [religious] sister also says in her heart at the moment of consecration: 'Take, eat ...'; then she goes to her daily work: children, the sick, the elderly. The Eucharist 'invades' her day which becomes a prolongation of the Eucharist."

The Pontifical Household preacher called for two categories of people to particularly take to heart his message: workers and young people.

"Do we teach the Christian laborer to offer in the Mass his body and his blood, that is, his time, sweat and toil," he reflected. Work in this way, he said, will not be confined to a Marxist focus on the product, but rather becomes sanctifying.

And youth, Father Cantalamessa said, have a special need to offer themselves at Mass.

He explained: "Suffice it for us to think of one thing: What does the world of boys and girls want today? The body, nothing else but the body! The body, in the mentality of the world, is essentially an instrument of pleasure and exploitation. Something to be sold, to squeeze while it is young and attractive, and then to be thrown out, together with the person, when it no longer serves these ends. Especially the woman's body has become merchandise of consumption.

"Do we teach Christian boys and girls to say, at the moment of consecration: 'Take, eat, this is my body, offered for you.' The body is thus consecrated, becomes something sacred, it can no longer be 'given to eat' to one's concupiscence and that of others, it can no longer be sold, because it has given itself. It has become Eucharist with Christ."

"The Apostle Paul," Father Cantalamessa reflected, made this exhortation to the Christians of Corinth: "The body is not meant for immorality, but for the Lord. ... So glorify God in your body.


Reform Of The Catholic Church In The US Will Start in Campus Ministry

Reform Of The Catholic Church In The US Will Start in Campus Ministry
From Aggie Catholics
  • Morality is relative.
  • Right and wrong depend on the situation and people. As long as they do their best, they can't do wrong.
  • What is true for you may not be true for me.
  • That might have been considered wrong in the past, but we have progressed beyond such ancient fears.
  • Dogmatically proclaiming you are right and everyone else is wrong is really the worst sin.
  • We shouldn't judge others, but should each follow our own conscience
The biggest issue in our culture today.

Relativism is the belief that truth is relative. It can change depending on people, situations, cultures, time, etc. Truth, especially moral truth, is subjective and not objective. It can change and there is no objective truth that transcends people or experience.

Why is this a problem? Because without moral absolutes, there can be no sin. No action can be wrong at all times. It leads to a society with moral license and each individual can do whatever they please - damn the consequences. It is a philosophy that will ultimately be the end of any society that owns it.

Relativism is getting worse in our society. From the Barna Research Group:
"We are witnessing the development and acceptance of a new moral code in America....The moral code began to disintegrate when the generation before them - the Baby Busters - pushed the limits that had been challenged by their parents - the Baby Boomers. The result is that without much fanfare or visible leadership, the U.S. has created a moral system based on convenience, feelings, and selfishness.
But, it isn't just outside the society as a whole - it is inside the Catholic Church. From a recent poll done about the Millenial Generation and the Catholic Church:
**82% of Catholic millenials believe morals are “relative.”

Here is how that is lived out - Catholic Millenials believed the following practices are "morally acceptable" at these percentages:
  • 61% - a Catholic to practice more than one religion
  • 33% - having a baby outside of marriage
  • 35% - same sex marriage
  • 37% - medical research using stem cells obtained from human embryos
  • 20% - euthanasia
We, the Catholic Church and our allies against relativism, have a lot of work to do. As Pope Benedict said:
To have a clear faith, according to the creed of the Church, is often labeled as fundamentalism. While relativism, that is, allowing oneself to be carried about with every wind of "doctrine," seems to be the only attitude that is fashionable. A dictatorship of relativism is being constituted that recognizes nothing as absolute and which only leaves the "I" and its whims as the ultimate measure.

We have another measure: the Son of God, true man. He is the measure of true humanism. "Adult" is not a faith that follows the waves in fashion and the latest novelty. Adult and mature is a faith profoundly rooted in friendship with Christ. This friendship opens us to all that is good and gives us the measure to discern between what is true and what is false, between deceit and truth.

We must mature in this adult faith; we must lead the flock of Christ to this faith.
The questions then arise:
Where is the tide against relativism being fought?
Where can the Catholic Church hope to turn the tide?

My thesis is this - I believe it MUST be done in the young adult stage of life. Previous research shows that college-age adults are more open to ideas and change than at later stages in life. If we miss this chance, we lose the culture war.

So, how can the Catholic Church best meet the challenges in this age with young adults? Many argue it must be done in Catholic universities. I agree that having a good system of Catholic colleges and universities is a great way to form Catholics. The Catholic Church started the university. But, here is the problem - Catholic universities are not doing the job.

First of all, I am not saying to toss the baby out with the bathwater. Catholic colleges and universities play an indispensable roll in our Church and country. We cannot give away higher education to secularism. Nor can theology or Catholic philosophy be maintained in non-Catholic schools. But, the tide isn't turning in the Church's favor quick enough at Catholic institutions.

Studies show that female students are MORE promiscuous at Catholic universities and Catholic colleges and universities not forming students any better than secular universities in the Catholic faith.

This is shameful. Especially when we stop to consider the state of campus ministries in the USA and the way resources are distributed. A few numbers:
  • On average, the largest campus ministry professional/ministerial staff sizes are on Catholic campuses (almost nine staff members)
  • 12 percent of campus minsitry sites report no Masses anytime during the week or weekend.
Some others in campus ministry label the average campus ministry as "pizza and Mass". I don't even know if it is this good. Many schools have zero, zilch, nada. Others have what I call "pizza and Communion service". Yes, we have to start somewhere, but this is shameful. Generations of Catholics are being lost.

80% of Catholic university and college students go to non-Catholic schools.
If we are to reform the Church, then we need reform to start where young Catholic students are going to school - at non-Catholic institutions.

Even if we start to turn the tide in some of the Catholic universities that are losing (or have already lost) their Catholic identity, it will take generations to turn them around. On the other hand, a campus ministry at a non-Catholic school can be ratcheted up quickly, within a few years - if it has the right leadership (starting with the Bishop) and enough monetary support (built by a good development office).

We need a paradigm shift.
  • We need to re-focus our priorities of ministering to the millenial generation toward the non-Catholic campus ministry centers.
  • We can no longer be satisfied with pizza parties and Communion services.
  • We need dynamic and orthodox leaders to start programs that challenge and form Catholics to go out into the world and change it - not be changed by it.
Pray for Catholic higher education and campus ministry.

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