Sunday, 16 June 2013

Bishop Challoner - The Mass is a Sacrifice

The following is taken from the Daily Meditations of Bishop Challoner. 


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 is also a sacrifice, in which the 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 race 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 in both priest and victim.

Consider 2ndly, 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 these ancient sacrifices of the old law, which were but figures and shadows, were to make way for the new sacrifice of Christs'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, agreeable to the priesthood and sacrifice of Melchisdech, 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 words. '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, than 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 that he declares he will receive no more of the Jewish sacrifices, v. 10.

Consider 3rdly, 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 the 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 deficiency, or insufficiency in the 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 daily means of uniting ourselves in thee mysteries with our high priest and victim, Christ Jesus, and of coming to God with him and through him.

Conclude to frequent daily this 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.

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