Because the Mass is the same sacrifice as Calvary, sacramentally renewed, with all its strength and sanctifying power, the Church considers it the center of its life and the life of each of the faithful. "The Eucharistic sacrifice is the ‘source and summit of all Christian life'. It is a single sacrifice that embraces everything. It is the greatest treasure of the Church. It is her life."8
The Mass is also the center of the life and mission of each priest, who finds in it the direction and goal of his ministry.
"The holy Mass brings us face to face with one of the central mysteries of our faith, because it is the gift of the Blessed Trinity to the Church. It is because of this that we can consider the Mass the center and the source of a Christian's spiritual life.
"It is the aim of all the sacraments. The life of grace, into which we are brought by Baptism, and which is increased and strengthened by Confirmation, grows to its fullness in the Mass."9
"The more perfect form of participation in the Mass whereby the faithful, after the priest's Communion, receive the Lord's body from the same sacrifice is warmly recommended to those who are duly prepared and in the state of grace."10
Since the sacrifice of the Mass is the same as the sacrifice of Calvary, their purpose is the same:
•To adore the Blessed Trinity. The sacrifice of the cross was first of all a sacrifice of adoration and praise of God. Although the Mass is sometimes offered "in honor and in memory of the saints, the Church teaches us that the Mass is not offered to the saints but to God alone who has given them their crown."11
•To give thanks for the many benefits we receive from God, including those of which we are not aware. The second aim of the Mass is thanksgiving. Only Christ our Lord can offer God a worthy hymn of thanksgiving. He did so at the Last Supper when he gave thanks and when, hanging on the cross, he continued to give thanks; our Lord continues to thank God the Father for us in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.
•To ask pardon for our sins and for the many times we have not loved God as we should. This desire for expiation and atonement should lead us to make a good confession. The same Christ who died on the cross for our sins is present and offered in the Mass "so that sins may be forgiven."
•To ask for the spiritual and material things we need. The fourth purpose of the Mass is petition. Jesus Christ on the cross died "offering prayers and supplications and was heard because of his reverent obedience" and now in heaven "lives always to make intercession for us."12 These graces benefit those present at holy Mass and the persons for whom it is offered.
8. John Paul II, Prayer on Holy Thursday, 1982.
9. Blessed Josemaría Escrivá, Christ Is Passing By (=CPB), 87, Princeton, N.J.: Scepter Publishers, 1974.
10. Vatican Council II, Sacrosanctum concilium, 55.
11. Council of Trent, Session 22, chapter 3.
12. Hebrews 5:7; 7:25.
Printed with permission from eCatholicHub.