There was a key moment in St. Augustine’s conversion.
He heard Jesus telling him: “I am the food of grown men. Grow and you shall feed upon me. Nor shall you change me, like the food of your flesh, into yourself. But you shall be changed into me.”
This is the truth of the Eucharist. As we go to Mass, week in and week out, our Communion with Jesus should be quietly changing us.
In the Gospel, Jesus promised: “He who eats me will live because of me.” The first Christians lived the Eucharist powerfully. Paul could say: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
We have a wonderful chance to rediscover the transforming power of the Mass with the new translation we will begin using in Advent.
This translation accents the truth that the Mass is a sacrifice that makes us one with Jesus Christ and which should give our Christian lives a “Eucharistic” form.
For example, after the gifts of bread and wine have been prepared at the altar, currently the priest says: “Pray brethren that our sacrifice may be acceptable …”
In the new translation, he will pray: “Pray, brothers and sisters, that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable …”
The change is small but it is significant. It tells us that we are not spectators at the Mass.
In our worship in the Mass, we join our sacrifices to the sacrifice of Christ. In union with his offering of his Body and Blood, we offer our lives — all our prayers and work, all our trials and sufferings — to God the Father for the life of the world.
My friends, we need to deepen our awareness of this mystery of faith!
Listen carefully to the newly translated Eucharistic Prayers. Everywhere you will hear in a new way the language of sacrifice.
“Graciously accept this oblation of our service.”
“A holy sacrifice, a spotless victim.”
“Poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
“So that from the rising of the sun to its setting a pure sacrifice may be offered to your name.”
We are being called in every Mass to truly lift up our hearts — to offer our whole lives as a sacrifice to God.
Before we receive communion, the priest will present the consecrated host to us with these new words: “Behold the Lamb of God … Blessed are those called to the Supper of the Lamb.”
The change restores the literal biblical language of the liturgy — which combines St. John the Baptist’s identification of Christ with the words that St. John heard in the heavenly liturgy recorded in the Book of Revelation.
This change again highlights how the sacrifice we offer on earth unites us with the eternal liturgy of heaven, where angels and saints worship in the “marriage supper of the Lamb.”
The first Christians called Jesus the “Lamb” because his sacrifice fulfilled what God intended in the Passover of the Jewish people. On the first Passover, the Jewish people sacrificed a lamb and painted its blood on their doorposts. When God’s angel “passed over” Egypt to execute judgment, he spared those homes painted with the blood of the lamb.
In God’s plan for the history of salvation, God meant this to foreshadow the true Lamb who takes away the sin of the world. All people are saved by the blood of this Lamb, Jesus Christ, poured out in the cross on the cross for the forgiveness of sins.
What happens in the Mass? We remember and renew Christ’s saving sacrifice. We thank God for our salvation by offering our lives to him, in union with Christ’s sacrifice. We make our lives a “Eucharist,” a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, just as Christ made himself a living sacrifice on the cross.
All of these amazing truths are accented in beautiful language of our new Mass translation.
The new translation includes a new option for the closing prayer that dismisses the people from Mass: “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.”
This is a beautiful summary of the change that the Mass should make in us. We are to become “Eucharistic people” — offering our lives in service to one another, living and doing everything for the glory of God.
So as we pray for one another this week, let’s ask Our Lady of the Angels to help us to embrace this new translation of the Mass. Let’s pray for the grace to enter into the spirit of the liturgy with new reverence and awe — our hearts open to the mystery of the sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood.
This is the fourth in a four-part series on the new edition of the Roman Missal that will be running in the Tidings, newspaper for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.