Saturday, September 14, 2019
The Triumph of the Holy Cross. . .
Too often the liturgy is seen in terms of what we do and what we want and what we will get out of it. With that is the presumption, so terribly false, that if we are happy with it and like it, God is happy, too. The veil of the temple is torn in two and the altar revealed so that our focus does not rest upon us but upon Him who made this sacrifice as Victim and now offers it to us the sacrament of that sacrifice as Priest. The goofiest idea of all is that the liturgy should be and its success defined as what we find meaningful. The liturgy is centered in the altar, in the sacrifice once offered to the Father and now offered as sacrifice become sacramental food to us, in which our sins are forgiven and we are thereby assured that we are His forevermore.
The Mass is heaven on earth. God literally rips the curtain and reveals Himself to us at the altar of sacrifice where the Lamb of God gave His life for the life of the world. The perfect Victim and spotless offering offered once for all is now given to us. The Marriage Feast of the Lamb in His kingdom without end is come to us in time, the foretaste of the eternal feast upon our lips and in our mouths. This Christ is present here where He has promised whether we believe or not, but our belief is our worship and our reception in faith is our worthiness to stand before Him and receive what He offers. God does not need the liturgy but we do. We need it because we are still afflicted by the temptations of the world, the torment of the Old Adam who fights against God's redeeming work, and the time and space which is passing away toward its appointed destiny and we with it. Here is where God reveals Himself and gives Himself to us. And it is in this Holy Communion that we abide in Him and He abides in us so that we may bear the good fruit that endures.
When the veil of the temple was torn in two as Jesus breathed His last upon that cross, it not only opened heaven for us, but gave to us the sacrifice as sacramental gift and food. It looks to physical eyes as it is -- bread and wine -- but we see with the eyes of faith that it is Christ's flesh for the life of the world His cup that cleanses us from all our sin. The death and resurrection of Christ certainly did raise the dead to heaven, but it also brought and brings heaven on earth to those who are dead in trespasses and sins and born anew to life stronger than death in baptismal water -- a life fed and nourished upon the Body and Blood of Christ. Now we see what God sees, the future He has prepared, ourselves as His own new creation, and on this altar, the very and true and corporeal flesh of Christ and His blood. Within the Divine Service we are united in this blessed communion with Christ and through Christ one to another, in perfect harmony the parts of Christ's body living as one under Christ the head. If you do not see this in the triumph of the Holy Cross, you have missed something profound and life changing.