Traditional Mass

Friday, March 23, 2007

continued . . .

11--We call the Mass the "Holy Sacrifice." Can you give a simple, clear definition of the word "sacrifice"?

In current usage, the word "sacrifice" may be taken in two ways:
1. In the active sense--as an act of immolation.
2. In the passive sense--as the object immolated.
The passive sense presupposes the active sense.
The word "sacrifice" conveys the idea of something painful of privation, of self-denial, of a voluntary giving up of a cherished object.
Sacrifice also implies the idea of subordination to something else--of a choice.
In a word, one might define sacrifice as the act of giving up something I like very much, for something I like even better. (Thus a person may sacrifice his health to study.)
When a father gives up his fortune so that his children may have a good education, while he himself lives a life of privation; people say. "He is making great sacrifices for his children." When a soldier goes to war in defense of his country, risking his life and health, they say, "He is sacrificing himself for his country."
Note that this act of renunciation (the material element) is transient: it is made at the moment of decision or choice and is symbolized by the immolation of the victim.
The choice (formal element) is permanent, once the decision has been made and provided it is not withdrawn. This choice is symbolized by the sacrifice.

The name of oblation is ordinarily given to an offering made to God. For instance, the poor widow who, for love of God, offered her last two mites in the temple, made a great sacrifice. (Mark 12:43) During the Jewish Captivity, Tobias distributed all his fortune to indigent Jews for the love of God; and--at the risk of his life--buried his slain companions. Tobias thus made a great sacrifice to God. (Tob. 1)
Consequently, in religious oblation the object renounced must be a good thing: the object preferred is God. The choice is motivated by love for God.
It is a preferential love. "he who loves father and mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. He who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me." (Matt. 10:37) "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and his own life, too, he can be no disciple of Mine." (Luke 14:26) {Knox}
"Giving up creatures," means giving up all created things and my own self-surrender.
The sacrifice required by God hinges on these two points:
First, the giving up, out of love for God, of seeking my own pleasure, and of doing my own will.
Second, the preferring of God to all things outside myself. That is, I acknowledge that God is better than these things. Next, I prefer God to myself. This means that I believe that God's will is better, more lovable, than mine. I ought to consider God's excellence, as well as His sovereignty.
To sum up, religious oblation may be defined as the recognition of God's excellence or absolute goodness, as shown by my renunciation of all created things; and the recognition of His sovereignty, as demonstrated by my acceptance of His will in preference to mine.
Let us apply these principles to Our Lord's Sacrifice.
[From 'Your Mass and Your Life,' to be continued]