We call to mind once again our happy commemoration of July as the Month of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus. As we conclude this time focused on our adoration His Holy Blood, it is especially good for us to meditate on the importance of the consecration of the Precious Blood at Holy Mass. For it is precisely at that moment of the Holy Mass when we have present on our altars the fullness of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
The Church solemnly defined at the Council of Trent that the Mass is a sacramental sacrifice. The Death of Jesus Christ is made sacramentally present on the altar, so that the same Sacrifice is offered at Mass as was offered on Mount Calvary once for all. Only the manner of the Offering is different: at Mass, the offering is not “bloody,” i.e. historical; but rather it is sacramental. The Sacrifice has the same Priest and the same Victim. The sacramental sacrifice applies the historical sacrifice to those who participate in it through Holy Communion.
During this Month of the Precious Blood, we do well to recall that the truth about the Mass as a sacrifice centers especially on the consecration of the Precious Blood. This is indicated in the words of consecration themselves. It is important, first of all, to note that the consecration of the Body of Christ is effected without reference to the sacrifice: “Hoc est enim Corpus Meum.” Jesus says simply through His minister, “For this is My Body,” when He changes the bread into His Body. The Sacrifice of the Mass is not yet present because it is not yet signified.
At the consecration of the Precious Blood, however, much more is said. Jesus says through His priest, as in the consecration of the Body, “For this is the Chalice of My Blood…” Thus we have the real conversion of the wine into His Blood. But then He goes on! “…of the New and Eternal Covenant, the Mystery of the Faith, Which will be shed for you and for many unto the remission of sins.” Look at all the new signification contained in the consecration of the Precious Blood! Not only is the transubstantiation of the wine into the Blood signified, but the sacrifice of the Cross is signified now as well!
Hence, we see that once the Blood is consecrated, the Mass signifies the Sacrifice of the Cross because the Body and Blood of Christ are really, truly, and substantially sacramentally present on the altar in separate species. The separation of the Body and Blood signifies of itself the Death of Christ, and so the Mass is a real sacramental sacrifice. Therefore, once the Blood is consecrated with the words, “For this is the Chalice of My Blood,” the priest then can go on to signify further the full meaning of the Eucharistic sacrifice.
The separation of the Body and Blood signifies the Death of Christ, by which He pours out the Blood of the New and Eternal Covenant for the remission of the sins of us and the multitude of the redeemed. This is indeed the “Mystery of Faith,” since it contains both the Author of our salvation and the power of His saving Cross. And all of this happens at the consecration of the Precious Blood at Holy Mass. As we conclude well the Month of the Precious Blood, may we never take for granted again the consecration over the chalice, by which the Sacrifice of the Mass is signified and our salvation is made present with our Savior on the holy altar.
Fr. Joseph Previtali