To acquire a ”notable liturgical formation and a deep, personal familiarity with the earlier form of the liturgical celebration” (Motu Proprio, Benedict XVI, July 2007) or an exploration into the theological, historical, devotional, liturgical, ritualistic, architectural, artistic, linguistic, practical, legalistic, mystical… aspects of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
The notion of Sacrifice and its structure: Since dawn of time, sacrifices are offered to the divinities. They are the expression of the inner consciousness of human dependency from their creator. Reasonable, the creature recognizes that he owes his life and surrounding to something greater than himself and therefore offers a cult to the ‘divinity’. In anthropology, differentiation between human and animal kingdom is based upon the trace of a cult to a deity and the care given to the dead.
All cult, as primitive as they can be, always acknowledge the ‘majesty of this Power’, the requirement to give thanks, the need to appease him from past offenses and eventually the possibility to address prayers.
Adoration, thanksgiving, propitiation and
impetration: Sacrifices can be spiritual or material, but are always made out of an offering. Taking from one’s possession, the oblation is returned back to the creator. All sacrifice is first an oblation, a gift.
Some sacrifices are offered under the form of holocausts . The ‘victim’ that is offered is destroyed by one mean or another – fire, shading of blood .. – to express its separation form the owner to return to the creator. The victim, the host, now belong to the divinity.
If the sacrifice is agreeable to the deity, if it is ‘of agreeable odor, the deity will grant forgiveness or the particular expected grace. Some times those who made the offering are invited to a share to the table of the divinity. That is the rite of communion.
Oblation, or offering, sacrificing of the victim, and communion are the three constituting part of a true sacrifice.
Next Week: What is the Structure of the Mass?
Canon Olivier Meney, ICKSP