A brief explanation of some aspects of the Mass in its Extraordinary Form
The Prayer “Supra quae” refers to Melchisedech (page 37, red booklet). Who was this strange character? Where does he come from? Why is he mentioned here at the heart of the Canon of the Mass?
We find mentioned for the first time of this mysterious figure in the book of Genesis 14:17. He is the king of Salem, the High Priest. He is Melchisedech who offered bread and wine as a sacrifice. The Fathers of the Church recognized in Him as a figure of the Messiah to come.
Saint Paul in the Epistle to the Hebrews develops the similitudes existing between the priesthood of the two persons. The whole Epistle insists indeed on the fact that Our Lord Jesus Christ is the High Priest who entered by His death and resurrection in Heaven. Showing His blood to His Father, He obtained once, for all and forever the remission of all sins. He sealed a new and a better Alliance between God and men.
Our Lord and Melchisedech appear to have much in common. They have the same function: They are Priests of the Most High, they are both King of Justice (such is the meaning of the word Melchisedech in Hebrew) and King of Peace (Salem). One “appears”, the other has “no origin”. None of them is born from the priestly tribe of Levi. They even claim to be above the priesthood of Levi and Aaron. Both are unique and without successor and both offered only One Sacrifice.
They both offered wine and bread but in a different manner. The sacrifice of Melchisedech was only a prefiguration, an announcement of the Mass, the True Sacrifice to come. This leads us to a better understanding of the Highest Sacrifice offered at the Last Supper and the Mass. The priest is not offering a sacrifice of food any more, but Jesus Himself.