The Mass is the sacrifice of the New Law in which Christ, through the ministry of the priest, offers Himself to God in an unbloody manner under the appearances of bread and wine.
In the early days of the Church, Mass was called the Breaking of Bread, the Lord’s Supper, the Sacrifice, the Eucharist, the Holy Liturgy, the Solemnity of the Lord.
1. In the Old Testament the sacrifices were far from perfect; sheep and goats were unworthy offerings to God in acknowledgement of His power and glory. In the time of the Old Law of the Jews, God had expressed His purpose to institute a new sacrifice.
2. In the New Testament, there is only one Sacrifice which has replaced the many sacrifices of the Old Testament era. This is the sacrifice of Christ, offered once in a bloody manner upon the Cross and now re-enacted daily on our altars.
3. The Church has always taught that the Mass is a true sacrifice. St. Paul implies this when he says: “We have an altar from which they have no right to eat who serve the tabernacle (meaning the Jews)” (Hebrew 13:10).
The prophet Malachia foretold the universality of the sacrifice of the Mass. Since there are Catholic priests and churches all over the world, this prophecy is today accomplished literally, for in all places the “pure offering” Holy Mass, is offered.
4. The sacrifice of the Mass is offered to God alone. However, it may be offered to God in honor of the saints and angels, especially on their feasts.
The death of Christ on the cross was a true sacrifice. He offered Himself to His heavenly Father to expiate the sins of the world. As a Victim, He suffered first. Then He died, crying, “It is consummated!” thus completing the sacrifice. On Calvary, Christ Himself was the Highpriest, and at the same time the Victim. This sacrifice reconciled God with man.
Since the Jewish sacrifices were only a foreshadowing of Our Lord’s sacrifice, they ceased when His was offered, as foretold by the prophets.
Christ instituted the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at the Last Supper. After praying, He blessed bread and wine, and changed them into His Body and Blood, saying to the Apostles: “Take and eat; this is my body . . . All of you drink of this; for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is being shed for many unto the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:26, 28). These words are known as the words of consecration at Mass, by which bread and wine become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.