As many of you know, the three parts of sacrifice as found in both the Old Testament and New Testament is 1) The offering and 2) The slaying and 3) the consummation of the victim.
Regarding the second of those three, most of the Catholic world is unaware that the dual-consecration of the body and the blood entails the slaying. St. Gregory Nazianzus wrote, “The priest sunders with unbloody cut the body and blood of the Lord, using his voice as a sword.” Keep in mind that St. Gregory was the Archbishop of Constantinople in the 4th century. That means he is very early and very Eastern in Church history, so even an Eastern Father like St. Gregory highlights the sacrificial nature of the Holy Sacrifice being found in the separation of the body and the blood of Jesus. This is truly the second part of the sacrifice, namely, the slaying.
I believe that the slaying as the consecration (and separation) is the most misunderstood (and disbelieved) part of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the lives of most modern Catholics. But most traditional Catholics who read this blog very much believe not only in the True Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist at the words of consecration, but even that the consecration is the pinnacle of the actual Sacrifice of the Mass. So, of the three parts of the sacrifice, I believe traditional Catholics understand the second part of that mystery quite well.
Thus, for traditionalists, I believe the most “underrated” part of the Mass is the Offering or the Offertory. Most Catholics (normy or trad) have no idea that during the offertory they should also be uniting their entire lives with the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross which is about to be re-presented (not represented but literally re-presented in a non-bloody manner) right on the altar at the consecration. Keep in mind the Offertory starts when the priest takes the chalice veil off and first holds up the bread, and then does the co-mingling rite of a small drop of water into the wine. So, in both new and old Mass, this is still while you lay people are seated, even before the Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus.
Back in my charismatic days, I had some sense of this, so that even at the Novus Ordo, I wanted to offer my life on the altar with that of Jesus’ past and arriving sacrifice in the Holy Mass. A woman in South America recently claimed Mary told her to pray like this in the Offertory:
A moment later the Offertory arrived, and the Holy Virgin said: “Pray like this: (and I repeated after Her) Lord, I offer all that I am, all that I have, all that I can. I put everything into Your Hands. Build it up, Lord, with the little thing that I am. By the merits of Your Son, transform me, God Almighty. I petition You for my family, for my benefactors, for each member of our Apostolate, for all the people who fight against us, for those who commend themselves to my poor prayers. Teach me to lay down my heart as if on the ground before them so that their walk may be less severe. This is how the saints prayed; this is how I want all of you to do it.”
Of course, I don’t know if the woman who wrote that is a real-mystic or a fake-mystic, but I do not see anything theologically wrong in the above prayer. So, I prayed it for many years during my life. It’s not a bad prayer, especially the central part: Lord, I offer all that I am, all that I have, all that I can. I put everything into Your Hands. Build it up, Lord, with the little thing that I am. By the merits of Your Son, transform me, God Almighty.
But while reading an older Carmelite book like Divine Intimacy as of late, I now see what may be missing in the above prayer: It is not specific enough about uniting one’s life with the actual sacrifice of the Mass about to happen. Fr. Gabriel of Divine Intimacy is more specific:
“Our praise, petitions, and expiation are insignificant things. But if we give them to God united with those of Jesus and make valuable through His sacrifice, we have the right to think that they will be acceptable to him.”—Divine Intimacy (DI) 497 (#166)
Keep in mind that the little drop of water going into the wine at the co-mingling rite represents our humanity placed in the middle of the sacrifice of Christ Who is Divine. On its own, the drop of water is worth almost nothing. But united with the wine (soon to become the Most Precious Blood) the offering of our lives become not only acceptable, but even efficacious for the rest of the day. Divine Intimacy #166 continues:
“If a duty requires sacrifice, if our life includes suffering, we have the opportunity each morning in the Holy Mass to give the greatest possible value to our sacrifices by offering, as Mediator Dei teaches, ‘ourselves as well as all our worries, troubles, sorrows, and misfortunes, together with our divine crucified Head.'”—DI p. 498.
Immature Catholics today like to say things like, “If you are what you eat, and I eat the Eucharist, then guess what that makes me!” That’s fine, but they forget the more difficult side of that reality: Jesus wishes to associate His sacrifice of the Mass with my sacrificial life on earth. That is, we never receive in Holy Communion only the High Priest. We also receive the Immolated Victim. Thus, receiving the Holy Eucharist is a pledge to God that I am currently offering my life in union with the life of Jesus as an offering of self-sacrificial love. Every Catholic is called to be a living member cell in the full sacrificial body of Jesus Christ crucified, who is Love. To refuse this unification, I become nothing except a parasite on the Body of Christ. Divine Intimacy continues:
“Jesus sacrificed Himself alone on Calvary for our salvation, but on the altar He wishes to associate us with His immolation; for, if the Head is sacrificed, the members must be sacrificed also. Let a poor creature offer in expiation to God his sacrifice and even his life. What value could this have? None, because we are nothing. But if this offering is united to Jesus’ offering, then it becomes, with Him, by Him and in Him, an acceptable sacrifice to God the Father. Then, when we return to our duties, the remembrance of the offering we have made in the morning will help us to be generous in accepting our daily trials, great or small. The thought that at every moment of the day and night Jesus is immolating Himself on our altars will urge us to continually unite our sacrifices with His, and will stimulate us to live as real victims in union with the divine Victim. What strength and generosity the soul will draw from this living, constant participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.”
The best prayer we can pray on this topic of the Offertory must come from a saint. And in that same section of Divine Intimacy, Fr. Gabriel suggests this prayer from St. John Eudes on offering ourselves at, and during, and after Holy Mass in the following way, which I suggest you save and print, in order to pray at the Offertory of the next Holy Mass you attend:
“O my Savior, in union with the offering and the sacrifice of Yourself which You made to the Father and in His honor, I offer myself to You to be a bloody victim of Your will, a victim immolated for Your glory and that of Your Father. Unite me to Yourself, O good Jesus, draw me into Your sacrifice, so that I may be sacrificed with You and by You. Since the victim must be sacrificed, slaughtered, and consumed by fire, make me die to myself, that is, to my vices and passions, to all that is displeasing to You. Consume me entirely in the sacred fire of Your divine love, and grant that hereafter my whole life may be a continual sacrifice of praise, glory and love for Your Father and for You.”—St. John Eudes