Mass Intentions and Ritual Masses

Z10

“In all things give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you all.”

I previously mentioned how Masses can be said (and Eucharists can be offered) for all even the faithful departed.  This time I am defending the practice of Mass Intentions and/or Ritual Masses.  Catholic Culture defines Mass intentions as referring “to the particular purpose for which a specific Mass is offered” [1].  Masses can be said for weddings, funerals, ordinations, confirmations, consecrations, inaugurations, coronations, death anniversaries and church consecrations.  In other words, there are Nuptial Masses, Requiem Masses, Ordination Masses, Confirmation Masses, Inauguration Masses, Coronation Masses and Consecration Masses.  They all include offering the Eucharist in thanksgiving for something: i.e. the union of a newly wedded couple, the entry of the faithful departed into God’s embrace and for the sake of their purification, the ordination of new priests or deacons, the consecration of a new bishop, the inauguration of a public official to office, the coronation of a new monarch, or the consecration of a new chapel/church/monastery/cathedral/basilica.

In the passage mentioned above, the Greek texts include the verbal form of the term εὐχαριστία which the early Church Fathers identified with the breaking of bread, a ritual meal consisting of bread and wine transmutated into the Body and Blood of Christ as Saint Justin Martyr explained [2].  The efficacy of the Sacrament is multi-fold: (1) we are made one Body in Christ, (2) we are cleansed of venial sin, (3) we offer thanksgiving to God, (4) we strengthen ourselves and each other in grace.  Because we are made one Body the Church, we are made in communion with the holy souls in Purgatory.  We unite ourselves with those for whom we give thanks, i.e. newly wed couple, newly ordained priest or deacon, inaugurated public official, newly crowned monarch, newly consecrated bishop or newly elected pope.  So, we share in each other’s lives by united ourselves to each other in the Eucharist, our thanksgiving for each other, and unite our prayers with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for them.  As Saint Paul says, “Therefore, we also give thanks to God without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).  So we offer the Eucharist always without ceasing.  It is always, “From the rising of the sun to its setting” [3], God is offered a pure sacrifice among the nations and both Tertullian and Saint Irenaeus of Lyons identifies this passage with the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ.  Saint Justin Martyr says, “God has therefore announced in advance that all the sacrifices offered in His name, which Jesus Christ offered, that is, in the eucharist of the bread and of the cup, which are offered in every part of the world by us Christians” [4].  Saint Irenaeus stated, “He confessed to be His blood, and taught the new oblation of the new covenant; which the Church receiving from the apostles, offers to God throughout all the world . . . concerning which Malachi, among the twelve prophets, thus spoke beforehand” [5].

[1] <http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/dictionary/index.cfm?id=34776&gt;.

[2] Saint Justin Martyr. First Apology 66:1.

[3] Malachi 1:11

[4] Saint Justin Martyr. Dialogue with Trypho 117.

[5] Saint Irenaeus of Lyons. Against Heresies 4:17:5.

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