After the dogma of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit reminds us of the dogma of the Incarnation of our Lord, in celebrating with the Church the greatest of all sacraments, summing up the whole life of the Redeemer, giving infinite glory to God and applying the fruits of the Redemption at all times to ourselves (Collect).
It was on the cross that our Lord redeemed us and the Holy Eucharist, instituted on the night before our Lord's Passion, remains its memorial (Collect). The altar is the extension of Calvary", the Mass "shows the death of the Lord " (Epistle).
Jesus is there in the state of a victim, for the words of the double con- secration mean only that the bread is changed into the Body of Christ and the wine into His Blood. On account of this double action with different effects, which constitutes the sacrifice of the Mass, we are. entitled to speak of our Lord's Presence under the appearance of bread as that of the Body of Christ, although, since He can die no more, the whole Christ is there contained, similarly we may speak of the Presence under the appearance of wine as that of His Blood, although He is contained there whole and entire. Through His priests, our Lord Himself, the principal Priest of the Mass, offers in an unbloody manner His Body and Blood which were really separated on the Cross, but on the altar only in a representative or sacramental sense, the matter and words used and the effect produced being different in the two consecrations. Besides, the Eucharist was instituted under the form of food (Alleluia), that we may be united with the Victim of Calvary, so that the Sacred Host becomes the "wheat" which feeds our souls (Introit).
Moreover, Christ, as the Son of God, receives the eternal life of the Father, in the same way Christians share in that eternal life by uniting themselves to Christ through the Sacrament which is the symbol of unity (Secret), and this possession of the divine life, already realized on earth through the Eucharist, is the pledge and the beginning of that in which we shall fully rejoice in heaven (Postcommunion). As the Council of Trent puts it: "That same Heavenly Bread that we eat now under the sacred veils, we shall feed upon in heaven without veil." We should regard the Mass as the centre of all Eucharistic worship, seeing in Holy Communion the means instituted by our Lord to enable us to share more fully in this divine Sacrifice. In this way our devotion to our Lord's Body and Blood will effectively obtain for us the fruits of His Redemption (Collect).
Concerning the procession which regularly should follow the Mass, we remember how the Israelites revered the Ark of the Covenant which was the Presence of God among them. When they carried on their victorious marches, the Ark went before, born by the Levites in the midst of a cloud of incense, accompanied by the sound of musical instruments and of the songs and shouts of the multitude
We Christians have a treasure far more precious, for in the Eucharist we possess God Himself. Let us feel a holy pride in forming His escort and extolling His triumphs, while He is in our midst.
by Father Prosper Gueranger, 1870
The grand Feast has, at length, dawned upon us; and everything is speaking of the triumph of faith and love. During the feast of the Ascension, when commenting those words of our Lord: It is expedient to you that I go (St. John, xvi. 7), we were saying, that the withdrawal of the visible presence of the Man-God from the eyes of men on earth, would bring among them, by the vivid operation of the Holy Ghost, a plenitude of light and a warmth of love which they had not had for their Jesus, during His mortal career among them; the only creature, that had rendered to Him, in her single self, the whole of those duties which the Church afterwards paid him, was Mary, who was all illumined with faith.
In his exquisite hymn, Adoro te devote, St. Thomas of Aquin says: On the Cross it was the Divinity alone that was hid; but here the Humanity, too, is hid; and yet, on no day of the Year is the Church more triumphant, or more demonstrative, than she is upon this Feast. Heaven is all radiant; our earth has clad herself with her best, that she may do homage to Him, who has said: I am the Flower of the fields, and the Lily of the valleys (Cant. ii. 1). Holy Church is not satisfied with having prepared a throne whereon, during the whole of this Octave, the sacred Host is to receive the adorations of the faithful; she has decreed, that these days of solemn and loving exposition be preceded by the pageant of a triumph. Not satisfied, today, with elevating the Bread of Life, immediately after the words of Consecration: she will carry It beyond the precincts of her churches, amidst clouds of incense, and on paths strewed with flowers; and her children, on bended knee, will adore, under heaven's vaulted canopy, Him Who is their King and their God.
Sermon of St. Augustine
For while by food and drink men seek to attain to this end that they shall neither hunger nor thirst; there is nothing that truly does this, except that food and drink, which makes those who partake of it immortal and incorruptible; namely, the very fellowship of the Saints, where there will be peace, and full and perfect unity. And so, just as men of God understood this before us, our Lord Jesus Christ has commended to us his body and blood in those things, which from being many are reduced to some one thing. For a unity (bread) is formed out of many grains; and another unity (wine) is made by the juice of many berries flowing together. At length, he now explains how that of which he speaks comes to pass; and what it is to eat his body and to drink his blood.
He who eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, abides in me, and I in him. And so it is apparent that one eats that food and drinks that drink, if he abides in Christ, and Christ in him. Consequently, he who does not abide in Christ, and in whom Christ does not abide, without doubt does not spiritually eat his flesh, nor drink his blood, though he may, in the flesh and visibly, press with his teeth the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ; but rather does he eat and drink the sacrament of so great a thing to his own judgment, because he, being unclean, has presumed to draw near to Christ's sacraments, which no man takes worthily, except he who is clean: of whom it is said: Blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.
And says He, the living Father has sent me, and I live by the Father: so he who eats me, the same also shall live by me. As though he should say: That I live by the Father; that is, that I ascribe my life to Him as to one greater than I, is brought about by that emptying of myself in which he sent me; but, that one lives by me is effected by that participation in which he eats me. And so I, being brought low, live by the Father; while that man, being raised up, lives by me. But if it is said: I live by the Father; so as to mean that he is of the Father, not the Father of him, it is said without disparagement to the equality between them. But on the other hand, by saying: He who eats me the same also shall live by me; he did not signify equality between him and ourselves, but He thereby showed the grace of the mediator.