This Sunday’s reflection is the fourth in a series of meditations on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, with specific references to the Ancient Rite of the Mass, the Usus Antiquior. There are many books in circulation that illustrate the theological and spiritual cohesion of the Ancient Rite of the Mass. It is the Rite that sustained and nourished the spiritual life of countless saints and which gave birth to Christian culture. It is my hope that these meditations may help us to appreciate and to understand that the ultimate purpose of the sacred liturgy is to form our souls in the beauty of holiness; so that we in our time, like those who have gone before us may be ‘the aroma of Christ to God…a fragrance from life to life’ (2 Cor. 2:15-16) for God’s greater glory and the salvation of souls. ⧾
For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world (Jn. 6:33).
As we listen to Our Lord’s Eucharistic discourse, He Himself teaches us about the Eucharist, the Sacrament prefigured not only in the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish but also in the life and worship of the Jewish people, specifically in the worship given to God in the Temple in Jerusalem. In our meditations on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, last Sunday we considered the function of the Offertory and specifically the Offertory prayers as a preparation for the Eucharistic Prayer or Canon of the Mass. This is the priestly prayer which brings about the re-presentation of Our Lord’s Passion and Death on the Cross. It is called the Canon – which means rule, because it is the unchangeable heart of the Mass. In the Extraordinary Form of the Mass this is literally true because the Roman Canon, as it is also sometimes called, is the only Eucharistic prayer. Before we do so, let us be mindful that the sacred liturgy in all its varied aspects but most especially in the reception of God’s Incarnate Word in the Holy Eucharist is truly nourishment for our human nature: our mind, our heart and soul. Hence Our Lord’s declaration: I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty (Jn. 6: 35).