What do we hope to accomplish in the celebration of Mass? Mediator Dei tells us (1) we give glory to God, (2) we give thanks, (3) we become reconciled with God, and (4) God sanctifies human believers.
Rather than chop up the topic into four separate posts, I thought we’d let you mull over all four in comparison.
71. Moreover, the appointed ends are the same. The first of these is to give glory to the Heavenly Father. From His birth to His death Jesus Christ burned with zeal for the divine glory; and the offering of His blood upon the cross rose to heaven in an odor of sweetness. To perpetuate this praise, the members of the Mystical Body are united with their divine Head in the eucharistic sacrifice, and with Him, together with the Angels and Archangels, they sing immortal praise to God [Cf. Roman Missal, Preface] and give all honor and glory to the Father Almighty. [Cf. Roman Missal, Canon]
Note that our understanding of the Mass isn’t confined to the Earth. We share a worship and a glorification of God with others.
Note the importance of gratitude, a strong virtue of Ignatian spirituality, if not something urged by Christian attitude in general:
72. The second end is duly to give thanks to God. Only the divine Redeemer, as the eternal Father’s most beloved Son whose immense love He knew, could offer Him a worthy return of gratitude. This was His intention and desire at the Last Supper when He “gave thanks.”[Mark, 14:23] He did not cease to do so when hanging upon the cross, nor does He fail to do so in the august sacrifice of the altar, which is an act of thanksgiving or a “eucharistic” act; since this “is truly meet and just, right and availing unto salvation.”[Roman Missal, Preface]
We are unworthy, but God reaches out to us. People, in turn, approach God for forgiveness and receive the grace of reconciliation:
73. The third end proposed is that of expiation, propitiation and reconciliation. Certainly, no one was better fitted to make satisfaction to Almighty God for all the sins of (people) than was Christ. Therefore, He desired to be immolated upon the cross “as a propitiation for our sins, not for ours only but also for those of the whole world”[1 John, 2:2] and likewise He daily offers Himself upon our altars for our redemption, that we may be rescued from eternal damnation and admitted into the company of the elect. This He does, not for us only who are in this mortal life, but also “for all who rest in Christ, who have gone before us with the sign of faith and repose in the sleep of peace;”[Roman Missal, Canon of the Mass] for whether we live, or whether we die “still we are not separated from the one and only Christ.”[Saint Augustine, De Trinit., Book XIII, c. 19]
Interesting the citation of 1 John 2:2, and the notion that the sacrifice of the cross was for the whole world, not just believers. I wonder how often this is either cited or ignored in the battle over pro multis.
God’s intention is for people to be holy:
74. The fourth end, finally, is that of impetration. (Woman and) Man, being the prodigal, has made bad use of and dissipated the goods which (they) received from (their) heavenly Father. Accordingly, (they have) been reduced to the utmost poverty and to extreme degradation. However, Christ on the cross “offering prayers and supplications with a loud cry and tears, has been heard for His reverence.”[Heb. 5:7] Likewise upon the altar He is our mediator with God in the same efficacious manner, so that we may be filled with every blessing and grace.
That line from Eucharistic Prayer I.
75. It is easy, therefore, to understand why the holy Council of Trent lays down that by means of the eucharistic sacrifice the saving virtue of the cross is imparted to us for the remission of the sins we daily commit.[Cf. Council of Trent, Sess. 22, c. 1]
Thoughts on these aims? Do they still carry the same weight today as they did two-thirds of a century ago? Is this litany complete?
These are the paragraphs I remember best from my initial reading of MD long ago in seminary.