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ST. CATHERINE OF SIENA PARISH
220 Shelton Road, Trumbull, Connecticut 06611

Saint Catherine of Siena

What is the Mass?

"At the Last Supper, on the night when He was betrayed, our Saviour instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of His Body and Blood. This He did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the Cross throughout the centuries until He should come again, and so to entrust to His beloved spouse, the Church, a memorial of His death and resurrection: a sacrament of love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a paschal banquet in which Christ is eaten, the mind is filled with grace, and a pledge of future glory is given to us.”

The Second Vatican Ecumencial Council
Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 47


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The Holy Mass is the sacrifice in which the Lord Jesus Christ,

through the ministry of the priest,

offers Himself to God the Father in an un-bloody manner,

under the appearances of bread and wine,

for the salvation of our souls.


In the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we read:

"As early as the second century we have the witness of St. Justin Martyr for the basic lines of the order of the Eucharistic celebration. They have stayed the same until our own day for all the great liturgical families. St. Justin wrote to the pagan emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161) around the year 155, explaining what Christians did:

  • On the day we call the day of the sun, all who dwell in the city or country gather in the same place.
  • The memoirs of the apostles and the writings of the prophets are read, as much as time permits.
  • When the reader has finished, he who presides over those gathered admonishes and challenges them to imitate these beautiful things.
  • Then we all rise together and offer prayers for ourselves . . .and for all others, wherever they may be, so that we may be found righteous by our life and actions, and faithful to the commandments, so as to obtain eternal salvation.
  • When the prayers are concluded we exchange the kiss.
  • Then someone brings bread and a cup of water and wine mixed together to him who presides over the brethren.
  • He takes them and offers praise and glory to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and for a considerable time he gives thanks (in Greek: eucharistian) that we have been judged worthy of these gifts.
  • When he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all present give voice to an acclamation by saying: 'Amen.'
  • When he who presides has given thanks and the people have responded, those whom we call deacons give to those present the "eucharisted" bread, wine and water and take them to those who are absent."  (CCC 1345)


Every Mass makes present the Death and Resurrection of Our Lord, transcending space and time. 

Every Mass brings new graces into the world. 

During every Mass, Christ Himself becomes present on the Altar, as through the words of a priest

and the action of the Holy Spirit, our gifts of bread and wine are really, truly, and substantially changed

into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ Himself. 

This is the most incredible reality in the whole world.


T
he Catechism of the Catholic Church continues:

"The mode of Christ's presence under the Eucharistic species is unique.

It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as "the perfection of the spiritual life

and the end to which all the sacraments tend."

In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist 'the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity,

of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.'

'This presence is called 'real' - by which is not intended to exclude the other types of presence

as if they could not be 'real' too, but because it is presence in the fullest sense:

that is to say, it is a substantial presence by which Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present.'

It is by the conversion of the bread and wine into Christ's body and blood that Christ becomes present in this sacrament.

The Church Fathers strongly affirmed the faith of the Church in the efficacy of the Word of Christ

and of the action of the Holy Spirit to bring about this conversion.


Thus St. John Chrysostom declares:
'It is not man that causes the things offered to become the Body and Blood of Christ, but he who was crucified for us,

Christ himself. The priest, in the role of Christ, pronounces these words, but their power and grace are God's.

'This is my body', he says. This word transforms the things offered.

And St. Ambrose says about this conversion:
Be convinced that this is not what nature has formed, but what the blessing has consecrated.

The power of the blessing prevails over that of nature, because by the blessing nature itself is changed. . . .

Could not Christ's word, which can make from nothing what did not exist, change existing things into what they were not before? It is no less a feat to give things their original nature than to change their nature.

The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring:

'Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread,

it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again,

that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread

into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord

and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood.

This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation.'"   (CCC 1374-1376)