I am writing this post on Good Friday night from my familiar office space at Our Lady of Peace Parish, Erie. The church is stripped; the tablernacle empty. The Holy Water has been properly disposed of. The Eucharistic Presence of Jesus is temporarily housed in our sacristy. The Holy Thursday Mass and the Good Friday service have been offered. The Thursday evening vigil with the Lord has past. The Passion has been read, and the Cross venerated. Tonight is a quiet night, before Saturday’s busy preparations for Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday.
Consider this: no Masses have been offered anywhere on the face of the Earth today. Not a single priest, consecrated to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass, has made that offering today. Yes, we received Communion today if we went to the Good Friday Service, but that is a distribution of hosts that were consecrated on Holy Thursday. Why are there no Masses on Good Friday?
While I have not read the ancient manuscripts to come up with this answer, I offer my own understanding, which I am sure is close to the “official” Catholic reason why. Here it goes:
No priest need offer the Eucharist today because we recognize that Jesus, the High Priest, has offered the one sacrifice for sins on the Cross. Our abstaining from Mass today (as well as all other sacramental celebrations – except anointing and confession) is a recognition that Jesus’ Cross is the source of sacramental power. By focusing on the Cross, we understand that Jesus is the One True High Priest, who has offered the Sacrifice for sin with His own Blood.
Jesus offers His blood on the Altar of the Cross, which draws all people, Jew and Gentile, to Him, and glorifies His Father in Heaven (John 12: 27-32). His Blood speaks more elequently than that of Abel, who was also killed by his brother (Hebrews 12: 22-24). Jesus wears the Seemless Garment to the Cross, as all High Priests of the time wore seemless garments (John 19:24). Jesus has truly consecrated Himself that He might make One Visible Church, His Body in the world (John 17:17-23). He has fulfilled the prophecy with His Blood, and now the members of His Church can be forgiven of sin, and live forever (Isaiah 53: 10-12). From His side flow blood and water, and the Church is born from His side (John 19:31-35). Jesus is the High Priest. The offerings of ordained priests renew daily this sacrifice and keep it a living sacrifice in the Church. Could Jesus’ sacrifice be anything else but a daily, living one?
No Mass need be celebrated today, because today, we realize that today is the source of our redemption. We give thanks! Sunday, the second part of this act of salvation will be accomplished, when Jesus rises from the dead. Jesus is Risen, today and forever! Thus, the bread we eat from the hands of priests is the Sacrifice for our Sins, and the Bread of Life.
I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” (John 6: 51)
Believe it. And if this Eucharist is truly important for you, open yourself to a vocation to the Priesthood.
P.S. All are welcome to Our Lady of Peace Parish on Sunday, May 1st for the celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday, celebrating the Beatification of John Paul II! Confessions and Adoration start at 1:45; service starts at 2:30.
We also rejoice in the ordination to Diaconate for Mr. Brandon Kleckner on Saturday, April 30th. Brandon will be ordained to the Priesthood in June, 2012. Pray for him. Congratulations, Brandon!
Pray also for our St. Mark Seminarians as they celebrate St. Mark’s Day, their Patronal Feast Day, on Sunday, May 1st. Seminarians, we are proud of you!