On the Catholic Priesthood
Priests and Reparation
George Goyau, when giving notice of the forthcoming publication of a book entitled Lettres de Prêtres aux Armées ( Priests' Letters to the Armies), calls the Holy Mass "the greatest event in the history of humanity," and he adds:
"Daily, the priest brings the effective operation of our Divine Redeemer to bear upon the destinies of the human family. By a supreme act he interweaves the weft of our daily sins with the Divine Ransom; above the chaos of both open and hidden faults he raises the Victim. Our human history is continually being permeated with this Divine sacrifice, a sacrifice both multiple and one. To many this sacred rite is a mere commonplace thing. Nevertheless, through the agency of the priest, they are present at the recurrence of the decisive moment when our guilty world, so justly disinherited, was suddenly put on the way to the plenitude of the supernatural life by the two Mysteries of the Incarnation and the Redemption. God has chosen the priest to perpetuate these two Mysteries, and no human catastrophe can draw him away from this duty, which from the day of his ordination is one, for eternity, with the very life of his soul."
We could not express more briefly the grandeur and the responsibility of the priesthood. What is the priest? One who carries Christ on through the ages. But Jesus Christ came upon earth to give, to His Eternal Father, a Pontiff, a priest who could adequately make Reparation and Expiation. The priest, therefore, who is charged to prolong, as it were, the role of Christ, ought to imitate Him by offering himself with Christ as an evidence of adoration and expiation. The priest who consecrates will therefore be a victim with Jesus. He does not understand his whole ministry if he confines it to the distribution of the Body of Christ, of the word of God, of the forgiveness of Christ, and does not at the same time accept the role of the victim like his Master, of whom he takes the place and perpetuates the work.
All the years Jesus spent upon earth He was a victim, but He was not satisfied with this, for He had determined to prolong His Sacrifice by the agency of His priests. This He accomplished at the Last Supper, on the eve of His death; hence the Mass sets forth, without the shedding of blood, the immolation of Christ bleeding upon the Cross. Uplifted on Golgotha, Christ between Heaven and earth will be a shield interposed between God's justice and man's sin.
Jesus' mediation will be accepted by God, because of His wounds and His precious blood poured forth. But Jesus is is likewise the shield between Heaven and earth, between God's justice and our sins in every Mass. Each "elevation" compensates for our manifold scandals; each uplifting of the Hose atones for some decadence of ours, for our falls into sin, because the virtue of His blood and wounds lasts on. There are not two sacrifices, but this is the same as that of the Cross, though set forth differently. This is the formal teaching of the Council of Trent.
How many of the faithful, who hear Mass, do not seem to have any knowledge of this adorable Mystery! How many use prayers which have no reference whatever to the Mass, though perhaps appropriate for other occasions! How many know the term "Holy Sacrifice," without any conception of the exact truth and stupendous reality with which it corresponds!
Source: The Ideal of Reparation by Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J. 1852