Tag Archives: Mass

Tres Magna

As we begin this new year, the theme of the magazine is Renewed Purpose. I am asking you to resist the temptation of simply chalking this up as another New Year’s resolution topic that is convenient because it is that time of year. Indeed, I believe the topic of this column, Tres Magna, is extremely important to each member of Legatus.

Tom Monaghan

We are all aware of our mission as an organization to study, live, and spread the Catholic faith. However, as we go beneath the surface and engage what this really means, it is about growing in personal sanctity, which is no surprise to any of us because that is the goal of every Catholic.

So what is Tres Magna? This is Latin for Big Three. Some of you will remember in March 2017 my column was entitled The Big 3 of the Spiritual Life, and I challenged you at that time to attend daily Mass, pray the rosary every day, and go to Confession monthly!

My conviction of the importance of each of these has only continued to grow! About a year and a half ago, when the International Board of Governors met in Los Angeles, our ecclesiastical advisor, Archbishop Gomez, said (and I am paraphrasing here), I see Legatus being like a lay religious order. That statement really resonated with me and put into words the sense of purpose, focus, and vocation to which I, too, believe Legatus is being drawn. This call is not complicated nor is it anything new to the church And for me Tres Magna helps to make this call, this practice very specific.

We are all aware that the Mass is the highest form of prayer (or member of Legatus. worship), and while daily Mass certainly is not mandatory, as Vatican II says, it is the source and summit of our faith…In terms of the rosary, not only have popes throughout the ages called us to this devotional practice, but in Church-approved apparitions from Lourdes to Fatima, Our Lady consistently exhorts (dare I say, begs) the faithful to pray the rosary daily. And finally, monthly Confession. This is a part of the First Saturday devotion that I wrote about in my last column, and which has been built into every monthly chapter meeting.

Each of us is keenly aware of the current crisis in the Church and the challenges that loom before us. If we ever had a doubt as to why we exist as an organization, I believe it is for such a time as this. So, I encourage you in the strongest way I know to COMMIT to Tres Magna! Do not let it be something you just try, but resolve to do it and encourage your fellow members.

TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder, chairman, and CEO.

The big three of the spiritual life

As business executives, we all have to set priorities for our companies or organizations. A part of this process is recognizing what is core to our success. If this is the case for our businesses, how much more should we practice this principle in our spiritual lives!

Tom Monaghan

We all know that our ultimate goal is to get to heaven and to bring as many people with us as possible; this is the living and spreading of our faith that we talk about in the mission of Legatus.

There are obviously many facets to living our faith, but let me share with you what I call “the big three of the spiritual life.” I have talked about these over the years and have even used them as a challenge at commencement addresses.

The first time I did so was when I was scheduled to speak after Mary Beth Bonacci. If you have ever heard Mary Beth speak with all of her style and energy — and I had — you know what an unenviable task it is. I thought, “What can I say to these young men and women that will keep their attention and make an impact?”

And then it came to me. I threw out the notes I had prepared and decided to issue them a challenge to attend daily Mass, to pray the rosary every day, and to get to Confession at least once a month.

I asked those graduates to commit themselves to these three things for the rest of their lives. Well, the message was so well received that day that I have used it several times since. I pray that those young people have kept their commitment. It’s not complicated, but it is a challenge. In the context of Legatus, I don’t think it’s coincidental that we find all three of these elements present at our monthly chapter meetings — rosary, Reconciliation and Mass. Over the years, these three things have become the foundation for my spiritual life, and for this, I am grateful.

So as we begin this Lent, instead of giving something up (or in addition to your fasting), let me issue this challenge to you: Try daily Mass, praying the rosary every day, and monthly Confession and see how it goes. I guarantee you will not regret it.

TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder and chairman.

Why does the priest mix water and wine?

Mike Aquilina

Mike Aquilina

There are two answers to this question. The first answer is that that’s how people served wine at the time of the Last Supper and for a long time afterward.

Vintners made wine very strong, like juices that we buy today in concentrated form. Wine was diluted with water at a civilized table (see Prov 9:5); only barbarians drank unmixed wine.

The second answer is that this custom of humble and ordinary beginnings has acquired a rich symbolic meaning. Some of the earliest Christian writers — as early as St. Justin Martyr in 150 AD — mentioned the “mixed cup.” For some, the wine and water represent the blood and water that poured from Jesus’ side on the cross (see John 19:31-34). As the priest pours the two elements, a devout Christian can’t help but remember this scene from the Scriptures.

Other interpreters saw the mixture as a symbol of God’s communion with us. Saint Clement of Alexandria, writing around 200 AD, emphasized the effects of Communion upon the individual who receives: “As wine is blended with water, so is the Spirit with man.” A few years later, in North Africa, St. Cyprian spoke of the mixed cup but emphasized Christ’s communion with the whole Church:

“The water is understood as the people while the wine shows forth the blood of Christ. When the water is mingled in the cup with wine, the people are united with Christ…. Once the water and wine are mingled in the Lord’s cup, the mixture cannot anymore be separated.”

There is something exact about the symbol: Christ is the wine; we are the bit of water. The main part of the sacrament is Christ really present, but communion does not happen without our willing participation.

The mixed chalice can also be seen as a sign of Christ’s two natures, divine and human, united in one person. The wine represents his divinity, the water his humanity. The two natures come to us together in the Eucharist, as they did in the Incarnation.

Thus from the earliest times the mixed chalice at Mass was emblematic of the mystery it held: the mystery of Christ and of salvation by his blood.

The Church has insisted on this mixing of the water with the wine for two millennia. In the 16th century, the Council of Trent even excommunicated priests who neglected to mix the elements. The Church has good reasons to be faithful here. Some are perhaps historical: a fidelity to a custom dating back to the time of Jesus. Others, however, are doctrinal, dealing with the mystery at the heart of the faith — the marvelous exchange spelled out in the prayer at the Offertory: “By the mystery of this water and wine, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”

MIKE AQUILINA is the author or editor of more than 40 books on Catholic history, doctrine and devotion. This column is reprinted with permission from his book “Understanding the Mass: 100 Questions, 100 Answers” (Servant Books, Cincinnati, 2011)

Catechism 101

The miracles of the multiplication of the loaves, when the Lord says the blessing, breaks and distributes the loaves through his disciples to feed the multitude, prefigures the superabundance of this unique bread of his Eucharist.

The sign of water turned into wine at Cana already announces the hour of Jesus’ glorification. It makes manifest the fulfillment of the wedding feast in the Father’s kingdom, where the faithful will drink the new wine that has become the Blood of Christ.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1335

Did Jesus really want us to celebrate the Mass?

Mike Aquilina

Mike Aquilina

How do we know that Jesus intended the Church to continue offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass?

His instructions are simple and specific: “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). The people who knew him best — his apostles — followed those instructions. Right after Pentecost, Acts tells us that 3,000 new Christians were baptized. “And they held steadfastly to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers” (Acts 2:42).

“The breaking of the bread” was the characteristic celebration that set the Christians apart from other Jews. While the temple still existed, the Christians worshiped there along with everyone else, but they had Mass in private homes: “And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people” (Acts 2:46-47).

So we have the witness of Scripture to tell us what Jesus’ instructions were and to tell us that his apostles were following those instructions mere days after Jesus ascended into heaven. The tradition of the Mass is unbroken from the time of Christ to our own day.

The Mass has been the center of Christian worship since the beginning, so the early Christians found ways to celebrate it even during the most intense persecutions. The celebration seems to have been very much like our current liturgy, although it’s hard to establish some of the details of the very earliest celebrations.

Often the Christians met secretly at the tombs of the martyrs for morning prayers. They may have celebrated what we call the Liturgy of the Word there and then celebrated the Eucharist at someone’s house later on, or they may have just prayed at the tombs and then celebrated the whole Mass later in the day.

Saint Justin Martyr, who was writing in about the year 150, describes the Eucharist in terms we easily recognize: “Then the president of the brethren is brought bread and a cup of wine mixed with water. Taking them, he gives praise to the Father of the universe, through the name of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. And when he has concluded the prayers and thanksgivings, all the peoples present express their assent by saying Amen, which means ‘so be it’ in Hebrew.

“And when the president has given thanks, and all the people have expressed their assent, the ones we call deacons give to each of those present to partake of the bread and wine mixed with water over which the thanksgiving was pronounced [or more literally, that has been eucharisted], and they take some of it away to those who are absent. We call this food the Eucharist.”

MIKE AQUILINA is the author or editor of more than 40 books on Catholic history, doctrine and devotion. This column is reprinted with permission from his book “Understanding the Mass: 100 Questions, 100 Answers” (Servant Books, Cincinnati, 2011)

Catechism 101

Christ is always present in his Church, especially in her liturgical celebrations. He is present in the Sacrifice of the Mass not only in the person of his minister … but especially in the Eucharistic species. By his power he is present in the sacraments so that when anybody baptizes, it is really Christ himself who baptizes.

He is present in his word since it is he himself who speaks when the holy scriptures are read in the Church. Lastly, he is present when the Church prays and sings, for he has promised “where two or three are gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1088

The Jewish roots of the Mass

Mike Aquilina: The Last Supper was the last Passover meal;  it fulfills the Passover . . .

Mike Aquilina

Mike Aquilina

The Mass is the fulfillment of many of the Israelite rituals of the Old Testament. The Passover is probably the most important of these. The Last Supper was a Passover meal. For Christians, it was the last Passover meal because it fulfills the Passover.

Every year the Israelites were to sacrifice a lamb the way they had done at the first Passover. They would eat unleavened bread to remember the haste with which they left their bondage in Egypt. From one generation to the next, the people would pass down the story of how God had redeemed them.

Our Mass makes our own redemption present to us but, unlike the Passover, in a real and complete way. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross completed the work of redemption. The Exodus released only one small group of people from their physical slavery. It did not release them from their bondage to sin, and it did not release the rest of the nations of the world from anything.

Sin offerings were also an important part of Israelite ritual. This ritual did not overcome sin. It forgave one sin of the past; it could not defeat sin itself. Only Christ’s sacrifice could release anyone from sin. This is the sacrifice that is present to us at every Mass.

The “sacrifice of thanksgiving,” which is prescribed in Leviticus but not mentioned again until the time of David, is another important precursor of our Mass. The word Eucharist, in fact, comes from the Greek word that was often used as a translation for “sacrifice of thanksgiving.”

All these sacrifices come together in our Mass because Christ’s sacrifice fulfilled all the sacrifices of the Old Testament. Christians no longer sacrifice animals or grain, because we know that Christ’s sacrifice is complete — one perfect sacrifice for all time.

Finally, our Liturgy of the Word — in which we hear the scripture readings and the homily and say the prayers for everyone in need — seems to be based on the synagogue liturgy that was current at the time of Christ. In the synagogue, the Scriptures were read by a lector, and then there was a kind of homily or interpretation. Jesus himself, visiting the synagogue at Nazareth, is asked to read and interpret the scripture (Lk 4:16-22).

What we see from all these comparisons, then, is that Christian worship was a continuation of Jewish worship. This is no surprise. The early Christians never thought they were founding a new religion. They believed they were practicing the religion of Abraham, Moses and David — but now with the knowledge that they were living in the time of the Messiah.

MIKE AQUILINA is the author or editor of more than 40 books on Catholic history, doctrine and devotion. This column is reprinted with permission from his book “Understanding the Mass: 100 Questions, 100 Answers” (Servant Books, Cincinnati, 2011)


Catechism 101

By celebrating the Last Supper with his apostles in the course of the Passover meal, Jesus gave the Jewish Passover its definitive meaning. Jesus’ passing over to his Father by his death and resurrection, the new Passover, is anticipated in the Supper and celebrated in the Eucharist, which fulfills the Jewish Passover and anticipates the final Passover of the Church in the glory of the kingdom.

A better knowledge of the Jewish people’s faith and religious life as professed and lived even now can help our better understanding of certain aspects of Christian liturgy. The relationship between Jewish liturgy and Christian liturgy, but also their differences in content, are particularly evident in the great feasts of the liturgical year, such as Passover.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 1340, 1096

Mass brings heaven’s glory and joy to earth

Mike Aquilina writes that Mass is a participation in the worship going on in heaven . . .

When we’re at Mass, we are participating in the joyous worship that goes on eternally in heaven. Obviously we can’t know precisely what heaven is like — it’s too wonderful, too glorious for our limited mortal comprehension.

Scripture, however, gives us images to help us get some idea of what heaven is, especially in the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament book of Revelation. What we see in those images is our Christian liturgy, eternally celebrated in the heavenly court of the Father.

Many of the words of our liturgy come straight from those Scripture passages. The Sanctus, or “Holy, Holy, Holy,” is the hymn the seraphim sing at the throne of God. We also recognize just before Communion these words of the angel: “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the lamb” (Rev 19:9). In the Mass we participate for the moment in that marriage supper of the Lamb that goes on eternally in heaven.

But the most important way the Mass is like heaven is not in the details of the liturgy. To be in heaven is to be with Christ, dwelling constantly in the presence of the living God. In Holy Communion we are truly with Christ. When that happens we’re in heaven, and no matter how unheavenly the rest of our earthly lives may be, we carry heaven with us into the world if we have the faith to see what we’ve just experienced.

Although Mass is required every Sunday, thinking of Mass as an obligation is really a backward way of looking at it. Going to Mass is an extraordinary privilege. Instead of trying to decide when you have to go, why not go as often as you can?

Yet, our Sunday obligation satisfies the commandment to keep holy the Sabbath. The Catechism strikingly calls the Sabbath “a day of protest against the servitude of labor and the worship of money” (CCC #2172). It liberates us, if only for one day out of seven, from slavery to mundane concerns and frees us to look upward toward God.

Part of that rest is the spiritual refreshment of the Mass. Our Sunday obligation gives us two things we desperately need and that we tend not to leave time for if we’re left to ourselves: It gives us rest, and it gives us close contact with the divine.

Especially in modern society, the temptation is to work without ceasing — or to cause others to work constantly for us. But we are more than machines for performing work. We are God’s children with not only a right but an obligation to make ourselves better and to help others around us become better. The obligation to go to Mass on Sunday takes us out of the cycle of endless labor. It forces us to make room in our lives for joy, whether we like it or not!

This column is reprinted with permission from “Understanding the Mass: 100 Questions, 100 Answers” by Mike Aquilina (Servant Books, Cincinnati, 2011).


Catechism 101

Having passed from this world to the Father, Christ gives us in the Eucharist the pledge of glory with him. Participation in the Holy Sacrifice identifies us with his Heart, sustains our strength along the pilgrimage of this life, makes us long for eternal life, and unites us even now to the Church in heaven, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and all the saints.

The Eucharistic sacrifice is also offered for the faithful departed who have died in Christ but are not yet wholly purified, so that they may be able to enter into the light and peace of Christ.

Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 1419, 1371

The Church and our country

Legatus founder Tom Monaghan says Catholic CEOs can make a difference in our culture . . .

Thomas Monaghan

The election season is now behind us, and all of the important decisions have been made. We have President Obama for another four years. But even if Mitt Romney had won, the Church in our country would still have a ton of challenges to face.

As CEOs, you are used to dealing with numbers, so here are a few statistics about the Church in the U.S. that I have recently been made aware of:

• There are about 70 million Catholics in the U.S. right now.
• There are 30 million fallen-away Catholics.
• Half of the mega-churches’ members are former Catholics.
• Sunday Mass attendance is at about 30%.
• Those going to Mass every Sunday is about 20%.
• For those between the ages of 20-30, weekly Mass attendance is 15% (scary!).
• 7% of Catholics give 80% of Church donations.
• 75% of college students who leave home stop going to Sunday Mass.
• One parish closes every four days.

Canada is in even worse shape than the U.S. For example, Quebec has 10% Sunday Mass attendance. Western Europe is much worse with about 6-7% of the Catholics there going to Sunday Mass. In France, it’s about 4% and Scandinavia is 1%!

I believe the reason for this sad picture is ignorance of the faith. That’s why I have been involved in Catholic education for the last 30 years and why I started Ave Maria University to be a beacon for Catholic education.

Now that we have another four years of President Obama, there is a lot of work to be done and Legatus can have a huge impact. Each of us needs to reach out to other Catholic CEOs because, as you know, Legates are the best recruiters of Legates.

Catholic CEOs who study, live and spread the faith can and will transform their marriages, their families, their businesses, their communities, this country — and who knows, maybe even the world.

Thomas Monaghan is Legatus’ founder and chairman. He is a member of Legatus’ Naples Chapter.

The parts of the Mass

The publication of  the new Roman Missal means it’s time to review the Mass . . .

Al Kresta

The Mass is a spiritual banquet, best appreciated as you read the menu ahead of time and anticipate the flow of the courses. The Mass splits into two balanced halves: the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

In the Introductory Rites we prepare to meet God. They consist of the Entrance Song (Introit), the Greeting, the Penitential Rite and the Opening Prayer. Now we are prepared to enter into the heart of the Mass.

God speaks to us in the Liturgy of the Word. Only Scripture is read, and we find ourselves exhorted, rebuked, consoled, encouraged, challenged and instructed. The first reading is usually taken from the Old Testament or Acts. Then comes a Psalm response, followed by the second reading, usually taken from the epistles or the Book of Revelation. The Gospel has pride of place among the readings. The homily applies the Word to everyday life and the liturgical year.

Then follows the Profession of Faith (the Creed). If one cannot say the Creed with confidence, he is not ready to enter into full communion with Christ. After the General Intercessions (Prayers of the Faithful), the priest concludes the Liturgy of the Word with a prayer, making us ready for the greatest mystery: the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the Word made flesh.

Just as the Liturgy of the Word was preceded by a period of preparation, so too the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The preparation of the altar and the gifts and the presentation of and prayer over the gifts (the Offertory) precede the Eucharistic Prayer, which begins with the priest and people wishing that the Lord be with one another’s spirit. The Preface, the Sanctus and the Benedictus build anticipation of the Lord’s coming. Next the Holy Spirit is invoked (the Epiclesis) to transform the gifts into the Body and Blood of Christ. Christ’s Words of Institution (the Consecration) follow. The people then offer the Memorial Acclamation, followed by prayers for the Church and her leaders.

Next comes the Communion Rite, which includes the Lord’s Prayer, the Sign of Peace, the breaking of the bread, the Lamb of God (Agnus Dei), and Communion. The prayer after Communion and the cleansing of the sacred vessels conclude the Communion Rite and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. In the Concluding Rite, we are dismissed to go forth as God’s ambassadors, transforming the world into the kingdom of God.

This column is reprinted with permission from the book “Why Do Catholics Genuflect?” by Al Kresta, CEO of Ave Maria Communications and host of Kresta in the Afternoon on Ave Maria Radio.

How did Vatican II change the Mass?

45 years after Vatican II, there is a truer unity of ‘spirit’ & ‘law’  . . .

Fr. John Trigilio

Fr. John Trigilio

Pope Benedict XVI continues John Paul II’s legacy of instructing the faithful about the true teachings of the Second Vatican Council and working with his bishops to ensure their faithful implementation. This  “restoration of the sacred” has most visibly affected the liturgy, for lex orandi, lex credendi – “the way we pray shows what we believe.”

Forty-five years after the Council closed, a truer unity of “spirit” and “law” is being achieved in what Catholics believe and how we pray. Truth is prevailing as the radical reformers who caused much confusion after Vatican II continue to retire from their university chairs and other posts of influence.

One obvious change stemming from Vatican II was the introduction of modifications in the Mass. The essence of the rituals for the sacraments was not changed, but the vernacular was introduced. Latin remained and still remains the standard, universal and official language for worship and doctrine. Countries can get authorization from the Vatican to translate the Mass and sacraments into the vernacular, and that was done after the Council closed. While the Council Fathers never intended the complete removal of Latin from the public worship and prayer of the Western Church, in practice, most American and European countries went 100% vernacular after the Council.

Since the reign of John Paul II (1978-2005), the true spirit of Vatican II was reclaimed by the actual letter of Vatican II. Many innovators had tried to justify their liturgical abuses by claiming they were being faithful to the “spirit” of the law without being slaves to the “letter” of the law. On the contrary, John Paul showed that the intent of the Council Fathers can be found in the documents they issued. He reminded us of the Church’s rich patrimony and heritage, from the Latin language to the elegant and edifying beauty of Catholic art and music.

Abuses came not from Vatican II or because of Vatican II, but from those who distorted the Council Fathers’ intentions and the implementation of the documents. Optional celibacy for priests of the Latin rite, ordination of women, allowing artificial contraception by married couples, removing the obligation to attend Sunday Mass every week, forbidding Latin in any public worship, getting rid of devotions to the Virgin Mary and the saints, removing statues from churches, removing altar (communion) rails, moving tabernacles from the sanctuary and forcing the priest to celebrate Mass facing the people were never required or mandated by Vatican II.

Reprinted with permission from “The Catholicism Answer Book: The 300 Most Frequently Asked Questions” by Rev. John Trigilio Jr. and Rev. Kenneth D. Brighenti (Sourcebooks, 2007).

What does co-mingling mean?

During Mass, immediately after the sign of peace, the priest breaks the Eucharistic bread. This is one of the key actions of Jesus, who took the bread, said the blessing, broke it and gave it to his disciples.

In the early Church, where one loaf of unleavened bread was used, the bread was broken so that everyone might partake. In later centuries, the Church began using hosts already cut from a sheet ready-made for Communion. Unfortunately, the symbolism was lost in the process. However, it is still retained in the breaking of the priest’s larger host.

After the Lamb of God, the priest will do something that may be imperceptible to our eyes if we are not specifically looking for it. He will break off a small piece of the Eucharistic bread and drop it into the chalice that contains the Precious Blood of Jesus while he says a prayer silently. This is called the co-mingling of the bread and wine. It is a small act, but rich in symbolism.

First, the comingling symbolizes the Resurrection of our Lord. At the con secration our Lord came to the bread and wine separately — this is my Body, this is my Blood — symbolic of his death on the cross. Now the two are joined.

Second, it symbolizes the unity of the Church. In the early Church, a piece of the Eucharist from the Pope’s Mass was broken off and taken to other churches and mingled with their Eucharis tic species to signify that they were all one Body of Christ. This piece was called the fermentum, a Latin word that means leaven.

Third, in some parts of the Church it became the custom to retain this broken Eucharistic bread soaked in the Precious Blood for the Communion of the sick and dying. Obviously, given in this condition it would be easier for someone having difficulty swallowing to partake of the Eucharist.

The prayer said by the priest as he performs this action asks that it might “bring eternal life” to all who receive the Eucharist.

Michael Dubruiel is an author and journalist who holds a master’s degree in Christian spirituality from Creighton University. This column is reprinted with permission from his book “The How-To Book of the Mass” (Our Sunday Visitor, 2007).