One of the sources of the Church’s beliefs is the liturgy and sacraments of the Church belonging to the Church’s received Tradition from the Apostles. Another area which reflects the Church’s teachings is the area of prayers approved by the Church for use. In the prayer below, used by the priest in preparation for Mass, there is a wonderful exposition of the meaning of the Mass and the Incarnation:
I adore You, Lord Jesus Christ. I believe You are the Son of God begotten by the Father, You, Who with Him, share the divine nature and with immense love embrace Him and direct Your entire will to Him.
I believe also You are truly Man, Who descending from heaven, gave glory to Your Father on earth, and dying on the Cross have given Yourself entirely to Him.
Finally I believe You are truly present both God and Man in the Most Holy Sacrament , through which You renew the sacrifice in an unbloody way, what You carried out in a bloody way on the Cross.
I thank You for having handed over Yourself as Victim for us and each day You hand Yourself over once again and You give to the Father fitting honor, the debt owed to Him,** (See note below) which we are incapable of and most of all I thank You because You have called me Your unworthy servant to the order of the priesthood so that in Your Person among the faithful I may be able to bring to You, to offer the sacrifice, essential words and action in the manner specified.
Thus, grant that moved by the sublimity of this mystery, with the required fear, with contrition and humility I may draw near to the altar; grant, next, that with attention and reverence I may carry out my office; most of all, grant, that I may by joined to You in spirit and with You I may offer myself to Your Father as a sacrifice.
Fire up the same spirit of devotion and sacrifice also in all those Who assist in my sacrifice so that they themselves may be present intimately recognizing the nature of the sacrifice and with earnest desire for the same sacrifice, with all their mind, they may assent and offer themselves as victims to the Father: in all of theirs and in my own name to sacrifice again to the Father, Lord Jesus, to adore Him and honor Him in a manner befitting the Lord and origin of all things; to thank Him for all benefits granted to us; to offer satisfaction for our sins especially my own and those of the whole world; finally to implore divine grace for us. Look again Lord, holy Father, upon this Immaculate Offering, which Your beloved Son, is about to offer to You, look again upon the countenance of Your Christ, in which You have been well pleased. Through Him, Whom You have given to us as Brother, and shortly are about to give to us as Food, grant us your Fatherly benevolence and grace and all things necessary and useful for salvation.
I commend to You all for whom I ought to pray, who have been given over to my care; who have asked that I remember them; all the afflicted and troubled all sinners; and the universal Church and human race. Amen.
**Fitting worship, the debt owed to God is called condign worship. The Opening Prayer on December 31st in the Roman Missal goes as follows: Almighty ever-living God, who in the Nativity of your Son established the beginning and fulfillment of all religion…. It reminds us that there was no true religion possible before God became flesh, but only attempts at religion because the human race was incapable of giving God the worship he deserves until God became flesh and bridged the gap between God and the human race. Only now in with and through Jesus Christ can human beings give proper worship to God because our Offering, Jesus’ Body and Blood is the God-Man equal and consubstantial with His Father. The virtue of religion is to give God the worship that is due to Him. From the moment of the Incarnation Jesus Christ is the great High Priest not according to the law of Moses but according to the order of Melchizedek. See the Letter to the Hebrews chapter nine.
The Church teaches that the ordained priesthood and the baptismal priesthood of the laity are different in essence and not simply in degree. The ordained priest acts in persona, that is, in the very Person of Jesus Christ in offering the sacrifice. The sacred character received in ordination so configures a priest to Christ that He acts in His very Person. The priesthood of the laity is such that they share in Christ’s priesthood to offer sacrifice and fitting worship to the Father. The Morning Offering is the prayer that emphasizes this: all prayers, works, joys, and sufferings are offered to God in union with the sacrifice of the Mass, the true worship of God through Jesus His Son. The Mass is the same sacrifice as the sacrifice of the Cross: the Priest is the same, the offering is the same, His Body and Blood, and the altar is the same, His Sacred Humanity. The only difference is in the Mass the sacrifice is offered in unbloody fashion while on the Cross it was offered once and for all in bloody fashion.
Here’s another prayer which speaks to attributes of God, His eternity and mercy:
O my God, have toward me the mercy and liberality of enabling me to repair before I die all the losses of grace that I have had the misfortune or foolishness of bringing upon myself. Enable me to reach the height of merit and perfection to which in Your first intention You did desire to lead me, which intention I have hitherto frustrated by my infidelities. Deign to repair in souls those losses of grace they have incurred through my fault.
This is quoted in Father Antonio Royo Marin’s The Great Unknown, in the section on making reparation for our infidelities. He found this prayer in Auguste Saudreau’s, The Ideal of a Fervent Soul. People often say, “You can’t undo the past.” In the spiritual life you can, because of God’s mercy and power and hence lost graces can be recovered if God so grants. He of course is not bound by time or our limitations of time and space. God knows us and loves us from all eternity. His plan for us is from all eternity. See Ephesians 1:3
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