The Relationship of the Cross and the Mass
|Through Your Word, save a soul, forgetting not my own
To understand the relationship between the cross and the Mass, we must understand Christianity. Christianity, as Fulton Sheen has explained, is not man making a quest for God, but God making a quest for man. This was made explicit when Our Blessed Lord became flesh. Many have lost the significance of the Incarnation. Fulton Sheen gave the best explanation:
This was the kind of humility Our Blessed Lord had to go through. One must always note the significance of what Our Blessed Lord has done, especially at Mass. Think of the humility Our Blessed Lord had to go through so that we may partake the sacrifice of the Cross. In order for us to partake of the cross, He would have to become present in a form of bread and wine. The question then would arise, how could the Mass be the same sacrifice as the cross without re-sacrificing Jesus?
To answer this question, we must remember that God is always making a quest for man and we must know the importance of a sacrifice. An animal sacrifice in the Old Testament meant many things: recognition of God's sovereignty over creation -- man acknowledged this fact by giving back to God what is ultimately His. Thus, sacrifice praised God from Whom all blessings flow. An act of thanks served as a way of solemnly sealing an agreement or oath, a covenant before God (Gen 21:22-32). The person offering sacrifice recognized that his sins deserved death; he offered the animal's life in place of his own. 
The sacrifice of the cross means all four of these. It made recognition of God's sovereignty over creation by showing that God conquers all things including death. This is also an important point: that the cross and the resurrection cannot be separated for if there is no cross, there would be no resurrection, and if there is no resurrection, then the cross is meaningless. The cross and the resurrection are progressive and affect us now. The cross would then affect us by the Mass.
The reason why there is the Mass is because the cross must be applied to us. Catholic theologian Dr. Ludwig Ott wrote:
The Mass then, is the sacrifice of the Mystical Body of Christ, and is one with Calvary, which was the sacrifice of the physical body of Christ.  It is this reason why Our Blessed Lord founded the Church. Christ founded the Church in order to continue His work of redemption for all time.  How can the Mass be the same sacrifice of the Cross? Fr. Mario Romero gave the best explanation I have heard:
The Cross was in Jerusalem as a space, and it was two thousand years ago in time; the Mass is the same Cross made actual throughout space and time. The Cross purchases redemption; the Mass applies it.  Our Blessed Lord did not want us to just 'remember' the Cross, but to live it by partaking of it. Sheen has said, 'As man died spiritually by physically eating in the Garden of Eden, so he would live again spiritually through eating the fruit of the Tree of Life.'  The Mass is Calvary recalled, renewed, and applied.  The same Cross is offered up (made present) again and Christ acts as a High Priest through His Mystical Body just as He did at the Last Supper in His Physical Body. Robert Sungenis notes:
It is worth quoting Sheen at length:
Take away the Mass, and you take away Christianity. Take away the Mass, and Christianity would be the same as other world religions, trying to reach God. But Christianity is God reaching for our hearts. Take away the Mass, and we would never get the fruit of the Cross, which is the Resurrection. It is the Mass that makes the Church one. Like the Physical Body of Christ, the Church, which is the Mystical Body of Christ, has her wounds, scars, and bruises by her scandals, disloyalties, and moral bruises, but not one bone would be broken because the Mass keeps her inner structure in place.
If I were looking for the Church that Christ founded, I would look for the Church that commemorates what was done at the Last Supper. If one were looking for evidence of the resurrection, one must go inside the Church that commemorates this event. It is no coincidence that after 2,000 years the Church would be commemorating something if it were just a symbol. It's more than a symbol. It's the Cross applied to us.
 Life is Worth Living, page 44;  Scott Hahn's The Lamb's Supper, page 19;  Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma by Ludwig Ott, page 407;  In the Fullness of Time by Fulton Sheen, page 83;  Ott, page 274;  Unabridged Christianity: Biblical Answers to Common Questions About the Roman Catholic Faith, page 113-114;  Fullness, page 84;  Life of Christ, page 141;  Fullness, page 87;  Not by Bread Alone, page 396;  Life of Christ, page 280-281.
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