Newsletter of the District of Asia

 Jan - June 2004

This is my Blood!


Padre Pio

“Every holy Mass, heard with devotion, produces in our souls marvellous effects, abundant spiritual and material graces which we, ourselves, do not know.

It is easier for the earth to exist without the sun than without the holy Sacrifice of the Mass.” — Padre Pio

“Where there is a testament, the death of the testator must of necessity come in.

For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is as yet of no strength, whilst the testator liveth.

Whereupon neither was the first indeed dedicated without blood.

For when every commandment of the law had been read by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water, and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people.

Saying: ‘This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.’

The tabernacle also and all the vessels of the ministry, in like manner, he sprinkled with blood.

And almost all things, according to the law, are cleansed with blood: and without shedding of blood there is no remission.”

(Hebrews, 9, 16-22).

Dear Friends and Benefactors,

God’s ways are surely not our ways! Who would have thought to use Hollywood as an instrument to remind us of the great gift of the Passion of Our Blessed Lord at the beginning of this XXIst century? And in a way that the Conciliar Church has not been able to do in 40 years? As Dr. A. White wrote, by this film, Divine Providence has done more in a few short months than 40 years of human endeavor to bring Christ to the world. Even complete Muslim nations have been exposed to the Mystery of Redemption such as no missionary would have been able to do, and with more fruits than 40 years of ecumenism leading no where!

Let me look at one aspect of this new epic, which is certainly one of the many goals of Providence through these visual arts: the link between the Passion and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

The deep link that exists between these two may not be obvious to everyone today. Obviously, no Protestant review of the movie highlighted it, and how few Catholics saw it. In contrast, modernists bishops, such as many in Europe and the USA, saw it so well that they criticized the film for having unduly insisted on the Passion and thus misrepresented the mystery of the Resurrection, — the famous ‘Pascal Mystery’ so dear to them. Mel Gibson has tried to visualize the relation between the Passion and the Holy Mass by various flashbacks to the Last Supper. But, again how many have understood it? And how many will think of doing the reverse, that is, to have flashbacks of the Passion, in the mind and in the heart, while attending Mass?

The Passion at the heart of Man’s History

The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ is the center of man’s history; no one can escape that truth. The Old Testament, the period before Christ, with all its sacrifices and rituals, was its shadow1, it led to the Cross.

The New Testament, i.e., all the years from the date 33 A.D. onward — which is, let us not forget, in the words of St Paul, the fullness of time2 (which means that there will be no other period in man’s history) — looks back at that hill of Calvary. Everyone then in the history, before Christ and after Christ, lives and is justified by the Cross, or is condemned by that same Cross. It will be the sign of the Judgment at the Last Day3.

The Passion, the only worthy satisfaction for sin

Sin is an offense against God. Thus only God could decide how He would forgive sin, if this were to be. Let us never forget that God does mercy to whom He wills, when He wills, how He wills. The Angels had only one chance. There was no going to confession for them. For man, after his sin, God could have acted likewise, or been content with an imperfect settlement, knowing that being finite creatures, we could never pay back adequately such an infinite debt.

But that would not do to satisfy His Divine Justice. Full satisfaction had to be made! Since finite man was unable to give that infinite reparation, this human condition gave God the opportunity to manifest at the same time His Divine Mercy by providing us with the means to make full payment4: He would send us the very Victim, infinitely perfect, holy, spotless, that we could offer back to Him. This is what is mentioned in the Mass, right after the consecration: O God, we offer back to Thee what Thee Thyself have given us “…de tuis donis ac datis….”5

This sacrifice of Our Lord on Calvary to make up for our sins, this propitiatory sacrifice, is also, is even more so, the mark of an Infinite love. “Greater love than this no man hath than to lay down his life for his friends” (Jo 15, 13). Yes, “love is as strong as death” (Cant. 8, 16).

The Passion was for all mankind, therefore must always be remembered

That being so — Our Lord’s Sacrifice on the Cross paying fully to Divine Justice, thanks to Divine Mercy, who provided a worthy Victim who died in the greatest act of Divine Charity — is it surprising that Our Lord did not want His supreme sacrifice, His greatest act of love, to be forgotten? Did He walk to Calvary and spend these agonizing hours on the Cross, only for the few who were standing by, or who lived in Israel at that moment? Is it not rather for the whole world that he died? “(He) gave himself a redemption for all, a testimony in due times.” (I Tim 2, 6)

And again, “Christ died for all” (II Cor. 5, 15) — although not all want to unite themselves to His death through faith and the sacraments.

In this infinite love He bears all mankind — “God has so loved the world as to give His only begotten Son” (Jo. 3, 16) — Our Lord did want the story of His suffering and death to reach all people at all time. This He did through Sacred Scripture, through the arts, the monuments, architecture, and in our own days even through movies. However He wanted to do more: He willed to make that very Sacrifice present to all people in all places at all times.

Reflect for a moment: we cannot fly back to Calvary, in Israel, to be present on that saving day of the year 33 A.D. But Calvary can come to us here and everywhere, now and at all times, for us and for everyone. Ubique, semper, et pro omnibus. Only an almighty, all-wise and all-loving God could have thought of that. That is the Holy Mass. And that is what is meant by the Divine words: “Do this for a commemoration of Me!” (Lk 22,19)

The Mass and human psychology

Moreover, being our Creator, the Good God knows our psychology. He knows the power of emotions to draw us or to repel us from something. He knows that we do not like to see human blood shed violently, that it is painful to see one being tortured in front of our eyes. And on the other hand, He loves the humble act of faith, this submission of the mind to the Divine Truth. So, He made this Divine Invention, the Holy Mass, the summary of all His marvels (cf. Ps 110, 4), to be very accessible for all people, young and old, with no minimum age requirement, without anything shocking or hard to bear.

He chose to re-actuate His Sacrifice not in its natural physical element (a human body), but by using plain bread and wine, a solid and a liquid element which already contain in themselves the sign of sacrifice — wheat and grapes do need to be crushed and processed to be turned into dough or wine. Moreover, by consecrating first the bread into

His Body, then the wine into His Blood, He wanted to signify the completeness of His Sacrifice: the blood totally separated from the body.

The Mass is the Passion!

The Passion of the Christ is a visual representation, an image of the story of the Passion. The Holy Mass is the Passion itself. There is the same difference between the two, the movie and the Mass, as there is between the photo album of the good deeds of a loved son and his live presence next to his parents. Should the parents spend more time looking at their son’s pictures or in talking to him? The answer is obvious. The image of the son’s accomplishments should lead them to converse with him, to appreciate his presence even more, especially if he is a hero.

Similarly, the movie should lead us to a closer union with Christ Jesus, present in the Blessed Sacrament, and with His Sacrifice made present in a mysterious but very real way on the altar, by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The Catholic Church has repeatedly taught for the last 2000 years that the Mass is the same sacrifice as the Sacrifice of the Cross, the only difference being the manner in which the sacrifice is offered. During the Passion, there was the shedding of Blood, a lot of Blood; it was truly a bloody Sacrifice. This is made very clear in the movie on the Passion.

The Church can truly say to Our Lord what Sephora said to her husband, Moses, after she had to circumcise their son, “A Spouse of blood art thou to me” (Ex. 4, 25). In the Mass, although the priest and the Victim are the same, i.e., Our Lord Jesus Christ, we do not see the Blood, the altar isn’t covered with Blood; it is done in an unbloody manner,through the sacramental species, as we have explained above.6

The movie on the Passion acts like a sacramental, one of these numerous and so useful sacred signs (such as holy water, statues, images) which help us to benefit more fully from the sacraments. But as any sacramental, it will only bear fruit according to the disposition of the recipient, here, of the viewer. Although the movie is a masterpiece of Christian art, it is possible to look at it only materially — that is only as a movie — not formally — that is for what it represents, the Passion, — and thus, draw no lasting fruits from it. That is why the movie must be seen as a providential means to re-discover the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, so misunderstood if not totally unknown nowadays, even by Catholics..

To bring this point home in our modern days, God raised a Saint who actually did feel in his own body and soul, at least for the period of 50 years (1918 – 1968) during the celebration of Mass the same physical and spiritual pains Our Blessed Lord endured during His Passion. This saint was Padre Pio. He was privileged not only to bear the stigmata, the marks of the Sacred Wounds of Christ in his hands, feet and side, but also, to re-live the Passion each time he offered the Holy Sacrifice. He was not a movie actor, with fake blood and artificial wounds. He bled for real, he was truly crushed under the weight of the sufferings of Christ which, as another Paul, he bore “in his flesh”7.

This was a very special grace Padre Pio received, not just for himself, but also for all of us, to remind us of what actually takes place during the Holy Mass, albeit through the veil of the sacrament8 Normally, when we attend the Holy Mass, we do not see nor feel any thing of the Passion of Christ. By faith, however, we can follow the Passion throughout the whole Mass. Many Saints and spiritual writers have drawn the parallel between the two to help priests and faithful have in them the same mind as was in Christ Jesus during his Passion. Bishop Fulton Sheen, for instance, wrote a wonderful little book entitled, Calvary and the Mass, in which he divided the Mass according to the Seven Last Words of Christ. Others, such as St Leonard of Port Maurice or St John Vianney relate the various parts of the Mass to the whole Passion, and even to the Resurrection (from Communion onward). Pope Pius XII in his encyclical Mediator Dei also mentions among the various ways of attending the Holy Mass, the possibility of meditating on the mysteries of Christ:

“Many of the faithful are unable to use the Roman missal even though it is written in the vernacular; nor are all capable of understanding correctly the liturgical rites and formulas. So varied and diverse are men’s talents and characters that it is impossible for all to be moved and attracted to the same extent by community prayers, hymns and liturgical services. Moreover, the needs and inclinations of all are not the same, nor are they always constant in the same individual. Who, then, would say, on account of such a prejudice, that all these Christians cannot participate in the Mass nor share its fruits? On the contrary, they can adopt some other method which proves easier for certain people; for instance, they can lovingly meditate on the mysteries of Jesus Christ or perform other exercises of piety or recite prayers which, though they differ from the sacred rites, are still essentially in harmony with them.” (no. 108)

“All the elements of the liturgy, then, would have us reproduce in our hearts the likeness of the divine Redeemer through the mystery of the Cross, according to the words of the Apostle of the Gentiles, ‘With Christ I am nailed to the Cross. I live, now not 1, but Christ liveth in me.’(Gal 2, 19-20) Thus we become a victim, as it were, along with Christ to increase the glory of the eternal Father. Let this, then, be the intention and aspiration of the faithful, when they offer up the divine Victim in the Mass.” (nn. 102-103)

Attending the Holy Mass should never be the same after having seen the movie and remembering this basic truth of our faith: the Holy Mass is the Passion— alive again!

And of course, if it is so, then Our Blessed Lady is there too with her immeasurable sorrows and deep compassion. How well does the drop of water the priest puts in the chalice full of wine at the Offertory represents the tears Our Lady of Sorrows shed during the bloody scourging. Then too, Our Lord does repeat at each Mass, particularly on those who are present, the Divine Word: “Women, behold your son! Behold your Mother!”

Going to Mass will never be the same any more. Deo gratias.

Fr. Daniel Couture


1. “Let no man therefore judge you in meat or in drink or in respect of a festival day or of the new moon or of the sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come: but the body is of Christ.” (Col. 2, 16-17)

2. “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent his Son, made of a woman, made under the law” (Gal. 4, 4)

3. “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven. And then shall all tribes of the earth mourn: and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with much power and majesty.” (Mt 24, 30)

4. See St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, III, q. 46, a1, ad 3m

5. From the Canon of the Mass, the first prayer after the Consecration.

6. This whole doctrine is expressed solemnly by the Council of Trent in 1562 A.D. in the following way: “He, therefore, our God and Lord — though He was about to offer Himself once on the altar of the cross unto God the Father, by means of his death, there to operate an eternal redemption; nevertheless, because that His priesthood was not to be extinguished by His death — in the last supper, on the night in which He was betrayed, that He might leave, to His own beloved Spouse the Church, a visible sacrifice, such as the nature of man requires, whereby that bloody sacrifice, once to be accomplished on the cross, might be represented, and the memory thereof remain even unto the end of the world, and its salutary virtue be applied to the remission of those sins which we daily commit, declaring Himself constituted a priest for ever, according to the order of Melchisedech, He offered up to God the Father His own body and blood under the species of bread and wine; and, under the symbols of those same things, He delivered (His own body and blood) to be received by His apostles, whom He then constituted priests of the New Testament; and by those words, Do this in commemoration of me, He commanded them and their successors in the priesthood, to offer (them); even as the Catholic Church has always understood and taught.” DzS 1740

It was also repeated by Pope Pius XII in 1947 A.D., in his encyclical Mediator Dei: “The august sacrifice of the altar, then, is no mere empty commemoration of the passion and death of Jesus Christ, but a true and proper act of sacrifice, whereby the High Priest by an unbloody immolation offers Himself a most acceptable victim to the Eternal Father, as He did upon the cross.”

7 “Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the Church”. Col. 1, 24

8 St Thomas Aquinas put it beautifully when he wrote in his hymn Lauda Sion: “Sub diversis speciebus Signis tantum et non rebus Latent res eximiae - Here beneath these signs are hidden, Priceless things to sense forbidden, Signs, not things, are all we see.”


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