Holy Qurbana: The Central Act of Our Faith
By Tison Thomas
The Holy Qurbana is the central act of our Catholic life, then going to Holy Qurbana must surely remain one of the most indicative of these factors. The Holy Holy Qurbana is the holiest thing we have here on earth. Why? Because it is the action of Christ. The main thing in the Holy Qurbana is not what is read from the Holy Scriptures, even though this is the word of God and should be listened to as such, nor what the people do or sing. The main thing is what Christ does. And what does Christ do in the Holy Holy Qurbana? He offers himself for us, as He offered himself on the Cross. He sacrifices himself for us. That is why we say that the Holy Qurbana is the same Sacrifice as that of the Cross renewed in an unbloody manner on the altar. On the altar just on the Cross, Christ offers His body and blood for us. The difference is that on the Cross His body and blood were visible to the eyes of those who were present, while in the Holy Qurbana they are hidden under the appearances of bread and wine. But they are really present. This is the great fact. In each Holy Qurbana, Christ is really present and renews the Sacrifice of the Cross.
Love for the Holy Qurbana
“A man who fails to love the Holy Qurbana fails to love Christ.” To love the Holy Qurbana is a guarantee for salvation. But to love the Holy Qurbana does not mean just being present and no more. It means to be present with faith and devotion. It means to take part in the Holy Qurbana, realizing what it is: the Sacrifice of the Cross renewed on the altar; and realizing that when we go to Holy Qurbana, we go, as it were, to Calvary. And that we should be present there, like our Blessed Lady beside the Cross, in loving contemplation of Christ who offers himself lovingly for each one of us.
The holy Eucharist is the “mystery of faith.” Without faith, all we would see is bread and wine being offered, no more. Without faith, the most we could see in this is a gesture, a symbol, nothing more. The bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Jesus Christ who is then really present as God and as Man sacrificing himself for us on the altar as he sacrificed himself on the cross. If we come to Holy Qurbana without faith, or with little faith we will easily get distracted and perhaps even bored. What a sad thing to get bored with Christ’s sacrifice! Would we have been bored if we had been present at Calvary? If we hadn’t faith, perhaps we would. Or at least we would have completely failed to understand what the death of that Man nailed to the cross really meant. We will only begin to understand the greatness of the Holy Qurbana if we have faith. When we have faith, we will always be amazed at the Holy Qurbana, we will realize that it is the greatest thing we possess here on earth.
The purpose of Holy Qurbana
What else should we do, besides having a lot of faith, if we want to attend Holy Qurbana well? We should identify ourselves with Christ. What purposes did Jesus have on the cross? What was he concerned about? We can sum up His ends or purposes as four: to give glory to God the Father; to thank him; to make up for the sins of men; and to ask him for graces for us. If each time we go to Holy Qurbana, we try to live at least one of these four purposes, we will attend Holy Qurbana well.
The first purpose: adoration
God is our Creator. He is the Lord of the whole world. We depend on him for everything. He is infinite, eternal, all-powerful. His infinite greatness and goodness ought to fill us with amazement and enthusiasm. Jesus Christ, with His humanity, gave perfect glory to God the Father from the cross, and He continues to do so from the altar. If we unite ourselves to Him, we will be offering a perfect sacrifice of adoration and praise.
The second purpose: to give thanks
God is infinitely good. And all the good things we have, have come from Him: life, family, sanctifying grace, faith, the sacraments, the gift of His Mother… And so many other natural and supernatural gifts. It is good to give thanks. The person who is too proud to say “Thank You” is not only ungrateful but is bound to end up being unhappy. Unite ourselves to our Lord in the Holy Qurbana, giving thanks, and we will see how we also become more optimistic as a result, because we will become more and more convinced of the goodness of God.
The third purpose: to make up for our sins
Jesus is perfect God and perfect Man. He is all-holy. Therefore He has not and could not have been guilty of any sin. But, as the Holy Scriptures says, He took our sins on Himself and made up for them. He did penance for us by dying on the cross. If we want to take part properly in the Holy Qurbana, we must be sorry for our sins. The person who is not sorry for his sins will never love the Holy Qurbana, nor will he ever really take part in it. But the person who comes to Holy Qurbana with real sorrow for his sins, will draw from its great strength to fight against temptations and to realize that, despite his weaknesses, God loves him very much.
Forgiveness of mortal sins has to be obtained in the sacrament of penance. It is also important to remember that a person who has committed a mortal sin cannot go to communion unless he goes to confession beforehand. But during Holy Qurbana when we ask for forgiveness for sins, if it is said well, certainly helps to obtain pardon for present venial sins as well as to stir up new sorrow for past sins that have already been forgiven. In this way it helps us to purify ourselves and so to take better part in the Holy Qurbana.
The fourth purpose: petition
Our God is a merciful and a very generous God. He longs to give. He wants to give us what is absolutely the best, what is the greatest gift imaginable: eternal life and all the help we need to make it ours. God wants to give. But he also wants to be asked: “Ask and you shall receive.” That is why we ask with a prayer for petition (Korozuza). However, it is wise, when asking, to be able to back up our petition with some proof of special merit on our part. This is where we seem to run into a big difficulty. For when we look at ourselves, we see ourselves so full of defects and so lacking in merits that there seems to be no reason why God should ever heed our petitions. That is why we look to the merits of Christ, and to those of our Lady and the saints. That is why, if we are sensible, we unite our prayer to the prayer of Christ.
Christ’s prayer is always effective because it is simply impossible that God the Father should not listen to the prayer of his beloved Son. Jesus prayed for us on the cross. He continues praying for us on the altar. When we pray in the Holy Qurbana, therefore, and unite our prayers to that of Jesus, we can be sure that our requests will be heard by God the Father.
Christ offers himself for us in the Holy Qurbana, and He offers himself to us in Holy Communion. To be present at Holy Qurbana, and receive Holy Communion, is the greatest thing we can do here on earth. Here, on the altar, we receive the greatest benefits that God gives us on earth.
“If you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man, you will not have life in you.” “Anyone who eats this bread will live forever…” We come to Holy Qurbana because we have felt ourselves invited to accompany our Lord in his sacrifice while he offers himself for us and to offer ourselves with him. We come to Holy Qurbana, therefore, to take part in the sacrifice of Christ. Holy Communion is the greatest gift we could be offered. We should put so much love into how we receive him! Always with faith, and always with love.
In the Holy Qurbana, Christ offers himself for us. And in Holy Communion, He offers himself to us. Think what this offering costs our Lord his whole passion! The Holy Qurbana asks us also for correspondence and self-giving. If we attend Holy Qurbana with faith, it will be easier for us to give ourselves to God each day trying to fulfill his commandments with love. And it will also be easier for us to give ourselves generously to other people, in a constant effort to love them, to understand them, to make their lives happier.
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