Unde et Memores

Unde Et Memores – English
Therefore, O Lord, as we celebrate the memorial of the blessed Passion, the Resurrection from the dead, and the glorious Ascension into heaven of Christ, your Son, our Lord, we, your servants and your holy people, offer to your glorious majesty, from the gifts that you have given us, this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim, the holy Bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation.

Unde Et Memores – Latin
Unde et memores, Domine, nos servi tui, sed et plebs tua sancta, eiusdem Christi, Filii tui, Domini nostri, tam beatae passionis, necnon et ab inferis resurrectionis, sed et in caelos gloriosae ascensionis: offerimus praeclarae maiestati tuae de tuis donis ac datis hostiam puram, hostiam sanctam, hostiam immaculatam, Panem sanctum vitae aeternae et Calicem salutis perpetuae.

Unde et Memores, Part 1

Therefore, O Lord, as we celebrate the memorial of the blessed Passion, the Resurrection from the dead, and the glorious Ascension into heaven of Christ, your Son, our Lord, we, your servants and your holy people, offer to your glorious majesty, from the gifts that you have given us, this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim, the holy Bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation.

The Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the self-offering of God the Son to God the Father in God the Holy Spirit. Without getting too lost in the weeds of deep theology, this is also the essence of the Trinity. The Father loves the Son, the Son offers Himself back in love to the Father, and the Holy Spirit is Person of the dynamic exchange of love poured out by the Father and the Son.

So, the Holy Mass is the action of the Trinity made present to us and inviting our participation. It is the presentation once more of the Sacred Action of two thousand years ago by Jesus Christ, as we discussed in the section on the One Sacrifice of Christ. Multiple times in Sacred Scripture, it is revealed by God the Father, “This is my beloved Son… (cf. Mt. 3:17, 17:5, Mk. 9:7, 2 Pt. 1:17).” The Father loves the Son.

The Son does the Holy Will of His Father: “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me (Jn. 6:38).” He offers Himself to the Father as a Sacrifice of love offered on our behalf when He goes to the Cross. He rose from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. As St. Paul writes in the Letter to the Romans, “The Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead (Rom. 8:11).”

In the blessed Passion, the Resurrection from the dead, and the glorious Ascension into heaven, we see the power and working of the Blessed Trinity. The Son offers Himself to the Father in the Spirit. Then, this powerful action is presented once more each time the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is offered; this is the anamnetic memorial that we discussed in the section on the Mystery of Faith. The Sacraments are effective because of the power of the Holy Spirit, directed to the Father, in the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ.

Unde et Memores, Part 2

Therefore, O Lord, as we celebrate the memorial of the blessed Passion, the Resurrection from the dead, and the glorious Ascension into heaven of Christ, your Son, our Lord, we, your servants and your holy people, offer to your glorious majesty, from the gifts that you have given us, this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim, the holy Bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation.

The worship of God becomes unintelligible if it becomes separated from the Saving Action of Jesus Christ, offered to the Father, in the Spirit. In fact, this Sacrifice is the heart of Christian worship. If we are not celebrating the memorial of the Paschal Mystery from the heart and ministry of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church of Jesus Christ, then we are not worshiping God as He desires and as He has instituted.

In the Holy Mass, we enter into the Paschal Mystery of Christ. In a devotional service or action, we are dependent on our cooperation with the grace of God and limited by our intention, intellect, and will. In the Liturgy, on the other hand, our imperfect sacrifices and offerings are made perfect in Him who offers Himself to the Father in the Spirit eternally.

Though I have stated it many times in these writings, it is worth repeating: the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the self-offering of the Son to the Father in the Spirit in which we are invited to take part.

We, the servant of God and His holy People, offer to His glorious majesty the One and Eternal Sacrifice. Of course, we cannot do this on our own. The priest offers the Mass at his consecrated hands in the Person of Jesus Christ, Head of His Body. We offer the Mass in a qualitatively different way as the baptized as the Person of Jesus Christ, Member of His Body. The Church in the Sacred Liturgy is, therefore, the assembly of the Body of Christ, as Head and Members.

We cannot have the Liturgy, or the Church, without the priesthood, no more than we can have the Body of Christ without Jesus, the Head of His Body. There are many outside of the Church who believe this is possible and we pray for Christian unity and that all will see the power and necessity of the priesthood. There are even those within the Church that believe it is possible to have a Parish without a priest. This mindset ought to be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

Because the priesthood is needed for the validity of the Holy Mysteries, only a Church with a valid priesthood is rightly called “Church.” For this reason, the Catholic Church refers to the Eastern Orthodox Churches, not in full communion with Rome, as “Churches.” The term for the various Protestant and non-denominational Christians would be “ecclesial communities.” This is an important distinction because we have to understand that there is an infinite difference between the prayer services of ecclesial communities and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass or Divine Liturgy of the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches.

As a point of clarification, there are twenty four Churches which are in full communion with the Pope besides the Latin/Roman Rite. For example, there are various Byzantine Catholic Churches (Ruthenian, Ukrainian, etc.) which are in union with Rome and are rightly called “Catholic.” Though very similar to their historical Orthodox counterparts, these Eastern Catholic Churches are fully part of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church of Jesus Christ.

We continue to pray for full unity and communion with the Orthodox Churches and with the Protestant and non-denominational ecclesial communities. However, Catholic doctrine and liturgical practice, whether East or West, must not be watered-down or set aside in this dialog and fraternal friendship.

Unde et Memores, Part 3

Therefore, O Lord, as we celebrate the memorial of the blessed Passion, the Resurrection from the dead, and the glorious Ascension into heaven of Christ, your Son, our Lord, we, your servants and your holy people, offer to your glorious majesty, from the gifts that you have given us, this pure victim, this holy victim, this spotless victim, the holy Bread of eternal life and the Chalice of everlasting salvation.

The Holy Victim is Jesus Christ. He is the Bread of eternal life. He came to save us.

As He says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day (Jn. 6:35-40).”

In this paragraph, we see on full display why the Christ was sent. The Father sent the Son to save us. He sent His Son to die and rise for us. He gave us His Son to be Food for the Journey and the Medicine of Immortality.

At the time, the Jews grumbled at what Jesus said, not understanding Him. Jesus reiterates, “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh (Jn. 6:48-51).”

The manna in the wilderness fed the bodies of the Hebrews and it was a miracle. But those men and women all died eventually. Whoever receives this new Bread will not face eternal death. Instead, Jesus promises eternal life in heaven if we eat His Flesh.

He goes on to further clarify this: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever (Jn. 6:53-58).”

For many of Jesus’ disciples, this was a bridge too far. Many left following Jesus (cf. Jn. 6:66). But for us, who have the benefit of History, the testimony of the Church, and the eyes of Faith, the Eucharist is the Holy Flesh and Blood of Jesus Christ. He is the pure victim, set aside, without spot of blemish. He is without blemish because He is without sin. He is able to be the victim offered in our place, because He is one of us. As the author of Hebrews says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15).”

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