THE TIME TUNNEL
There was a science fiction series on television many years ago called "The Time Tunnel". It revolved around a group of scientists in a secret government facility that had invented a time machine. The machine could open a window into another time and place, and the scientists could observe what was happening.
If you had a time machine and could transfer yourself back in time so you could witness the crucifixion, what would you do? Would you stand at the foot of the cross and laugh and chat with your friends? Would you ask for more lively music? Or would you fall to your knees, transfixed at the horror and majesty of the noble sacrifice? Would you wonder what you could do to deserve the gift of someone else taking the punishment for your offense? Would you vow never to add to Christís suffering by avoiding sin and encouraging others to do the same? These are a few of the ideas that might run through oneís mind if he could travel through time and could stand at the foot of the cross with the Blessed Mother and St. John.
You donít need a secret government time machine to be at the foot of the cross and be a witness to the salvation of all mankind. In fact many of us go there on a regular basis. Our means of transportation through time and space is called the Mass.
The Mass is called a sacrifice because "The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross." (CCC 1366). This "re-presenting" at the Mass is not the same as re-enactors dressing up to demonstrate what the Last Supper was like. While the actions of our Lord in Jerusalem are indeed historical events, the Mass is much more.
Some may be confused about the nature of the Mass by the statement from the Council of Trent from which the catechism quotes "...in this divine sacrifice which is celebrated in the Mass, the same Christ who offered himself once in a bloody manner on the altar of the cross is contained and offered in an unbloody manner...".1 This does not mean that there are two separate sacrifices; one bloody and one unbloody. There can only be one sacrifice because scripture tells us "...we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." (HEB 10:10), and again "...Jesus offered one sacrifice for sins..." (HEB 10:12). As the catechism tells us there is only one sacrifice because the Eucharist "...makes present the one sacrifice of Christ the Savior." (CCC 1330). The Eucharist is "...the making present and the sacramental offering of his unique sacrifice..." (CCC1362). "The sacrifice of Christ and sacrifice of the Eucharist are one single sacrifice." (CCC 1367).
The scripture and the catechism make it very clear. The actions at the Mass and Christís horrible death are the same events. This is indeed a great mystery. How can we be present now in our own parish church and at the same time be present at the sacrifice that occurred 2000 years ago in Jerusalem? Because God created time and exists outside of time. Since time and space were created by God it is not so much of a miracle for Him to create a means for us to be present spiritually at His sacrifice. He has created a spiritual "Time Tunnel".
The realm of the spirit is very real. We canít see it or touch it, but itís there. We all have an immortal soul united with our body. We canít see it or feel it, but to deny that it exists is to deny the entirety of our faith. In the same way, we may not be able to see it, but the Church teaches us that when we are at Mass we are in a mystical, yet very real way, standing next to the Blessed Mother and St. John at the foot of the cross. When the priest says the words of consecration, the Holy Spirit opens a spiritual window in time for us to worship God at the moment of the horror and majesty of His noble sacrifice.
There is an old hymn that asks the question "Where you there when they crucified my Lord?" Anyone who has ever been to Mass can say, "Yes, I was there", at the killing field of Golgotha, "and I got there by going to Mass".1(Council of Trent, Session XXII Ch 2)
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Published by The Minnesota St. Thomas More Chapter of Catholics United for the Faith, November 1999.