Father Ralph Gorman and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

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Born Walter M. Gorman on March 9, 1895 in Binghamton, New York, he was the son of Walter Gorman and Mary Butler. He attended public elementary school, Central High School and St. Patrick’s Academy. He went to the Passionist Preparatory Seminary, Baltimore, Maryland in 1915. After one year he entered the novitiate at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and was professed on October 7, 1917. His religious name was Gabriel. He was ordained on January 21, 1923 in Brighton, Massachusetts in the public chapel. Earlier this had been the barn on the monastery property. From 1925 until 1926 he was a student at The Catholic University of America where he obtained a M.A. cum laude. From 1926 until 1928 he went to the Angelicum in Rome where he obtained a doctorate in philosophy. Upon his return to the United States he was professor of philosophy for ten year at St. Mary’s Monastery, Dunkirk, New York while at the same time prefect of studies at nearby Holy Cross Seminary where he was also professor of biology. In 1938 he was named rector of Brighton. In 1941 he was named second provincial consultor. In 1944 he was named first provincial consultor. In 1947 he was elected provincial and in 1950 was chosen second provincial consultor. During some of the years that he was consultor he wrote “The Sign Post” column in Sign Magazine and then became a member of the editorial staff. Over this period of time Holy Cross Seminary was enlarged, the novitiate at Pittsburgh was rebuilt due to the increase in vocations to the priesthood and brotherhood. The Tacubaya Mission in Mexico was established. The Brighton retreat house was almost doubled in size and the monastery choir and library made larger. Property was purchased for a new foundation in Farmington, Connecticut. The post office address was West Hartford. The Toronto, Canada monastery and church were constructed; the Jamaica, New York and West Springfield retreat houses were expanded; and the Atlanta, Georgia school, convent, church and rectory came into being. At the same time there was concern over the long term health of the China missions. Later the Passionists went to Jamaica, West Indies and the Philippines. Father Gorman paid a great deal of attention to the various building programs in the province. Over the last several years of his life he was in poor health with high blood pressure and diabetes. His brother was Father Ralph Gorman, C.P. Source: Link

Rev.  Ralph Gorman, editor of ‘The Sign’, on the feast of Corpus Christi in the year of 1950 has given an excellent explanation of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in his sermon that I would love to share:

When the children of Israel came to the gate of the court, they had to bring an animal sacrifice for their sins

“From the beginning man has offered sacrifices in fulfillment of his obligations to God. Under the Old Law, sacrifices were divinely prescribed and regulated. At the temple in Jerusalem, smoke arose daily from the holocausts, and the blood of victims crimsoned the stones of the great altar. These sacrifices – pleasing as they were to God – were but types and figures of the one great sacrifice to come – that of Calvary. The Value of the sacrifice of Calvary is beyond all human comprehension. Christ, a person of infinite dignity, offered Himself, a Victim of infinite value to the Eternal Father. When that sacrifice had been offered, all was finished. Christ could truly say: ” It is consummated”. Beside it there could be no other sacrifice, for it sufficed above all measure.

But while the Sacrifice of Calvary was of infinite value, while it filled to overflowing the fountains of God’s grace, how is sinful man to approach this fountain, how is he to receive its superabundant redemption? It is the Sacrifice of the Mass offered daily on our altars that releases to us this pent – up flood of grace; it is the Mass that opens to us this treasure house of Christ’s infinite merits. The Sacrifice of the Mass and that of Calvary are the same sacrifice, the “one oblation” because the Priest and Victim are the same – Jesus Christ. The only difference is that on Calvary Christ offered Himself in a bloody manner; in the Mass He offers Himself in a unbloody manner.

Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross took place nearly two thousand years ago in a far corner of the earth. It was indeed a sacrifice of infinite value, but it was separated from us by a deep moat of time and place. We could not be on Calvary to stand beneath the Cross that a few drops of Christ’s precious blood might fall on us to purify and sanctify us. So Christ brought Calvary to us. He transplanted His Cross into our very midst, and in the Mass He renews that same Sacrifice of Calvary. Through the Mass, the world has been planted with the Cross. As the Earth revolves, the rising sun is ever shining on this renewal of Christ’s sacrifice. Our lives are passed in sight of the Cross. We have but to turn our heads to behold the Crucified, for at Mass we kneel on Calvary. This is the great truth of the Mass.

Daily when Mass is offered, Christ becomes present on the altar. But He is not merely present, He acts. He is not there as the Babe of Bethlehem, nor as the Child of Nazareth, nor s Christ who went about doing good. He is there as the Crucified, as the Christ of Calvary, as the Victim offered for our salvation. He is there making intercession for us by the voice of His blood, praising and thanking His Heavenly Father for us, applying to us the expiatory merits of His Sacred Passion and Death. Christ is not passive on the altar during the Holy Sacrifice. Neither should those who hear Mass be passive spectators. When at Mass, we are doing more than “hearing” Mass. We are – or should be – actively engaged in offering Mass with the priest. The Priest is indeed a special representative commissioned by his ordination, but he acts in the name of all present.

When he offers the chalice, for instance, he says: “We offer Thee, O Lord, The Chalice of Salvation.” When he turns at the Orate Fratres, he says: “Pray, brethren, that my sacrifice and yours may be accepted to God.” We Share actively in the Mass and receive its fullest benefits when, like the priest, we partake of the sacrificial banquet through Holy Communion. The Council of Trent urged ” that at each Mass the faithful present should communicate not only in spiritual desire, but also by the reception of Sacramental Communion, in order that the fruit of this most Holy Sacrifice may be abundantly be theirs.” (Sess 22. C.6)

  
When we actively too in the Mass when we repeat with the priest the very words and prayers of the Divine Sacrifice. That is why our Holy Father, Pope Pius XII, declares, “those are worthy of praise who, inspired by the purpose of enabling the Christian people to take part in the Eucharistic Sacrifice more easily and fruitfully, properly try to place the Roman Missal in the hands of the people, so that the faithful, joined with the priest, may pray together with the same words as his, and with the same sentiments as those of the Church.” (Mediator Dei)

When we participate thus in the offering of Mass, we shall find that he cataracts of the deep are opened and the heavens rain down showers of grace. We shall find that the fountains of the merits of Christ pour their floods of benediction over our souls, that Christ, lifted up as on Calvary, draws our hearts to Himself”.

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