"ITE, MISSA EST"
THE LAST SERMON OF REV. DR.THEOL. OTTO KATZER OF 17/6/1979
(taken from a recording by Hedy Hersche)
(transl. by Gladys Resch)
"Reverend Father" so I am addressed by many of my confrères (ad nauseam), who regretably wish to defend the falsification of the words of the Consecration; "Reverend Father, Christ did die for all of us. Why then this inquietude, why this accusation of falsehood? This is not in conformity with the truth!"
As said before, to be sick of it one can hear this stupidity spoken at least by those, who fully possess their sacred faith and should make it known.
At the time of the Council of Trent the clerics complained just the same as to-day that they had not time for studies. But one has the time to read innumerable dailies and magazines, however, to reach for the catechism, the text book of dogmatology or the religious doctrines, this one cannot demand of these overburdened gentlemen. Excuse this irony, but I must not conceal it. And when this excuse on the part of the clergy became known at the Council of Trent, it was ordered that a catechism for priests be drawn up, where they would find short and precise answers to their questions. It was St. Charles Borromeo who had undertaken the editorial work of this catechism. And with regard to this disputed question and I could say to these reverend gentlemen and many others: "Do take this catechism to hand and there you will find (I tell you on what page in the German edition, page 170) the answer and can enlighten yourselves, and then stop this falsehood which you have introduced.
However, if anybody has not the time to take up the catechism or wants to be wiser than the Council of Trent or St. Charles Borromeo, relatively the appointed teaching authority of the Church, then, certainly, such a man can not be helped.
Now, let us turn back to this "for all". The last supper consisted of two mystically offered sacrifices:
1) of the last bleeding sacrifice of the Old Testament. And is Christ not the true lamb that is slaugtered for the salvation of all mankind? Yes, the bleeding sacrifice, the last bleeding sacrifice of the Old Testament should enable all mankind to find eternal salvation. For this reason it was offered.
2) But at the same time with the Last Supper, the first sacrifice of the New Testament, the first representation of the bloodless sacrifice was offered. And therefore, the Divine Saviour has offered His bleeding sacrifice, the lamb, the true lamb, which was slaughtered for us to enable us to take part in the b1oodless sacrifice by offering ourselves comp1ete1y, body and soul, to the Divine Father in order, that we may thus realise our eternal salvation and obtain remission of our sins.
The last sacrifice of the Old Testament was offered for all. Unfortunately the fruits of the sacrifice of the New Testament cannont benefit all but only those, who offer themselves with Him through Him and in Him, with Christ, through Christ and in Christ.
It was probably the most painful moment in the life of the Saviour, when, at the institution of Holy Mass, the bloodless sacrifice, the bloodless renewal of His bleeding sacrifice on the cross, he could not say "for you and for all" but unfortunately only "for many", that is for those who offer themselves up with Him. And each of us knows only too well how imperfect our sacrifice is.
But let us look back again: Why was it so hard for the Divine Saviour, why was He so sad that He could not say, yes, was not permitted to say "for all" but only "for many"? Because He had to reflect upon all that He had offered the world to save it.
My dear Brethren, some time ago we said here already, that the first and greatest wonder in this world is the fact, that God became Man for our sake, to redeem us and to lead us to eternal happiness through His death on the cross.
How often - and this may just be the reason why we do not grasp the deep meaning - how often do we hear the words: "See the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world."
From the lives of the saints we know, that only by pronouncing the word "sin", they lost consciousness. Let us now reflect: Holiness itself plunges into the filth and slime of men. Without meditation on this secret, we cannot come to understand this wonder.
The second wonder, we said, is that through the words that Jesus speaks through the priest, He becomes again present among us as true God and true Man.
But to-day we have before our eyes the third greatest wonder, which probably is only too little known to men, and that is, that the Mother of God could at all survive the way of the cross. And we know that the way of the cross began at the moment when she said the words: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord". As you know, at this moment she signed the death sentence of her son, the lovely child, that was before her. And when she laid the child into the manger for the first time, she felt and she experienced - what we cannot - that she just laid her child on the cross.
And at the institution of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, the Lord certainly considered deeply the greatness of His sacrifice, but also the greatness of the sacrifice of His Mother. And in spite of this greatness: how few are there who comprehend the possibility offered? He was sad that he could not say "for all" but only "for many" and these "many" are in comparison with the "all", who get lost, only very few indeed.
There are two roads: the one is large and comfortable, and there are many, who take it; but it leads to perdition. The other road is hard, steep and stony, and there are only few, who take and walk it to the end; but this road leads to Life.
It was mentioned that actually the Offertory is not necessary at Holy Mass. It comes in with the Consecration. Who ever says this, has never meditated on the life of Jesus-Christ, and it has not become clear to him that the offertory of Jesus was accomplished at the moment when it was said: "And the Word was made Flesh, and dwelt among us.' This was the offertory of the whole life of Jesus, for all eternity, complete and without reservation. Also Mary did not need to repeat the offertory at holy Mass. She has said it once and for all, completely and without exemption, when she said. "Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum" (Be it done unto me according to thy word.)
We, my dear Brethren, have begun the offertory at holy baptism. Then we have made known our determination ourselves, without reservation, to the service of God. But each of us knows only too well how imperfect our dedication is. And to whom it should not be clear, might now reflect on his thoughts, on what he has spoken during the last days, on his deeds and ask himself to what extent they were based in God? The mercy of God is great. Only one single holy Mass should really be sufficient for us. Why then so many? Why? Because the kindness of God is overwhelmingly great; but the defectiveness of our offertory is apparent; there are needs for amends for perfection and that is why the one offertory is not enough. Therefore the possibility of repetition. But since we want to belong to the many who are saved, let us to-day ask the Lord that He may have mercy on us and lead us really into the ranks of the redeemed. So let us form our whole life in such a way to become one single holy Mass!
At holy baptism began the "Introibo ad altare Dei". ("I will go in to the altar of God".) And at this altar I am going to stay all my life for, as we have said, where we are now and at any imaginable moment and under all circumtances we can think of, we stand at the altar, because our scene of life and our place of work is nothing else, should be nothing else than an altar to offer to the Heavenly Father our life as well as our self, body and soul, completely and unreservedly. "Suscipe Sancte Pater" (Accept, Holy Father). Thus each day shall begin for us and we should put the offering on the altar, which will be for the greater glory of God and for our salvation. And if we shall do this we shall offer the right gift, but we must practice this attitude and everyone knows too well that it is not done by one exercice only.
Then we shall do this - the moment will come, and will surely come, none
of us knows when our life comes to an end, - then our last words can be should be:
"My Friends, the Mass of my life has come to an end.
Ite missa est."
The next day, the 18th June, the Reverend Dr. Katzer said the anniversary Mass for Josy Weiler, who died exactly one year ago, and then he was called himself by God into Eternity.
(September 1979, pag.85-87)