Summary of The Meaning of the Mass by Venerable Fulton J. Sheen

In this talk, Fulton Sheen explains the meaning of the Mass. This is a fantastic talk that deserves to be listened to many times. Below are some notes I’ve taken while listening to the talk. 

First, Sheen answers a common complaint.

“Do you know the reason why you don’t get anything out of Mass? It is because you don’t bring anything to it.”

Sheen presents a penetrating truth about life. The more we know about something that is good, true, and beautiful, the more we will come to love it. This is supremely true about the Mass since the goodness, truth, and beauty of the Mass is so easily missed.

“And so certainly you will get nothing out of the Mass because you’ve made no sacrifice and no effort to understand what the Mass is.”

Next, Sheen describes the Mass.

“It is reaching to Calvary and laying hold with your hands of the Cross of Christ, with Christ on it, and you plant it down here, today. Whenever Mass is celebrated we plant it here in this city… That’s what the Mass is… the continuation of Calvary. And in order to take part in it, you have to bring little crosses. Our Blessed Lord said “take up your cross daily and follow me.” We all have crosses. And we bring them all and plant them down alongside of that great Cross and Christ and we mass them all together under Him. That is the Mass.”

After this simple description of the Mass, Sheen goes into more detail, describing the Mass as the greatest drama in the world. On the night of the Last Supper, Jesus entrusted to the Apostles (the road companies) with re-presenting this one great drama on all the different stages of the world until the end of time: same lines, same purpose, only the stages are different.

In the first act, you offer yourself to Christ.

You bring yourself to Christ and say, ‘I want to be one with you in your great act of redemption.’

This is the Offertory. We are symbolically brought to the altar and become present on the paten and in the chalice under the form of bread and wine.

In the second act, you die with Him.

We cannot live to Christ unless we die to our lower nature. Our Lord now represents His death at the Consecration (by the separation of his body and blood) and we die with Him.

This is the Consecration. We sacramentally re-enact this death of Christ by the separate consecration of bread and wine. And since we are with Him, we must die with Him – die to all that is evil. So we must say the words of consecration in a secondary sense, “this is my body! this is my blood! I’m thine O Lord. I die with you!” We must constantly deny ourselves that the Christ-life may emerge.

In the third act, we receive new life.

No one ever dies with Christ without receiving new life. Now that we have died to that which is lower, we now have the higher life.

 This is Holy Communion. “Unless you eat me, you shall not have life in you.” Communion is an incorporation into the higher life of Christ.

After this presentation of the Mass, Sheen tells a great story about a bishop, nun, and a converted Communist colonel in Communist China due to his encounter with the Blessed Sacrament.




  1. carol blankfield says:

    What year was this recorded? and where? thank you


  1. […] July 11, 2018 by richardconlin1 Comment […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: