We have offered ourselves to God as Our Lord offered Himself to His Heavenly Father. the essence of Christianity is the reproduction of what happened to Our Blessed Lord in the life of every single person in the world. The human nature which He took was the pattern, or model nature, for all of us. As He was crucified, rose again and ascended into glory for the redemption of the world, so every person is to offer his human nature freely to Our Blessed Lord and to die to sin in order to live in grace and glory with Him. The Mass represents the peak of that incorporation into the death and glory of Christ. In the Offertory we present ourselves to God under the form of bread and wine.
Now we come to the Consecration, when what is known as Transubstantiation takes place. We are beginning to die to the lower part of ourselves in order to live to Christ. Transubstantiation means that when the words of Consecration are pronounced, the substance of the bread becomes the substance of the Body of Christ, and the substance of the wine becomes the substance of His Blood. It has for its effect a new presence without bloodshed, of the offering of Calvary. In the Mass, there is not another offering, but only another presence of the same offering through the ministry of the priest.
The bread and wine are not consecrated together but separately. First the bread which becomes His Body, then the wine which becomes His Blood. This separate consecration of the bread and wine is a kind of mystical separation of His Body and His Blood, equivalent to the way He died on Calvary.
The consecration of the Mass does not mean that Our Lord dies again, for He never can die again in His own individual human nature, which is now in glory at the right hand of the Father. But He prolongs His death in us. That is one of the reasons that there must always be a servant or server, a member of the Church in attendance when the Mass is said. The Mass is the offering of the living Church and its faithful. It is almost as if at the moment of consecration Our Lord were saying: “I cannot die again in My human nature which is in glory at the right hand of the Father, but Peter, Paul, Mary, James, Ann: you give Me your human nature and I will die again in you.” In the Offertory we presented ourselves for sacrifice with Christ, in the Consecration we die with Him. We apply His death to ourselves that we may share His glory. The eternal now breaks in upon the temporal and there is nothing more solemn on the face of the earth than the awe-inspiring moment of consecration. It is not a prayer, it is not a hymn, it is not something said, it is a Divine act in which enables us to apply the Cross to ourselves.
Though primarily the words of consecration mean that the Body and Blood of Christ is present on the altar, there is a secondary meaning which concerns ourselves. The priests and the people are also called to make such a total dedication of themselves, by death to sin and lower life, that they can say: “This is my body, this is my blood. I care not if the species or the accidents or the appearance of my life remain, such as my duty in life, my avocations, my employment. Let all these things stay as they are, but what I am before Thee, my intellect, my will, my body, my soul, let all these be so changed that I may be not mine but Thine.” Then we realize in the deepest sense, the words of St. Paul to the Galatians: “With Christ I hang upon the cross.” We might put it into a prayer, saying: “I give myself to God, here is my body, take it. Here is my blood, take it. Here is my soul, my will, my energy, my strength, my property, my wealth – all that I have. It is Yours. Take it! Consecrate it! Offer it! Offer it with Thyself to the Heavenly Father in order that He, looking down on this great sacrifice, may see only Thee, His Beloved Son, in Whom He is well pleased. Transmute the poor bread of my life into Thy Divine Life; charge the wine of my wasted life with Thy Divine Spirit; unite my broken heart with Thy Heart; change my cross into a crucifix. Let not my abandonment, my sorrow and my bereavement go to waste. Gather up the fragments, and as the drop of water is absorbed by the wine at the Offertory of the Mass, let my life be absorbed in Thine; let my little cross be entwined with Thy great Cross so that I may purchase the joys of everlasting happiness in union with Thee.”