The Adorable Sacrifice of the Mass
The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, thou art a priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech ."--(Heb.vii..21.)
THE ADORABLE SACRIFICE OF THE MASS
THE FOUR ENDS FOR WHICH EVERY MASS US SAID
HOW TO HEAR MASS DEVOUTLY
THREE SINS AGAINST THE LOVE OF JESUS IN THE HOLY SACRIFICE.
THE ADORABLE SACRIFICE OF THE MASS
The dogmatic proofs put forward in the last chapter have, we are fully conscience, but imperfectly dealt with the points discussed. Space obliged us more or less, to sacrifice clearness. Devotion, as we before remarked, not controversy, is our aim; to try to warn and increase, by the grace of God, love of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in the hearts of those who believe. We now come to the "Adorable Sacrifice of the Altar—the Mass. Well may we distrust ourselves in presuming to write about this "tremendous mystery." Let us invoke God's help in proceeding with our humble task.
Sacrifice is an external act of supreme religious worship given to God alone. In our hearts we adore and praise God; but by sacrifice we pay external outward homage to the Deity. We confess God the Sovereign Lord and Master of all creation—of life and of death. We profess our entire subjection to him, and total dependence on his gracious Providence. The light of reason and the laws of nature engraven by God on the human heart, point out sacrifice as an essential part of the worship of the supreme being. Hence we find that all nations, however barbarous, adored the deity, whether true or false, by sacrifice. In the true faith, from the beginning of the world to the end, sacrifice has never ceased, an never shall cease.
In the Old Testament, the patriarchs worshiped the true God by sacrifice. Witness that Abel (Gen.v.) of Noah (Gen. Viii); of Melchisedech (Gen. Xiv.); of Abraham (Gen. v.) as also of holy Job, David, Solomon, and many others. The sacrifices of the old law consisted cheifly of living creatures, such as lambs, oxen, goats, etc. and sometimes of inanimate things, such as fine flour, oil, cakes, etc., and the bread and wine of Melchisedech. These sacrifices had no intrinsic value of themselves. St. Paul calls them "poor and weak elements," incapable of cancelling sin or conferring grace. "It is impossible that the blood of oxen and goats sins should be taken away." --(Heb. x.4.). "Shall I, said the Lord, eat the flesh of of bullocks, or shall I drink the blood of goats?" "With burnt offerings thou shaltnot be delighted."--(Ps. xlix.13; I.18.) They were but mere types and figures of great sacrifice of the New Law, and from this alone they derived all their value and became pleasing to God. The Victims slain, and the blood offered on the altar, were types of the bloodly sacrifice of Jesus Christ on Mount Calvary, and of the unbloody one of Jesus on the altar. On Calvary the Victim of infinite value, Jesus Christ, was slain' his blood offered up in atonement, and for all mankind redeemed.
The Mass ! What is the Mass. The Mass, in one word, is the very same "Sacrifice as that of the Cross"The High Priest in the Mass is the same Jesus Christ; the Victim offered up in the Mass the same Jesus Christ. The same Precious Blood is offered in atonement on the Cross and on the altar . The Mass is not a simple representation; it is the essence, the truth, and reality of Calvary. The Council of Trent says (Sess.xxii.c. 2.): "The same Christ is contained and immolated [on the altar] in an unbloody manner who once offered himself in a bloodly manner at the Cross." The only difference in the manner of offering. On the Cross, Jesus offered his blood, and actually died; on the altar the same Jesus offers the same blood and actually died; on the altar the same Jesus offers the same blood, and mystically dies; that is death is represented by the separate consecration of the bread and wine, which denotes the separation of his sacred blood from his body. The sacrifice of Calvary is the infinite ocean of redemption; the sacrifice of he Mass is the application of that of Calvary to the souls oif men. In the Mass we have a standing memorial of the death of Christ. The memory of his passion is daily renewed, and the merits of his blood are applied to our souls. The Victim slain is of infinite value—Jesus Christ himself. Infinite is the sancity of the High Priest Jesus Christ, who as St. Paul says (Heb. Vii.26). "is holy innocent, without spot, separated from sinners, and elevated above heavens;" and infinite glory is given to the adorable Trinity. The Mass is the very soul of Christian religion; the most sublime and august mystery of our holy faith; the most sacred function that can be performed on earth. "We must needs confess," says the Council of Trent, "that no other work can be performed by the faithful so holy and divine as the tremendous mystery, wherein the life-giving Victim, by which we were reconsiles to the Father, is daily immolated on the altar by priests."-- (Sess.xxii.) Would God that we were all penetrated by these sacred words when we attend the celebration of the divine mysteies !
The great "Sacrifice of the Mass" will only end with the end of time. At the Last Supper, when the Redeemer celebrated the first Mass, "gave his body and blood for the remission of sins," he ordained his deciples priest of the New Testament, and commanded them and their lawful successors to the end of time to offer the Holy Sacrifice. "Do this," says Christ, "in remembrance of me.-- (Luke, xxii, 19.) That is, as St. Paul explains it, to show forth his death till the second coming (Cor.xi.26.) St. Paul again proves in empharid words, that the priesthood of Christ shall never end "The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, thou art a priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech ."--(Heb.vii..21.)
The prophet Malachi had foretold, long before St. Paul, that this sacrifice would last forever. He says in words the most beautiful: " I have no pleasure with you, saith the Lord of Hosts; and I will not receive a gift of your hands; for from the rising of the sun even to the going down, my name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is a sacrifice, and there is offered in my name a clean oblation: for name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of Hosts."--(I.10.)
The Protesant Church, which has neither priest, nor victim, not altar, nor oblation, cannot pretend to fulfil the prophecy. She has left the fold of Christ, built upon the bark of Peter, whose fair face neither error. But in the Catholic Church, but upon the rock of Peter, whose fair face neither error, nor heresy, nor of old age hs ever sullied; the Catholic Church the virgin spouse of Christ, ever ancient and ever new; in her ever have been, and shall be, altar and sacrifice: in her, from the rising of the sun to the going down thereof, the Name of the Lord shall be great; and on countless altars, on behalf of millions and millions of souls, the clean oblation of the "Sacrifice of the Mass" shall be offered to the Lord of Hosts.
THE FOUR ENDS FOR WHICH EVERY MASS IS SAID
Unless we have a just idea of the Mass, and a lively faith in the great mystery, we shall never appriciate the blessing of hearing Mass, nor assist at it as we ought. The angelic Doctor teaches that we owe to God four infinite debts. The Mass adequately pays the four; and for these four debts or ends every Mass is celebrated.
THE FIRST END
Supreme honor,perfect homage, sovereigh, adoration, infinite prase belong to the Majesty of Almighty God. How pay this debt ? Of ourselves, what have we to offer ? What is all creation in the sight of the Omnipotent? Poor miserable creatures! We depend on God for the every air we breathe. But in the Holy Mass we have all. The Mass pays to God perfect homage—sovereign, infinite adoration. Jesus Christ, the Eernal Word made Flesh humbles himself to the Holy Trinity in the most profound manner by lying a victim on the altar. The Divinity imparts infinite value to each act and humiliation of the Humanity, and both are concealed under the forms of bread and wine. A God is offer to God! By the holy sacrifice, therefore, we pay to the Almighty the first debt we owe. Infinite goodness and love of Jesus! St. Leonard exclaims—and let us repeat it over and over again, since it never can be too deeply gaven on our memories-"Certainly certaintly, by hearing holy mass with proper disposition, we offer unto our God homage and honor that is infinite and concludes: "O blind world, when wilt thou open thine eyes to a truth so grand, so important?"--Hidden Treasure. p. 19.
THE SECOND END
THE MASS A SACRIFICE OF INFINITE THANKSGIVING
The second debt we owe God is to thank him, as he deserves, for all benefits he has bestowed upon us. The gifts of grace and nature, so lavishly showered upon us by the bountiful hand of God, are countless—the gift of soul and body, senses, reason, health, nay life itself; the graces of Sacrments and sacrifices, his patience, providence, and mercy to us; in a word, the merits of the life and death of Jesus; made over, so to speak, on us. How thank God as he deserves, and as we ought, for all these and numberless other favors ? What have we to offer? Nothing of ourselves, but everything in the Mass. " What shall I render unto the lord for all his benfits to me? " cries the Royal Psalmist; and seeing with prophetic eyes the holy sacrifice answers. " I will take the chalice of the Lord " (Ps. Cxv.)--that is, I will offer him the Adorable Sacrifice of the Mass, which is of infinite value, and by which I can thank God as he deserves for all his countless favors and blessings. " Jesus Christ. " says the Apostle (Heb.x.4) " offered himself for us to God, to be an oblation and victim of sweet odor." The Blessed Sacramnet is emphatically called the Eucharist, whkic means " Thanksgiving ." A holy writer concludes: " O great and most loving God ! Would that each of us had countless tongues, to return Thee infinite thanks for this inestimable treasure of the Holy Mass, with which Thou hast enriched us. "
THE THIRD END
THE MASS IS A SACRIFICE OF INFINITE ATONEMENT OR SATISFACTION
The third great debt we owe to God is to satisfy his justice for our sins. Our sins! How countless and enormous ! " The just man fall seven times in a day." How often we sinners! How many shall find their sins more numerous that the very hairs upon their heads ! How many shall find their first mortal sin in the very morning of life at the first full use if reason; and year after aftr year only assed crime to crime, guilt to guilt. And yet without true repentance there is no salvation." Unless you do penance,"" says the Redeemer, you shall all likewise perish." (Luke.xiii.3.) Where shall we find repentance, tis sorrow and pardon for our sins? At the Cross and at the altar. On Calvary Jesus Christ by his death " blotted out the handwriting that was against us, fastening it to the Cross " He satisfied the justice of his Father. All the merit of our repentance flows from the death of the Redeemer. On the altar, the very same blood that was shed on Calvary is offered up. When instituting the Holy Sacrifice, Jesus said "This is my blood of the New Testament. which shall be shed for many unto the remission of sins." (Matt., xxvi,28.) On the altar is , " the Lamb standing as it were slain." Jesus offers his death and blood for the salvation of the world. The guilt an enormity of our sins need not cast us into despair. The blood of Jesus is sufficient to satisfy for the sins of a millon worlds. " With him is plentiful redemption." --(Ps. Cxxix.) " He " says to St.John (I,ii.2), " is the propitiation for our sins; not only for ours, but for those of the whole world."
Through the merits, therefore, of the Holy Sacrifice of th Mass we are sure to obtain for the Almighty true sorrow and reepentance--"a meek and contdrite heart which God will not despise." St. Chrysostom says that the angel always pray for us, especially during the Holy Mass. St.Augustine says: "Who ever hears Mass devoutly shall receive great strength to avoid the commission of mortal sin, and shall likewise obtain remission of all heis venial sins." "O thrice Holy Mass," concludes St. Leonard, "Which ennoble us with the liberty of the Son of God, and satisfies for all the penalties which our sin deserve."--(P. 21)
THE MASS IS A SACRIFICE OF INFINITE SUPPLICATION OR IMPETRATION
The fourth great debt we owe to God is to supplicate him constnatly in order to obtain of him all graces and blessings we stand in need as without God's preserving hand we could not exist on instant, and the same Will that created us preserves us; so, also, with out God's holy grace we cannot perform one supernatural act, nor conceive one good thought, nor advance one step on the road that leads to life everlasting. "Without me," says Christ, "you an do nothing."--(John,xv. 5.) And St. Pauls adds: "We are not sufficient to think anything of ourselve, as our selves, but our sufficiency is from God."
Our wants, remporal and eternal, are countless: graces to repent of our many sins; graces to sin no more; graces to live to love and die in his friendship; the grace for final perseverance. In the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass Jesus obtains all for us. On our altars, wher his death and passion are represented and renewed, Jesus obtains of his father all graces and blessings we need for soul and body. Jesus is the "beloved Son, in whom the Father is well pleased;" and "is heard on account of his orn reverence." In the Holy Mass, Jesus himself is our advocate as well as our High Priest. He presents our wants and petitions to his Father, and with the petitions his Precious Blood as aprice to obtain them. The Church ends every prayer, and asks everthing."through our Lord Jesus Christ, " because Jesus we have everything. "He that spareth not even his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how hath he not also with him given us all things," –(Rom. Viii.) St. Jerome says: "Assuredly the lord grants all th favors for which we petition him in the Mass, provided they be suitable to us; and, what is far more admirable, he very often grants us that for which we do not petition him,provided we place no obstacle to his holy designs." "O thrice blessed Mass !" adds St. Leonard. "thou art the exhaustless mine of all our good."--(p.28). We shall conclude this section by a passage from the infallible decree of the Council of Trent, (c. ii.) "The holy Synod reaches that this sacrifice (the Mass) is truly propitiatory, and by means thereof this is effected,that we obtain mercy and find grace in seasonable aid. For the Lord, appeased by the oblation thereof, and granting the grace the gift of penitence, forgives even heinous crimes and sins. Wherefore, not only for sins, punishments, satisfactions, and other necessities of the faithful who are living, but also for those who are departed from Christ, and who are not yet fully purified, (Mass) is rightly offered, agreeably to a tradition of the Apostles." (Canon iii.) defines: "If any one saith the the Sacrifice of the Mass is only a sacrifice of praise and of thankgiving, or that it is bare commemoration of the sacrifice consummatedon the Cross, but not apropitatory sacrifice, or that is profit him only who receives; and that it ought not to be offered for the living and the dead, for sins, pains, satisfactions, and other penalties; let him be anathema"
HOW TO HEAR MASS DEVOUTLY
cannot hear Mass devoutly unless we have a just idea of what the Mass is, and a lively faith in the divine mystery. Thus far this has been our object—to enliven the faith of our pious reader, and fix the eyes of his soul on the Lamb bleeding and dying o Calvary an on the altar. What infinite treasures of Divine mercy and love ! With St. Paul we must exclaim: "O the depth on the riches, of the wisdom, and of the knowledge of God !"--(Rom.xi. 23.) And with St. John; :The Lamb that is slain is worthy to receive power, and divinity, and wisdom, and strenght, and honor, and glory, and benediction. He has redeemed us to God in his blood, out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation."--(Apoc.v. 12.) How can we give to the Lanb this honor and glory and benediction ? By hearing devoutly all the Masses we can !
There are various methods of hearing Mass devoutly. Each person is left to his free choice to select the method most agreeable to his devout inclinations and capacity—that which he finds,from experience,best excites him fervor and piety. We suggest three, taken from piour writers, that the reader may choose wht best suits hie devoution.
The first method is to employ th whole time of Mass in reading our prayer-book; that is, to accompany all the actions and prayers of the priest with the most profound attention, reciting suitable vocal prayers, uniting the fervor and attention of our souls with the accents of our lips. This is doubtless an excellent method of hearing Mass, and especially for those who cannot meditate, or who know not how to meditate, an who find from experience that they become distracted whe they take their eyes off the prayerbook.
The second method is, to occupy the whole time of the Mass in meditation and pious affections of the soul. Those who observe this method use no book, read nothing. With eyes they behold Jesus bleeding and dying on the altar, as on Calvary. They spend the whole time of the Mass in devout contemplation, in interior recollection in meditating the sacred mysteries of our Blessed Lord"s passion and death, and inacts of sorrow for sin, love of God, and other pious affections. They assist at Mass in the same spirit as the Blesssed Virgin, St. John, St. Mary Magdalene, standing at the foot of the Cross. They see Jesus dying for sin; they weep over their own; Jesus gives them the tears of true sorrow. They see Jesus dying through love; they love him; Jesus gives them true chasity. They know that sin offend him; they beg the grace never to offend Jesus more. God alone sees and counts the number of holy thoughts and acts which divine grace operates in their souls during one Mass heard in th most holy manner.
The third method is to unite with in offer the holy sacrifice for the four great ends for which every Mass is said. This method, pious writers say, is if not the most perfect, at least most in accordance with the spiritof the Church and the ends of sacrifice. St. Thomas teaches that the mass is the most efficacious way of pruing to God the four great debts we all owe him.
Let us here a remark of great importance. Athough it is true that the priest alone, as the officiating minister, offers the Holy Sacrifice- he alone consecrates and celebrates-- still it is equally true that the sacrifice is offered for all and in the name of all. The people present can and ought to join the priest, and offer the Mass for themselves and their intentions. The priest reminds the congregation of this; for after the offertory he turns to the people and says: "Pray, brethen, that mine and your sacrifice may be pleasing to God the Father the Omnipotent." All, then, share in the Mass, and ought to join the priest in offering it to God.
How, then, do this ? With God's holy grace it is very easy. Divide the time of Mass, into four distinct periods, in order to be able to think on the four great ends of the Holy Sacrifice.
First Period: In the first period say from the beginning of the Gospel, we can pay the first great debt. Acknowledging the abyss fo our own nothingless, having nothing worthy of heaven, we can offer the Mass the Victim in the altar, the humiliations of Jesus, in adoration, praise, homage, and su.preme worship to the almighty Father.
Second Period: In the second period of time, which may be from the Gospel to the Canon, we can pay the second great debt atonement for our sins. We can call to mind the countless gifts, graces, and blessings we have received from the hands of God during our whole lives—creation, redemption, preservation, the True Faith, the sacraments and sacrifices of the true church, preservation, from hell, which our sins deserved a thousand times, God's mercy and patience with us, his divine Providence over us. How many hidden graces we know nothing of ! "Blessed be God" a thousand times by all creatures, at every instant, that we have the means to thank him as he deserves for all his infinite graces and blessings. We offer him in the Lamb that was slain from the beginning of the world. The Almighty Father is satisfied—our debt is paid !
Third Period: The third period of time, which may be from the Canon to the Consecration, may be occupied in paying the third great debt—atonement for our sins. We can call to mind our numberless sins—sins of thought , word, and deed, sins of omission, the sins of "our youth and ignorance," "our hidden sins and the sins of others." When we examine our souls in the light of God's grace, what a mountain of sin rises up before the eyes of the soul ! But where find atonement ? All the blood martys ever shed could not of itself wash out one venial stain; but one drop of the blood of Jesus, shed on Calvary or the altar, is sufficient to atone for the sins of a thousand worlds ! During Mass, then we can offer to the Eternal Father the precious blood of Jesus for our sins, and through the merits of his passion and death, renewed on the altar, beg the tears oftrkue sorrow and sincere repentance for our offence. Through the merits of the blood of lamb, weshall obtain perfect contrition, true conversion—the contrite and humble heart which heaven never despises.
Fourth Period: In the fourth period, which may be from the Consecration to the Communion or end of the Mass, wepay the last great debt, by supplicatingthe Almighty for all the graces and blessings we need. We want everything, and of ourselves we can get nothing; all must come through Jesus. We want at every moment strength to conquer, not only the devil and the world, but even ourslves. Through the Mass we canobain all. In the Mass we offer to the Father his Divine Son, our Advocate and Mediator, and his merits we obtain pardonm for the past and grace for the future. We beg thegrace of a holy life, happy death, and final perseverance. We offer to theAlmighty the blood of Jesus for the conversions of pagans, heretics, infidels, and sinners. We supplicate heaven for our Holy Father the Pope, for the wants of the Universal Church, and for our own Church; and, finally, we offer the superabundant merits of Christ for the relief of those in pain—the poor suffering souls in Purgatory. When the priest communicates, all should communicate spiritually. The advantages of spiritual communion we shall explain hereafter in a separate section.
Such are the three methods of hearing Mass devoutly. Each person can select what best suits his piety and capacity. If all Catholics adopted any one of those ways, what treasure of graces would draw down from heaven on their souls? How holy would be their! Sinners would be converted, sin and scandal would be less frequent, our churchs would be thronged, virtue and piety would bloom, as in the primitive ages of the Church of God, and the Sacred Heart of Jesus would be consoled. May Jesus animate all his children with the Holy Spirit.
THREE SINS AGAINST THE LOVE OF JESUS IN THE HOLY SACRIFICE
FIRST SIN: Wilful neglect of Mass on Sundays and Holidays.
Having explained. Though imperfectly indeed, what the Mass is, and how to hear Mass devoutly, the reader will more clearly understand the grievousness of the sin of those who insult Jesus in the sacrifice of his love. We speak not here of heretics or unbelievers. They have not the faith of Christ. Let us pray that God's light may shine upon their souls and give them faith. But we speak of the cold, bad, ungrateful Catholics. The Mass is Jesus adoring, thanking, lovingand supplicating the Eternal Father for men. Is it possible that men could forget to neglect Jesus? Yes, so it is. The Church was obliged to command her children under pain of mortal sin, to assist at the divine mysteries at least on Sundays and holidays ! Some must do through fear what they ought to do through love. To hear Mass devoutly on Sunday and holidays only, is indeed a very small token of our love for Jesus. Still we know there are some—thank God they are not numerous—some cold, bad Catholics, who neglect the duty of hearing Mass on the Lord's day. Oh, ungrateful beings ! You thereby offend God mortally; you insult Jesus, instead of loving him; and this in the greatest manifestation of his love for you—the Adorable Sacrifice of the Mass. This mortal sin which you commit by negglecting, throught your own fault, to assist Mass on Sunday and holidays,deserves eternal damnation. If you went before God with that sin alone on your souls, his divine justice would condemn you to everlasting torments of the damned in hell. Ungrateful Christians ! Ask pardon of Jesus for the past; he will forgive you; and resolve in the depth of your souls never in the future to insult Jesus by neglecting to hear Mass on the Lord's day.
SECOND SIN: To be late for Mass on Sundays and Holidays.
It is not enough to go to the chapel. We are bound to be in time. We are bound under pain of mortal sin to be present at least at the Credo. When we call to mind Sunday is the lord's day, that it belongs to God in a special manner, that the Divine Goodness has given us all that day to cease from and forget toil, to rest our fatigued limbs and wearied bodies, that thus our souls may be free to think of God, to meditate on his divine perfection, to enter into ourselves, to set our account in order, to turn our minds from eath to heaven, and to secure for ourselves ever- lasting bliss beyond the grave, oh, what a blessing must we not ackowledge the Lord's to be ! Sunday is a day of peace and joy to the soul; a day of prayer and worship; but the great wor- ship of Sunday is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in which all join the priest, and the infinite Victim of redemption is offered for all, and in the name ofall, to the Eternal Father, for the four great ends of sacrifice. This is the great work and duty of Sunday. Thank God, this is known, for before holy sacrifice begins our chapels are crowded by devout worshippers who recite th Holy Rosary, the sweet canticle of praise to Jesus and mary, as a meet preparation for the great sacrifice of the Lamb of God upon the altar, which is the centre of all love and devotion. But the few bad, careless Christians too late for Mass ! They disedify, disturb, and distract the congregation at their silent prayers, they insult Jesus; they sully their souls with the foul stain of mortal sin; the very day the infinite mercy of God gave them to save their souls they turn to their own perdition. May heaven give us all the grace never to offend our Blessed Lord by being late for Mass through our own fault, on the Sabbath day, or on a holiday of obligation.
THIRD SIN: Wilful Irreverence and Distraction at the Holy Sacrifice
The good thief on the Cross obtained pardon and immediate entry into paradise, because he asked mercy of Jesus dying: "Lord, remember me whenThou shalt come into Thy kingdom" And Jesus said to him. "Amen, I say to Thee, this day Thou shalt be with me in paradise," (Luke, xxiii. 42) Mary Magdalen clung to the Cross, and clasped it it her breast, absorbed in the one thought of Jesus bleeding and dying. Such are the holy thoughts that ought to occupy our attention during Mass. But how different the conduct of some cold, faithless Catholics! Unworthy Christians ! Who come to the holy mysteries decked out in the sinful finery of a luxurious age; whose whole aim and intention appear to be to attract the sinful eye; whose occupation consist in looking round the church, remarking neighbors' dress, or the fashions of the day. Whilst their lips stir in thoughtless prayer, their hearts are far away from God. Calvary, the Altar , Jesus dying, find no room in their worldly minds. If they are "accused who do the work of God negligently" doubtless God's signal malediction will fall upon those who sin and attract to sin, in the sight of angels, under the shadow of the altar. The reader will excuse a long passage very much to the point from St. Leonard of Port Maurice: "Will you ever again dare to hear Mass sitting ,whispering, looking idly about you, nay, sometimes even sleeping; contenting yourself with reciting thoughtlessly a few vocal prayers, heedless of the tremendous duty ? O stupid world, that does not estimate mysteries so sublime! How is it Possible that any one can remain in the presence of the altar with a distracted mind and dissipated heart, at a moment when the angels hover ther rembling and astonished absorbed I contemplating the effects of such a stupendous work? How few there are who have not reason to accuse themselves, more or less, of this third sin against the love of Jesus in the holy sacrifice ? How few have always assisted with what profound recollectioin and attention which the divine mysteries demand ! Let us ask pardon of the Sacred Heart of Jesus for the past, and resolve for the future never to wound this allloving Heart by any sort of irreverence in the house of God.
To hear Mass on Sundays and holidays only, when are obliged under pain of mortal sin,speaks but little for ourlove for Jesus. Daily Mass shows the piety and devotion for the fervent Catholic. In Catholic countries, every church, whether in city, village or country, has its daily Mass—nay, many,several Masses, and the attendance is a sure test of the piety of the people. Where fervor and piety reign, the churches are crowded, the altars surrounded by pious worshippers. Where the faith has grown cold, few surround the altar of God. For the glory of God, and consolation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, may the number increase tenfold. What greater blessing could the goodness of God bestow upon us here below, than to be allowed to join the angels in adoring round the altar; to see with the eyes of faith the heavens opening and the lamb of God descending; to take part--and the faithful do take part –with God's minister in offering daily to the Almighty the infinite Victim of Redemption for ourselves, for the whole world, for the living and the dead ? St. Nilus, disciple of St. John Chrysostom, relates (in Epist.ad Anast.) that when the holy doctor who was celebrating Mass, he himself beheld legions upon legions of angels, clothe in white robes, in profound meditation round the altar. Who would not love to join in their sweet song of praise to their and our Divine Lord ? St. Chrysostom himself says (Lib,iii. De Sacred.): "Where he king is, there there also is the court; angels are present at the Sacrifice of the Mass, and compass the altar in honor of him who is offered upon it:' adds "When you are before the altar, you ought no longer think you are among men. Do you not perceive that there are troops of angels and archangels that stand by you, and that tremble with respect before the Sovereign Master of heaven and earth?" St. Gregory also says (De Dial.,lib.iv.): "When the priest is celebrating Mass the skies and heaven opens to assist at the Divine sacrifice." St. John (Apoc.xxi.23) tells us that "the new Jerusalem hath no need of the sun or moon to shine on it: for the glory of God hath enlightened it, and the Lamb is the lamb thereof." daily in our chapels we have the same Lamb, who is tkhe glory of light, the lamp of paradise; and still some will not come to daily Mass ! Our Blessed Lord tells us in the his longing wish to celebrate the first Mass with his deciples: "With desire I have desired to eat this pasch with you." --(Luke xxii.15.) Have we the same ardent wish to hear his holy Mass ?
Do we make it our delight to hear as many Masses as we can, and never to omit an opoortunity of hearing one more. The repetition, so far from fatiguing, ought but increase our thirst for the "courts of the Lord" There was but one sacrifice offered on Mount Calvary, and to the end of the world the heart of every fervent Christian will long to have been present, and with Mary to stand by the Cross of Jesus and sympathize with his sufferings, In like manner, were the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered but once a year in one place, would we not all desire to journey to that holy spot, to pour forth our hearts before our Blessed Lord ? But the love of Jesus has shortened the road, and has brought salvation to our very doors. We have but a few minutes' walk to the church, and there all, the poor as well as the rich, the young as well as the old, can enjoy this treasure of heaven; there they vary and the altar, Jesus and redemption. A great saint said: "Were it possible to have no Calvary, one Mass would suffice to redeem the entire world !" And still everybody does not come to daily Mass: (when possible) all hearts are not on fire with the love of Jesus in the holy saacrifice.
The saints of God cannot find words strong enough to exhort the faithful to hear Mass every day, and thereby to bring down the blessing of God upon themselves and their family. During Mass, they tell us, is the time to ask mercy for the past and perseverance for the future. "Assuredly." says St. Jerome, "The lord grants all the favors for which we petition him in the Mass, provided they be suitale to us. " St. Gregory says (Book of Dialog.): " It is most indubitably certain that whosoever hears mass shall be preserved from many and many a danger, both foreseen an unforeseen," To secure the protection of heaven, what a strong motive to hear Mass every morning ! St. Ambrose says: If you are unwell, Jesus is your physician; if your be in a burning fever, he is the fountain of water; if you are loaded with iniquities, he is righteousness; if you want help ,he is strength; if you be in danger of death, his is life; if you desire heaven, he is the way that leads to it"
Were all Christians persuaded of the value of the infinite treasure contained in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, our churches would be crowded every morning; but it is sad to witness the number who neglect to hear daily Mass, (Were possible) when they could do so without the least inconvenience. But some will say: "We have not time." You have not time ! Can you not spare one half-hour out of twenty-four ? How much precious time do you spend every in idle, useless conversation ? Will you give the whole day to your bodies, that shall one day rot, and can you not spasre one half-hour for yoursouls, that will never die ? Tt is not time, but a good will that is wanting you. Remember that God has given time and life for one end only—to serve him here, and possess him hereafter in glory. The half-hour you spend at daily Mass you will not regret at thehour of your death and at the day of judgment. To balance spent time, you will then count up as precious moments all the Masses you have heard during your life.
We are speaking of a happy death—the end for which God created us, as well as the end of life. We find in the Hidden Treasure (p. 32) this striking passage, attributed to St. Augustine: "Whoever hears Mass devoutly shall be preserved from sudden death, which is the most awful weapon with which divine justice punishes the sinner. Lo !" says the saint, "here is the wonderful preserative against sudden death; hear Mass every day, (Where possible) but hear it with all possible.
Daily Mass, then, preserves us from from asudden, unprovided death. The devil can - not, during the day, surprise him who in the morning heard "the Word was made Flesh" Every motive then, of charity towards ourselves, as well as gratitude to God, induces us to hear Mass every morning. "Taste and see how sweet the Lord is." The more we love God, the more we shall feel ourselves drawn to God's altar. Every soul that God sanctifies, he inspires with the ardent love and desire for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The greatest delight of such souls is toi hear, not only daily Mass, but as many Masses as they can. They never omit an opoportuniity of hearing one Mass more. May heaven inspire us all with this holy love and desire of Mass.
When you hear, then, the bell announcing the morning sacrifice, think you hear an angel's voice,the call o f God inviting you to join in the most holy function that can be performed, either on earth below or heaven above. Shut not your ears, nor harden your hearts to God's sweet voice. Proceed to the Church or Chapel with recollection devotion, nay, spiritual joy. sWith the eyes of faith, see the choirs of and angels and archangels archangels singing hymns round the Lamb. Wish and pray for Mary's heart to join them, and with eyes fixed on the altar, and with the holy thoughts of Jesus bleeding, dying, and redeeming the world, join the priest in the holy sacrifice, "which honors God, rejoices the Church or Chapel, helps the living, obtains rest for the dead, and make yourself a partaker in all things that ar good"." Imitation.