Another Manner of Hearing Mass,
By following our Divine Saviour in His Interior Sufferings.
By following our Divine Saviour in His Interior Sufferings.
Before the beginning of Mass compose yourself in the most respectful posture you can, kneeling with true humility. Then make an act of contrition for your sins, which have been the cause of the sufferings and death of Jesus Christ; for the greater purity of soul you bring, the more you will partake of the fruits of this Adorable Sacrifice.
Then offer it to God, to render Him due glory, to obtain pardon of your sins, victory over temptations, and the grace to fulfill the duties of your state and charge; and for peace, union, and a happy death, both for yourself, and every one of the family.
At the beginning of the Mass, represent to yourself Jesus Christ, in the person of the priest. He first mounts up to the altar and then descends; which steps may represent to you the way our Saviour went from the cenacle to the garden of Gethsemani. Then the priest, bowing his knee, must mind you of our Lord’s prostrating Himself before the Majesty of His eternal Father in that garden. Endeavour to enter into the those dispositions of humility and respect which abases Jesus in presence of the greatness of that Divine Essence before whom all created beings are as nothing.
Then, with great devotion and attention, call to mind all that passed in the garden of Gethsemani; at which all heaven seemed to tremble with a certain horror to behold God in Christ Jesus, under the figure of a criminal, loaded with the execrable sins of all mankind. He suffers there the greatest humiliation and confusion that can be imagined, annihilated before the infinite Majesty of His eternal Father, He makes Him an honourable amends, and produces an act of so great sorrow, that He merits absolution and pardon of all mankind.
He there appears a criminal (though spotless) and is treated with all rigour by the divine justice. As the victim for sin, He receives the sentence of death, which He accepts of to give us life, and restore to us what sin had taken from us, and He merits for us the grace to enter a commerce with His eternal Father.
The sight of what He was to undergo and suffer, cast Him into an agony which forced blood, as drops of sweat, to fall on the ground from all parts of His body, which, with all He was to suffer, He applied to each souls in particular.
All creatures, says St. Paul, rise up against Jesus, as sinners, to revenge the injury sin does to God. He is abandoned to the powers of darkness, and reduced to such an extremity, that He likens it to the pangs of death, saying, His soul is sorrowful even to death. Sin covers Him over with infamy; and in this hateful condition He appears to His own, and to His Father’s eyes, who draws due satisfaction from Him, and that even to the utmost rigour. The soul of Jesus not only suffers a mortal repugnance of the approach of sin, infinitely odious and detestable to Him, but also an extreme apprehension and terror, which sinners have of God’s wrath and fury; and this apprehension is as great as the fight He has is clear and penetrating.
In these reflections, or any other mystery of our Saviour’s Passion, you may bestow your thoughts till the Elevation.
At the Elevation.
Christ, being crucified, was raised on high; see and adore Him so in the hands of the priest. He is sacrificed for your sake on the altar as well as on Mount Calvary; He thinks of you, prays for you, and offers himself to the justice of the eternal Father, to appease His wrath against you. In a word, He is wholly taken up in your concerns, acting for you on the altar as on Mount Calvary. Which reflection ought to inflame you with His love, and give you a firm hope that He will be heard, and obtain whatever He asks for you. Unite your intention with those He has for your salvation, protesting that you will all He wills, and that you will stand to what He promises in your behalf.
From that time till the Agnus Dei, remain in the spirit of an united sacrifice with Jesus as much as possible, to make the sacrifice complete, according to His merciful designs: with silence and respect, annihilates; and, as it were, lost in Jesus, Who there offers Himself for you. In this manner did His blessed Mother assist at the bloody Sacrifice He offered on the Cross; her eyes and heart fixed on Him, by a simple regard, full of respect and love.
You may also entertain your thoughts with the words Christ spoke on the Cross; admiring in the first how easily He forgives His enemies; and consider yourself as one of them, heartily beg pardon, and confidently hope to obtain it.
Secondly, His liberality to the good thief; be you may experience the same a the hour of your death.
Thirdly, His tender love and concern for you expressed His recommending you to His blessed Mother, in the person of St. John, and speak what affection shall suggest.
At the Agnus Dei.
Consider how our Saviour’s love was strong as death; being dead, He is taken down from the Cross to be laid in the sepulcher. Here remember to prepare your heart that it may serve for a tomb to lay Him in, for which effect, dispose yourself for communion; and be sure to communicate spiritually, if you may not do it sacramentally. Desire it ardently, that Jesus may live in you and you in Him; for which end He instituted it and desires to be received; so that all your thoughts, words, and actions may be the effects of His Divine Spirit, and not of your own will. Make acts proper for communion, as humility, love, and contrition, beseeching Him to wash your soul from sin with His precious blood, and to come into your heart, and make of it a worthy habitation for Himself. And omit not to beg Him that, as He resuscitated His body and give it a new life, He would please, by His sacred presence, to do the same to your soul, giving it a new life, which may be visible by your happy change of inclinations and manners.
The Ends for which Holy Mass was instituted by Christ, and is offered by our Holy Mother the Church, may serve for entertainment during the same.
Our Lord’s Spirit was that of an entire sacrifice. There are four sorts of sacrifices.
The first of a holocaust, purely to adore, worship, and praise the sovereign greatness and goodness of God. The second of thanksgiving, for the continual graces and favours received. The third of impetration, to crave and obtain such graces and gifts as we stand in need of. The fourth of propitiation, for the forgiveness of sins.
Our Saviour instituted the Sacrifice of the Mass for these ends, that He might render to God an infinite honour proportionate to His greatness. Give Him thanks answerable to His benefits. Satisfy in all rigour of justice for all the sins of mankind, and obtain for us all we want and request.
Our dependence on God lasting every moment, we should every moment adore and glorify Him. He bestowing continually new benefits upon us, we should always and each moment offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving to Him. Our wants being continual, each moment of our lives would also require an impetratory sacrifice. Our offences being every moment with an uncertainty, whether any past ones are remitted: each instant of our lives would also exact from us a propitiatory sacrifice.
Any one of these duties is impossible to us, and much more all of them. In this then consists the admirable blessing of Holy Mass; Christ our Lord fulfilling by it all our obligations to His eternal Father; and that in an infinitely perfect manner beyond all that the saints and angels could do, during a whole eternity.
Our Saviour then offering for us those four sacrifices in each Mass, it is our duty to offer them with Him, either all at once, or one at a time, as may best suit with our present disposition.
As to the first, which is a holocaust, or sacrifice of praise, wholly to adore and worship the greatness and goodness of God.
Sacrifices were established to honour God only, who being infinite in all kinds, contains in Himself all greatness, and all excellency, which to honour worthily, should be with the destruction and sacrifice of all that has a being; they ought to annihilate themselves before Him as nothing in His presence. But it not being convenient that mankind should be destroyed, and yet necessary that God should be honoured with the greatest honour possible, and that daily, Christ, as head and chief, performs this for us, annihilating and sacrificing Himself on our altars, and putting Himslef into our hands to offered in sacrifice to His eternal Father; that thereby we may render to Him all the honour we owe Him, and all He deserves, or can possibly exact.
This was Christ’s first and principal design in instituting this adorable mystery, to render His eternal Father an infinite honour and homage, justly due to so excellent a Being; and knowing it impossible for men to pay God the hour He deserves, though all mankind together, with all creatures, should immolate themselves in sacrifice: since all men together are no more than an atom, in regard of the infinite greatness of God, He is pleased to do it, offering Himself continually in sacrifice to pay the homage we owe, and cannot satisfy without Him.
It is certain that the adorable Sacrifice of Mass renders an infinite glory to God, because the victim that is offered is of an infinite dignity, being God. It follows then, that though we should offer all the sacrifices that have ever been immolated to the Divine Majesty, from the creatures of the world, till Christ’s incarnation; we should not render Him so much glory as we do by assisting devoutly at Holy Mass, in which we offer to Almighty God His only Son by the hands of the priest.
Hence it follows, that God receives more glory and honour by one only Mass, than He receives in heaven from all the Saints and Angels, who continually praise Him, though the glory they render Him is greater than we can conceive; nevertheless it is finite, they being but pure creatures: but in the Mass it is a God that sacrifices and annihilates Himself, which renders the Almighty an infinite honour. And all that assist at it, and share in that Sacrifice, joining themselves to those adorations which Christ renders, and offering them up His eternal Father, thereby perform an action more glorious to God, and in some measure more profitable to themselves, than if they were in heaven singing His praises.
What comfort for a soul that truly desires to glorify God and to pay Him due honour? How careful should this make us to assist thereat? God, on His side, is so good as to join our interest so with His own, that we cannot promote His glory without advancing our own good: “Would you believe,” says St. Augustine, “that God, even in sacrifice He ordains for His glory, seems to consider His own advantage less than ours?”