Several Excellent Methods of Hearing Mass
The Second Design our Lord had in the Institution of the adorable Sacrifice of Holy Mass was, that it should be a perpetual Sacrifice of Thanksgiving, which might worthily acknowledge all the divine Favours and Benefits, and render Him answerable Thanks.
The Divine Majesty continually bestowing new favours upon us, we ought likewise every moment to offer Him a sacrifice of thanksgiving, which duty Christ knew was impossible to us; and therefore He fulfills that obligation for us, to His eternal Father, by means of Holy Mass (in which consists its greatest advantage); and that in an infinitely more perfect manner than all the Saints and Angels could do during the whole eternity.
For this end we ought to assist at Mass that we may thereby render infinite thanks to Almighty God for all the favours we daily receive, since all we are, or have, is His gift to us; and as if that were not yet enough, He has, as it were, drained His greatest treasure which is of an infinite value, and has given it to us; to wit, His only Son, for which none but Himself can render worthy thanks.
We should therefore, by necessity, have remained ungrateful, had we not had His only Son, who He has made ours, by giving Him to us, that we may present Him in return for all benefits received.
When our Saviour instituted this adorable Sacrifice, the Evangelists observes, that He first rendered thanks to His eternal Father. This is what He continues to do daily on our altars. He there, in our behalves, renders due thanks for all God’s favours, and as much as He deserves; for it being the thanksgiving of a God, it can be no less than infinite: and therefore God can neither possibly receive, nor exact greater.
It follows then, that by assisting devoutly at Mass, and uniting our hearts and will with that of Jesus, we by Him and with Him render thanksgiving to God, which is infinite and worthy of Himself.
Though we should have been upon knees, from the first moment of our lives to the last of our days, employed in thanking Almighty God, with all imaginable fervour for all His benefits, and that all souls, both in heaven and earth, should have joined with us, yet we should not so worthily have thanked His Divine Majesty, as we do by hearing Mass devoutly.
What a comfort ought this to be to us, and with what joy ought we to assist thereat; since by it we can worthily acknowledge, and render those thanks to God which are due to Him for all His mercies to us.
Let us then, with all possible reverence, offer this great Sacrifice in thanksgiving for all favours received, both spiritual and corporal, for the best means to obtain new favours, is to be grateful for them we have received. And nothing being more proper for acknowledgment than the Sacrifice of Holy Mass, we may offer it for that intention, using the following method.
A Method of
When we consider it as a Thanksgiving Sacrifice.
When we consider it as a Thanksgiving Sacrifice.
At the Beginning.
Having placed yourself in the presence of God, and made an act of contrition, represent to yourself the angels and saints surrounding the Throne of God, and continually singing the canticles of praise and thanksgiving to the glory of their benefactor, recounting therein, and extolling His innumerable benefits. Join yourself in spirit with them, and render the best thanks you are able for all those you have received.
Being wholly incapable, my God, of rendering the thanks I owe you, I offer you all those that are paid you by the blessed in heaven; begging you will please to receive them in acknowledgment of all your infinite mercies to me. The multitude of your favours are so many, and each so great, that I can neither reckon their number nor conceive their excellence. And though I should conceive that infinite love and charity which moved you to bestow them; where should I find terms worthy to praise and thank you for them? All I can say is, that they infinitely surpass whatever I can conceive of express; but will the acknowledgment of my insufficiency suffice?
Alas! without the help of your dear Son, I could have gone no further; but since He has been pleased to make Himself man, and give Himself to us, to be the victim of our sacrifice, I have the comfort, by offering Him to your Divine Majesty, to acknowledge all your benefits worthily; for that end receive Him then from your unworthy servant.
My dear Redeemer, you having served me as a victim to offer, be now for me as High-Priest, and in offering yourself offer me also, and as a member of your mystical body, and the purchase of your blood, to labour the rest of my days for the divine glory.
The Bread and Wine which is offered, may put you in mind of God’s temporal benefits bestowed upon us, for which you may begin to thank Him.
O my God, the Author of my being! I am indebted to you for the life you have given; or, to speak more properly, which you hourly give me; since if you did not each moment conserve me I should return to nothing. On every side that I turn me I see and enjoy your benefits. All you have made, you have made for my use. Add to this, the evils you have hindered from falling upon me, and the dangers you have drawn me out of: For all which I can never sufficiently thank you. The least I can do in return, is to resolve that for the remainder of my life I will make use of all your benefits to increase your glory; for which I beg your grace: And if I am not so happy as to give my life for you who are the Author of it and all I have, at least I may thus do it, by abstaining from all you forbid, and exactly performing all you command.
My sovereign Redeemer and High-Priest, who has paid the price of what I ask, give it me then, with a heart conformable to yours, which may truly and constantly love you, with such a love as may best acknowledge yours to me; which love you only can bestow, and which through your sacred merits I beg.
At the Consecration and Elevation.
Here consider those infinitely greater benefits which God has bestowed on you in your redemption, and return most humble thanks for the same. Consecration representing the incarnation of our Saviour, who descended from heaven into the womb of the blessed Virgin, as He is pleased to descend into the hands of the priest at the words of consecrating, and, his elevating Him represents His being lifted up when on the Cross, where He expired for your redemption.
All your other benefits, my God, compared to these, appear but small; for these are incomprehensible ever to the most sublime intelligences. And what renders them still more worthy of admiration is, your having done them for creatures who rather deserve to feel indignation and anger.
O inconceivable source of goodness! What has it cost you to redeem me? This adorable Sacrifice represents it to me, when by virtue of the Sacramental Words, I adore your sacred Body in the Hose, and your Blood in the Chalice: It minds me of those cruel torments you suffered, which forced each drop of blood from your sacred veins, and your soul from your body. Here I lose myself, and can only say, that your boundless love has ever made you forget your greatness and my baseness. None but you, my God, could carry love to so high a pitch.
Whilst you, my Lord, so profusely pour forth your treasures upon me, I am so nigard to you, that when there is question of proving my love to you, by suffering for you, I examine whether I am obliged to it under sin; love and gratitude no sufficing, though by them I am most certainly obliged. A torrent of tears cannot wash off so great an ingratitude: But, dear Lord, I do not reckon upon my tears, but upon your precious blood, both to satisfy for my sins, and to acknowledge your mercies as I ought. I beg that the same love which made you suffer for me, may continually draw tears from my heart for my ingratitude to you. Let your love, to which I abandon all my interest, act this for me. Consult it in all that concerns me, and give me what it requests of you for me.
Consider that if you really desire worthily to acknowledge God’s favours and mercies to you, you have the best means, and indeed the only, which is Jesus Christ, who is willing to come into your heart, that you may thereby have in His person, wherewithal to offer to God what is worthy of Him.
O come, dear Lord, into my heart, for it is by your means only that I can worthily acknowledge God’s infinite mercies to me, as well as learn to do it. Come, then, and teach me that duty. During your mortal life you gave me example of it, ever rendering thanks to your eternal Father; before you proceed to any action, inspire me with the like sentiments.
And since, for that end, you are pleased to come into my heart, give leave to offer you to your eternal Father and mine, since He allows me to hour to call Him so.
O eternal God! I offer you your only Son, Jesus Christ, to acknowledge your merciful goodness to me your unworthy creature; for He is mine by your free gift and His; I offer Him then with my whole heart for your greater honour and glory, since nothing can more contribute to it.
O my sweet Saviour, who are so good as to visit me, unite me to yourself, that I may be but one with you by grace, and a perfect conformity of wills. Let the same fire that burns in your heart inflame mine. Make use of me as an instrument to glorify your eternal Father on earth, whilst you thank and praise Him for me in heaven.
O love, immense and infinite! thaw the icy coldness of my heart; soften its hardness that you many find no more resistance in it to your holy inspirations. Inflame, dilate, and fortify my heart, and grant I may immeasurably love you, for I cannot other wise answer you love. I consecrate to you my life, my soul, and all that I am. Dispose of me and all that is mine according to your will; and let not my will be ever different from yours. I but desire your love, give me that and it is sufficient.