Method of Hearing Mass During Lent
Based on the Writings of Dom Guéranger, O.S.B.
Based on the Writings of Dom Guéranger, O.S.B.
(Red letter text is taken from Dom Guéranger's The Liturgical Year)
Considerations before Mass.
The number of our days of Lent, is a holy mystery: let us consider how the Church views her children during these forty days. She considers them as an immense army, fighting day and night against their spiritual enemies. We remember how, on Ash Wednesday, she calls Lent a Christian warfare. In order that we may have that newness of life, which will make us worthy to sing once more our Alleluia, we must conquer our three enemies: the devil, the flesh, and the world.
Consider the promises you have made to put on that Christian armor in this battle and to stay watchful by alms-giving, fasting, abstinence, voluntary sacrifices, and other acts of spiritual and bodily mortification. At this moment renew those promises before the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle, and ask Our Blessed Lord, who submitted to the triple temptation in the desert, Who knows the challenge and knows our weaknesses, to accompany you in the fight and give you the grace and strength to accomplish His divine mission for you.
Make your usual preparations for Mass keeping in mind these considerations.
Consider the purple vestments of the priest that give to the holy sacrifice during Lent an air of sadness, which harmonizes with the mysteries of this season. Yet the procession reminds us that in this austerity the Church advances towards her God with ardor. Imitate the Church's fervor in your heart.
During the Asperges, let us ask with David, whose words are used by the Church in this ceremony, that our souls may be purified by the hyssop of humility and become whiter than snow.]
The Priest Makes the Sign of the Cross.
Make the Sign of the Cross with the priest. God is attentive, the angels are in adoration, the whole Church is united with the priest, whose priesthood and action are those of the Great High Priest, Jesus Christ.
Prayer during the Judica me.
I unite myself, O my God, with thy Church, whose heart is filled with the hope of soon seeing, and in all the splendor of his Resurrection, Jesus Christ thy Son, who is the true altar. Like her, I beseech thee to defend me against the malice of the enemies of my salvation. It is in thee that I have put my hope; yet do I feel sad and troubled at being in the midst of the snares of which are set for me. Send me, then, him who is light and truth: it is he that will open to us the way to thy heavenly tabernacle. He is the Mediator, and the living altar; I will draw nigh to him, and be filled with joy. When he shall have come, I will sing in my gladness: be not sad, O my soul! Why wouldst thou be troubled? Hope in thy Jesus, who will soon show himself to thee as the conqueror of that death which he will have suffered in thy stead; and thou wilt rise again together with him. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. I am to go to the altar of God, and feel the presence of him who desires to give a new life! This my hope comes not from any merits of my own, but from the all powerful help of my Creator.
At the priest's Confiteor.
Listen, with respect, to this confession of God's minister, and earnestly ask our Lord to show mercy to him; for the priest is your father; he is answerable for your salvation, for which he every days risks his own.
At the Confiteor.
Stir up in your soul the same lively sentiment of compunction that the priest, our model, has just done for himself. There will be, inevitably, falls and blunders in the Lenten battle. Lament them in all sincerity, and lament the weakness of human nature that allowed them to happen. Contemplate Our Lord crucified in reparation for those sins. Recite the words of the confiteor in this spirit, but receive with gratitude the paternal wish of the priest, who says to you: "May almighty God be merciful to you, and, forgiving your sins, bring you to everlasting life."
The Priest ascends to the Altar.
The promise and great hope of our religion is that God shows us mercy, forgives us our sins caused by human folly and frailty, so that we might be able to approach the Holy of Holies. But we do not approach without trepidation, especially in this time of Lent. Pray with the priest: "Take from our hearts, O Lord, all those sins, which make us unworthy to appear in thy presence; we ask this of they by Thy divine Son, our Lord."
When the priest kisses the altar out of reverence for the relics of the martyrs contained therein, stir up desire to join the ranks of those former soldiers of Christ, so that you might win the same crown of victory over the wiles of the devil, the flesh and the world.
At the Introit.
Pray the Introit of the day's Mass. It is a solemn opening-anthem, in which the Church, at the very commencement of the holy sacrifice, gives expression to the sentiments which fill her heart.
At the Kyrie.
These nine exclamations of mercy unite the Church with the nine choir of angels, who are standing round the altar of heaven, one and the same as this before which you are kneeling. Contemplate the grandeur of this heavenly choir congregated invisibly around the altar in front of you. It is only by the gracious mercy of God that you have been permitted into their ranks and given the honor of joining your prayer for mercy, to the Father firstly, the Son secondly, and the Holy Ghost thirdly, with the this grand choir's prayer for mercy for you.
We are reminded of the austerity of the season by the omission of the Angelic Hymn sung by the same choir of angels over the crib at Bethlehem, and with singular purpose the priest turns toward the people, and again salutes them, as it were to make sure of their pious attention to the sublime act, for which all this bu the preparation.
You may unite in this prayer, by reciting to yourself and God the Collect from your missal, while contemplating special intentions of the Mass which is being celebrated contained therein. Answer this prayer with the ministers at the altar with: Amen.
The Epistle, Gradual, Tract and Gospel.
Contemplate the sublime truths contained in the lesson or epistle and the Gospel for the day, that you have studiously read and prayed in preparation for Mass. Call to mind the central teachings contained in the epistle that you read. Earnestly join your voice with the voice of the Psalmist.
Stand during the Gospel, as though you were awaiting the orders of your Lord. Meditate upon the Gospel that you have studiously read and prayed in preparation for Mass. Imagine yourself in that scene from the Gospel with Our Blessed Lord, His disciples and Mary, His Mother. Feel the dust of Palestine sting your face just as it did Our Blessed Lord's when stirred by the land's winds. Through the priest, the object of your meditation is right before you. Listen to every word Our Blessed Lord tells you through His minister, the priest. Let your heart be ready and obedient. "While my Beloved was speaking," says the bride in the Canticle, "my soul melted within me." If you have not such love as this, have at least the humble submission of Samuel, and say: "Speak, Lord! Thy servant heareth."
The Nicene Creed.
Pray the Credo with the priest. Faith is that gift of God, without which we cannot please Him. It is faith alone that teaches us what we are, whence we come, and the end for which we are made. Let us love this admirable faith, which, if we but make it fruitful by good works, will save us.
The priest and the people should, by this time, have their hearts ready: it is time to prepare the offering itself. See, then, dear Christian, bread and wine are about to be offered to God, as being the noblest of inanimate creatures, since they are made for the nourishment of man.; and even that is only a poor material image of what they are destined to become in this Christian sacrifice, initiated at that Last Supper, the night before Our Blessed Lord died.
Imagine that you are present at that Last Supper, and witness with the eyes of meditation Jesus Christ offering the bread and the chalice as the priest offers the same on the altar before you. When the priest puts the wine into the chalice, and then mingles with it a drop of water, let your thoughts turn to the divine mystery of the Incarnation, which is the source of our hope and our salvation.
The substance of the bread and wine will soon give place to God Himself, and of themselves nothing will remain but the appearances. Happy creatures, thus to yield up their own being, that God may take its place! You, too, are to undergo a like transformation, when, as the applsteld expressed it, "that which is mortal, will be swallowed up by life." Until that happy change shall be realized, offer yourself to God, as often as you see the bread and wine presented to Him in the holy sacrifice; and glorify Him, who, by assuming your human nature, has made you a "partaker of the divine nature."
Your meditation passes from the upper room of the Last Supper to the Garden of Gethsemane and the place of Our Lord's suffering in anxiety due to his forthcoming sufferings. Here His sweat becomes blood, He is abandoned by his closest friends, who can not in their weakness stay awake to keep watch with Him, and He is betrayed by one of His closest confidants. His disciples are scattered in defeat, leaving Our Blessed Lord to be cruelly treated by the Jews who have come to arrest Him. Is there a human weakness not exhibited in this garden by these mortals? Spiritual sloth and indiscipline, abandonment, treachery, violence, and cruelty. How much is there here to make reparation for, let alone your own personal failings and faults for which the season of Lent gives time to make recompense?
Here unite with the priest, who, on his part, unites himself with the blessed spirits, in giving thanks to God for the unspeakable gift of Christ's redemptive work. As Our Lord is led away in chains to be unjustly accused and tried, we bow down and say: "Holy, holy, holy Lord God of hosts! Heaven and earth are full of thy glory. Hosanna in the highest! Blessed be the Saviour who is coming to us in the name of the Lord who sends Him. Hosanna be to him in the highest!"
You can no longer hear the priest, all is still, all is silent in expectation and holy fear.
In this mysterious colloquy with the great God of heaven and earth, the first prayer of the sacrificing priest is for the Catholic Church, his and our mother. As you set before your mental eyes Our Blessed Lord dragged before His unjust accusers, slapped and maltreated, denied by St. Peter, mocked by Herod, and then brought before Pilate, pray: O God, who manifestest thyself unto us by means of the mysteries which thou hast entrusted to thy holy Church, our mother; we beseech thee, by the merits of this sacrifice, that thou wouldest remove all the hindrances which oppose her during per pilgrimage in this world. Give her peace and unity. Do thou thyself guide our holy Father the Pope, thy Vicar on earth. Direct thou our Bishop, who is our sacred link of unity; and watch over all the orthodox children of the Catholic, apostolic, Roman Church.
Now pray, together with the priest, for those whose interests should be dearest to you: Permit me, O God, to interceded with thee for special blessings upon those for whom thou knowest that I have a special obligation to pray: __________ . Apply to them the fruits of this divine sacrifice, which is offered unto thee in the name of all mankind. Visit them by thy grace, pardon them their sins, grant them the blessings of this present life and of that which is eternal.
In commemoration of the saints pray: But the offerings of this sacrifice, O my God, does not unite us with those only of our brethren who are still in this transient life of trial: it brings us closer to those also, who are already in possession of heaven. Therefore it is, that we wish to honour, by it, the memory of the glorious and ever Virgin Mary, of whom Jesus was born to us; of the apostles, confessors, virgin, and of all the saints; that they may assist us, by their powerful intercession, to be worthy of this thy visit, and of contemplating thee, as they themselves now do, in the mansion of they glory.
The Consecration and elevations.
The sanctuary bells ring again, announcing the immeniant miracle about to take place on the altar at the priest's hands. Our Blessed Lord has been condemned, laden by the heavy Cross, which is the weight of our sins, and now He is nailed to the Cross. Pray: What, O God of heaven and earth, my Jesus, the long expected Messias! what else can I do, at this solemn moment, but adore thee in silence, as my sovereign Master, and open to thee my whole heart, as to its dearest King? Come then, O Lord Jesus, come!
As the priest lifts the Sacred Host, adore the Lord: My Lord and my God!
In your imagination you see the sacred blood now flow from the wounds of Christ on the Cross. That blood flowed but once in history, but now mystically and spiritual flows at the Mass. Pray: O precious Blood, thou price of my salvation, I adore thee! Wash away my sins, and make me whiter than snow. O Lamb ever slain, yet ever living, thou comest to take away the sins of the world! Come, also, and reign in me by thy power, and by they love.
As the priest lifts the chalice of the Sacred Blood, adore the Lord: Have mercy on us! May the Blood of Christ wash away all my sins!
From the elevations to the Pater noster.
The eyes of your imagination are focused down upon that terrible scene of Our Blessed Lord crucified. Pray with the priest: Father of infinite holiness, the Host so long expected is here before thee. Behold this thine eternal Son, who suffered a bitter Passion, rose again with glory from the grave, and ascended triumphantly into heaven. He is thy Son; but he is also our Host, Host pure and spotless, our meat an drink of everlasting life. Heretofore, thou acceptedst the sacrifice of the innocent lambs offered unto thee by Abel; and the sacrifice which Abraham made thee of his son Isaac, who, though immolated, yet lived; and, lastly, the sacrifice which Mechisedech presented to thee, of bread and wine. Receive our sacrifice which surpasses all those others: it is the Lamb, of whom all others could be but figures; it is the undying Victim; it is the Body of thy Son, who is the Bread of life, and his Blood, which, whilst a drink of immortality for us, is a tribute adequate to thy glory.
The thought of the Divine Glory, now immolated, debased on the Cross, ought to bring you back to the consideration of human weakness and sin that necessitated this immolation. We are justly accused, and justly suffer under the pains and burdens of this world, but not enough. We need to accept our crosses in this world, and yet seek more discipline by our alms giving, fasts and prayers of this Lenten season, and in doing so, make the words of St. Dismas, the good thief, our own.
Pray at the foot of the Cross: Alas! we are poor sinners, O God of all sanctity, yet do we hope that thine infinite mercy will grant us to share thy kingdom; not indeed, by reason of our works, which deserve little else than punishment, but because of the merits of this sacrifice, which we we are offering unto thee. Remember, too, the merits of thy holy apostles, of thy holy martyrs, of thy holy virgins, and of all thy saints. Grant us, by thei intercessions, grace in this world, and glory eternal in the next: which we ask of thee, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son. It is by him thou bestowest upon us thy blessings of life and sanctification; and, by him also, with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, may honour and glory be to thee!
The Pater noster.
It is now time to recite the prayer, taught us by our Saviour Himself. Let it ascend to heaven together with the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. How could it be otherwise than heard, when He Himself who made it for us, is in our very hands now while we say it? As this prayer belongs in common to all God's children, the priest recites it aloud, while we pray silently these very same words before the God-Made-Man Crucified.
After the Pater noster, pray: How many, O Lord, are the evils which beset us! Evils past, which are the wounds left on the soul by her sins, and which strengthen her wicked propensities. Evils present, that is, the sins now, at this very time, upon our soul; the weakness of this poor soul; and the temptations which molest her. There are, also, future evils, that is, the chastisement which our sins deserve from the hand of thy justice. In presence of this Host of our salvation, we beseech thee, O Lord, to deliver us from all these evils, and to accept in our favour the intercession of Mary the Mother of Jesus, of the holy apostles, Peter and Paul and Andrew: liberate us, break our chains, give us peace: through Jesus Christ, the Son, who, with thee, liveth and reigneth God.
From the Pater noster to Holy Communion.
The mystery is drawing to a close. In your imagination you are at Calvary; Our Blessed Lord has expired, the earthquake has passed, the tumult that sent those who had jeered our Blessed Lord flying back to the holes from which they came in panic. The darkness of the midday sun begins to reside, and a calm comes back to the world that mournfully languishes, spent and exhausted, in the shadow of the Cross on which its Lord hangs crucified. But the Mass is here full of hope as it announces the better peace, not the one of exhaustion and sorrow, but the peace that will come in each individual soul at the reception of Communion, and that peace that Christ has won by this sacrifice and will be completed at the end of time when He returns victorious once and for all.
Peace is the grand object of our Saviour's coming into the world: He is the Prince of peace. the divine Sacrament of the Eucharist ought therefore to be the mystery of peace and the bond of Catholic unity; for, as the apostle says, "all we who partake of the one Bread, are all one bread and one body."
As you prepare for Communion, consider this peace of Christ, and beg the Lord to make you worthy to receive it. Ask for the Blessed Virgin Mary's intercession on your behalf, your patron saint, and finally your guardian angel.
As the priest takes Holy Communion adore the God who is coming to you, and pray: "Come, Lord Jesus, come!"
If you are not to receive sacramentally, pray: I unite myself to thee, my beloved Jesus! do thou unite thyself to me and never let us be separated.
Adore the Crucified but Living Christ, now reigning in your heart!
From the Ablutions to the Final Blessing.
While the priest is purifying the chalice the first time say: Thou hast visited me, O God, in these days of my pilgrimage: give me grace to treasure up the fruits of this visit, and to make it tell upon my eternity.
While the priest is purifying the chalice the second time, say: Be though for ever blessed, O my Saviour, for having admitted me to the sacred mystery of thy Body and Blood. May my heart and senses preserve, by thy grace, the purity which thou hast imparted to them; and may I be thus rendered less unworthy of thy divine visit.
Pray with the priest the day's Communion verse in thanksgiving for this wondrous gift of Divine grace that is beyond all our imaginations. In your heart sing this verse, which your guardian angel is also singing at that very moment on your behalf before God's throne in Heaven.
Pray with the priest the day's Postcommunion, making the sentiments contained therein your own as this prayer is the completion of the thanksgiving.
These prayers having been recited, the priest makes a last prayer before giving you his blessing. Pray with him: Eternal thanks be to thee, O adorable Trinity, for the mercy thou hast shown to me, in permitting me to assist at this divine sacrifice. Pardon me the negligence and coldness wherewith I have received so great a favour, and deign to confirm the blessing, which thy minister is about to give me in thy name.
The Last Gospel.
The Mass is concluded by reading the first fourteen verses of the Gospel according to St. John, which tell us of the eternity of the Word, and of the mercy which led Him to take upon Himself our flesh and to dwell among us. Pray that you may be of the number of those, who, nhow that He has come unto His own, receive Him, and are made the sons of God.
Photos taken at St. Patrick Catholic Church, Kinkora, Ontario, thanks to Mr. Carl Vanderwouden.