August 21, 2019

Hidden Treasures of Holy Mass: 4

I I I. ADVANTAGES DERIVED FROM HOLY MASS.

1.—Holy Mass pays all the Debts we owe Almighty God.

VIII. A sense of virtue and honor has a great influence upon the heart of man ; but what tends to his own advantage has a still greater power to stimulate his efforts, and to enable him to overcome every obstacle in his way. If, then, you do not, as yet, value the excellence and the intrinsic worth of Holy Mass, you cannot fail, at least, to appreciate the immense treasures it bestows on the living and the dead, on the just and sinners, in this world and in the world to come. Imagine, now, you are the debtor of the Gospel, who overwhelmed by the heavy debt of ten thousand talents, and commanded to pay, excuse yourself and piteously plead for time to satisfy your obligations : ” Have patience with me, and I will pay thee ALL (St. Mt18: 29.). This you should also do, who owe not only one but many thousand debts to Divine Justice. You ought to humble yourself, and beg as much time as is needed for hearing Holy Mass, and be assured you will thus fully satisfy all your obligations, and pay all your debts. The Angelic Doctor [Thomas] teaches us what these debts are which we owe to God ;

they are specially four, and each of them is infinite : —

The first is to praise and honor the infinite majesty of God, which is infinitely worthy of all the praise and honor the creature can give Him. The second is to satisfy for the many sins committed against His Infinite Majesty. The third is to thank Him for the many favors received from Him. Fourth is to supplicate Him as the giver of all good gifts.

Now, how can we, miserable creatures, who depend on God for the very air we breathe, be able to repay Him for debts so numerous and so weighty ? Let me at once, therefore, show you the easiest way of doing so ; and let me add that this way of satisfying Divine Justice is one that must console me, you, and the whole world :

Let us take care to attend with all possible devotion as many Masses as we can ; and let us strive to have them celebrated frequently for our intention ; and no matter how numerous or heavy these -debts may be, there is not the least doubt but that we shall be able to discharge them all, fully and adequately, by the treasures we can draw from the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. But in order that you may have a fuller knowledge of each of these debts, we shall explain them one by one ; and, you will then find a subject of great consolation in considering the inexhaustible wealth you possess for their payment in such a rich mine, from which you can draw on all occasions when you assist at holy Mass.

2.—First Debt : To Praise and Glorify God.

Extreme Humility, Byzantine Icon

IX. The first debt which we owe to God is the duty of rendering Him supreme honor. It is a precept of the natural law that every inferior ought to show homage to his superior, and the greater his dignity the greater also ought to be the homage due to him. Hence, it follows that, as God is infinitely great, we ought to return Him ao homage worthy of His infinite greatness, But, where can we, miserable creatures, find any offering worthy of His infinite greatness? Seek as you may among all the creatures of the universe, you will not find one worthy of God. For, an offering worthy of God must be God Himself. And He, Who is seated on the throne of His own infinite greatness, it is. Who must descend and place Himself as a victim on our altars, in order that our homage may perfectly correspond with the immensity of His Infinite Majesty. This is what takes place in Holy Mass. Almighty God is here honoured as He deserves, because He is honored by God Himself. Jesus Chiist, the Man-God, places Himself as our Victim on the altar, and adores the Most Holy Trinity with an act of incomprehensible submission, such as no one else can offer. For, all the offerings of all creatures compared to this self-humiliation of our Divine Redeemer are as the feeble glimmering of the stars before the splendors of the midday sun. It is related of a holy woman who, inflamed with the love of God and tho desire of His glory, cried out : ” O my God would that I had as many hearts and as many tongues as there are leaves on the trees, atoms in the air, and drops of water in the ocean, to praise and glorify Thee as much as Thou deserve. Oh, that I had all creatures in my hands to place them at Thy feet, so that all might be consumed with Thy love, and that I may love Thee more than all of them together ; more than the Angels, the Saints, and all Paradise itself.” One day when she thus expressed herself with the greatest fervor, she heard our Lord answering her : ” Console yourself. My daughter ; by one Mass you hear with devotion, you will render Me all that glory you desire and infinitely more.”* You wonder, perhaps, at this, but you are wrong ; for Jesus is not only Man, but true and omnipotent God, and by humbling Himself on the altar, He offers to the Most Holy Trinity an infinite homage; so that we who unite with Him in offering this great sacrifice are thus enabled to present to God a homage and an honor which is also infinite.

O stupendous truth ! Let us repeat it over and over again, since it can never be too deeply engraved on our minds :

** Certainly, even we, by hearing Holy Mass with devotion, can render God an honor and a homage that is infinite.” Be now confounded with amazement and wonder, while reflecting on this great truth, that a soul assisting devoutly at Holy Mass can give God more honor than that which all the Angels and Saints together can render Him with all their adorations. For, after all, they, like ourselves, are mere creatures, and their homage is therefore limited and finite, whereas in the Mass, Jesus humbles Himself, a humiliation which is infinite in value and merit, and consequently the homage and honor which we render through Him in the Mass is a homage and an honor which is infinite. And since this grand truth cannot be doubted, ought we not to congratulate ourselves to be able to satisfy this first debt by assisting worthily at the most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? O blind world I when will you open your eyes to understand a truth so grand and so important, and which so concerns your welfare. And yet, alas, you have the folly to say, ” A Mass more or less, what does it matter?” O dreadful blindness! pg23.

3.—Second Debt : To Satisfy the Divine Justice FOR OUR SINS.

X. Our second debt or obligation; by which we are bound towards God, is to satisfy His Justice for our numberless and enormous sins. O what a weighty debt is this! One single mortal sin outweighs in the scale of divine Justice all the good works of all the Martyrs, and of all the Saints who have ever existed, who live now, or who shall live to the end of time. And yet, by means of the most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, on account of its intrinsic value and holiness, we are enabled to make a complete and adequate satisfaction for all the sins we have ever committed.

But, in order that you may clearly understand how much you are indebted to Jesus Christ, consider seriously what I now say to you. Although He is the very person Who has been offended and outraged by our sins, yet, not content with having satisfied the Divine Justice for us on Calvary, He continuously gives us the same means of satisfying for them in the most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. For there is renewed in the Mass that offering which Jesus Christ had already made on the Cross to the Eternal Father for the sins of the whole world ; that same Divine Blood which He poured out for the ransom of the entire human race, is there again shed for our souls; and the Mass is thus specially applied to each and every one of us, as it is offered for the sins of him who celebrates and for those who assist at so tremendous a sacrifice. But I must not be understood to say, that the Mass by any means cancels our sins immediately by itself, as the Sacrament of Penance does, for it only cancels them mediately by obtaining for us various aids, such as interior impulses, holy inspirations, and actual grace ; all of which conduce to a true repentance for our sins, either during Mass, or at some other fitting time. For this reason, no one can know but God Himself, how many souls rise out of the slough of sin through the extraordinary aid they receive from the most Holy Sacrifice, Here I must add, that although it may happen that a person in mortal sin may not be aided by way o{ propitiation^ it however aids him by way oi sripplication ; hence all sinners ought to hear as many Masses as possible, in order that they may obtain the grace of conversion. To souls, however, who live in grace, it gives a wonderful strength, which enables them to remain in their happy state, and it cancels all venial sins for which there is a general contrition, according to these words of
ST Augustine:
” Whoever hears Holy Mass devoutly shall receive great strength to preserve himself from mortal sin, and he shall be pardoned all his venial sins.”*
*Supra Can. Quia passes, D& Consecr, Dist

HOLY MASS This is MY Body, “My Lord and My God” (Jn20:28)

Nor should this surprise us, if we bear in mind what St. Gregory[Dialogues,c.57.] relates of a poor woman, who had Mass celebrated every Monday for her husband, who had been taken captive by the Barbarians, and whom, she believed, to be dead. These Masses caused the chains to fall from his feet, and the handcuffs from his wrists ; so that during the whole time the Divine Sacrifice was being offered for him he found himself perfectly free, as he afterwards assured his wife when restored to liberty. If this be so, how much more ought we to believe that the Holy Sacrifice shall break our spiritual chains, such as venial sins, which hold our souls captive and prevent us from acting freely and generously as we would do, if delivered from this spiritual slavery, O thrice Holy Mass, which thus procures us the liberty of the children of God, and satisfies for all the punishment due to our sins!

XI. But, you will now, perhaps, say to me : ” It is then sufficient to hear one single Mass, or have one Mass celebrated to get rid of all those weighty debts due to God, on account of the many sins we have committed ; because the Mass, being of infinite value, we can thereby render to God an infinite satisfaction.” Do not, I beseech you, make such a hasty conclusion. The Mass, it is true, is of infinite value in itself, but Almighty God accepts it only in a finite and limited manner, and in accordance with the greater or less perfection in the dispositions of him who celebrates, for whom it is offered, or of him who assists at the Sacrifice. ” Whose faith and devotion are known to Thee,” says Holy Church, in the Canon of the Mass. The Church thus teaches us by these words of the Canon what great Divines hold,* [Lugo, Dist. 9. n. 103] “That the greater or less satisfaction applied in our behalf by the Sacrifice is measured by the greater or less dispositions of the celebrant or the assistants,” as already mentioned. Consider, then, the folly of those who wish and seek for Masses celebrated in a hurried manner, and, what is worse, assist at them with little or no devotion. Reflect also with shame on the culpable indifference to those who never have Masses celebrated for their spiritual and temporal welfare. It is certain, according to St Thomas, that all sacrifices of the Mass as Sacrifices, are equal in dignity ; but they are not equal as regards the effects that flow from them; hence, the greater the actual or habitual piety of the Celebrant, the greater also will be the fruit of the application of the Mass; so that to make no distinction in this matter is to be indifferent whether the net you fish with be small or large. The same can be said of those who assist at Mass.

Although I most earnestly exhort you to hear as many Masses as you can, I yet feel bound to say, that you must have more regard for the devotion in hearing them than for the number heard. If you have more devotion in one single Mass than another man in fifty, you will give more honor to God in that single Mass, and you will derive more benefit from it, in the way called? opere operantis than the other will from his fifty. ” In satisfaction,” says St. Thomas, “the disposition of the person offering is more regarded than the quantity of the oblation.”* [ 3- P- g- 79; art. 5.] It is indeed true, that, as a grave author asserts in certain cases, one single Mass heard with extraordinary fervor and devotion may satisfy the justice of God for all the transgressions of a great sinner. And this is quite in harmony with what the Council of Trent teaches, namely : ” That in the offering of this Holy Sacrifice, God grants the gift of repentance, and then by means of this true repentance He pardons sins the most grievous and enormous.“*! [tSess. xxii. cap. 2.] Yet, not withstanding all this, since neither the interior dispositions with which you assist at Mass are manifest to yourself, nor the satisfaction which corresponds thereto, you ought to strive to hear as many Masses as you can, and with all the devotion possible, that you may with greater certainty gain these extraordinary fruits of the Most Holy Sacrifice. Blessed shall you be if you cherish a great confidence in the loving mercy of God, which shines forth so wonderfully in this most Holy Mystery. Thrice happy, above all, shall you be if you assist as often as possible with a lively faith and devout recollection at Holy Mass ; for, I am certain if you do this, with perseverance, you will have a secure hope of escaping Purgatory and going straight to the bosom of God for ever in heaven.

Holy Father (in red) FRANCIS in adoration

Go then to Mass, I Go regularly to Mass ! Never again let such scandalous words escape you as, “A Mass more or less is of little consequence.” pg 30.

4. Third Debt : Thanksgiving for the Benefits received from God

XII. Our third debt is one of gratitude for the countless benefits which our most loving God has bestowed on us. Place together all the gifts and all the graces you have received from God ; so many gifts of nature and grace,—body, soul, senses, faculties, health, and life itself ; add to all these the very life of His Son Jesus Christ, and the death that He suffered for love of us, and does not all this increase a thousand fold the debt you owe to God ? But how shall we ever be able sufficiently to thank Him ?

If the law of gratitude is observed by the wild beasts, whose fierce nature is often changed into gentleness towards their benefactors, how much more ought it not to be observed by man gifted as he is with reason,

and so nobly endowed by the Divine liberality ? But unhappily our poverty is so great that we have no means of making adequate return for the least of these countless favors; as the very least of them coming from the hand of a Majesty so great, and accompanied as it is by an infinite love, acquires an infinite value which obliges us to an infinite correspondence in the way of reverence and love. O poor and wretched creatures that we are ! If we cannot repay one single benefit, how can we ever be able to repay so many and so countless ? We are thus placed in the cruel necessity of living and dying, ungrateful to our Sovereign Benefactor.

But, thank God, this shall not be, for the manner of showing our gratitude to that generous Benefactor, and of fully requiting Him for all His favors is taught us by the Royal Prophet, who, led by divine inspiration, clearly indicates that nothing, save Holy Mass, can render due thanks to God. ” What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits to me ?” says this holy King, and then answering himself, he continues, ” I will take the cup of salvation,” or, according to another version, ” I will raise on high the chalice of the Lord,” that is, I will offer a sacrifice most acceptable to Him, and with this alone I shall satisfy the debt of so many and such signal favors.

Remember also that the Most Holy Sacrifice was instituted by our Redeemer principally for this end, that is, to acknowledge the Divine bounty and as a thank offering to His Goodness. Hence it is called the Eucharistic Sacrifice, and the Eucharist or Thank-offering, He Himself gave us the example, when at the Last Supper before consecration, in that first Mass, He raised His eyes to heaven, and gave thanks to His heavenly Father. O divine thanksgiving I which discovers to us the sublime end for which this tremendous Sacrifice was instituted, and which invites us to conform ourselves to our Head ; so that at every Mass at which we assist we may know how to make good use of so great a treasure, by offering it in gratitude to our Supreme Benefactor. And, that we may perform this act with greater zeal and devotion,

let us always remember that all Paradise, the Blessed Virgin and the Angels and Saints rejoice when we offer this, our tribute of thanks, to our great King.

Queen of Heaven with her Son, the King, – Red Russian Icon

XIII. We read in the life of the Venerable Sister Francesca Farnese, that her whole life was troubled with a thousand anxieties how she could return love for love to God. She often lamented to see herself covered over from head to foot with divine blessings, without knowing how to return adequate thanks to her Lord for the least of these benefits bestowed on hen On one of these occasions, the Blessed Virgin appeared to Francesca, and placed the heavenly Babe, her Divine Son, in Francesca’s arms. ” Take Him,” she said, ” for He is yours, and with Him alone you will easily discharge all your obligations to His Father.” O thrice Blessed Mass, which places the Son of God not only in our arms but also in our hearts ! A Son is given to us ( Is.6: 6), that we may be able to do with Him, Him alone, what would be otherwise impossible to our human weakness, as most assuredly with Him we can fully and adequately discharge the debt of gratitude we owe to Almighty God. Yea, in the Holy Mass, in a certain way, we give to God something more than what He has bestowed on us, not in reality of course, but in appearance ; since once only the Eternal Father has given us His Divine Son in the Incarnation, while we give Him back to Him times without number, in the Most Holy Sacrifice. Thus it seems we have the advantage, not indeed in the quality of the gift, since nothing greater than the Son of God could have been given to us, but in giving back to Him so often and so continuously the self-same Gift. O great God ! O most loving God ! Would that we had tongues infinite in number and power to return Thee infinite thanks for so great a treasure ! If hitherto it has lain a treasure hidden from you, now that you have discovered its surpassing value, can you fail to exclaim over and over again, ” O treasure of treasures! O treasure beyond all price !” pg34.

5.—Fourth Debt : To Ask New Graces.

XIV. But the infinite benefit of Holy Mass does not end here ; for it enables us also to pay the fourth debt due to God. I have already said that this debt obliges us to supplicate Him and to ask new graces of Him. You know full well that your necessities of soul and body are great and manifold ; and you feel every moment of your existence how necessary it is to have recourse to Him, as He alone is the chief source, the Beginning and the End of all your good, whether temporal or eternal. On the other hand, what heart can you have to ask for His favors, seeing the utter ingratitude which you have showed Him for the many graces already bestowed on you ? Have you not even turned the very graces He gave you into offenses Holy Mass does not end here ; for it enables us also to pay the fourth debt due to God. I have already said that this debt obliges us to supplicate Him and to ask new graces of Him. You know full well that your necessities of soul and body are great and manifold ; and you feel every moment of your existence how necessary it is to have recourse to Him, as He alone is the chief source, the Beginning and the End of all your good, whether temporal or eternal. On the other hand, what heart can you have to ask for His favors, seeing the utter ingratitude which you have shown Him for the many graces already bestowed on you ? Have you not even turned the very graces He gave you into offenses against Him ? But still, let not your heart lose courage ; for, if you have not deserved these graces, our good Jesus has deserved’ them for you. In fact, for this end He has become a pacifying Victim—a supplicatory sacrifice to obtain from the Eternal Father all things you may require.

In the Holy Mass our dear and beloved Jesus, Who is our great High Priest, recommends our cause to His Father, prays for us, and becomes Himself our Advocate. If we knew that the Blessed Virgin was united with us in prayer to the Eternal Father, to obtain the graces we desired, what confidence we should have of being heard ? What hope, then, what confidence should we not have, when we know that in the Mass, Jesus Himself prays for us, offers His most precious Blood to the Eternal Father for us, and makes Himself our advocate. O thrice blessed Mass, thou art the mine of all our good!

But we must dig deeper into this mine in order to discover more of the vast treasures it contains. O what priceless gems of grace and virtue lie there! O what precious gifts the Holy Mass draws down from heaven ! In the first place, it brings down all spiritual graces, all the goods of the soul, such as true sorrow and repentance for sin, victory over temptations, no matter of what kind, whether from external trials, bad companions, and the infernal spirits, or those arising from the internal rebellion of our fallen nature. Yes, the Holy Mass obtains for us all those aids of grace which we need to rise from the mire of sin, to stand erect, and to walk forward in the ways of God.

Blessed Sacrament Litany of REPARATION

It likewise merits innumerable holy inspirations and interior impulses, which dispose us to shake off tepidity, and excite us to work out our salvation with greater fervor, with a more prompt will, and with a purer and more meritorious intention. These again contain an inestimable treasure, as they are the most efficacious means to obtain from God the grace of final perseverance—on which depends our eternal salvation—and a moral certainty of eternal bliss, as much as that certainty is vouchsafed to man during his mortal pilgrimage.

Furthermore, it procures for us temporal blessings, inasmuch as they are conducive to the salvation of the soul ; such as health of body, a decent competency, peace of mind and heart, and the exclusion of the contrary evils, such as pestilences, earthquakes, wars, famines, persecutions, hatreds, calumnies, and injuries of every sort In a word, the Holy Mass delivers us from all evil and enriches us with every good. Truly then the Mass is the golden key of Paradise ; and as the Eternal Father has given us this key of heaven, which of all His boundless treasures can He refuse us ? ” He that spared not even His own Sony but delivered Him tip for us ally how hath He not also with Him given us all things?” (Rom.8:32).

We can now easily understand why a holy priest used to say : ” No matter how great the graces I ask of God for myself or others, as often as I celebrate Mass, they are nothing compared to the offering I make Him.” He, indeed, reasoned justly when he added : ‘* All the favors that I ask of God, v/hen celebrating Holy Mass, are created and finite things, whereas the gifts I offer to Him are uncreated and infinite, and so to balance the account I become the creditor and He the debtor.” This good priest by no means wished to deny that the power of offering the gift as well as the gift itself came first from God ; but putting it thus, he asked great graces in the Holy Sacrifice, and received still greater.

And you, why do you not realize all this? Why is it you do not ask great graces at this favorable time ?

I earnestly advise and exhort you to ask God in every Mass, the grace to become a saint.

Do you think I advise you to ask too much ? Well, I tell you it is not too much. Has not our good and loving Master promised us in the Gospel that for a cup of cold water, given in His name, He will bestow the kingdom of heaven ? How then can He refuse us a hundred heavens, were there so many, in return for the Blood of His beloved Son, offered to Him on the altar ?

How can you, therefore, doubt that He will give you every virtue, and all the perfection required to make you a saint, and a great saint in heaven ? O blessed Mass ! Let your heart’s desires be then multiplied a thousand-fold, and ask as much as you will; remembering always that you are asking of God, pg.38.

Who cannot grow poor by giving, and, therefore, the more you ask, the more will He give you.

Daily Indulgence: #15. An indulgence (Apostolic Brief, jan26, 1924; S.P. Ap., Feb 12, 1934) RACCOLTA pg.7.

“O God, Thou art All Powerful, make me a saint.” (St. Alphonsus M. de’Liguori)

THE HIDDEN TREASURE

OR, THE VALUE AND EXCELLENCE OF THE HOLY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS;WITH PRACTICAL AND DEVOUT METHODS OF HEARING IT WITH PROFIT;

by ST. LEONARD OF PORT MAURICE,Of the Order of St, Francis,

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