METHODS OF HEARING MASS CHAPTER II
GENERAL DISPOSITIONS WITH WHICH WE OUGHT TO HEAR MASS.
I. As we have already stated, in the preceding instruction, it was the opinion of St. John Chrysostom *[ Hgrnil. 3, Incomp, Dt Nat*] and this opinion was approved and confirmed by St. Gregory the Great, in his fourth dialogue, that while Holy Mass is being celebrated, innumerable bands of Angels descend from their heavenly mansions to assist at the Divine Sacrifice. St. Nile, Abbot, and disciple of St. John Chrysostom, assures us that while the holy Doctor was celebrating, he saw a great multitude of those heavenly spirits surrounding the altar, and assisting the sacred ministers in their holy functions. This being so, behold, now, the most necessary disposition for assisting with fruit at Holy Mass. Go to the church as if you were going to Calvary, arid keep yourself in the presence of the altar, as you would before the throne of God in company with His holy angels. See, then, what ought to be your modesty, your respect, and your attention, if you wish to derive the fruit and the blessings which God is wont to pour out on those who assist at the sacred mysteries with sentiments of piety and reverence.
II. We read in the Old Law, that while the Jews were offering their sacrifices, in which were immolated only bulls, lambs and other animals, it was a sight worthy of admiration to behold with what earnestness, respect, and silence, all the people assisted thereat. And, although the number of persons was innumerable, besides seven hundred ministers of the sacrifices, yet it seemed as if the temple were empty ; not the least noise, not even a whisper was heard from that vast multitude. Now, if such respect and veneration were shown to these sacrifices, which were only shadows and mere figures of ours, what respect, what devotion, what religious silence does not Holy Mass require, in which the Immaculate Lamb Himself, the Incarnate Word, is offered for us in sacrifice. This truth was perfectly understood by the glorious St. Ambrose, who, as Cesarius relates, was accustomed whilst celebrating the Divine Mysteries, to turn to the people after the gospel, and exhort them to a rigorous silence ; by which he understood not only that they put a bridle to their tongue, but that they took care not to make the least noise by coughing, moving, or any other sort of sound. His orders were strictly obeyed, and all those who assisted at his Mass felt themselves seized with a holy fear, and were so interiorly moved by divine grace that they derived great fruit and an increase of every spiritual blessing.
SEVERAL METHODS OF HEARING HOLY MASS.
First AND Second Methods.
III. The aim of this little book is to enlighten every one who may read it, on the merits and excellence of the Most Holy Sacrifice, and to excite them to practice the method of hearing Mass that I am going to prescribe. As, however, the different methods of hearing Mass, which are found in books of piety, are most devout and salutary,—this we see in the number of prayer books published for the use of the faithful,—I do not by any means wish to interfere with the choice of any one; on the contrary, I wish everyone to select that which most agrees with his natural inclinations and devotion. I shall merely act the part of an angel-guardian, by suggesting what is most profitable; namely, the method which, in my humble opinion, shall be the most useful to the greatest number, and the easiest for all to put in practice. With this end in view, I shall divide the subject into three classes, or three general methods. pg 59.
IV. The first method of hearing Mass is used by those who, with their prayer book in hand, follow all the actions of the Priest, and recite at each of them some vocal prayer from their book, and thus they pass the whole time of Mass reading. This, assuredly, is a most excellent method of assisting at Holy Mass, and if united with a serious consideration on the sacred mysteries, it is a source of great spiritual profit for the soul. But, as it involves a constant strain on the mind,—for it requires them to attend to each of the ceremonies performed by the Priest, and then to turn their eyes on the book, in order to read the prayer corresponding to the mystery,—it becomes very wearisome in practice, and few persevere in this method, or continue long to use it This happens through the weakness of our mind, which is easily fatigued when obliged to reflect on each of the many actions performed by the Priest during Holy Mass* Let those, however, who find it good for them, and who derive spiritual profit from it, continue to practice it ; as God will not allow such a painful application of the mind and senses to be deprived of its befitting reward. pg.60
V. The second method of hearing Holy Mass is that employed by those who use no book, but who fix their mind, enlightened by faith, on Jesus crucified, and leaning against the Cross, gather from it fruits of sweet contemplation. They pass the whole time of Mass in interior recollection, devoutly meditating on our Lord’s Passion, which is not only represented, but mystically renewed in this Most Holy Sacrifice. It is certain that those who thus concentrate their mental faculties in God, are enabled to exercise heroic acts of faith, hope, charity, and other virtues. This mode of hearing Mass is assuredly more profitable than the first, as well as more sweet and attractive. A good lay-brother who experienced this used to say, that in hearing Mass he read only three letters. The first was black; that is, the consideration of his sins^ which excited in him sorrow and repentance, and this he meditated on from the beginning of Mass to the Offertory. The second letter was red ; that is, the meditation on the Passion of our Lord, contemplating the most precious Blood which Jesus shed for us on Calvary, when He endured a death so cruel, and in this he occupied his mind till the Communion. The third letter was white, that is. Spiritual Communion, because during the Priest’s Communion, he united himself with Jesus Christ in the Sacrament, making a spiritual Communion. He then remained absorbed in God, until the end of Mass, contemplating the glory for which he hoped as the fruit of this Divine Sacrifice.
This humble, simple soul, thus heard Mass with the greatest perfection ; and would that all might learn from him such sublime wisdom. pg.61.
Daily Indulgence: An indulgence #211, RACCOLTA pg 145, Plenary indulgence once a month on the usual conditions for the daily recitation of this prayer. (S.P. Ap., Nov 22,1934) Roman Missal.
“O God, who for our sake didst will thy Son to undergo the torments of the Cross, that Thou might drive far from us the power of the enemy; grant unto us Thy servants that we may attain to the grace of His Resurrection. through the same Christ our Lord Amen. “
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,