God gave us six days to work for ourselves, and required only one for Himself, Sunday. Yet, we refuse to devote this one day to Him. Then, we are surprised that God removes His protection, and leaves us alone, struggling with our misfortunes. Why did God permit things like the 9-11 attacks to happen? Because we have abandoned Him. We profane His day; we no longer attend Sunday Mass.
If we knew about the wonders of the Mass, we would not only hear Mass on Sundays, but every day. Participating in the Mass is the best way to obtain graces, mercies, and favors from God – and never did we need these so much as today! Here are excerpts from the excellent booklet “The Wonders of the Mass”, written in 1963 by Fr. Paul O'Sullivan, O.P., repinted with the permission of Saint Martin de Porres Apostolate, 42 Parnell Square, Dublin 1, Ireland.
by Fr. Paul O'Sullivan, O.P.
The saints never speak so eloquently as when they speak of the Mass. They can never say enough on this sublime subject, for St. Bonaventure says that the wonders of the Mass are as many as there are stars in the heavens and grains of sand on the seashores of the world.
The graces, blessings, and favors granted to those who assist at this Divine Sacrifice are beyond all comprehension. The Mass is the greatest wonder in the world. There is nothing on earth equal to it, and there is nothing in Heaven greater than it.
The next greatest wonder is the indifference and ignorance of Catholics regarding Holy Mass. How is it that so many Catholics do not go to Mass?
The great Sacrifice of Calvary is offered near their homes, almost at their very doors, and they are too slothful to assist at it. The Sacrifice of Calvary? Yes, for the Mass is really and truly the very same as the Death of Jesus on the Cross.
Why do not mothers, why do not catechists, why do not teachers instill into the minds and hearts of those in their charge the wonders of the Mass? Priests are bound by the Council of Trent to do so.
Protestants may well ask those Catholics who neglect hearing daily Mass if they do really believe that God is born on the altar, and that God dies on the altar as He did on Calvary? If they do believe, why do they not assist at Mass?
St. Augustine tells us that pagans and Gentiles of his time asked tepid and indifferent Christians with bitter irony, if they sincerely believed that the God of all mercy and goodness descended on their altars. You Christians, they continued, accuse us of adoring false gods, but at least we believe they are gods, and we honor them; whereas, you despise Him whom you call the True God!
No intelligent, no enlightened Christian would fail to hear Mass if he only knew what it was.
King Louis IX of France, who labored perhaps more strenuously than any man in his kingdom, and who was one of the best and most glorious sovereigns who ever ruled over France, found time to hear two or three Masses every day. Some of his courtiers suggested that he was overtaxing himself with so many Masses. The King replied: “If I spent much more time in following the pleasures of the chase, or in entertaining my friends at rich banquets, or in frequenting for several hours each day theaters and places of amusement, you would not complain that I was devoting too much time to pleasure. You forget, my good friends, that by hearing Mass I not only secure for myself innumerable blessings, but I confer the most important benefits on my kingdom, many more than I could possibly do in any other way.”
This reply of St. Louis may be addressed to those thousands of apathetic and indifferent Christians who could easily hear daily Mass, and do not do so. Even were they to make a great sacrifice, they would receive blessings and favors above their highest hopes. But, as a matter of fact, many could hear Mass without any sacrifice, or at so trifling a cost that their guilt in neglecting this Divine Sacrifice is, indeed, incomprehensible. Nothing but lamentable ignorance can explain the reason why so many Catholics neglect to hear daily Mass.
By hearing Mass, the day would become worth a thousand days to them, so wonderful would be the graces and benefits they should receive. Far from losing time, their business would prosper more, and they would reach a degree of happiness that they could never otherwise hope to attain.
St. Augustine: “What a sublime dignity is that of the priest, in whose hands Christ once more becomes man!”
St. John Damascene: “If anyone wishes to know how the bread is changed into the Body of Jesus Christ, I will tell him. The Holy Ghost over-shadows the priest, and acts on him as He acted on the Blessed Virgin Mary.”
St. Bonaventure: “God, when He descends upon the altar, does no less than He did when He became man the first time in the womb of the Virgin Mary.”
St. Augustine: “In the Mass, the Blood of Christ flows anew for sinners.”
To make still more manifest what we have just stated, we shall quote the very words of the saints and holy doctors.
St. Lawrence Justinian: “There is no prayer or good work so great, so pleasing to God, so useful to us as the Mass.”
St. Alphonsus: “Even God Himself could do nothing holier, better, nor greater than the Mass.”
St. Thomas teaches that the Mass is nothing less than the Sacrifice of Calvary renewed on the altar, and that every Mass brings to men the same benefits as the Sacrifice of the Cross.
St. John Chrysostom: “The Mass has just the same value as Calvary.”
St. Bonaventure: “The Mass is a compendium of all God's love, of all His benefits to men, and each Mass bestows on the world a benefit not less than what was conferred on it by the Incarnation."
St. Thomas, the prince of theologians, write wonderfully of the Mass. “The Mass,” he says, “obtains for sinners in mortal sin the grace of repentance. For the just, it obtains the remission of venial sins and the pardon of the pain due to sin. It obtains an increase of habitual (sanctifying) grace, as well as all the graces necessary for their special needs.”
St. Paul the Hermit stood once at the church door as the people entered. He saw the soul of one man, a great sinner, in such a state of horrible corruption that it appalled him. Moreover, he saw a devil standing by his side who seemed to have complete control of him. On leaving the church, he saw the same man so completely changed that he called him aside and asked him confidentially if he was sorry for his sins. The poor man at once confessed that he had committed many and very grave sins, but during the Mass he had read in his prayer book, “If your sins are as red as scarlet, I will make them as white as snow.” “I began at once to ask God to pardon and forgive me, and I am very sorry for my sins, and I wish to go to Confession at once.”
St. Paul saw that by his act of sincere sorrow, the man was, by the infinite merits of the Mass, pardoned of all his sins.
Our Lord said to St. Mechtilde: “In Mass I come with such humility that there is no sinner, no matter how depraved he be, that I am not ready to receive, if only he desires it. I come with such sweetness and mercy that I will pardon my greatest enemies, if they ask for pardon. I come with such generosity that there is no one so poor that I will not fill him with the riches of my love. I come with such heavenly food as will strengthen the weakest, with such light as will illumine the blindest, with such a plenitude of graces as will remove all miseries, overcome all obstinacy, and dissipate all fears.”
What words of divine comfort — words of God Himself. If we heard nothing else about the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, are not these words alone sufficient to fill us with faith and confidence in the Divine Mysteries.
The crowning grace of our life is a holy and happy death. What avails it to have had a long and happy life, to have enjoyed all the comforts which riches can give, all the honors the world can bestow, if in the end we die a bad death? An unhappy death means a never-ending eternity of misery and woe.
We can only die once, and if we die badly, there is no possibility of remedying the mistake. A bad death plunges a man into the fires of hell forever and forever. It is consequently of the utmost importance that we do all in our power, that we use every means possible, to secure a happy death.
Holy writers recommend various excellent methods thereby we may make our salvation certain, and all these we should use to the best of our ability. All agree, however, that the best and easiest of these means is the frequent assistance at Holy Mass.
The obligation to hear Mass on Sundays and holy days is very grave, and to fail in the fulfillment of this duty on these days, without sufficient reason, is a mortal sin. Not only does the sinner thereby lose important graces, which he may never again receive, but God may also punish him severely, as has frequently happened.
The following fact happened near Rome. Three businessmen went to a fair at Cisterno, and after having transacted satisfactorily their business, two of them prepared to return home on Sunday morning. The third pointed out to them that they could not thus hear Mass. They laughed at his words, and replied that they could go to Mass some other day. So saying, they mounted their horses, and set out on their return journey.
Their companion heard Mass, and then proceeded to follow them. What was not his consternation on learning that both his friends had been killed on the road, victims of a dreadful accident!
The Mass is a stupendous mystery. Our minds, on the other hand, are weak and slow to understand. Therefore, we must read frequently and ponder seriously on the wonders of the Mass. One Mass heard with understanding and devotion obtains for us more graces than a hundred, than a thousand Masses heard carelessly and in ignorance of what the Mass is.
We at once notice that the crucifix is on every altar, that the priest's vestments are all marked with the Sign of the Cross, that the priest commences the Mass with the Sign of the Cross, that he makes this holy sign very many times during the Mass. Why? To make clear to us that the Mass is really and truly the Sacrifice of the Cross, that in the Mass Christ is crucified, sheds His Precious Blood, and dies for us. We must have no doubt that we are really assisting at the Sacrifice of the Cross.
We may use any prayers that we wish and that help us most, but it is generally admitted that it is best to use a prayer book, and follow, as closely as we can, the Mass with the priest.
The Confiteor. When the priest bends down at the beginning of the Mass and says the Confiteor, we, too, should unite ourselves with Jesus in His Agony, should humbly confess our faults, and ask pardon for them through the merits of Christ's agony.
We then follow the various prayers with the celebrant.
At the Sanctus, we should remember that the Angels come down to assist at Mass in multitudes, and that we are in the midst of them, and we should join our voices with theirs in adoring and praising God. They present our prayers to God.
At the Consecration, we should be filled with the deepest reverence and love, for Jesus is really born in the hands of the priest, as He was born in Bethlehem. When the priest lifts up the Sacred Host, we should look on our God in an ecstasy of joy, as the Angels look on Him in Heaven, and say, “My Lord and my God.”
At the Consecration of the Precious Blood, we must remember that all the Precious Blood that Jesus shed on Calvary is in the chalice, and we should offer it to God with the priest for God's glory and for our own intentions. It is well to place ourselves, our sins, all our intentions, our dear ones, the souls in Purgatory in all the chalices being ,at this moment, offered to God in every part of the world.
We must be full of holy awe and love from the Consecration to the Communion. We are in the midst of countless adoring Angels.
It is indeed a sign of woeful ignorance to manifest irreverence, to look around or speak during this most sacred time. It is much worse to leave the church, to abandon God dying on the altar for us. Nothing but the gravest necessity should induce one to go away until, at least, the Communion of the Priest.
Remember: the day you hear Mass is worth a thousand days to you, that all the labors and work of a day, or a week, or a whole year, are nothing in comparison with the value of one Mass.
Fr. Paul O'Sullvian