Friday, June 25, 2010

The Infinite Value of Each Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

Today, I give you a letter that our pastor reprinted in our Sunday bulletin. The author says everything that needs to be said. Reprint and pass it on, especially to those you know are away from the church or who perhaps fulfill their minimal obligation begrudgingly.

by Virginia G. Manzo, MD
The Catholic Mass is the center of our interior life. We encounter a
wealth of infinite value every day at Holy Mass where, before the
astonished gaze of the angels themselves, heaven seems to come
down to earth. In this sacrifice, we are closely united with Christ.
The Mass is a memorial of our Lord. "Do this in remembrance of
Me," he said. In the Mass, Jesus continues through time that
offering of himself in Calvary, applying now to our souls the
merits he gained for us in Golgotha.
The Catholic Mass is the renewal of the sacrifice of Calvary in
which the sacrifice of the Cross is rendered sacramentally present.
This means that the priest performing each Catholic Mass represents,
that is to say, makes present once again, in a mysterious
manner, the same sacrifice of Christ offered in Calvary. It is a
renewal of the one redeeming sacrifice, Christ's offering to His
heavenly Father; the only difference being that, at Mass, this is
carried out in a bloodless manner.
In the Catholic Mass, we accompany Jesus to Calvary and witness
His death; in Holy Communion, he nourishes us with His Divine
Flesh. It is as if the twenty centuries separating us from Calvary
have disappeared. How is this possible? With man it is impossible,
but with God nothing is impossible. Time is a condition proper to
man as a wayfarer on earth. Neither God nor eternal life is subject
to this limitation. In the Holy Mass, time and space in some way
''merge '' and the drama of Calvary happens in a living way in
every celebration. It is not that Christ dies repeatedly in each Mass
because he died only once but his death on Calvary is re-presented
in every Mass so that we continue to benefit from the inexhaustible
fruits of his redemption. In partaking of this Holy Feast, God is not
only with us but in us.
The Holy Mass is the greatest treasure of our Christian life. It is
the center and source of the spiritual life of a Christian. But what
gives the Holy Mass an even greater value is that Jesus Christ
himself comes down to the altar at the moment of Consecration to
be with us, not only spiritually but physically, that is, body and
soul, in the fullness of his humanity and divinity. When we receive
him at Holy Communion, we are receiving his real body and blood
and we become living tabernacles of Christ.
What are the numerous saving effects of the Catholic Mass? The
Mass obtains sorrow and pardon for our sins; it lessens temporal
punishment due to sin; it weakens the influence of Satan and the
untamed impulses of our flesh; it strengthens the bonds of our
union with the Body of Christ; it protects us from danger and
disaster; it shortens punishment in purgatory and obtains for us a
higher degree of glory in Heaven. St. Lawrence Justinian adds:
"the sinner is reconciled with God; the just man becomes more
upright; sins wiped away; vices are eliminated and virtues and are
merits gain growth; the devil's schemes are frustrated."
And yet, with all its boundless benefits, how do we treat the Holy
Mass? Unfortunately, many Catholics treat the Holy Mass as a
purely external rite. Oftentimes it is regarded as a tedious duty
which has to be complied with every Sunday. St Josemaria Escriva
the founder of Opus Dei, once commented, ''You find the mass
long? It is because your love is short." The blessings granted to
those who assist at the Divine Sacrifice are beyond
comprehension. St. Leonard once exclaimed: “O, poor deceived
people, what are you doing? Why do you not crowd the churches
in order that you might attend as many masses as possible? Why
do you not take as models the angels who, whenever mass is being
celebrated, descend in legions from Paradise and kneel before the
altar in reverence that they may efficaciously intercede for us?”
What then should be our proper disposition toward the Holy Mass
in order not to waste the superabundant merits that we gain from
every celebration? How much we partake of these benefits depends
on the quality of our interior disposition. The proper disposition
can be summed up in one sentence: Consider that every Mass you
attend is your last one on this earth. Every one assisting at Mass
should therefore be devout, sincere, attentive, contrite, grateful,
and with a heartfelt love for the Lord. Remember that one single
Mass you assist during your lifetime is much more valuable than
many masses said or offered for you after your death.
Since every Catholic Mass is an invitation from the Lord himself
to partake in the Holy Banquet, we come punctually with great
anticipation, even ten to fifteen minutes early, to give us time to
recollect our thoughts. We must be properly attired in clothes that
are not necessarily expensive but clean and most of all, decent.
Tennis shorts are proper in a tennis court but immodest inside the
church. A tube top or a spaghetti-strapped blouse may not raise
eyebrows in a formal ball but are considered indecent and
disrespectful inside the house of God.
At the Consecration when the bread and wine are transformed into
the real flesh and blood of Jesus Christ through the miracle of
Transubstantiation, we remember that we are before the Real
Presence. In Holy Communion, we receive the Lord in the fullness
of his humanity and divinity. It is therefore sacrilegious to receive
him if we are not in the state of grace, meaning we have a mortal
sin. Mortal sins must first be absolved in the Sacrament of Penance
or Confession before we can receive the Lord. Venial sins are not
obstacles to receiving the Sacred Body of our Lord but a sincere
contrition must first be manifested before we can partake of the
Holy Banquet.
Remember that while the Sacred Host is still in the mouth and until
it has completely dissolved in the stomach (about 10 to 15 minutes
according to scientific studies), Our Lord is within us in his real
Body and Soul, as Living Man and God. During these few minutes
that he is with us, we take this precious opportunity talk to him as
we would talk to a friend, a brother or a father who loves us so
much and is willing to listen. That is why it is suggested that we do
not leave the church immediately after Mass but spend a few
minutes thanking and talking to our Lord. After the Sacred Host in
the form of bread has been dissolved inside us, his Body is no
longer physically with us but his grace remains.
Nothing else has any meaning if we neglect the Mass especially on
Sundays or holy days of obligation, or if it is left to be "fitted in'' at
some spare moment while the rest of the day is filled with things
which we reckon to be more important. If we frequently consider
the many beneficial effects of the Mass and the Holy Eucharist on
our soul, we will value receiving our Lord as often as we can, on a
daily basis, if possible.

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