Filed under: Catholic Liturgy | Tags: grace, lets get to heaven, liturgical reform, liturgy, merits of the mass, priesthood, spiritual growth, traditional values, traditionalism, tridentine mass, Vatican II
By Robyn L. Schamel
Below is an interesting piece that represents traditional Catholic teaching on the ability of the mass to earn merit for the worshiper. It gives some insight as to why traditionalists are so intense about liturgy, and it also serves as a practical guide for improving one’s liturgical prayer for the glory of God and for earning more merit for self and loved ones. Thanks to Robyn Schamel for her permission to make the work available online.
Many Catholics nowadays complain that they don’t like going to Mass because they don’t get anything out of it. Either it’s boring, or annoying, or the priest has nothing new to say, or takes too long saying it, or the choir stinks, or the music sung puts them to sleep, or the incense, if any, makes them sick and the list goes on and on. Perhaps the real underlying problem for such people is that they don’t know what it is they should get out of the Mass, and not knowing that, they don’t know how to get it.
To get to the bottom of this problem it may be helpful first to examine what the Mass is and what is the true purpose of religion. Religion is, to put it simply, justice towards God. Man, as a creature utterly dependent on the Almighty Creator, is bound under pain of eternal damnation to worship God. The Holy Mass is the only true form of worship known to man. It alone is a sacrifice patterned after the sacrifices of the Old[i] and New[ii] Testaments. The Mass is that means by which Christ has instructed us to pay homage to the Holy Trinity, not so that we find inner peace or make ourselves feel good, or enjoy an hour of liturgical entertainment every week, but so that we can render unto God what it is our bounden duty to render unto Him-that is, Worship. The Holy Mass alone is perfectly, infinitely pleasing to God, since it alone is a renewal and representation of the perfect, infinite sacrifice of Calvary, by a perfect and infinite minister, through the instrument of the priest. The priest is not the center of the Mass, and neither are the people, or the sermon or the choir. The Mass is not a self-help seminar, a concert, or a fellowship meeting. It is a sacrifice, and therefore it is worship. In the Holy Mass Christ Himself, outside of time and space, continually offers Himself as a pure oblation to the Most Holy Trinity, and we who are present at the Mass unite our offering to that of Jesus Christ to pay homage to the Most Blessed Trinity and to atone for offenses committed against God, to thank God for the innumerable benefits we have received from Him and to implore Him to supply all things that are needful to us.[iii]
The merits of the Mass can be divided into two kinds, intrinsic merit and extrinsic merit. Intrinsic merit is dependent on that which is necessary for the Mass to be the Mass, that is, the substantial presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ’s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity made present on the altar through transubstantiation by a valid consecration by a validly ordained priest. Since God is infinite, no sacrifice man can offer Him is acceptable. In the Mass, the infinite Christ, through the instrument of the priest, offers Himself as an infinite oblation and propitiatory sacrifice to the infinite Holy Trinity. Since He who offers the sacrifice is infinite and since He who is sacrificed is infinite the intrinsic merit of the Mass is infinite, and therefore the only true act of worship befitting an infinite God. Every Mass, Roman Catholic, Eastern Catholic or Orthodox has infinite intrinsic merit.
Extrinsic merit, or what we get out of it, is dependent on six principles of the Mass which are dependent on man, and through which man merits fruits and graces from the Mass. Since man in finite, the fruits he merits from the Mass are finite. The extrinsic merit of a Mass is finite and may increase or decrease according to the degree to which God is glorified through the six extrinsic principles of the Mass.[iv] Simply put, the greater glory given to the Holy Trinity through the extrinsic parts of the Mass, the more meritorious is that particular Mass. That which is most pleasing to God is most meritorious to man.[v] That Mass which possesses to the greatest degree the six extrinsic factors of the Mass is most pleasing to God and most meritorious to man. For our purposes we will consider each principle independent of the others.
The first principle by which God is pleased with the Mass and by which man merits extrinsic fruits from the Mass is the Church Herself. Since the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is an act of the Church, offered always as a public prayer, then the merit of the Mass is founded upon the holiness of the Church.[vi] The Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, especially the reigning Pope, the bishops, and the clergy throughout the world, can increase and decrease in holiness as her members increase and decrease in holiness.[vii] That Mass which is offered in communion with the Church is more meritorious than that Mass offered outside the church. So the mass of the Greek Orthodox is less pleasing to God regarding the first principle than the Masses of the Eastern Catholics or Roman Catholics, even though the Greek Orthodox Mass may possess to a greater degree one or all of the other five factors of extrinsic merit. In fact, since the right to administer the sacraments, offer the Mass, or employ any other element of sanctification, has been given to the Catholic Church alone, it is always displeasing to God whenever they occur outside the Church, for the rights of the Church given to Her by Christ, and therefore justice, are violated. This includes not only the Mass, but baptisms, marriages, confirmations, holy orders, communion, and all the sacraments that our schismatic brethren administer.[viii]
The second principle by which man merits extrinsic fruits from the Mass is through the office of the priest, be he Pope, Bishop, or parish Priest.[ix] The Mass offered by the Pope, having the fullness of the priesthood, has a greater potential to merit fruits than the Mass offered by a simple parish priest by virtue of the fact that the Pope exercises a higher office than the priest.[x] Likewise, the Mass offered by a Bishop has a greater potential for merit than the Mass of a simple priest, and less potential for merit than the Mass of the Pope.
The third principle by which man merits extrinsic fruits from the Mass is through the person of the priest. The more holy the priest, the more he is able to merit for himself and for those for whom he offers Mass. The less holy he is the less he is able to merit. This is confirmed in the writings of St. Bonaventure: “All Masses are equally good, as far as Christ is concerned; but as far as the priest is concerned, one may be better than another. Therefore it is more profitable to hear the Mass of a good priest than of an indifferent one.” Also Cardinal Bona corroborates: “The more holy and pleasing to God a priest is, the more acceptable are his prayers and oblations; and the greater his devotion, the greater the benefit derived from the Mass. For just as other good works performed by a pious man gain merit in proportion to the zeal and devotion with which they are performed, so Holy Mass is more or less profitable both to the priest who says it and to the persons for whom it is said, according as it is celebrated with more or less fervor.”[xi]
The fourth principle by which man merits extrinsic fruits from the Mass is through the faithful present at the particular Mass. The more holy are those who assist at Mass by their prayers, the greater the merits of that particular Mass. Furthermore, the more reverently they offer the Mass the greater the merits of that Mass.[xii] The opposite is also true. The less holy are those assisting at Mass, the lesser the merits of that particular Mass. The value of the extrinsic merits of the Mass is so affected by those who offer the sacrifice and those who assist by their prayers that should even one of them receive the sacred species in a state of mortal sin, they detract from the over-all extrinsic merits of the Mass, because they dishonor the Most Holy Trinity with their sacrilege and detract from the Glory and Adoration that is Its due. Since only those in a state of grace can merit,[xiii] those who assist at Mass who are in a state of mortal sin are “dead weight,” so to speak, although the grace of conversion can be merited for them, if they are so disposed, by those at the Mass who are in a state of grace.[xiv]
The fifth principle by which man merits extrinsic fruits from the Mass is through the decora, or the aesthetics of the Mass. This may at first seem to be a subjective factor and therefore have no place in an assessment of the transcendent sacrifice of the Catholic Mass, but a closer look at what a true aesthetic sense is, especially in relation to God, will show this factor to be very objective after all.
An aesthetic sense is the ability to grasp what is truly beautiful. A thing can have more or less beauty if the attributes of beauty are possessed more or less. God is pleased with those things that are truly beautiful; therefore He is pleased more or less according to the degree a thing is beautiful. True beauty consists of three attributes: clarity, symmetry or proportion, and perfection or completion.[xv] And beauty is relevant to the thing as it is. God, being omniscient, knows the thing as it is, and therefore is more pleased by true beauty than by a lack of it. With regard to the Mass these three attributes are best manifested in the fittingness of a particular thing in relation to the sublime sacrifice in which it is used, and the degree of sacrifice that was involved to procure the thing. Take for example the sacred vessels. They are called sacred for they contain within them the most sacred Body and Blood of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is more fitting that these vessels should be made of the most precious materials man can offer as they contain the most precious victim God has given man to offer back to Him. The same is true of the tabernacle, in which central location on the alter we find that clarity which teaches that God is He Who we have come to worship, and that Christ is that sacrifice that will be offered up to Him as well as the minister of that sacrifice.
Let us examine the last two extrinsic parts of the Mass, the decora and the Mass itself, in relation to these three attributes. That rite of Mass possesses superior clarity, which manifests Catholic dogma more clearly both in its prayers and its liturgical gestures. The same can be said for the decora. Sacred vessels made of precious metals are more fitting to the sacred species, which is the most precious sacrifice man can offer to God.
When examining the decora this should be the defining question: “What is most fitting of worship of the almighty God in the Most Blessed Trinity, Who is most pleased by those things that are truly beautiful?” Under the category of decora falls the vestments, the music, the architecture, the statues and sacred images, the altar and tabernacle, the incense, the bells, the candles, the vessels, the arrangement and outfitting of the sanctuary, the altar linens, the patens, the acolytes, the attire of the faithful, and the list goes on. Not only are these things measured for their beauty, but for the selflessness, or sacrifice, with which they were given. We are all familiar with the parable of the widow’s mite. Those items which required the greater sacrifice to obtain, or to donate, are more meritorious than those items, though more rare, exquisite, ornate, or expensive, which did not require as great a sacrifice. (Consider for just a moment the tremendous sacrifice made on the part of all the faithful, saints and martyrs throughout more than a thousand years in the celebration, development and preservation of the Traditional Roman Rite of the Mass.)
The second attribute of beauty is symmetry or proportion. That Mass possesses superior symmetry in which what occurs exteriorly is proportional to what is occurring interiorly. When we are interiorly worshipping the almighty and infinite God we should be humbling ourselves. When this is reflected in our posture, for example, by kneeling humbly, our exterior is in exact proportion to our interior, and we thereby give greater glory to God with this symmetry, which makes the Mass more beautiful. Since God is the object of our worship, then that Mass is more beautiful for its symmetry when God, reserved in the tabernacle, is the focus of our attention, i.e. at the center of the altar, the priest and people facing Him rather than each other. Since the Mass is truly a sacrifice the particular Mass that is most pleasing to God is one in which our exterior actions reflect our interior disposition. Father Martin von Cochem sums it up thus, “Hence we see clearly that we can do as much to please Our Lord, and acquire as much merit for ourselves when we hear Mass as we should have done had we been present on Calvary, if we are no less devout and recollected than we should have been standing beneath the Cross.”[xvi]
The last attribute of beauty, perfection or completion, is found in rendering unto God all that is due to Him in the way in which it is due to Him. That Mass is perfect, or complete, in which is present the miraculous, the supernatural and the sacred which is proper to the sacred liturgy, that prayer which is addressed to God, the font of all that is holy and sacred. The perfection of the Mass can be found primarily in the particular prayers and rituals of the rite. Among the many rites of the Mass there are the Eastern Rite, the Orthodox Rite, the Ancient, Traditional or so-called Tridentine Rite, and the Novus Ordo, or New Order. Of these four only the Orthodox Rite is not celebrated in full communion with Rome and therefore lacks the extrinsic merits derived through the Church, Herself. Nevertheless, that rite of Mass which possesses all three of the attributes of beauty to a greater degree than any other is more pleasing to God as regards decora and therefore more meritorious to man on that count.
There are no less than 77 graces and fruits that may be derived from the Mass to man’s benefit.[xvii] That Mass in which the extrinsic parts give greater glory to God, is more meritorious to those who offer it and to those for whom it is offered, than that Mass which possesses to a lesser degree the six principles of extrinsic merit. The intrinsic value of the Mass is always infinite, because the Mass is an infinite God offering an infinite sacrifice, to an infinite Trinity. However, the extrinsic value of the Mass, derived from those parts which we as finite human beings bring to the Mass, is determined by the sanctity with which we offer them, and the glory given to God through them. These parts which we must strive to increase, in holiness, sacredness, reverence, humility, so that we may increase the fruits and graces we may derive from the Mass for ourselves and for the whole world.
In the Holy Mass the fruits of Christ’s Passion and Death are more bounteously applied to our souls than by any other means. The merits of Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary are infinite, won at once, for all who are worthy to partake of them.[xviii] Baptism gives each of us the means by which we may partake of Christ’s merits. It is as if in baptism we are given a tiny silver baby spoon to dip from the infinite fountain of God’s mercy. Each time we worthily receive the sacraments, in particular Confession and Holy Communion, each time we do supernaturally good works, or make sacrifices, or mortify our senses, or pray earnestly we exchange our spoon for a larger one and each one is filled with God’s grace. When we commit venial sins we compromise the integrity of our spoons, ladles, dippers, buckets, the containers with which we partake of the fountain of Christ’s merits. After so many sins our containers may be shattered by mortal sin. Confession obtains for us a new container, of the same capacity as the one broken by our wickedness. Nothing on earth can increase the capacity for grace of our containers so tremendously as that of Holy Mass. And the capacity of our containers is increased in the Mass through all six of the factors we have discussed. So when speaking of the merits of the mass, we are referring to the increase in the capacity of our containers, which are filled to the full from the infinite fountain of the merits of Christ’s Passion. When we speak of the infinitude of the Mass we are also referring to the glory and adoration we give to God thereby. Since our sins are infinitely offensive to God, the only means whereby we can make adequate reparation To Him is through the infinite sacrifice of the Mass. Justice between man and God is not possible as we understand justice between men. Justice must exist between equals. But God is infinite and man is so unequal to Him as to be utterly incapable of offering Him anything fitting of him own accord. Therefore, in justice man is bound to offer to God all that God has given man the power to offer Him. When, through the sacrifice of Christ in the Mass, man offers to God all God has given him to offer back to Him, that is the blood, the tears, the wounds, the death, and the merits of Christ, and all the virtue, love, reverence, piety, humility, obedience, faith, hope, devotion, passion, etc. that each man has within himself, God returns to man no less than double what man offers.[xix] This is the economy of grace through which God draws us closer to Him. Our Lord, who will not be outdone in generosity, said to St. Mechtilde, “Behold, I give thee My charity, My prayers, My bitter sufferings; I make them thine that thou mayst give them back to Me. To each one who does this, I return his gift twofold measure; and as often as it is presented to Me, I will restore it thus increased. This is the hundredfold which was promised to men in this world and eternal life hereafter.”[xx]
Oh, if only man invested his spiritual resources as shrewdly as he does his material ones. What riches he would store up for himself in Heaven! Devote yourself to the Holy Mass, and never let an opportunity to offer it to God pass you by without good reason, for it is most assuredly the best and the most beautiful, the most pleasant, and the least painful way to atone for your sins and those of the whole world and obtain to that eternal reward which is the union with God, Himself.
[ii] Hebrews 5 1-6, For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is bound to offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. And one does not take the honor upon himself, but he is called by God, just as Aaron was.
[iii] The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism, Q. 361, “What are the purposes for which the Mass is offered? The purposes for which the mass is offered are: first, to adore God as our Creator and Lord; second, to thank God for His many favors; third, to ask God to bestow His blessings on all men; fourth, to satisfy the justice of God for the sins committed against Him. These purposes are realized in every Mass regardless of the dispositions of the priest or people. In addition, there flow from each Mass special fruits, or blessings, upon the celebrant, servers, those present, those for whom it is offered, and all mankind, especially all members of the Church and the souls in purgatory. These blessings may be increased or decreased by the good or bad dispositions of each person concerned.”
[iv] The New St. Joseph Baltimore Catechism, Q. 361, “…In addition, there flow from each Mass special fruits, or blessings, upon the celebrant, servers, those present, those for whom it is offered, and all mankind, especially all members of the Church and the souls in purgatory. These blessings may be increased or decreased by the good or bad dispositions of each person concerned.”
[v] James 5:16, Therefore confess your sins to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous man has great power in its effects.
[vi] Gihr, The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Book One, Chapter the Third, Article the Second, p. 143, “At the altar the united Church offers and prays through the priest, her representative and delegate; there she presents to God the Sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, of propitiation and petition. Under this aspect, the value and efficacy of the Sacrifice of the Mass is measured by the dignity, merit and sanctity of the Church. From this it follows that the value of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, inasmuch as the Church offers it, is always finite and limited, for at no time has she been nor can she be infinitely holy. It is self-evident that on the part of the Church the effects which follow the celebration of Mass are always limited as to degree and greatness. It must here be noted, however, that the Church, inasmuch as she offers the Holy Sacrifice and prays through the priest, cannot merit and satisfy, since for this is required a positive action of suffering of a person pleasing to God. But in the celebration of Mass, there is, on the part of the Church, no such positive activity, to which could be attached the power of meriting or satisfying. Accordingly, the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice by the Church has only impetratory power, that is, she can draw down graces and blessings from Heaven only by way of petition.”
[vii] Gihr, The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Book one, Chapter the Third Article the Second, p. 144, “But since the holiness of the church consists in the sanctity of her members, it is not always and invariably the same, but greater at one period than at another; therefore, the Sacrifice of the Church is also at one time in a greater, at another in a less degree pleasing to God and beneficial to man.”
[viii] Catholic Encyclopedia, vol. 10, p. 18
[ix] Summa Theologica III, Q. 82, a. 6, “It is stated in Decretal I, q. 1: ‘The worthier the priest, the sooner is he heard in the needs for which he prays.’ I answer that, There are two things to be considered in the mass, namely, the sacrament itself, which is the chief thing; and the prayers which are offered up in the Mass for the quick and the dead. So far as the mass itself is concerned, the Mass of a wicked priest is not of less value than that of a good priest, because the same sacrifice is offered by both. Again, the prayer put up in the Mass can be considered in two respects: first of all, in so far as it has its efficacy from the devotion of the priest interceding, and in this respect there is no doubt but that the Mass of the better priest is the more fruitful. In another respect, inasmuch as the prayer is said by the priest in the Mass in the place of the entire church, of which the priest is the minister; and this ministry remains even in sinful men, as was said above (5) in regard to Christ’s ministry. Hence, in this respect the prayer even of the sinful priest is fruitful, not only that which he utters in the mass, but likewise all those he recites in the ecclesiastical offices, wherein he takes the place of the Church. On the other hand, his private prayers are not fruitful, according to Prov. 28:9 ‘He that turnest away his ears from hearing the law, his prayer shall be an abomination.'”
[x] Second Vatican Council, Christum Dominus, para. 15,”Bishops enjoy the fullness of the sacrament of orders and both presbyters and deacons are dependent upon them in the exercise of their authority.”
[xi] Von Cochem, The Incredible Catholic Mass, p. 345
[xiii] Ott, Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, p. 415, “As the Sacrifice of the Mass does not work mechanically any more than the Sacraments, the receiving of the fruits of the Sacrifice demands certain due moral dispositions, and the measure of the fruits is dependent on the quality of these dispositions (cf. D 799).”
[xiv] Von Cochem, The Incredible Catholic Mass, p. 316, “But in order to hear mass, one need not be in a state of grace, for as we have already shown, if aman hears Mass in a state of mortal sin, he does not commit another sin; on the contrary, he receives the grace of conversion if he open his heart to divine influences. In fact, he is not wrong in hoping that, in virtue of the Precious Victim that is offered, God will, of His pure bounty, show him mercy.”
[xv] Summa Theologica I, Q. 36, a. 8, “For beauty includes three conditions, ‘integrity’ or ‘perfection,’ since those things which are impaired are by the very fact ugly; due ‘proportion’ or ‘harmony’; and lastly, ‘brightness’ or ‘clarity,’ whence things are called beautiful which have a bright color. The first of these has a likeness to the property of the Son, inasmuch as He as Son has in Himself truly and perfectly the nature of the Father. To insinuate this, Augustine says in his explanation (De Trin. Vi, 10): ‘Where-that is, in the Son-there is supreme and primal life.’ etc. The second agrees with the Son’s property, inasmuch as He is the express Image of the Father. Hence we see that an image is said to be beautiful, if it perfectly represents even an ugly thing. This is indicated by Augustine when he says (De Trin. Vi, 10), ‘Where there exists wondrous proportion and primal equality,’ etc. The third agrees with the property of the Son, as the Word, which is the light and splendor of the intellect, as Damascene says (De Fide Orth. Iii, 3). Augustine alludes to the same when he says (De Trin. Vi, 10): ‘As the perfect Word, not wanting in anything, and, so to speak, the art of the omnipotent God,’ etc.”
[xvi] Von Cochem, The Incredible Catholic Mass, p. 145
“1. For thy salvation God the Father sends his beloved Son down from heaven.
2. For thy salvation the Holy Spirit changes bread and wine into the true Body and Blood of Christ.
3. For thy sake the Son of God comes down from heaven and conceals Himself under the form of the sacred host.
4. He even abases Himself to such an extent as to be present in the minutest particle of the Sacred Host.
5. For thy salvation He renews the saving mystery of the Incarnation.
6. For thy salvation He is born anew into the world in a mystic manner whenever Holy Mass is celebrated.
7. For thy salvation he performs on the altar the same act of worship He performed when on earth.
8. For thy salvation He renews His bitter passion in order that thou mayest participate in it.
9. For thy salvation He mystically renews His death, and sacrifices for Thee His precious life.
10. For thy salvation He sheds His blood in a mystic manner, and offers it up for thee to the Divine Majesty.
11. With this Precious Blood He sprinkles thy soul and purifies it from every stain.
12. For thee Christ offers Himself as a true burnt-offering, and renders to the Godhead the supreme honor which it is due.
13. By offering this act of worship to God, thou dost make reparation for the glory which thou hast failed to give Him.
14. For thee Christ offers Himself to God as a sacrifice of praise, thus atoning for thy omissions in praising His Holy Name.
15. By offering to God this oblation which Christ offers, thou givest Him greater praise than do the Holy Angels.
16. For thee Christ offers Himself as a perfect sacrifice of thanksgiving, making compensation for all failures on thy part to render thanks.
17. By offering to God Christ’s act of thanksgiving, thou dost make ample acknowledgment of all the benefits He had bestowed on thee.
18. For thee Christ offers Himself as the all powerful victim, reconciling thee to the God Whom thou hast offended.
19. He pardons thee for all thy venial sins, provided thou art firmly resolved to forsake them.
20. He also makes repartition for many of thy sins of omission, when thou didst leave undone the good thou mightest have done.
21. He removes many of the imperfections attaching to thy good deeds.
22. He forgives thee the sins, unknown or forgotten, which thou hast never mentioned in confession.
23. He offers Himself as a victim to make satisfaction for a part at least of thy debts and transgressions.
24. Each time thou hearest Mass thou canst do more to pay the penalty due to thy sins than by the severest work of penance.
25. Christ places to thy credit a portion of His merits, which thou mayest offer to God the Father in expiation of thy offences.
26. For thee Christ offers Himself as the most efficacious peace-offering, interceding for thee as earnestly as He interceded for His enemies on the cross.
27. His Precious Blood pleads for thee in words as countless as the drops which issued from His sacred veins.
28. Each of the adorable wounds His sacred body bore is a voice calling aloud for mercy for thee.
29. For the sake of this propitiatory victim, the petitions proffered during Mass will be granted far sooner than those that are proffered at other times.
30. Never canst thou pray so well as whilst present at Mass.
31. This is so because Christ unites His prayers to thine, and offers them to His heavenly Father.
32. He acquaints Him with thy needs and dangers to which thou art exposed, and makes thy eternal salvation His particular concern.
33. The angels also, who are present, plead for thee, and present thy poor prayers before the throne of God.
34. On thy behalf the priest says Mass, by virtue of which the evil enemy will not be suffered to approach thee.
35. For thee and for thy everlasting salvation he says Mass, and offers that holy sacrifice to God Almighty.
36. When thou hearest Mass, thou art thyself in spirit a priest, enpowered by Christ to offer the Mass both for thyself and others.
37. By offering this Holy Sacrifice, thou dost present to the Blessed Trinity the most acceptable of all oblations.
38. Thou dost offer an oblation precious indeed, of greater value than all things in heaven and earth.
39. Thou dost offer an oblation precious indeed, for it is none other than God himself.
40. By this sacrifice thou does honor God as He alone is worthy to be honored.
41. By this sacrifice thou dost give infinite satisfaction to the Most Holy Trinity.
42. Thou mayest present this glorious oblation as thine own gift, for Christ Himself gave it unto thee.
43. When thou hearest Mass aright, thou dost perform an act of highest worship.
44. By hearing Mass thou dost pay the most profound reverence, the most loyal homage, to the Sacred Humanity of Our Lord.
45. It is best means whereby to venerate the Passion of Christ, and obtain a share in its fruits.
46. It is also the best means of venerating the blessed Mother of God, and increasing her joy.
47. By hearing Mass, thou canst also enrich thy soul more than aught else in the world.
48. By hearing Mass devoutly, thou canst give greater honor to the angels and the saints than by reciting many prayers.
49. For this in act thou dost perform a good work of the highest value.
50. It is a signal exercise of pure faith, which will receive a great reward.
51. When thou dost bow down before the Sacred Host and the Sacred Chalice, thou doest perform a supreme act of adoration.
52. For each time thou doest gaze reverently upon the Sacred Host thou wilt receive a recompense in heaven.
53. Each time thou dost smite thy breast with compunction, some of thy sins are remitted to thee.
54. If thou hearest Mass in a state of mortal sin, God offers thee grace of conversion.
55. If thou hearest Mass in a state of grace, God gives augmentation of grace.
56. In Holy Mass thou doest spiritually eat the flesh of Christ, and drink His blood.
57. Thou art privileged to behold with thine eyes Christ hidden under the sacramental veil, and to be beheld by Him.
58. Thou dost receive the priest’s benediction, which is confirmed by Christ in heaven.
59. Through thy diligence in hearing Mass, thou wilt also obtain corporal and temporal blessings.
60. Furthermore, thou wilt be preserved from many misfortunes that would otherwise have vanquished thee.
61. Thou wilt also be strengthened against temptations which would have otherwise have vanquished thee.
62. Holy Mass will also be to thee a means of obtaining grace of a holy death.
63. The love thou hast shown for Holy Mass wilt secure for thee the special succor of angels and saints in thy last moments.
64. The remembrance of the Masses heard in thy lifetime will be a sweet solace to thee in the hour of death, and inspire thee with confidence in the divine mercy.
65. They will not be forgotten when thou dost stand before the strict Judge and will incline Him to show thee favor.
66. Thou needest not a fear a long and terrible Purgatory if thou hast already to a great extent atoned for thy sins by frequently assisting at Holy Mass.
67. One Mass devoutly heard will do more to mitigate the pains of Purgatory than any act of penance, however difficult of performance.
68. One Mass in thy lifetime will be of greater service to thee than many said for thee after death.
69. Thou wilt attain a high place in heaven, which will be thine to all eternity.
70. Thy felicity in heaven will, moreover be increased by every Mass thou hearest on earth.
71. No prayers offered for thy friends will be as efficacious as a single Mass heard and offered on their behalf.
72. Thou canst amply recompense all thy benefactors by hearing Mass for their intention.
73. The best help, the greatest consolation, thou canst afford the afflicted, the sick, the dying is to hear Mass for them.
74. By this same means thou canst even obtain for sinners the grace of conversion.
75. Thou canst also earn for all faithful Christians saving and salutary graces.
76. For the suffering souls in Purgatory thou canst procure abundant refreshment.
77. And if it is not within thy power to have Mass said for thy departed friends, thou canst by devout assistance at the Holy Sacrifice release them from the tormenting flames.
What dost thow think of the Holy Mass, O Christian? Can it be supposed that in the whole world there is any other good work whereby so many graces and fruits are placed within our reach? It is no longer possible to question the truth of the words of Father Sanchez: “If Christians only knew how to profit by Holy Mass, they might acquire greater riches than are to be found in all things God has created.” We have indeed a precious storehouse in the Mass: happy he who can earn treasures so great at the cost of so little labor! Who would willingly miss Mass?
Who would not delight in hearing it? Let us resolve never to lose an opportunity of hearing Mass, provided the duties of our state of life do not prevent us from doing so.
To omit hearing Mass merely from carelessness or indolence would be proof that we were either ignorant of, or indifferent to, the divine treasures it contains. God grant that those who read this may in future appreciate more fully this pearl of great price, value it more highly, seek it more diligently. Ponder this.”
[xviii] Von Cochem, The Incredible Catholic Mass, p. 317, “Most assuredly, all our hope is in Christ’s Passion and death, profided the fruits and merits of His sufferings are applied to our sould; if not, it is in vain that we trust in them. What does it profit the reprobate sinner that Christ suffered and died for him, if in spite of this he is damned? And why is he damned: Because the merits of Christ’s Passion have not been applied to him, and the reason why they have not been applied to him is that he was not worthy of it. How then can we make ourselves worthy? By true compunction, by a right reception of the Holy Sacraments, by good works, but above all, by piously saying or hearing Mass. For Holy Church bids us know that ‘the fruits indeed of that Bloddy Oblation, the sacrifice of the Cross, are received most plentifully through that unbloody one, the Sacrifice of the Mass.’ (Council of Trent, Sess. Xxii, Ch. 2).”
[xix] Von Cochem, The Incredible Catholic Mass, p. 316, (Lest the lukewarm despair I thought it important to include the following note), “And he who, not being in a state of mortal sin, hears Mass, though with no great fervor, not only commits no sin, but is warranted in trusting confidently that, through the sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ, he will obtain an increase of grace and remission of a part of the penalty due to his sins.”
[xx] Von Cochem, The Incredible Catholic Mass, p. 367.