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The Sacraments Instituted By Christ… The Blessings Of The Mass

May 13, 2018 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM

Part 28

“What’s in it for me?” We sometimes hear this from lukewarm Catholics who have unfortunately lost the sense of the sacred and the purposes of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. They expect to go to Mass to be entertained, to listen to music and funny comments from the priest, and hear some drops of religious ideas they may benefit from. They feel they have done their duty if they clap their hands in the end.
They forget that we go to Mass to worship God, not ourselves. We do not celebrate our faith in church; we renew the Holy Sacrifices of the last Supper and Calvary, in a mystical and mysterious way. We participate in the greatest event on this side of eternity. How much poorly formed Catholics today miss the great blessings of the Mass!
The gifts or benefits we receive from God through the Mass are commonly called its fruits. They consist in the appeasement of God’s anger caused by our sins (propitiation), the extinction of the debt of temporal punishment (satisfaction), and the reception of blessings, which include an increase of sanctifying grace and other favors (impetration).
What is the best way to profit from the fruits of the Mass? Remember what Christ said at the Garden, “Not my will but thine be done.” So, the more our will corresponds to the will of Christ in the Garden, the greater will be the fruit which we will derive from the Mass.
See? The Mass is not a party, a nice celebration, animated by music and funny comments. It is a very serious ceremony, a celebration of the death and Resurrection of our divine Redeemer. All Christians are called to take up the cross of Christ and follow Him. Unfortunately, not all do. Those who do are the good Christians.
And what is the essence of the cross He spoke of? The obedience to His Law, and the avoidance of mortal sin. We know it is not easy to follow the Ten Commandments. To do so, we need God’s grace to strengthen us, which is obtained by prayer and the sacraments, especially Confession and Holy Communion.
But we should build a stronger fortress in our souls, by working to push out the frontier of that self-renunciation to conquer new ground. How? By avoiding all deliberate venial sins. In that struggle toward a higher sanctity, the Mass will be our chief aid; we will draw from it the great and strong graces given to those who as victims seek a closer resemblance to the Victim of the Cross.
In the life of Our Blessed Lord, there was one moment beyond all others. He called it His “hour,” when He gave His life for us on the cross. In the Mass, we are with Him at that supreme moment. We stand with His Mother at the foot of the cross, and we ask God through Him to apply to our souls all the blessings of the redemption.
Let us fix our thoughts on the Mass at which we will be present next Sunday. Our Savior had that Mass and us before His mind on the cross. He saw our utter dependence on the divine Omnipotence for our being and life, for our every act and thought — and He offered His life for us in an act of supreme adoration of His Heavenly Father.
He saw our indebtedness to the divine mercy for all the graces bestowed on us, including the very privilege of our being present at that renewal of His Redemptive Sacrifice — and He thanked God for you. He saw our weakness and our needs — and He besought His Father’s help and blessings for us — the precise help and blessings we ought to desire in the hour of that Sunday’s Mass.
He saw the marks of imperfections or, perhaps, the stain of guilt on our soul, together with our unpaid debt of temporal punishment for our sins, and He made full atonement and expiation for us, so that we might be cleansed and relieved by His sufferings.
At next Sunday’s Mass, all the help He gained for us through His own sublime acts will be available for us.
Our acts may well be pitifully feeble — weakened by distractions, perhaps, and wanting in fervor — but He, the divine Victim, will take them in His own sacred hands. He will winnow their deficiencies from them, and to their little worth, He will add all the glowing love of His Sacred Heart, all that perfect submissiveness to the divine will that was His on the cross, and thus drawing them up to a resemblance to the acts He made in our name, He will present them to the eternal Father.
No wonder that Pope Urban VIII should say that, if the angels could envy man anything, it would be his power to offer the Holy Sacrifice. No wonder that the faithful in all the ages of persecution, from the days of the catacombs to recent times, were willing to pay with their lives for the privilege of assisting at Mass.
The early fathers are at one with Catholic teaching on the Sacrifice of the Mass. To cite but two, from the second century:
St. Irenaeus, writing 180-199, says Christ “took from among creation what is bread, and gave thanks, saying, ‘This is my Body.’ So too the cup, which is from the creation to which we belong, He confessed to be His Blood. He taught the new Sacrifice of the new Covenant, which Malachi, one of the twelve prophets, had indicated beforehand.”
St. Justin Martyr c. 155 quotes God’s prophecy to Malachi (1:10-12) and says, “He is speaking at that time of the sacrifices offered to Him in every place by us, the Gentiles, that is, of the Bread of the Eucharist and likewise of the Cup of the Eucharist.”

The Sense Of The Sacred

From the foregoing, we realize how wrong they are, those trendy liturgists who modify the Mass according to their whims, trying to turn it into a party, a celebration of their “faith”; sometimes even with lively music, clapping of hands, and “liturgical dance”!
Who would give Jesus a round of applause for dying for us on the cross? Who would expect to see girls dancing in front of the tables of the Last Supper, just to entertain the men present while they ate? Worse still, who would expect to find “liturgical dance” around the cross of Christ, while He is in dreadful pain and agony?
What have many “liturgical committees” done to the greatest event on this side of eternity? They have made it a Protestant service many times, a parish party in other times, and a truly non-liturgical celebration at all times!
Friends, we must rediscover the sense of the sacred, as Pope Benedict explained in Sacramentum Caritatis. Please visit the Vatican website and download that apostolic exhortation. Read it carefully, and at next Sunday Mass, let us make an effort to have the proper dispositions to contemplate the renewal of the Sacrifice of the Cross and the Last Supper.
Next article: Replies to objections against the Mass.

+ + +

(Raymond de Souza, KM, is a Knight of the Sovereign and Military Order of Malta; a delegate for International Missions for Human Life International [HLI]; and an EWTN program host. Website: www.RaymonddeSouza.com.)

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