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Chapter Eleven

The Mass

"Oh, if the souls of purgatory could return to this world, what would they not give to be able to hear one Mass!

"If you yourself could but understand the full significance of the Holy Sacrifice, its value, its fruit, you would not wish to pass a single day without participating in it."

St. Peter Julian Eymard

This talk, when I gave it was strictly from the devotional aspect. Many of the quotes were taken from the Popes, Doctors of the Church and the saints. I touched upon three points of the mass; it's power, value and effect.

Pope Paul VI stated: "The Mass is the most perfect prayer." Prayer is simply the lifting up of our hearts and minds to God. When we attend mass, we do this most perfectly.

The Council of Oxford stated: "That the whole heavenly court is present during the mass and if we had faith, we could see these Angelic hosts gathered around the altar in prayer during the mass."

The author of the Imitation of Christ wrote: "When the priest celebrates, he honors God, he rejoices the angels, he edifies the church, he helps the living, he obtains repose for the dead."

St. Leonard tells of a holy soul who felt she could not begin to give to God the honor and glory He deserved. Our Lord told her: "Console thyself my daughter, by One Mass heard with devotion you will render to me all that glory you desire and infinitely more".

One day Padre Pio had been asked, "Father, please explain the Holy Mass to us."

"My children," replied Padre Pio, "how can I explain it to you? The Mass is infinite like Jesus ... ask an Angel what a Mass is and he will reply to you in truth, 'I understand what it is and why it is offered, but I do not, however, understand how much value it has. One angel, a thousand Angels, all of heaven know this and think like this."

St. Alphonsus of Liguori stated, "God Himself cannot bring about an action more holy and greater than the celebration of one Holy Mass."

It is for this reason that St. Francis of Assisi said, "Man should tremble, the world should vibrate, all heaven should be deeply moved when the Son of God appears on the altar in the hands of the priest."

Yet today we do not have this. Many people are not even aware of what takes place at Mass; God coming down from heaven at the words of a priest.

St. Teresa of Avila wrote, "Without the holy mass what would become of us? All of us here below would perish, because that alone can hold back God's arm."

This is something this sinful world desperately needs today. St. Philip Neri - "With prayer we ask for graces from God, in the holy mass we strain God to give them to us." St. Marie Goretti walked 15 miles one way to attend Mass. Padre Pio said mass many times bleeding and with a fever. St. Francis of Assisi shed tears of blood at mass, as also St. Vincent Ferrer, St. Ignatius, St. Philip Neri, St. Lawrence of Brindisi ( who soaked 7 handkerchiefs with his tears), St. Veronica Juliani, St. Joseph of Cupertino, St. Alphonsus, St. Gemma Galgani, and the list goes on and on of the saints who cried at Mass.

St. Louis IX of France attended several masses a day. A minister of the government complained of the time spent. The saint replied, "If I spent twice the time in amusement like hunting, NO one would have any objections." That is what is going on today, you can run around and do anything you want secular in the world, but try to attend one mass and you are crucified. You are told you are doing too much.

St. Augustine stated - "All the steps we take to hear mass are counted by the Holy Angels and that person will be given a high reward by God in this life and in eternity."

St. John Vianney, the Cure of Ars stated, "How happy is the Guardian Angel who accompanies a soul to Holy Mass." Is your angel happy today?

St. John Vianney also said, "When you think of going to mass on working days, it is an impulse of the grace that God willed to grant you. FOLLOW IT." He did not say ignore it! He also said: "A saint has told us that one day at Mass he saw Jesus Christ with His hands full of gifts, looking for souls to whom He might give them." But no one was there.

Padre Pio once said "The world could exist more easily without the sun than without the Mass". The sun is the source of our physical existence. Without it we would all die. Yet Padre Pio has implied the impossible would happen if there were no mass.

St Gregory narrates this story: "The masses which a poor woman caused to be celebrated every Monday for the soul of her husband, who had been enslaved by barbarians and was thought by her to be dead. These masses caused the chains to be loosened from his feet and the manacles from his arms, so that ever while these masses were being celebrated he remained free and unchained which he himself declared upon his return." How much more powerful is the mass to loosen the spiritual bonds of sin upon our soul if it can do that with a physical bondage?

St. Leonard again tells us that on hearing holy mass, we carry away some great good without even asking for it or thinking about it. We all go to mass asking for something. How many of us realize we leave with much more than we asked for?

St.Antoninus conveys this very important lesson. Two youths, both libertines, went into the forest one day. One of them having heard mass, the other not. Soon there arose a furious tempest. They heard amidst thunder and lightening a voice cry out- "SLAY!" and instantly there came a flash which reduced to ashes the one who had not heard mass. The other one terrified was seeking escape, when he heard anew the same voice, "SLAY!" The poor youth expected instant death, when he heard another voice, "I cannot, I cannot - today he heard 'Verbum caro factum est;' his mass will not let me strike." This story is rather direct and to the point, it demonstrates, rather dramatically the power of the mass! St Gregory says "It is most true that he who attends holy mass shall be freed from many evils and from many dangers seen and unseen." Your mass goes with you all day long protecting you from the assaults of the evil one.

St. Augustine sums it up. "He shall be freed from a sudden death, which is the most terrible stroke launched by Divine Justice against sinners." That is the best reason to attend mass every Sunday, if not everyday!

St. Thomas Aquinas stated "in the mass are contained all the fruits, all the graces, all the immense treasures which the Son of God poured out so abundantly upon the Church, His Spouse, in the bloody sacrifice of the cross. That is infinite merits, infinite graces and infinite treasurers."

St. Leonard of Port Maurice said, "I believe that if there were no mass the world would by now have sunk into the abyss under the weight of it's own wickedness." This was said a couple of centuries ago. The wickedness of his day has increased a thousandfold today.

"If we knew the value of the mass we would die of joy!," said St. John Vianney. How many of us know the value of the mass? How many of us even care? The following are some examples:

St. Hubert seemed an angel of paradise when celebrating mass. St. Lawrence Justinian became rigid, fixed; his eyes filled with tears, his spirit rapt in God. St. Francis de Sales stood before the altar with such majesty, awe, reverence and recollection; his whole being interior and exterior assumed an angelic state.

Our Lady told St Bridget, "Mass should not be celebrated except with all that pertains to it being very pure - so as to inspire respect and devotion by the very perfection of it's purity and order."

St. Mechtilde once saw the soul of a poor lay bother robed in marvellous splendor because he had exercised his zeal in serving as many masses as he could with perfect diligence and attention.

St. Isidore a poor farmer never missed mass everyday. God in order to show how pleased he was, caused his field to be plowed by the concealed service of the Holy Angels.

Two Doctors of the Church, the angelic St. Thomas and seraphic St. Bonaventure, teach, in conformity with the foregoing instruction, that the thrice-holy sacrifice of the mass is of infinite value, both reason of the Victim who is offered, namely, the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ Our Lord, and also by reason of the primary Offerer, who is no other than the same Jesus Himself.

St. Leonard wrote, "Yet it is so sad today that so many have so little value for the mass, they postpone going or do not go at all for some petty and insignificant temporal pleasure! The following is related in St. Leonard's book "The Mass: The Hidden Treasure".

Pope Pius II recounts how in a city in Germany there lived a person of distinction, the principal inhabitant of the place, who had fallen into great difficulties, and had withdrawn into a country house, with a view to economy. There, overwhelmed by melancholy, he was on the verge of despair. The enemy saw this, and the temptation which he constantly instilled was the longing to slip a cord about his neck, and so have done with life. A dead tree, said the Evil One, is good for nothing but the hatchet. In this conflict of grief and temptations, the noble man had recourse to holy confessor, who gave him this good advice: 'Do not let one day pass without hearing Holy Mass, and have no fear.' He promptly followed this advice, never missing at assisting at daily mass. One day his chaplain went to a neighboring village to assist a young priest, who was about to celebrate his first Mass. This devout nobleman, fearing that he would that day be deprived of the sacrifice, hastened to the same village, in order to be present at it. On the way he met a peasant, who told him that he might as well turn back, because the last Mass was ended. The man began shedding tears, crying out "Alas, what shall I do? What shall I make of myself today? Perhaps it may be the last of my poor life." The peasant was astonished to see such behavior and being himself a man careless of his own soul, said: "Pray do not weep, my Lord, do not weep; for my part if it is a thing that can be done, I don't mind selling you my share in today's Mass. Give me that good cloak off your back and for aught I care, my Mass is yours this moment." The nobleman agreed to the strange proposal, thinking he would take the chance of possibly getting something by it, at least for it's good intentions' sake, and so, handing over his cloak, he pursued his path toward church. There he offered a short prayer; and on his return, had hardly got to the place where the bargain had been struck, when he saw the miserable man who had conceived the profane and extravagant design of selling his mass hanging by the neck from an oak, and already dead, like another Judas. In fact, the temptation to self- destruction had passed into the unhappy peasant, who had voluntarily deprived himself of the aid which he might have had from the sacrifice, and designedly left himself powerless to resist the malignant suggestions of the devil. Then the worthy nobleman began to perceive how effectual was the remedy which his confessor had advised, and was from that moment confirmed in his holy determination daily to assist at the divine mysteries. 1

Our Lord said to St. Gertrude: " For each mass you hear with devotion I will send a saint to comfort you at your death."

St. John Chrysostom said: "Are we in affliction? We shall find all manner of consolation at Mass. Are we tempted? Let us hear Holy mass, and we shall find there a way of overcoming the Devil."

The mass is also of great benefit if offered for ourselves during our life time rather than after we die and it is especially of great benefit for the poor souls in purgatory.

St. Anselm, a doctor of the Church declares that a single mass offered for oneself during life may be worth more than 1,000 celebrated for the same intention after death. How many of you think a 1,000 masses will be offered for you after your death? How many masses have you offered up for you deceases loved ones? Did you ever offer up a mass for a deceased member in your family that you did not know? For example, your great-great grandparents. How soon after your death will you be forgotten and abandoned in purgatory with no one offering up masses for your soul?

Pope Benedict 15th said that the holy mass would be of greater profit if people had it offered in their lifetime rather than having it celebrated for the relief of their souls after death.

"No human tongue" said St. Lawrence Justinian, "can enumerate the favors that trace back to the sacrifice of the mass. The sinner is reconciled with God; the just man becomes more upright; sins are wiped away; vices eliminated; virtue and merit gain growth and the devil's schemes are frustrated."

St. Leonard of Port Maurice again tells us, "O you deluded people, what are you doing? Why do you not hasten to the churches to hear as many masses as you can? Why do you not imitate the angels who, when a holy mass is celebrated, come down in squadrons from paradise and take their stations about our altars in adoration to intercede for us?" He's so right? Oh, you deluded people. Who has deluded us? Who does not want us at mass? It is Satan. He knows the value of the mass.

St. Peter Julian Eymard exhorted, "Know, O Christian, that the mass is the holiest act of religion. You cannot do anything to glorify God more nor profit you soul more than devoutly assisting at It, and assisting as often as possible."

As regards the sufferings of Purgatory, after the divine sentence has been passed and the soul has been condemned to that place, the desire for purification invades the soul who sees its sufferings as the quickest way to Paradise. So the sufferings begin - and what suffering!

According to St. Thomas, the pains of Purgatory are in no way inferior to the sufferings of Hell, except with regard to their duration. St. Catherine of Genoa tells us: "Souls in a state of purification are tormented to the point that words cannot describe, nor can any intelligence give even the slightest idea unless God manifests this through a special grace. There is a two fold suffering in Purgatory, as in Hell - that of being deprived of God, and of suffering at the same time." 2

St. Gregory stated, "The fire of purgatory is so devouring it is no less than hell - operating as the instrument of divine justice with such force as to render their pains insufferable, greater than all possible martyrdoms that can be witnessed or felt or even imagined here below". Think about it, that is the pains of Purgatory!

Council of Trent tells us that the mass is the most powerful means of helping the poor souls. We can pray for them, we can offer sacrifices for them, we can give them our good deeds and acts of charity, but the best way to help the poor souls is through the Holy Mass. Sts. Gregory and Jerome maintain that the souls for whom the Holy Mass is being said for experience no pain during the sacrifice. When was the last time you prayed for a deceased loved one?

In the "Little Catechism of the Cure of Ars" it is related: "My children, you remember the story I have told already of that holy priest who was praying for his friend. God had, it appears, made known to him that he was in purgatory; it came into his mind that he could do nothing better than to offer the holy sacrifice of the mass for his soul. When he came to the moment of Consecration, he took the Host in his hands and said, 'O Holy and Eternal Father, let us make an exchange. Thou hast the soul of my friend who is in Purgatory, and I have the Body of Thy Son, Who is in my hands; well, do thou deliver my friend, and I offer thee thy Son, with all the merits of His Death and Passion.' Instantly , at the moment of the elevation, he saw the soul of his friend rising to heaven, all radiant with glory." 3

Do you think the holy souls will not be grateful for your prayers? Your best intercessors and friends in heaven are the souls that you helped while they were in Purgatory. They pray for you constantly, not only when they get to heaven, but also while they are in Purgatory.

When my husband graduated from college he had trouble finding a job. I was pregnant with my first child and could not work. After many months of looking and interviewing, he still had no job. One day I found in the pew of a church a little novenna that stated if you go to mass thirty-three days consecutively, and offer up the intentions of the mass and your holy Communions for the Poor Souls in purgatory, anything you ask of them will be granted. I read this and thought I will do this so that my husband can get a job. But I told the Holy Souls that they were not to grant my request until the thirty-three days was up because I was weak and would probably quit going to mass. At that time in my life, I did not as yet attend daily mass.

I began the novenna, after about 15 days my husband said to me, "Where is my job?" I told him you will not find a job until I finish this novenna. He believed that nothing would come of it, but I just kept going to mass everyday. On the thirty-third day, I got up and my husband said to me, "Well, where is my job?" I politely told him I had to go to mass. I went to 12:05 mass at St. Mary's Church that day. I told him his job offer would come after I went to church. I got home that day about 12:45. As I walked in the door, my husband just stared at me in disbelief. He exclaimed to me, "Ten minutes ago I got a call, I start work Monday!"

St. Bernard while celebrating mass in the Church of St. Paul in Rome, saw an unending stairway which went up to heaven. Very many angels went up and down on it, carrying from purgatory to paradise the souls freed by the sacrifice of Jesus, renewed by priests on the altars all over the world.

St. Jerome has written that for every mass devoutly celebrated many souls leave purgatory and they fly to heaven. While St. Thomas Aquinas teaches, that just one drop of the blood of Jesus which is infinite in value, can save the whole universe from every offence.

St. John Vianney said, "All good works taken together cannot have the value of one Holy Mass, because they are the works of men, whereas the holy mass is the work of God."

Another way of helping the souls is the 30 Gregorian masses for the deceased souls. In his DIALOGUES, St. Gregory tells the story of a monk names Justo, who with permission of his superiors was also a doctor. The following is taken from the Holy SOULS by Parente. "On one occasion he accepted a certain sum in gold, and that was a grave sin against poverty. For it he was excommunicated. Afterwards he was so humiliated by the reports and by his penalty that he became gravely ill and died. However, he had confessed and made his peace with God. St. Gregory had the monk buried in a rubbish dump and he buried the gold in the grave with these words of St. Peter, "Your money will perish with you" (Acts 8:20) Some time later he felt moved with pity for the poor monk. He said, "Our departed brother has been tormented for a long time by the pains of Purgatory. Charity tells us to free him. So go and starting from today offer the sacrifice of the mass for him for a period of thirty days. Do not fail to offer the propitiatory Host even once for his liberation." The monks obeyed, but because he was occupied did not bother to count the days. One night the deceased person appeared to him and told him that he had been freed from the sufferings of purgatory and had gone to paradise. It was then that the days were counted and it was discovered that the number of masses was 30. This was the origin of the Gregorian masses for the deceased.4

There is a monastery in Pittsburg, PA that still offers up these masses for deceased. Do not let your loved ones suffer in purgatory. Do not assume they have gone straight to heaven. If they have, the masses will add to their glory, but if they are in purgatory they are in need of your prayers and masses.

St. Teresa once overwhelmed by the goodness of God asked Our Lord,

"HOW CAN I THANK YOU?"

Our Lord replied "ATTEND ONE MASS!"

The following are 3 quotes from St. John Vianney on the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. This saint used to become so enraptured at the mass, that his face would literally glow. While reading these quotes, think about them carefully.

"Do not be afraid of people saying that going to Mass on a week day is only for those who have nothing to do ... Are you ashamed to serve God for fear of being despised?"

"When you hear Mass, do you come in the same frame of mind as the Blessed Virgin Mary at Calvary? Because it is the same God and the same Sacrifice."

"Those who go often to Mass during the week, do their work very much better than those who, for want of faith, think they have no time for it."

St. James the Apostle said this about his Mass, "When the moment of Consecration is arriving, every one should be silent, and trembling with reverential awe; he should forget everything earthly, remembering that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords is coming down upon the altar as a victim to be offered to God the Father, and as food to be given to the Faithful; He is preceded by the Angelic choirs, in full splendor, with their faces veiled, singing hymns of praise with great joy."

This was said by someone who knew Our Lord. Who are we to attend mass with indifference and irreverence? St. Bridget of Sweden writes:

"One day, when a priest was celebrating Mass, I saw, at the moment of Consecration, how all the powers of heaven were set in motion. I heard, at the same time, a heavenly music, most harmonious, most sweet. Numberless Angels came down, the chant of whom no human understanding could conceive, nor the tongue of man describe. They surrounded and looked upon the priest, bowing towards him in reverential awe. The devils commenced to tremble, and took to flight in greatest confusion and terror."

I read once that Satan will enter a church, even though it causes him great torment. He will come in there if he thinks he can distract a soul causing it to lose many merits and graces. But he would rather work at the back of the church, because the closer he gets to the altar, the greater he is tormented. So those of you who sit in the back of the church and stand in the vestibule, why are you making it easy for the devil. Move up to the front. If he is going to tempt you, at least make it harder for him.

Another story from St. Dominic illustrates the power of the Mass. The Blessed Henry Suso made an agreement with one of his brethren in religion that as soon as one of them died the survivor should say two masses very week, for one year, for the repose of his soul. It came to pass that the religious with whom Henry had made this contract died first. Henry prayed every day for his deliverance from purgatory, but forgot to say the masses which he had promised. The deceased appeared to him with a sad countenance, and sharply rebuked him for his unfaithfulness to his engagement. Henry excused himself by saying that he had often prayed for him with great fervor, and had even offered up penitential works for him. "O my brother," exclaimed the soul, "blood, blood is necessary to give me some relief and refreshment in my excruciating torments. Thy penitential works, severe as they are, cannot deliver me. There is nothing that can do this but the blood of Jesus Christ, which is offered up in the sacrifice of the Mass. Masses, Masses, these are what I need." 5

Our Blessed Mother once told Blessed Alain, "My Son so loves those who assist at the Holy sacrifice of the Mass that if it were necessary He would die for them as many times as they have heard Masses."

In closing I would like to tell you what Our Lord once said to St. Matilda:

"At the moment of Consecration I come down first in such deep HUMILITY, that there is no one at Mass, no matter how despicable and vile he may be, towards whom I do not humbly incline and approach, if he desires Me to do so and prays for it; SECONDLY- I come down with such great PATIENCE that I suffer even my greatest enemies to be present and grant them the full pardon of all their sins, if they wish to be reconciled with Me; THIRDLY - I come with such IMMENSE LOVE that no one of those present can be so hardened that I do not soften his heart and enkindle it with my love if he wishes Me to do so; FOURTHLY - I come with such inconceivable LIBERALITY, that none of those present can be so poor that I would not enrich him abundantly; FIFTHLY - I come with such sweet FOOD that no one ever so hungry should not be refreshed and fully satiated by ME. SIXTHLY - I come with such GREAT LIGHT and SPLENDOR that no heart, how blinded soever it may be, will not be enlightened and purified by My presence. SEVENTHLY - I come with such great sanctity and TREASURES of GRACE, that on one, however inert and indevout he may be, should not be roused from this State." 6

After hearing all this, we can truly state, that the Mass is our Greatest Treasure! I have only scratched the surface of what the saints have said and wrote about the Holy Mass. I hope each and everyone of you here present today will realize what great gift God has given us in the Mass and if you do not attend daily Mass already, you will start after today.

Footnotes

1 Saint Leonard, (Tan Books and_Publishers, Rockford, IL) p. 89

2 Father Alessio Parente O.F.M. Cap., (Barto,_PA, National Center for Padre Pio, Inc., 1990) p. 44

3 Saint John Vianney, (Rockford, IL, Tan Books and Publishers, Inc. 1987) p. 38-39

4 Parente, op.cit., p. 199-200

  1. Father Michael Muller, GSS.R., The Blessed Sacrament, (Rockford, IL., 1973, Tan Book and Publishers) p. 299-300
  2. Ibid, p 335-336

Recommended reading

Apostolate of the Mass, New Haven, CT.

Father V.J. Bozyk, (Buchanan Printers, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada)

St. John Vianney, (Rockford, IL, Tan Books and Publishers, Inc.)

St. Leonard, (Rockford, IL, Tan Books and Publishers, Inc.)

Father Alessio Parente O.F.M. Cap., (Barto, PA, National Centre for Padre Pio, Inc.)

Father Stefano Manelli, O.F.M. Conv., S.T.D., (Constable, NY, Servants of Jesus and Mary)

St. John Vianney, (Complied and arranged by W.M.B., Rockford, IL, Tan Books and Publishers, Inc,)

Fr. Michael Mueller, The Blessed Sacrament, (Tan Books and Publishers, Rockford, IL.)

Father F.X. Schouppe, S.J., (Rockford, IL, Tan Books and Publishers, Inc. 1986)