Wednesday, April 17, 2024

St. Alphonsus de Liguori on the Lord’s Prayer.

The Church militant regards herself as entirely composed of sinners; she thinks herself unworthy to call God her Father, and to address to him the seven petitions, which in the name of the faithful she is going to address to him by reciting the Pater noster, (“The Our Father”). Hence she protests that she only dares to address to God this prayer because God himself has commanded her to do so. She then teaches us that we may venture to present to God the seven petitions which contain the whole economy of our salvation, because it is pleasing to him and he himself gives us the command. 

 

We are so miserable, and our mind is so limited, that we do not even know what graces we should ask of God in behalf of our own salvation. Regarding our poverty and our insufficiency, Jesus Christ himself deigned to compose our prayer or to indicate the subjects on which we should address Almighty God. He instructs us to say:

 

Pater noster, qui es in coelis (“Our Father, who art in heaven). The Apostle St. John says: Behold what manner of charity the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called, and should be the sons of God. It is assuredly only by the effect of extreme love that we worms of the earth have been enabled to become the children of God, not by nature, but by adoption; and such is the immense grace that the Son of God has obtained for us by becoming man; for St. Paul says: You have received the spirit of adoption of sons, whereby we cry, Abba (Father). Can a subject wish for greater happiness than to be adopted by his king? Or a creature to be adopted by its Creator? This is what God has done for us; and he wishes that we should address to him with filial confidence the following prayer:

 

1. Sanctificetur nomem tuum (“Hallowed be Thy name”). God cannot possess a greater sanctity than that which he possesses from all eternity, because he is infinite; hence what we ask in this prayer is merely that God may make known in every place his holy name, and that he may make himself loved by all men: by unbelievers, who know him not; by heretics, who do not know him in the right manner; and by sinners, who know him but do not love him.

 

2. Adveniat regnum tuum (“Thy kingdom come’’)· Two kinds of dominion God exercises over our souls—the dominion of grace and the dominion of glory. By these words we ask for both, namely, that the grace of God may reign among us in this life, that it may direct and govern us, so that one day we may be judged worthy of glory, and may have the happiness to possess God and be possessed by him for all eternity.

 

3. Fiat voluntas tua, sicut in coelo, et in terra (“Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven”). The whole perfection of a soul consists in the perfect accomplishment of the will of God, as is done by the blessed in heaven. Hence Jesus Christ wishes us to ask the grace to accomplish the will of God upon earth, as the angels and saints accomplish it in heaven.

 

4. Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie (“Give us this day our daily bread”). Such is the text as we find it in St. Luke [Luke 11:3]. By this prayer we ask God for the temporal goods of which we stand in need to sustain our present life. The words “Our daily bread’’ teach us that we should ask for this kind of goods with moderation, after the example of Solomon, who asked only what was necessary: (Give me only the necessaries of life).

 

It is to be remarked that in the Gospel of St. Matthew [Matt. 6:11], instead of the daily bread, we read, Give us this day our supersubstantial bread. By this supersubstantial bread we must understand, according to the explanation given by the Roman catechism, Jesus Christ himself in the Sacrament of the Altar, that is, in Holy Communion. We ask this heavenly bread every day, Give us this day, because every good Christian should communicate every day, if not really at least spiritually, as we are exhorted by the Council of Trent.

 

5. Et dimitte nobis debita nostra, sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostris (“And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us”). To eat worthily of this heavenly bread, we must be free from mortal sin, or at least be washed of it by the blood of the Lamb in the sacrament of penance. We say, free from mortal sin; but it must be observed that if anyone should communicate with an actual affection for some venial sin, he could not be said to communicate without offering some indignity to our Lord—at least if he communicates often.

 

6. Et ne nos inducas in tentationem (“And lead us not into temptation”). How are these words to be understood? Does God sometimes tempt us—does he lead us into temptation? No; for St. James says: God is not a tempter of evils, and He tempteth no man. This text we must understand as we do that of Isaias: Blind the heart of this people . . . lest they see. God never blinds any sinner, but he often refuses to grant to some, in punishment for their ingratitude, the light that he would have given them had they remained faithful and grateful.

 

Hence when it is said that God makes any one blind, it is meant that he withholds the light of his grace. This, therefore is the sense of the prayer, and lead us not into temptation; we ask God not to permit us to have the misfortune of being in those occasions of sin in which we might fall. Hence we should always watch and pray as the Lord exhorts us to do, in order not to fall into temptation: Watch ye, and pray that ye enter not into temptation. To enter into temptation means the same as to find one’s self in the danger of falling into sin; we should therefore often say to God, Lord, lead us not into temptation.

 

7. Sed libera nos a malo (“But deliver us from evil”). There are three kinds of evils from which we should ask the Lord to deliver us—the temporal evils of the body, the spiritual evils of the soul, and the eternal evils of the next life. As for the temporal evils of this life, we ought always to be disposed to receive with resignation those that God sends us for the good of our souls, such as poverty, sickness, and desolation; and when we ask God to deliver us from temporal evils we should always do so on condition that they are not necessary nor useful for our salvation.

 

But the true evils from which we should absolutely pray to be delivered are spiritual evils, sins, which are the cause of eternal evils. Moreover, let us be convinced of this infallible truth, that in the present state of corrupt nature we cannot be saved unless we pass through the many tribulations with which this life is filled: Through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God.

 

The priest finishes the Lord’s prayer with the word Amen, which he pronounces in a low voice, because he represents the person of Jesus Christ, who is the foundation of all the divine promises. This word is a summary of all the petitions that have been made—petitions the repetition of which pleases the Lord, for the more we pray to God the more he will hear our prayers. The great people of this world are not pleased when they are importuned by petitions; but this importunity is pleasing to God, says St. Jerome. Cornelius a Lapide even assures us that God wishes that we should persevere in this importunity in our prayers.


St. Alphonsus de Liguori, The Holy Mass – the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, Alpha Editions, 2020, pp. 58-62.


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Thursday, April 4, 2024

Sedevacantists Condemn Themselves


A certain sede-vacante website has been featuring a major article to make the case for sedevacantism. They present the below paragraph, quoting from the future Pope St. Pius X, in order to support their thesis. However, if one reads this carefully, it actually is a condemnation of sedevacantism.

When Leo XIII was Pope and was celebrating 50 years of being a priest in 1887, Bishop Giuseppe Sarto of Mantua in Italy said to his flock:

"The moment has come to prove to the great Vicar of Christ our unchanging affection and fidelity. For us Leo XIII is the guardian of the Holy Scriptures, the interpreter of the doctrine of Jesus Christ, the supreme dispenser of the treasures of the Church, the head of the Catholic religion, the chief shepherd of souls, the infallible teacher, the secure guide, who directs us on our way through a world wrapped in darkness and the shadow of death. All the strength of the Church is in the Pope; all the foundations of our Faith are based on the successor of Peter. Those who wish her ill assault the papacy in every possible way; they cut themselves adrift from the Church, and try their best to make the Pope an object of hatred and contempt. The more they endeavor to weaken our faith and our attachment to the head of the Church, the more closely let us draw to him through the public testimony of our Faith, our obedience and our veneration."

[F.A. Forbes, Pope St. Pius X (Rockford, IL: TAN Books, 1987), pp. 34-35.] 

 

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Sunday, March 31, 2024

The Empty Tomb Visits.

  The holy women and apostles have varying visits and experiences at the empty tomb of the Risen Lord.  The gospel accounts can seem confusing, if not irreconcilable.  Maria Valtorta in The Gospel as Revealed to Me gives these accounts in such detail that it is possible to unravel their sequences.  One thing to be considered are the various locations and trajectories of the visitors from their respective starting points.  


   A Canadian site has produced a video with clear icons showing these events.  Although it is in French, I am posting it because of the visual aspects of the video and also because most people at one time or another studied some French, so please accept my apologies for this.  


  The link below is to the French language web site for Valtorta, and at the very top you can change it to a rough Google translation of  the text into English.   A short ways down you will be able to click on the YouTube of the video.  Enjoy this surprise Easter Bon Bon! 

 

LINK to French website and video.

 

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Tuesday, March 26, 2024

The scourging and crowning of Jesus.

 

The scourging and crowning of Jesus, amid the mockery of the soldiers. As revealed to Maria Valtorta – mystic and victim soul.



«Let Him be scourged» Pilate orders a centurion.

 

«How many blows?»

 

«As many as you like... In any case the matter is over. And I am bored. Go.»

 

Jesus is led by four soldiers to the court-yard beyond the hall. In the middle of that court-yard […], there is a high column like the one in the porch. At about three meters from the floor it has an iron bar protruding at least a meter and ending with a ring, to which Jesus is tied, with His hands joined above His head, after He has been undressed. 

 

He has on only short linen drawers and sandals. His hands tied at His wrists are raised up as far as the ring, so that, although tall, He rests only the tips of His toes on the floor... And even that position is a torture. I have read, I do not know where, that the column was low and that Jesus was bent over it. That may be. I say what I see. 

 

Behind Him stands one who looks like an executioner […], in front of Him, another man, looking like the previous one. They are armed with scourges, made of seven leather strips tied to a handle and ending with small lead hammers. They begin to strike Him rhythmically […]. One in front and one behind, so that Jesus' trunk is in a whirl of lashes and scourges.

 

The four soldiers [...], are indifferent and are playing dice with another three soldiers who have just arrived. And the voices of the players follow the rhythm of the sound of the scourges, which hiss like snakes and then resound like stones striking the stretched skin of a drum.

 

They beat the poor body, which is so slender and as white as old ivory, and then becomes covered with stripes that at first are a brighter and brighter pink shade, then violet, then it displays blue swellings full of blood, then the skin breaks letting blood flow from all sides. They redouble their cruelty on His thorax and abdomen, but there is no shortage of blows given to His legs, arms and even to His head, so that no fragment of His skin may be left without pain.

 

And not a moan... If He were not held up by the rope, He would fall. But He does not fall and does not groan. Only His head hangs over His chest, after so many blows, as if He had fainted.

 

Displayed in the church of Paola, Malta.


«Hey! Stop! He must be alive when He is killed» shouts a soldier scoffingly. The two executioners stop and wipe their perspiration.

 

«We are exhausted» they say. «Give us our pay, so that we may have a refreshing drink...»

 

«I would give you the gallows! But here you are...» and a decurion [Roman officer in charge of ten soldiers] throws a large coin to each executioner.

 

«You have done a good job. He looks like a mosaic. Titus, do you mean that this man was really Alexander's love? We must let him know, so that he may mourn over His death. Let us untie Him.»

 

They untie Him, and Jesus falls on the floor like a dead body. They leave Him there, pushing Him now and again with their feet […], to see whether He moans. But He is silent.

 

«Is He dead? Is it possible? He is a young man and a handicrafts-man, so I am told… and He looks like a delicate lady.»

 

«I will take care of Him» says a soldier. And he sits Him with His back against the column. Clots of blood appear where He was. He [the soldier] then goes towards a fountain […], he fills a tub with water and pours it on Jesus' head and body.

 

«That's it! Water is good for flowers.»

 

Jesus draws a deep sigh and tries to stand up, but His eyes are still closed. «Oh! good. Come on, darling! Your dame is waiting for You!...»

 

But Jesus in vain presses His hands against the floor trying to stand up.

 

«Come on! Quick! Are You weak? Here is some refreshment» says another soldier sneeringly. And with the shaft of his halberd he delivers a blow to Jesus' face striking it between the right cheekbone and the nose, that begins to bleed. Jesus opens His eyes and looks round. His eyes are veiled... He stares at the soldier who struck Him, wipes the blood with His hand, and then, with much effort, He stands up.

 

«Get dressed. It is immodest to stay like that. You lewd man!» They all laugh standing around Him.

 

And He obeys without speaking. But when He bends – and He alone knows how much He suffers when stooping to the ground, contused as He is, as His wounds open even more when the skin is stretched [...] – a soldier gives a kick to His garments and scatters them, and every time Jesus reaches them, staggering to where they lie, a soldier pushes them away or throws them in a different direction. And Jesus, suffering bitterly, goes after them without uttering a word, while the soldiers deride Him obscenely.

 

He can dress Himself again at last. And He can put on also the white tunic, which was left in a corner and is still clean. He seems to wish to conceal His poor red garment, which only yesterday was so beautiful and now is filthy with rubbish and stained with the blood sweated at Gethsemane. Furthermore, before putting on His short vest, He dries His wet face with it, cleaning it of dust and spittle. And the poor holy face looks clean, marked only by bruises and small cuts. And He tidies His hair which is hanging ruffled, and His beard, out of an inborn need to be personally tidy. Then He squats in the sunshine. Because my Jesus is shivering... Fever begins to torture Him with its cold shivers. And He feels weak because of the blood He has lost, of fasting and walking so much.

 

They tie His hands once again. And the rope begins to cut into His wrists, where the excoriated skin has left a mark like a red bracelet. «And now? What shall we do with Him? I am bored!»

 

«Wait. The Jews want a king. Now we will give them one. Him...» says a soldier.

 

And he runs out to a court […], from which he comes back with a bunch of branches of wild hawthorn, still flexible, because springtime keeps the branches relatively tender, whilst the long sharp thorns are hard. With a dagger they remove leaves and buds, they bend the branches forming a circle and they place them on His poor head. But the cruel crown falls down on His neck.

 

«It does not fit. Make it narrower. Take it off.»

 

They take it off and scratch His cheeks, risking to blind Him, and they tear off His hair in doing so. They make it smaller. Now it is too small, and although they press it down, driving the thorns into His head, it threatens to fall. They take it off once again, tearing more of His hair. They adjust it again. It now fits. At the front there are three thorny cords. At the back, where the ends of the three branches interweave, there is a real knot of thorns that penetrate into the nape of His neck.

 

«Do You see how well You look? Natural bronze and real rubies. Look at Yourself, o king, in my cuirass» says the inventor of the torture scoffingly.

 
Library of Congress

«A crown is not sufficient to make a king. Purple and sceptre are required. In the stable there is a cane and in the sewer there is a red chlamys [a woolen cloak]. Get them, Cornelius.»

 

And once they have them, they put the dirty red rag on Jesus, shoulders, and before putting the cane in His hands, they beat His head with it, bowing and greeting: «Hail, king of the Jews» and they roar with laughter.

 

Jesus does not react. He lets them sit Him on the «throne»: a tub turned upside-down […], He lets them strike and scoff at Him, without ever uttering a word. He only looks at them, casting glances of such kindness and such atrocious sorrow that I cannot bear them without feeling heart-broken.

 

The soldiers stop sneering at Him only when the harsh voice of a superior orders them to take the guilty prisoner to Pilate. Guilty! Of what? Jesus is taken back again to the entrance-hall […]. He still has the crown, the chlamys and the cane.

 



From chapter 604, The Gospel as Revealed to Me, by Maria Valtorta. 

 

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Thursday, March 7, 2024

St. Alphonsus responds to the Chicken Dance Mass.



The Chicken Dance Mass [LINK] took place on Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024 at the Catholic parish church of Christus der K├Ânig (Christ the King) in Ruhstorf an der Rott, in Germany.


St. Alphonsus de Liguori: The Reverence with which Mass ought to be Celebrated.

 

In proportion as a devout Mass excites great devotion and reverence towards the sacred mysteries, so does an in-devout Mass destroy all devotion and reverence due to so great a sacrifice.” 

 

A priest celebrating Mass ought to behave with all the reverence due to so great a sacrifice. To induce him to do this is the intent, or at least the principal point, of this treatise. Let us then see what is meant by reverence. It means, first, a proper attention to the words of the Mass; and secondly, an exact observance of the ceremonies prescribed by the rubrics.

 

As regards attention to the words, a priest sins by being voluntarily distracted during Mass; and as divines say, if it be during the consecration and elevation, or during a notable part of the canon, he sins mortally; such is the opinion […] of Tamburini, and speaking on this point says: “If a priest while voluntarily distracted during a considerable time, recites those parts of Mass that contain the Canon, he will sin mortally. On the other hand, it seems to me to be a grave irreverence if any one, while professing that God should be venerated in the highest degree, should behave irreverently towards him by voluntary distraction.” And I am of the same opinion […] because, waiving the question whether the interior intention is or is not the essence of prayer, I maintain that the holy Sacrifice is not only an act of prayer, but also a most sublime act of religious worship, in which a priest appears to commit great irreverence if, while he actually professes religiously to honor God, he is voluntarily distracted with thoughts of other subjects.

 

As regards the performing of the ceremonies prescribed by the Rubric for the celebration of Mass, St. Pius V. in the Bull inserted in the Missal commands Mass to be celebrated according to the rubrics of the Missal. Hence Suarez very properly says that the omission of any ceremony prescribed in the rubrics, such as a sign of the cross, genuflection, inclination, etc., cannot be excused from venial sin. And this is declared by Benedict XIII. […]. St. Teresa said: “I would lay down my life for only one of the ceremonies of the Church.” 

 

[Here is the full quote from St. Teresa of Avila: “I knew quite well that in matters of faith no one would ever find me transgressing even the smallest ceremony of the Church, and that for the Church or for any truth of Holy Scripture I would undertake to die a thousand deaths.”] 

 

If the said ceremonies are performed in too hurried a manner, or carelessly, as says Father Concilia [...] speaking of those who in saying Mass do not touch the ground with one knee when they genuflect, or who, when they should kiss the altar, only make an appearance of kissing it, or who do not properly form the crosses at the benedictions as prescribed in the rubrics; because, […] it is the same thing as to omit the ceremonies prescribed, to perform them improperly; Moreover, the learned in general, say, that if any one omits a notable part of the ceremonies of the Mass, although not of the most important, he cannot be excused from grievous sin. Such omissions, when repeated in the same Mass, amount to something grievous; and therefore are grievously irreverent to the Holy Sacrifice.

 

We know that even in the Old Law the Lord threatened with many maledictions those priests that were careless of the ceremonies of their sacrifices, which were but figures of ours: “ But if thou wilt not hear the voice of the Lord thy God to keep and to do all His . . . ceremonies . . . all these curses shall come upon thee. . . . Cursed shall thou he in the city, cursed in the field; . . . cursed shall thou be coming in, and cursed going out. . . [Deut. 28:15].

 

Hence, seeing the greater part of priests say Mass with so much hurry and carelessness in the performance of the ceremonies, one ought to weep even with tears of blood. Well might be applied to such the reproach of Clement of Alexandria to the Gentile priests, that they made heaven a theatrical scene, and God the subject of a comedy […]. Words mutilated, genuflections half made, acts of mockery rather than of reverence: crosses so formed that it would be impossible to know what they meant: such movements about the altar, and turnings, as even to excite ridicule and laughter: handling the consecrated Host and the consecrated chalice as though they were a piece of bread and a glass of wine: confounding the words and ceremonies together, placing the one before or after the other, contrary to the order prescribed by the rubrics; the whole Mass, in a word, from beginning to end, nothing but a tissue of carelessness, confusion, and irreverence.

 

And whence comes all this? It arises partly from ignorance of the rubrics, which they neither know nor endeavor to know; and partly from anxiety to finish Mass in as short a time as possible. They seem to be saying Mass as though the Church were going to fall, or the Turks were coming, and they should not have time to escape. Such priests, before saying Mass, will sometimes be engaged for hours in worldly affairs, or in useless conversation in a shop, or in the sacristy, and then hasten to begin Mass, and attend to nothing but to get through it as quickly as possible. 

 

There should be always some one at hand to say to such, as Father Avila, approaching the altar, once said to a priest who was celebrating in this manner: “Please to treat Him better; for He is the son of a respectable Father.” God admonished the priests of the old law to tremble with awe when they approached the Sanctuary. And shall the priests of the New Law celebrating at the altar, in the presence of Jesus Christ really there, taking him into their hands, offering him in sacrifice, and even feeding upon him, dare to behave with irreverence?

 
                      Tomb of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Salerno, Italy

 

A priest at the altar, as St. Cyprian says, and most truly, represents the person of Jesus Christ himself. And in the person of Jesus Christ he says: Hoc est corpus meum. Hic est calix sanguinis mei. But, O God! Seeing the irreverent manner in which so many priests now celebrate Mass, who could say whether they were the representatives of Jesus Christ, or mountebanks earning their livelihood by tricks of sleight-of-hand? as it is written in the synod of Spalatro: “Many who celebrate endeavor not to celebrate Mass, but to finish it; not that they may perform an act of devotion, but that they may have a means of making a living; so that the celebration of Mass is performed not as a mystery of religion, but as an act of making profit.” 

 

Hence let priests who celebrate in this unworthy manner remember that they not only sin by the irreverence which they commit against the holy Sacrifice, but also by the great scandal which they give to those who are present at it. In proportion as a devout Mass excites great devotion and reverence towards the sacred mysteries, so does an in-devout Mass destroy all devotion and reverence due to so great a sacrifice. In the life of St. Peter of Alcantara it is related that the Mass which he said devoutly produced more fruit than all the sermons of the preachers of the province in which he then was.

 

The Council of Trent says that the ceremonies of the Mass have been ordained by the Church for no other purpose than to instill into the faithful the reverence which is due to the sacrifice of the altar, and to the sublime mysteries which it embraces. “The Church,”says the Council, “has likewise employed ceremonies whereby both the majesty of so great a sacrifice might be recommended, and the minds of the faithful be excited by those visible signs of religion and piety, to the contemplation of those most sublime things which are hidden in this sacrifice.” 

 

But the ceremonies, when irreverently and hastily performed, not only do not excite, but destroy the veneration of the faithful for so sacred a mystery. Peter of Blois says, that the saying of Mass with but little reverence induces the people to make little account of the most holy Sacrament. And hence the Council of Turin, in the year 1583, ordained that priests should be well instructed in the ceremonies of the Mass. For what end? “Lest they withdraw from devotion the people entrusted to their care, rather than attract them to the veneration of the sacred mysteries.”

 

How can priests by saying Mass in-devoutly expect to obtain pardon for their sins and favors from God, if while they are offering it up to him they are offending him, and insult him rather than honor him? “Since every crime,” says Pope Julius, “is wiped out by sacrifices what shall be given to the Lord for the expiation of guilt, when in the very offering of the sacrifice sins are committed?” A priest, by not believing in the sacrament of the Eucharist, would offend God; but he who does believe in it, would offend him more by not treating it with becoming respect; because he would, by so doing, destroy it in others who saw him celebrate with so little reverence. The Jews respected Jesus Christ at the beginning of his mission; but when they saw him despised by the priests, they lost all reverence for him, and at last unanimously, with the priests, cried out: Crucifige eum. And thus the laity, when they see priests celebrate Mass with disrespect and negligence, lose all esteem and veneration for it.



Taken from the chapter “The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass hurriedly said,” in the book The Holy Mass – The Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, by St. Alphonsus de Liguori, available in various formats at Amazon.com. 

 

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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Sublime Importance of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

Unless a priest esteems the holy Sacrifice as it deserves, he can never celebrate it with suitable devotion. Assuredly there is no action which man can perform so sublime, so sacred, as the celebration of Mass. “We must needs confess,” says the Council of Trent, “that no other work can be performed by the faithful so holy and divine as this tremendous mystery itself.” God himself could not enable man to perform anything greater than the celebration of Mass.

 

All the ancient sacrifices, by which God was so much honored, were but shadows and figures of our sacrifice of the altar. All the honor that angels by their adorations, and men by their good works, austerities, and even martyrdoms, have ever rendered or will ever render to God, never could, and never will, give him so much glory as one single Mass; for, while the honor of all creatures is only finite, that which accrues to God from the holy Sacrifice of the altar is infinite, inasmuch as the victim which is offered is of infinite value. 

 

The Mass, therefore, offers to God the greatest honor that can be given him, subdues most triumphantly the powers of hell, affords the greatest relief to the suffering souls in purgatory, appeases most efficaciously the wrath of God against sinners, and brings down the greatest blessings on mankind.

 

If, as it is promised, we may confidently hope to obtain from God whatever we ask in the name of Jesus: If you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it to you [John 16:23], how much more confidently may we hope to obtain what we ask for, when we immolate to the Father Jesus himself? Our loving Redeemer is continually making intercession for us in heaven: Who also maketh intercession for us [Romans 8:34]. But this he does more especially in the sacrifice of the Mass, in which, by the hands of the priest, he presents himself to his eternal Father, to obtain graces for us. 

 


Were we assured that all the saints and the blessed Mother of Christ were praying for us, with what great confidence should we expect to receive all graces necessary for us? But it is certain that one prayer of Jesus Christ will avail infinitely more than all the prayers of the saints. Poor, wretched sinners, what would become of us without this sacrifice to appease the Lord “For the Lord, appeased by the oblation thereof, and granting the grace and gift of penitence, forgives even heinous crimes and sins,” says the Council of Trent.

 

In a word, as the Passion of Jesus Christ was sufficient to save the whole world, so is a single Mass sufficient to save it. Hence, at the offertory of the chalice the priest says: “We offer unto Thee, O Lord, the chalice of salvation, . . . for our salvation, and for that of the whole world.” The Mass is the good thing and the beautiful thing of the Church, according to the prediction of the prophet: For what is the good thing of Him, and what is His beautiful thing, but the corn of the elect, and wine springing forth virgins? [Zach.19:17.] In the Mass, the Word incarnate offers himself in sacrifice to his eternal Father, and gives himself to us in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist, which is the end and aim of almost all the other sacraments, as the angelic Doctor teaches.

 

Hence St. Bonaventure says, that in the Mass God manifests to us all the love that he has borne us, and includes in it, as in a compendium, all his benefits. On this account the devil has always endeavored to abolish the Mass throughout the world by means of heretics, making them the precursors of Antichrist, who before all things will endeavor to abolish, and in fact will, in punishment of the sins of men, succeed in abolishing the holy sacrifice of the altar, according to the prediction of Daniel: And strength was given him against the continual sacrifice because of sins [Daniel 8:12]

 

Here is the full quote from Daniel, which, according to St. Alphonsus, refers to the power of the Antichrist [Daniel 8:10-12]:

 

10 And it was magnified even unto the strength of heaven: and it threw down of the strength, and of the stars, and trod upon them. 11 And it was magnified even to the prince of the strength: and it took away from him the continual sacrifice, and cast down the place of his sanctuary. 12 And strength was given him against the continual sacrifice, because of sins: and truth shall be cast down on the ground, and he shall do and shall prosper.”

 

The same St. Bonaventure says, that the Son of God in every Mass confers a benefit on the world not less than that which he conferred in taking upon himself our human nature. So that, as the learned teach, if Jesus Christ had never appeared in the world, a priest, by pronouncing the words of consecration, would bring him down from heaven upon the earth, according to that celebrated sentence of St. Augustine: “O venerable dignity of the priests in whose hands as in the womb of the Virgin the Son of God became incarnate!” 

 

Moreover, as the sacrifice of the altar is the application and renewal of the sacrifice of the cross, the angelic Doctor teaches, that the Mass procures for man the same benefits and salvation that the sacrifice of the cross procured for him. St. John Chrysostom says the same: “The celebration of Mass is of as much value as the death of Christ on the cross.” And of this the Church still further assures us, saying: “As many times as this commemorative sacrifice is celebrated, so often is the work of our redemption performed.” 

 

As the same Saviour, who offered himself for us on the cross, offers himself in sacrifice on the altar by the hands of the priest, as the Council of Trent teaches: “For the victim is one and the same, the same now offering by the ministry of priests, who then offered Himself on the cross, the manner alone of offering being different;” so the sacrifice of the cross is applied to our souls by the sacrifice of the altar. The Passion of Jesus Christ rendered us capable of redemption; the Mass puts us in possession of it, and enables us to enjoy its merits.

 

From The Holy Mass, by St. Alphonsus Liguori, beginning of the chapter entitled ‘The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass Hurriedly Said.’ 

 

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