Extracts from The Wonders of the Mass by Father Paul O’ Sullivan, O.P.
The Mass is the greatest wonder in the World. There is nothing on Earth equal to it and there is nothing in Heaven greater than it.
The next greatest wonder is the indifference and ignorance of Catholics regarding Holy Mass. How is it that so many Catholics do not go to Mass?
The Sacrifice of Calvary! Yes, for the Mass is really and truly the very same as the Death of Jesus on the Cross.
St. Augustine tells us that pagans and gentiles of his time asked tepid and indifferent Christians with bitter irony if they sincerely believed that the God of all mercy and goodness descended on their altars! You Christians, they continued, accuse us of adoring false gods but, at least, we believe they are gods and we honour them, whereas you despise Him whom you call the True God!
St. Louis and the Mass
King Louis of France who laboured perhaps more strenuously than any man in his kingdom and who was one of the best and most glorious Sovereigns who ever ruled over France, found time to hear two or three Masses every day!
Some of his courtiers suggested that he was overtaxing himself with so many Masses. The King replied: “If I spent much more time in following the pleasures of the chase, or in entertaining my friends at rich banquets, or in frequenting for several hours each day the theatres and places of amusement, you would not complain that I was devoting too much time to pleasure. You forget, my good friends, that by hearing Mass I not only secure for myself innumerable blessings but I confer the most important benefits on my Kingdom,many more than I could possibly do in any other way.”
The Angel and the Roses
A poor farmer was wont to attend daily Mass for many years of his life.
He was crossing the snow-covered fields one cold morning on his way to Church. He thought that he heard footsteps behind him and, turning, he saw his Angel Guardian bearing a basket full of beautiful roses which exhaled a delicious perfume. “See,” said the Angel, “these roses represent each step you have taken on the way to Mass and each rose represents, too, a glorious reward which awaits you in Heaven. But far, far greater are the merits you have got from the Mass itself.”
What is the Mass?
- In the Mass, the Son of God becomes man again, so that, in every Mass, the stupendous Mystery of the Incarnation, with all its infinite merits, is repeated as truly as when the Son of God first took flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary.
- The Mass is the birth of Jesus Christ. He is born really on the Altar each time that Mass is said, as He was born in Bethlehem. St. John Damascene: “If anyone wishes to know how the bread is changed into the Body of Jesus Christ I will tell him. The Holy Ghost overshadows the priest and acts on him as He acted on the Blessed Virgin Mary.” St. Bonaventure: “God, when He descends on the altar, does no less than He did when He became man the first time in the womb of the Virgin Mary.”
- The Mass is the same as the Sacrifice of Calvary. In it God dies as He died on the first Good Friday. It has the same infinite value of Calvary, and brings down on men the same priceless graces. The Mass is not an imitation, or a memory of Calvary, it is identically the same sacrifice and differs only from Calvary in appearance. In every Mass the Blood of Jesus is shed for us again.
- Nothing on this Earth, nothing in Heaven itself, gives more glory to God and obtains more benefits for us than a single Mass.
- By the Mass we offer to God the greatest praise, the greatest glory He could possibly desire. We give Him most perfect thanks for all the benefits He has bestowed on us. We make more reparation for our faults than by the severest penances.
Quotes on the Mass from the Saints
St. Alphonsus Liguori: Even God Himself could do nothing holier, better, or greater than the Mass.
St. Chrysostom: The Mass has just the same value as Calvary.
St. Hanon, Bishop of Cologne, once saw a globe of extraordinary beauty and brilliancy circle round the chalice at the Consecration and then enter the sacred vessel. He was so filled with awe that he feared to go on with the Mass, but God revealed to him that his happened at every Mass, though not visible to our human eyes.
The Host is nothing less than the great Eternal, Omnipotent God who fills Heaven with His Majesty. Why don’t we realise it?
Timothy of Jerusalem: The world would have been destroyed long ago because of the sins of men, had it not been for the Mass.
Fornerius: By one Mass which we hear in the state of grace, we give God more pleasure and obtain for ourselves more benefits and favours than by the longest and most painful pilgrimages.
Marchant: If we were to offer to the Holy Trinity all the penances, all the prayers, all the good works of all the Saints, if we were to offer the torrents of blood, all the sufferings of the twelve apostles and the millions of martyrs, all would give Him less glory and pleasure than one Mass! Why? Because the Mass is truly and really the Sacrifice of Mount Calvary. In teh Mass Jesus Christ offers to His Eternal Father all the pains, humiliations and infinite merits of His Passion and Death.
St. Alphonsus asks what is the reason of all this? He answers that the Mass is infinite in value whereas all the prayers and good works of the Angels and Saints, though of exceeding great merit and, though they give unspeakable glory to God, yet are finite, and therefore bear no comparison with the infinite Sacrifice of the Mass.
The Mass is God Himself.
The Angels and the Mass
St. Gregory: The Heavens open and multitudes of Angels come to assist at the Holy Sacrifice.
St. John Chrysostom: When Mass is being celebrated the Sanctuary is filled with countless Angels, who adore the Divine Victim immolated on the altar.”
When Blessed Henry Suso, the holy Dominican, was saying Mass, angels in visible form gathered round the altar, and some came near to him in raptures of love.
This is what takes place at every Mass, though we do not see it. Do Catholics ever think of this amazing truth? At Mass they are praying in the midst of thousands of God’s Angels.
The Joy of the Saints at Mass
St. John of the Cross said Mass with extraordinary love and devotion. Once, having pronounced the words of consecration his face shone with such a brilliant light that many of those in the Church gathered around the Altar, to gaze at the wonderful brightness.
After Mass the Superior begged him to say what had happened and he replied: “At the Consecration God revealed Himself to me in such majesty and glory that I feared that I could not continue the Mass.”
Blessed Francis of Possadas of the Dominican Order said Mass with angelic fervour. His face shone with an extraordinary splendour and became beautiful in the extreme, as if he received a new life. One day a flame of brilliant light issued from his mouth and lit up the Missal when he was reading the Gospel. On two occasions during the Feast of Pentecost a similar splendour emanated from his whole body and illuminated the altar.
When he was pronouncing the words of Consecration, Our Lord said to him with infinite love: “My son, I am who am.” After consuming the Host his body was raised up and remained suspended in the air.
Priests, the Happiest of Men
Not only the Saints but all devout priests experience the most profound satisfaction and joy when celebrating Mass. It is enough for them to know:
- That they are in immediate, intimate, personal communication with God Himself; that they are holding Him in their hands, looking at Him, conversing with Him and that He is looking into their very hearts with ineffable love.
- That they are giving Him the greatest possible joy and glory that even He could desire, greater glory than all the angels and saints give Him in Heaven.
- That they are calling down on themselves, on the World, on their native land, countless blessings.
- That they are surrounded by throngs of holy angels who are watching their every movement.
- Finally, that they are helping, consoling, rejoicing the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
The Benefits of the Mass
- Our Lord said to St. Mechtilde: “In Mass, I come with such humility that there is no sinner, no matter how depraved he be, that I am not ready to receive if only he desires it. I come with such sweetness and mercy that I will pardon my greates enemies if they ask for pardon. I come with such generosity that there is no one so poor that I will not fill him with the riches of my love. I come with such heavenly food as will strengthen the weakest, with suchlight as will illumine the blindest, with such a plenitude of graces as will remove all miseries, overcome all obstinacy and dissipate all fears.”
- The Holy Curé of Ars fell greviously ill and, notwithstanding the constant help of doctors, grew rapidly worse so that no hope was entertained of his life. He asked that a Mass be said on the altar of St. Philomena. At the conclusion of the Mass he was completely cured.
- Our Blessed Lord assured St. Mechtilde that He would comfort and console all those who were assiduous in hearing Mass and that He would send as many of His great saints to assist them when dying as they had heard Masses in their lifetime.
- St Paul, the Hermit, stood once at the Church door as the people entered. He saw the soul of one man, a great sinner, in such a state of horrible corruption as appalled him. Moreover he saw the devil standing by his side who seemed to have complete control of him. On leaving the Church, he saw the same man so completely changed that he called him aside and asked him confidentially, if he was sorry for his sins. The poor man at once confessed that he had committed many and very grave sins, but during the Mass he had read in his prayer book: “If your sins are as red as scarlet I will make them as white as snow.” “I began at once to ask God to pardon and forgive me and I am very sorry for my sins and I wish to go to confession at once.” St. Paul saw that by his act of sincere sorrow he was, by the infinite merits of the Mass, pardoned of all his sins.
- The following fact happened near Rome: Three business men went to a fair at Cisterno and after having transacted satisfactorily their business, two of them prepared to return home on Sunday morning. The third pointed out to them that they could not thus hear Mass. They laughed at his words and replied that they could go to Mass some other day. So saying, they mounted their horses and set out on their return journey. Their companion heard Mass and then proceeded to follow them. What was not his consternation on learning that both his friends had been killed on the road, victims of a dreadful accident!
Priests, Angels on Earth
St. Ignatius Martyr says that the priesthood is the sublime of all created dignities.
Innocent the Third says that the priest is placed between God and man; inferior to God, but superior to man.
St. Ephrem says that the gift of the sacerdotal dignity surpasses all understanding.
St. John Chrysostom says that he who honours a priest, honours Christ, and he who insults a priest, insults Christ.
St. Gregory Nazianzen has said that the angels themselves venerate the Priesthood.
St. Francis of Assisi used to say: If I saw an angel and a priest, I would bend my knee first to the priest and then to the angel.
St. Alphonsus : The entire Church cannot give God as much honour, or obtain so many graces as a single priest by celebrating a single Mass. Thus, by the celebration of a single Mass, in which he offers Jesus Christ in sacrifice, a priest gives greater honour to the Lord than if all men, by dying for God, offered Him the sacrifice of their lives.