Catholic Search
Custom Search

New Release! Chant Compendium 8 with beautiful Gregorian chant

Learn why the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is so priceless!

The Incredible Catholic Mass

from Chapter 3
The Mysteries of Holy Mass

The following remarkable incident will serve to illustrate what has just been said and to kindle in the reader greater devotion toward Holy Mass. We read in the life of St. John of Facundo, a noted member of the Augustinian Order, that he never on any account omitted saying Mass, and in fact, urged by his great longing to offer the Holy Sacrifice and receive Our Lord, he said it every morning at the earliest hour possible. He was, however, so slow in celebrating that the server used to go away and leave him at the altar, and at last no one could be found to serve his Mass.

The Saint then went to the prior, and entreated him to order the brothers to do so. But the prior spoke sharply to him, saying, "Why do you give the brothers so much trouble by being so long over your Mass? I shall rather enjoin upon you henceforth to say Mass like other priests." John did as he was commanded, but obedience cost him so much that he went again to the prior and, throwing himself at his feet, begged him to withdraw his command. The prior would not consent to do this until John had confided to him in Confession the reasons which made it impossible for him to say Mass more quickly. Having heard them, he no longer hesitated to tell the brothers that they must serve Father John's Mass, even though their patience was somewhat taxed. Furthermore, the prior, having obtained permission from the Saint, communicated his secret to another father, to whom he said: "You may believe me when I say that the reason why our Father John says Mass so slowly is that God reveals to him the profound mysteries that are accomplished in the Mass - mysteries so sublime that no human intelligence is capable of grasping them. The secrets he disclosed to me concerning them were of so tremendous a nature that I was overwhelmed with awe and almost swooned. It is certain that Christ frequently manifests Himself visibly to this father, speaking with him as one speaks to a friend, and showing him His five sacred wounds, from which proceeds a light of exceeding brightness, which, shed upon the Saint, quickens both body and soul, so that he experiences no need of earthly nourishment. He also beholds the Body of Christ shining like the sun at noonday and perceives its infinite beauty and glory. Such are the lofty and divine things he is privileged to know, mysteries which it is not given to man to fathom, much less to utter. Since I have thus been made aware of the immense benefits accruing to mankind by the celebrating or assisting at Mass, I have made a firm resolution never to omit saying or hearing Mass and to do my utmost to induce others to do the same." From these noteworthy words which the prior uttered we see clearly that solemn mysteries are contained in the Holy Mass and we ought to reverence it most profoundly.

from Chapter 4
In the Holy Mass Christ Renews His Incarnation

In the preceding chapter the mysteries of Holy Mass were only slightly touched upon; we will now take each in turn, expanding it more closely and explaining it more fully.

The sublime mystery of the Incarnation is the first to claim our attention. I will begin by adducing the testimony of the learned and pious Marchantius to prove that every time Mass is said the Incarnation of the Son of God is renewed. He writes: "What is the Mass if not a forcible and complete re-presentation, nay, renewal, of the Incarnation, the birth, the life, the sufferings and the death of Christ, and the redemption that He wrought?" With this statement, wonderful as it is, and almost past our comprehension, some persons will perhaps not agree. In order, therefore, to prove beyond doubt that it is true, we will proceed to show, in this chapter, after what manner Christ becomes incarnate anew whenever Holy Mass is celebrated.

We know how great, how vast, how inexpressible was the benefit God in His loving-kindness bestowed on mankind when the Eternal Word, for the sake of man and of his salvation, came down from Heaven, by the operation of the Holy Ghost became incarnate in the womb of the Virgin Mary and took upon Himself our human nature. This incomprehensible mystery it is which the priest adores when, in the Creed, at the words, Et incarnatus est -- "He was made man" -- he does not merely bow his head, but he bends his knee in reverent awe, returning thanks to the Giver of all good for condescending thus deeply to abase Himself.

Holy Church in her wisdom has ordained that every year, throughout the season of Advent, all the Faithful should meditate upon this infinite benefit, devoutly adore the mystery of the Incarnation and render thanks to God for His goodness, as is indeed our bounden duty. For in thus becoming incarnate, Christ won for us such great graces, in His human Body He did and suffered so much for us, that eternity will not be long enough to render Him the thanks that are His due.

But, marvel of marvels, Christ did not content Himself with merely becoming man once for all. In order daily and hourly to renew and increase the satisfaction which His Eternal Father and the Holy Ghost have before all time derived from the contemplation of this mystery, in the fullness of His divine wisdom, He devised and instituted the Sublime Mystery of the Mass, in which His Incarnation is renewed as definitely as if in reality it again took place; nay, it does actually take place again, although in a mystic manner. For this we have the authority of the Catholic Church, for in the Secret prayers for the ninth Sunday after Pentecost we read: "As often as the rememberance of this victim is celebrated, so often is the work of our Redemption carried on." The words are not: "So often is the work of our Redemption re-presented." but, "So often is the work of our redemption carried on." And what is this work of our redemption but the Incarnation, the birth, the Passion and the death of Jesus Christ? All of which are in reality accomplished and renewed every time the Mass is celebrated.

To this St. Augustine also bears testimony: "How great the dignity of a priest," he says, "in whose hands Christ again becomes man! O celestial mystery, wrought in so marvelous a manner by God the Father and by the Holy Ghost through the instrumentality of the priest!" St. John Damascene says: "If I am asked how bread is changed into the Body of Christ, I answer: The Holy Ghost overshadows the priest and operates that in the elements which He effected in the womb of the Virgin Mary." Again, we find the same clearly stated by St. Bonaventure in these words: "God appears to do no less a thing when He deigns daily to descend from Heaven upon our altars than He did when He came down from Heaven and took upon Himself our human nature." These remarkable words of the seraphic doctor, the meaning of which it is impossible to mistake, warrant us in asserting that Christ performs as great a miracle in every Mass that is celebrated as He did when He became man, more than 1900 years ago.

Taken from The Incredible Catholic Mass by TAN Books & Publishers, Inc.

Other pages discussing Catholic doctrine and history:

Return to Catholic Doctrine Homepage