On the Catholic Priesthood

Sunday December 01, 2019

The Mass

 

The Mass is the memorial of the passion of Jesus Christ. His death is here mystically represented by the separate consecration of the bread and of the wine. The ornaments are all marked with the sign of the the cross, which is used in all ceremonies and benedictions. But above all, the silence, the meekness, the patience of the adorable Victim, everything at the altar, vividly remind us of the ignominious and sorrowful scenes of Calvary. Moreover, outrages ceased not to be offered to Jesus Christ with the termination of His mortal life. We know what indignities have been reserved for Him hidden under the Eucharistic veils. Alas! does He not find in our churches renewal of the cruel trials of Calvary? Does not His heart experience the same sorrow at the sight of the crimes daily committed by men, whilst He offers Himself to the Eternal Father as a victim of propitiation? Does He not find also coldness, indifference, abandonment, and that, too, on the part of those very persons who were the recipients of his greatest favors and on whose fidelity He had therefore the strongest claims. On the cross He was loaded with opprobrium by the Jews; on the altar He is overwhelmed with it by the heretics and the impious. But in this example of the Savior, who not only devotes Himself to torments and to death, but who also, as it were, prolongs and perpetuates His passion by leaving Himself in the hands of men, there is a wonderful power to make us love mortification, or at least render the practice of is more agreeable.

Jesus Christ foresaw everything. Therefore, when through love for men He constituted Himself a prisoner in the Holy Eucharist, the persecutions of the future were as clearly present to Him as those which He was actually undergoing. His tender love for us triumphed over every feeling of repugnance. He accepted the twofold chalice. Oh, that thought alone, which everything connected with the celebration of the sacred Mysteries so vividly recalls, ought to suffice to inspire the priest with unbounded generosity and courage!

Thou hast, O Lord! constituted Thyself my Victim; shall I refuse to be Thine? When instituting the Sacrament of the Altar, and pre-ordaining me to be its privileged minister, Thou didst well know how many tribulations Thou wouldst have to undergo from that moment to this. Thou hast ever present to Thee those numberless impieties, those horrible sacrileges, committed against Thee in Thy holy sacraments during this long interval of nearly nineteen hundred years. Thou didst distinctly foresee how many Judases Thou wouldst encounter on Thy way, how many times on multiplied Calvaries Thy thirst wouldst be sated with vinegar and gall; yet that terrifying prospect could not allay the fervor of Thy love, nor prevent Thee accomplishing this prodigy of charity in my behalf. Will it now be said that I have nothing but a lukewarm heart to offer Thee in return for all Thou has done for me? For love of me Thou hast sacrificed consolations, glory, life itself; shall I hesitate to sacrifice for Thee my love of ease, my sensitive emotions? For the love of me Thou hast consented to be spit upon, to be trampled under foot, to be crucified; Thou has abandoned Thyself to the fury of Thy enemies, to be rejected, insulted, vilified by many even of Thy own disciples, and all this Thou endurest till the consummation of the world; and shall I complain of remaining in obscurity during the few days of my sojourn on earth? Shall I permit a slight insult or contradiction to irritate me to such an extent as completely to upset my mind? Shall I continued to be proud, impatient, excitable, exacting? Such a contrast should not be tolerated.

Source: The Sacrifice of the Mass Worthily Celebrated by Rev. Pierre Chaignon S.J., 1897

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