Jesus, Our Eucharistic Love
|Francisco Marto, as he was taught by Our Lady of Fatima, often knelt in prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament to console Our Lord.|
Third, to find the riches of the Eucharist, one should exercise the will. One must do this by bringing the divine lessons of the Eucharist into his life. What good would it be to discover the infinite worth of the Eucharist as we ponder It and seek to love It at Communion time, if we do not then proceed to live It?
The Eucharist teaches a love that goes beyond telling. It teaches total self-sacrifice, and an unequaled lesson in humility and self-effacement It teaches patience and unrestricted dedication. But what do we draw from all this? We surely ought to achieve something! Can we continue to be indifferent and do nothing when Jesus has loved us and still loves us with this great generosity “even to the end”? (John 13:1)
If we feel frail, we need to turn to Him, to speak to Him and not tarry about asking His help and support, for He is the very One Who said, “Without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) First of all let us go before Him: “Come to Me … and I will refresh you.” (Matt.11:28) Let us often visit Him, entering a Church every time we can and pausing a little while before the tabernacle, and put both our heart close to Him and our body before His! The Saints were constantly eager to make visits to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, to make Holy Hours of adoration, spiritual communions, ejaculatory prayers and earnest acts of love that come from the heart. How much profit they gained from this and how much good they passed on!
One day in Turin a friend, who was his companion from the University, asked Peter George Frassati, “Let us go and take an appetizer.” Peter George took advantage of the occasion and replied, indicating to his friend the nearby Church of St. Dominic, “But, of course, let us go and take it in that cafe.” Entering the church, they prayed for a little while near the tabernacle; then they neared the offering box, Peter George said, “Here is the appetizer.” And from the pockets of the two youths came alms for the poor!
Thinking of the Eucharist during his sermon, St. John Chrysostom asked one time, “How can we make of our bodies a host?” And he himself replied, “Let your eyes look at nothing evil, and you have offered a sacrifice; let not your tongue offer unbecoming words and you have made an offering; let not your hand commit a sin and you have offered a holocaust.”
Just recall the eyes of St. Colette, which were always lowered and recollected in sweet modesty. Why? She once gave the answer: “My eyes, I have filled with Jesus upon Whom I have fixed them at the Elevation of the Host at Holy Mass and I do not wish to replace Him with any other image.”
Let us think of the reserve and edification of the Saints in speaking, using with exactness the tongue which had been consecrated by contact with the Body of Christ Jesus.
Recall the good works which souls, filled with love by the Eucharist, have accomplished because Jesus communicated to them His own sentiments of love to all the brothers, especially the most needful.
Can we not also exercise thus our will? Let us learn from the Saints and begin to continue their good works.
Jesus “has loved me and has sacrificed Himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20)
JESUS FOR ME
• The Holy Mass is the Sacrifice of the Cross
• Daily Holy Mass
• The active and fruitful participation
• Holy Mass and the souls in Purgatory
• Holy Mass is the Sacrifice of the Cross
"The celebration of the Holy Mass is as valuable as the death of Jesus on the Cross."
St. Thomas Aquinas
Only in Heaven will we understand what a divine marvel the Holy Mass is. No matter how much we force ourselves and no matter how holy and inspired we are, we cannot but stammer on this divine work which transcends men and Angels.
One day Padre Pio of Pietrelcina 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 came to affirm, “God Himself cannot bring about an action more holy and greater than the celebration of one Holy Mass.” Why? Because the Holy Mass is, one could say, the synthesis, because the Holy Mass can be said to sum up the Incarnation and Redemption and contains the Birth, Passion and the Death of Jesus, mysteries which God accomplished for our sakes. The Second Vatican Council teaches, “At the Last Supper, the night in which He was betrayed, Jesus initiated the Eucharistic Sacrifice of His Body and Blood, in order to continue the Sacrifice of the Cross throughout the centuries until His return.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, The Constitution on the Liturgy, n. 47) St. Thomas Aquinas, in an enlightening passage, wrote, “The celebration of the Holy Mass is as valuable as the death of Jesus on the Cross.”
For this reason, 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.”
Indeed, inasmuch as it renews the Sacrifice of Jesus’ passion and death, the Holy Mass, even taken alone, is great enough to restrain divine justice. St. Teresa of Jesus said to her daughters, “Without the Holy Mass what would become of us? All here below would perish, because that alone can hold back God’s arm.” Without it the Church certainly would not last and the world would become hopelessly lost. “It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do so without the Holy Mass,” said Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. He was following St. Leonard of Port Maurice who had said, “I believe that if there were no Mass, the world would by now have sunk into the abyss under the weight of its wickedness. The Mass is the powerful support which sustains it.”
Wonderful are the saving effects which every Sacrifice of the Mass produces in the souls of those who participate. It obtains sorrow and pardon for sins; it lessens the temporal punishment due to sins; it weakens the influence of satan and the untamed impulses of our flesh; it strengthens the bonds of our union in the Body of Christ; it protects us from danger and disaster; it shortens the punishment of Purgatory; it obtains for us a higher degree of glory in Heaven. “No human tongue,” said St. Laurence 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.”
And so St. Leonard of Port Maurice did not tire of exhorting the crowds which listened to him, “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?”
If it is true that we all have need of graces for this life and for the next, nothing can win them from God like the Holy Mass. St. Philip Neri used to say, “With prayer we ask graces from God; in the Holy Mass we constrain God to give them to us.” The prayer offered during Holy Mass engages our whole priesthood, both the ministerial priesthood even apart from that of the individual priest at the altar and the common priesthood of all the faithful. In Holy Mass our prayer is united with Jesus’ prayer of agony as He sacrifices Himself for us. In a special way during the Canon, which is the heart of the Mass, the prayer of all of us becomes also the prayer of Jesus, present amongst us. The two Mementoes of the Roman Canon during which the living and the dead are remembered, are precious moments for us to present our petitions. Also, in those supreme moments when Jesus in the priest’s hands undergoes His Passion and Death, we can beg for our own needs and we can recommend both living and deceased persons who are dear to us. Let us take care to profit by this. The Saints held this to be very important, and when they recommended themselves to the prayers of priests, they asked them to remember them above all during the Canon.
It will particularly be at the hour of our death that the Masses we have devoutly heard will bring us our greatest consolation and hope, and one Mass heard during life will be more profitable than many Masses heard by others in our behalf after our death.
Our Lord told St. Gertrude, “You may be sure that regarding one who devoutly assists at Holy Mass, I will send him as many of my Saints to comfort him and protect him during the last moments of his life as there will have been Masses which he has heard well.” How consoling! The Holy Curé of Ars had reason to say, “If we knew the value of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, how much greater effort we would put forth in order to assist at it!” And 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 your soul more than devoutly assisting at It, and assisting as often as possible.”
For this reason we must consider ourselves fortunate every time we have an opportunity to attend a Holy Mass; and in order not to lose the opportunity, we should never withhold ourselves because of some sacrifice, especially on Sundays and holy days.
Let us remember St. Maria Goretti, who, to go Sunday Mass traveled on foot, a journey of 15 miles going and returning home. We should think of Santina Campana, who went to Mass while she had a high fever. Think of Blessed Maximilian M. Kolbe who offered Holy Mass when his health was in such pitiful condition that one of his brothers in religion had to support him at the altar so that he would not fall. And how many times Padre Pio of Pietrelcina celebrated Holy Mass while he was bleeding and had a fever!
In our own daily lives, we ought to rank the Holy Mass ahead of any other good; for, as St. Bernard says, “One merits more by devoutly assisting at a Holy Mass than by distributing all of his goods to the poor and traveling all over the world on pilgrimage.” And it cannot be otherwise, because nothing in the world can have the infinite value of one Holy Mass.
We ought to prefer Holy Mass all the more to mere amusements that waste our time and bring no profit to our soul. St. Louis IX, King of France, attended several Masses every day. A minister of the government complained, remarking that he could devote that time to the affairs of the kingdom. The saintly king remarked, “If I spent twice the time in amusements, like hunting, no one would have any objection.”
Let us be generous and willingly make sacrifices so as not to lose so great a good. St. Augustine said to his Christians, “All the steps that one takes as he travels to hear Holy Mass are counted by an angel; and then one will be given a high reward by God in this life and in eternity.” The Curé of Ars adds, “How happy is that guardian angel who accompanies a soul to Holy Mass!”
• Daily Holy Mass
|Padre Pio, the stigmatist priest of Pietrelcina, (above) gave us the example of adoring the Eucharistic Jesus before receiving Him in Holy Communion.|
Once one realizes that Holy Mass has infinite worth, he is not surprised at the Saints' eagerness and care to attend it every day, and even more often insofar as possible.
St. Augustine has left us this praise of his mother, St. Monica, “She did not let a day pass without being present at the divine Sacrifice before Your altar, O Lord.”
St. Francis of Assisi usually attended two Masses each day; and when he was sick he asked a friar who was a priest to celebrate Holy Mass for him in his cell so that he would not be without Holy Mass.
Every morning after celebrating Holy Mass, St. Thomas Aquinas served another Mass in thanksgiving.
The shepherd boy, St. Paschal Baylon, could not go to church to attend all the Masses he would have liked because he had to take the sheep to the pasture. So, every time he heard the church bells give the signal for Mass, he knelt on the grass among the sheep before a wooden cross that he had made, and in this way he would, from afar, follow the priest as he offered the divine Sacrifice. What a lovable Saint, a true seraphim of love towards the Eucharist. On his death bed he heard the bell for Mass and had the strength to whisper to his brethren, “I am happy to unite to the Sacrifice of Jesus the sacrifice of my poor life.” And he died at the Consecration of Holy Mass.
St. Margaret, Queen of Scotland and mother of eight children, went to Mass every day and brought her children with her, and with motherly care she taught them to treasure the little missal which she chose to adorn with precious stones.
Let us manage our affairs so well that we will not lack time for Holy Mass. Let us not say that we are too busy with chores, for which Jesus could remind us, “Martha, Martha, thou art troubled about many things, but one thing alone is necessary.” (Luke 10:41-42).
When one really wants to, one finds time to go to Mass without failing in one's duties. St. Joseph Cottolengo recommended daily Mass for everybody — for teachers, nurses, laborers, doctors, parents — and to those who objected that they did not have time to go he replied firmly, “Bad management! Bad economy of time!” He spoke the truth. If we but appreciated the infinite value of the Holy Mass, we would be very desirous of assisting and would try in every way to find the necessary time.
When St. Charles of Sezze was going about Rome seeking alms for his community, he would take time out to make visits to a church to attend additional Masses. It was at the moment of the elevation of the Host during one of these Masses that he received the dart of love into his heart.
Every morning St. Francis of Paola went to church and he remained therein to attend all the daily Masses which were celebrated. St. John Berchmans, St. Alphonsus Rodriguez and St. Gerard Majella used to serve at as many Masses as they could. (They did this with such devotion and edification that they attracted many of the faithful into church.)
Venerable Francis of the Child Jesus, a Carmelite, served at ten Masses every day. If it happened that he had a few less to serve, he would say, “Today I have not had my full breakfast.” And what can we say of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina? Padre Pio heard many Masses every day, and participated at them by reciting many Rosaries! The Holy Curé of Ars was not mistaken when he said, “The Mass is the devotion of the Saints.”
The same must be said of the love that holy priests have had for celebrating Mass. It was for them a terrible suffering to be unable to celebrate Mass. “When you hear that I cannot celebrate Mass any more, count me as dead,” St. Francis Xavier Bianchi said to a brother religious.
St. John of the Cross made it clear that the greatest suffering he had during his ordeal of imprisonment was that of not being able to celebrate Mass nor receive Holy Communion for nine continuous months.
Obstacles and difficulties did not count for the Saints when they were arranging their affairs with a view to not losing so excellent a good. For example, one day in the streets of Naples, St. Alphonsus Liguori suffered violent pains in the abdomen. The religious who accompanied him urged him to stop and take a sedative. But the Saint had not yet celebrated Mass and his prompt response was, “My dear brother, I would walk ten miles in this condition in order not to miss saying Holy Mass.” And his sufferings would not move him to break the Eucharistic fast which at that time was obligatory from midnight. He waited until the pain subsided a little and then continued his walk to church.
The Capuchin, St. Laurence of Brindisi, found himself in a town of heretics. Since this town had no Catholic church, he journeyed forty miles on foot to reach a chapel cared for by Catholics in which he was able to celebrate Holy Mass.
St. Francis de Sales one time was staying in a Protestant town, and to celebrate Holy Mass he had to go every morning before dawn to a Catholic parish church which was on the other side of a broad stream. During the autumn rains the stream rose more than usual and washed away the little bridge on which the Saint had been crossing. But St. Francis was not disheartened. He threw a large beam in the place where the bridge had been and continued to cross over. In winter, however, because of the ice and snow, there was serious danger of his slipping and falling into the water. The Saint then devised a procedure whereby he put himself astride the beam and then maneuvered across on all fours, so that he might not miss his celebration of Holy Mass.
We will never succeed in sufficiently pondering that mystery beyond description, the Holy Mass, which reproduces on our altars the Sacrifice of Calvary. Nor can we ever have too much devotion for this supreme marvel of Divine Love.
“Holy Mass”, wrote St. Bonaventure, “is an achievement of God wherein He places before our view all the love He has borne us; in a sense it is the synthesis, the sum of all benefits bestowed upon us.”
• Active and Fruitful Participation
The infinite greatness of the Holy Mass should enable us to understand the need of attentively and devoutly taking part in the Sacrifice of Jesus. Adoration, love and sorrow ought to have undisputed predominance among our sentiments.
In a very moving reflection, quoted forcefully by Vatican II, Pope Pius XII portrayed the dispositions with which one should take part in the Holy Mass; that is, it should be with “the dispositions that the Divine Redeemer had when He sacrificed Himself — the same humble spirit of submission — that is, of adoration, love, praise and thanksgiving to the great majesty of God…, so that we reproduce in ourselves the condition of victimhood, the self-denial that follows the Gospel’s teaching, whereby of our own accord we make the willing sacrifice of penance, sorrow and expiation for our sins.”
True, active participation at Holy Mass is what makes us into slain victims like Jesus and succeeds in “reproducing in us the pain-marked features, the suffering likeness of Jesus” (Pius XII), allowing us “the fellowship of His sufferings” as we are “made conformable to His death” (Philippians 3:10). All the rest is simply liturgical ceremony, simply clothing. St. Gregory the Great taught: “The Sacrifice of the Altar will be on our behalf truly acceptable as our offering to God when we present ourselves as victims.” As a reflection of this doctrine, in early Christian communities the faithful used to advance in penitential garb, chanting the litany of the Saints, in a procession to the Altar for the celebration of Holy Mass, with the Pope presiding. If we would go to Mass in this spirit, we should want to make our own the sentiment St. Thomas the Apostle expressed when he said, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him” (John 11:16).
When St. Margaret Mary Alacoque attended Holy Mass, as she gazed at the altar, she would never fail to take a glance at the Crucifix and the lighted candles. Why? It was to impress into her mind and heart two things: the Crucifix reminded her of what Jesus had done for her; the lighted candles recalled what she must do for Jesus; that is, sacrifice herself and consume herself for Him and for souls.