On the Catholic Priesthood
Our Best Help in the Spiritual Life
In the Catholic Church, our greatest treasure, and the source of our strength and consolation, is the Most Adorable Sacrifice of the Mass, offered with faith and hope, with thanksgiving and love, in union with the merits and intentions of the Divine Victim, the Son of the Living God.
It has been well said that the Mass, the Sacrifice offered on our altars, is, to the Catholic , the sun of Christianity, the soul of Faith, the center of the Christian religion, the grand object of all the Church's rites, ceremonies and Sacraments - the summary, in a word, of all that is good and beautiful in Divine worship and the service of God.
It is no mere form of prayer, but a great and solemn Sacrificial Act offered through Jesus Christ unto the supreme honor of God alone, our Creator and Sovereign Lord. At this august Action, the faithful assist intelligently and fruitfully even when they are so far from the Altar that they cannot hear what is said. At no time since the creation of man was the world without visible sacrifices offered to God. In the Prophecy of Daniel it is foretold that at the coming of Antichrist "the continual sacrifice shall be taken away" (xii,2); and one of the chief acts of the so-called Reformation in the sixteenth century was to suppress this holy Oblation.
Alas! how great is the loss which they suffer who neglect to hear Mass, a loss which they will most bitterly regret, at least in the life beyond the grave.
Some laugh at the custom of hearing daily Mass, and say: "No one that wishes to get on in the world can do such a thing." If they succeed in putting together some wealth, how dearly that success is bought if it drew them on to neglect even Sunday Mass and other grave obligations! When they come to die, how little consolation will such riches give! Will not those persons cry out then, "What hath pride profited us, or the boasting of riches brought us? These things are passed away like a shadow." In the next live, if they see the faithful souls who loved Holy Mass, and lived for God only, they will say: "We, fools, esteemed their life madness and their end without honor. Behold, how they are numbered among the children of God, and their lot is among the saints" (Wisd. v.6)
Our model in offering the Holy Sacrifice in union with the priest is our Blessed Lady at the foot of the Cross, offering her Divine Son unto the honor of God for the redemption of the world. We should associate ourselves with her, and desire to have the same perfect disposition of soul as she had on Calvary, and we should ask of her to intercede for us that we may worthily offer the Adorable Sacrifice and share in all its benefits. Everyone who assists at Mass is an offerer of the Sacrifice with the priest. The prayers said in the plural number by the celebrant for those who are present, the mention by him of the people as offerers, and the responses spoken aloud by the server, all show that the persons present at the Mass are true offerers of the Sacrifice, and are liturgically associated with the priest.