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Hearing Mass

by St. Alphonsus Liguori, Bishop and Doctor

Translated by the Rev. Eugene Grimm, C.Ss.R.

In order to hear Mass with devotion, it is necessary to know that the sacrifice of the altar is the same as that which was once offered on Calvary, with this difference, that on Calvary the blood of Jesus Christ was really shed, but on the altar it is shed only in a mystical manner. Had you been present on Calvary, with what devotion and tenderness would you have attended that great sacrifice! Enliven your faith, then, and consider that the same action is performed on the altar, and that the same sacrifice is offered not only by the priest, but also by all who attend Mass. Thus, all perform, in a certain manner, the office of priests during the celebration of the Mass, in which the merits of the Passion of our Saviour are applied to us in a particular manner.

It is, moreover, necessary to know that the sacrifice of the Mass has been instituted for four ends. 1. To honor God. 2. To satisfy for our sins. 3. To thank God for his benefits. 4. To obtain the divine graces. Thence arise the following considerations which may aid us to hear Mass with great fruit :

1. By the oblation of the person of Jesus Christ, God and man, to the Eternal Father, we give to God infinite honor; we give him greater honor than he would receive from the oblation of the lives of all men and all angels.

2. By the oblation of Jesus Christ in the Mass, we offer to God a complete satisfaction for all the sins of men, and especially for the sins of those who are present at Mass; to whom is applied the same divine blood, by which the human race was redeemed on Calvary. Thus, by each Mass more satisfaction is made to God than by any other expiatory work. But although the Mass is of infinite value, God accepts it only in a finite manner, according to the dispositions of those who attend the holy sacrifice, and, therefore, it is useful to hear several Masses.

3. In the Mass we render to God an adequate thanks giving for all the benefits that he has bestowed upon us.

4. During the Mass we can obtain all the graces that we desire for ourselves and for others. We are unworthy of receiving any grace from God, but Jesus Christ has given us the means of obtaining all graces, if, while we offer him to God in the Mass, we ask them of the Eternal Father in his name, for then Jesus himself unites with us in prayer. If you knew that while you pray to the Lord, the divine Mother, along with the whole of paradise, united with you, with what confidence would you pray? Now when you ask of God any grace during the Mass, Jesus (whose prayers are more efficacious than the prayers of all who are in heaven) prays for you, and offers in your behalf the merits of his Passion.

You will do well, then, to divide the Mass into four parts, as follows:

1. From the Beginning to the Gospel.

Offer the sacrifice of the Mass to honor God, saying:

"My God, I adore Thy majesty. I would wisli to honor Thee as much as Thou deservest; but what honor can I, a miserable sinner, give Thee? I offer Thee the honor which Jesus renders to Thee on this altar."

2. From the Gospel to the Elevation.

Offer the sacrifice in satisfaction for your sins, saying:

"Lord, I detest above every evil all the offences that I have given Thee: I am sorry for them above all things, and in satisfaction for them I offer Thy Son, who sacrifices himself again for us on this altar, and through his merits I pray Thee to pardon me, and to give me holy perseverance.

3. From the Elevation to the Communion.

Offer Jesus to the Eternal Father in thanksgiving for all the graces that he has bestowed upon you, saying:

Lord, I am unable to thank Thee; I offer Thee the blood of Jesus Christ in this Mass, and in all the Masses that are at this moment celebrated throughout the world.

4. From the Communion to the End.

You will ask with confidence the graces that you need, and particularly sorrow for your sins, the gift of perseverance, and of the divine love; and you will recommend to God, in a special manner, the persons with whom you live, your relatives, poor sinners, and the souls in purgatory. I do not find it amiss if you recite vocal prayers during Mass,* but I desire that you should not fail at the same time to fulfil the four duties to God that I have pointed out to you; namely, honor, expiation, thanksgiving, and prayer. I desire you to hear as many Masses as possible. Every Mass heard in this manner will obtain for you a treasure of merits.


* See Vol. I., A Christian's Rule of Life, chap. 2, 4. --ED




From Rev. Eugene Grimm, C.Ss.R., translator and editor. The Complete Works of Saint Alphonsus De Liguori: The Ascetical Works: Vol. VI, The Holy Eucharist. Redemptorist Fathers, Brooklyn, 1934. In that work, the editor states that the section titled "Hearing Mass" is taken from the True Spouse of Christ, Chap. 24, no. 4.

 

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