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quasi compendium quoddam omnium beneficiorum suorum. S. Bonav. de Instit. part. i. cap. 11. On this account the devil has always endeavoured to abolish the Mass throughout the world by means of heretics, making them the precursors of Antichrist, who before all things will endeavour to abolish, and in fact will, in punishment of the sins of men, succeed in abolishing the holy sacrifice of the altar, according to the prediction of Daniel: Robur autem datum est ei contra juge sacrificium propter peccata. Dan. viii. 12.
The same St. Bonaventure says, that the Son of God in every Mass confers a benefit on the world not less than that which he conferred in taking upon himself our human nature: Non minus videtur facere Deus in hoc, quod quotidie dignatur descendere super altare, quam cum naturam humani generis assumpsit. Loco cit. So that, as the learned teach, if Jesus Christ had never appeared in the world, a priest, by pronouncing the words of consecration, would bring him down from heaven upon the earth, according to that celebrated sentence of St. Augustine: O veneranda Sacerdotum dignitas, in quorum manibus, velut in utero Virginis Filius Dei incarnatur. S. Aug. in Psalm xxvii. . Moreover, as the sacrifice of the altar is the application and renewing of the sacrifice of the cross, the angelic doctor teaches, that the Mass procures for man the same benefits and salvation as the sacrifice of the cross procured for him: In qualibet Missa invenitur omnis fructus, quem Christus operatus est in cruce. Quidquid est effectus Dominicce passionis est effectus hujus Sacrificii. S. Thom. in cap. 6. Isa. Lect. 6. St. Chrysostom says the same: Tantum valet celebratio Missæ, quantum valet mors Christi in cruce. Apud Discipul. Serm. 48. And ofthis the Church still further assures us, saying: Quoties hujus hostice commemoratio recolitur, toties opus nostre Redemptionis exercetur. Orat. in Missa Dom. post Pent. As the same Saviour, who offered himself for us on the cross, offers himself in sacrifice on the altar by the hands of the priest, as the council of Trent teaches: Una enim eademque hostia, idem nunc offerens Sacerdotum ministerio, qui seipsum tunc in cruce obtulit, sola ratione offerendi diversa. Sess. 22, cap. 2; so the sacrifice of the cross is applied to our souls by the sacrifice of the altar. The passion of Jesus Christ rendered us capable of redemption; the Mass puts us in possession of it, and enables us to enjoy its merits.
The Mass, then, being the most holy and divine action in which we can be engaged, it plainly follows, says the Council of Trent, that all diligence ought to be used in order that so great a sacrifice may be celebrated with the greatest possible interior purity and exterior devotion: Satis etiam apparet, omnem operam et diligentiam in eo ponendum esse, ut quanta maxima fieri potest interiori cordis munditia et puritate, atque exteriori devotionis, ac pietatis specie peragatur. Sess. 22. Decr. de obser, etc. And it says that the malediction fulminated by Jeremias against those who performed negligently. their sacred functions, is especially to be directed against Priests who celebrate Mass irreverently, which is the greatest and most sublime action that man can perform for the honour of his Creator ; adding, that such irreverence cannot well be less than impiety. The words of the Council are: Quoe ab impietate vix sejuncta esse potest.
In order, therefore, that the Priest of God may avoid such irreverence, and with it the malediction of heaven, let us see what he must do before he celebrates Mass; what during the celebration; and what after he has celebrated. Before he celebrates he must prepare himself. During the celebration he must behave with suitable reverence. After having celebrated he must make a thanksgiving..
OF PREPARATION BEFORE MASS.
It has been said by a servant of God, that the whole life of a Priest ought to be a preparation and thanksgiving for Mass. It is true that the most holy Eucharist was instituted for the benefit of all the faithful, but it was especially bestowed upon Priests. Nolite, says our Lord, speaking to Priests, dare sanctum canibus, neque mittutis margaritas vestras, ante porcos. Matth. vii. 6. Mark the words, Margaritas vestras. In Greek the consecrated particles are called margaritæ ; now these are here spoken of by our Blessed Saviour as belonging particularly to Priests, margaritas VESTRAS. Hence, according to St. Chrysostom, a Priest leaving the altar ought to be so inflamed with divine love, as to be the terror of hell: Tanquam leones igitur ignem spirantes ab illa mensa recedamus, facti diabolo terribiles. Chrysost. Hom. 6. ad Popul. Antioch. But do we see this exemplified ? On the contrary, the greater number of Priests leave the altar even more tepid, more impatient, proud, jealous, and more attached to their own interests, to selfesteem, and to worldly pleasures. Defectus non in cibo est, sed in sumente, says Cardinal
Bona. The fault is not in the food of which they partake at such a table, since such food, only once eaten, according to St. Mary Magdalene of Pazzi, is sufficient to make them saints; but in the neglect of preparation on the part of those who celebrate the Holy Sacrifice.
Preparation for Mass is two-fold-remote and immediate.
The remote consists in a pure and virtuous life, which a Priest ought always to lead in order to celebrate worthily. If God required purity of the Priests of the old law, to qualify them for the carrying only of the sacred vessels: Mundamini qui fertis rasa Domini. Isa. lii. 11; how much greater purity must he require of a Priest for bearing in his hands and in his breast the Word incarnate? Quanto mundiores esse oportet, qui in manibus et in corpore portant Christum ? says Peter of Blois, Ep. 123. In order to be thus pure and holy, a Priest should not only be free from mortal sins, but also from deliberate venial sins: otherwise, says St. Bernard, Jesus Christ will not allow him to have part with him: Nemo quce videntur modica, contemnat ; quoniam, sicut audivit Petrus, nisi laverit ea Christus, non habebimus partem cum eo. All the actions, therefore, of a Pricst, all his words, all his thoughts, ought