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quia cum longitudine non potest peccari graviter et scandalum dari sicut in nimis brevi.
A certain Priest, in excuse for having said a short Mass, once pleaded that St. Philip Neri said Mass in half a quarter of an hour. But with what a want of good sense! It is true, as related by the author of his life, that St. Philip, when he said Mass publicly, was only a short time in celebrating; but the writer does not mean by a short time half a quarter of an hour, nor a quarter of an hour; he only meant that the saint avoided that wearisome tediousness which the rubrics censure. For in the same life we read that the saint celebrated Mass, even in public, with so much devotion that he moved all who heard him to tears of compunction. By a Mass of half a quarter of an hour, he would not have moved others to tears, but to laughter and ridicule.
Thirdly, it may be said: the people complain and are impatient when Mass is long. In reply, I would first ask, whether the want of devotion in the people is to regulate the degree of reverence to be paid to the Holy Sacrifice? Secondly, I would answer, that if Priests said Mass with becoming reverence and solemnity, the people would be impressed with proper respect for so holy a sacrifice, and would not complain of half an hour in assisting at it. It is because Mass is but too generally said hastily and carelessly, that it does not excite the people to devotion; and, hence, following the example of those who so celebrate, they assist at it indevoutly, and with but little faith. If they sée a priest doing wrong for a quarter, or half a quarter of an hour, they are disgusted and complain. They can spend hours at a gaming table, or loitering in the streets to kill time, but are quite wearied with a Mass of half an hour. Priests are the cause of all this evil: Ad ros, 0 Sacerdotes, saith the Lord, qui despicitis nomen meum et dixistis: in quo despiximus nomen tuum ? In eo quod dicitis: Mensa Domini despecta est. Malach. i. 6, 7; the meaning of which is, that the little account which Priests make of the reverence due to the Mass, is the cause why it is not respected by others.
Wherefore, my dear Priest of God, be careful to say Mass in a proper manner, and heed not others who blame you. Be satisfied if God praises you and the angels who assist around the altar. And if any one, however great a personage, requests you to say a short Mass, answer him as St. Theotine, a Canon Regular, replied to Tarasia, Queen of Portugal, when, on account of some pressing affairs, she requested him to
be expeditious in saying Mass. There is a Queen, said the saint, in heaven, more exalted than your majesty, in whose honour I am about to celebrate Mass; if your majesty cannot remain, go and attend to your affairs, but I cannot treat the Holy Sacrifice with irreverence by shortening the time required for offering it. Respondit aliam in toelo esse Reginam longe meliorem, cui solemnia Missce peragere disposuerat: in potestate ejus esse vel Missam audire, vel penitus discedere. Bolland. die 18. Febr. But what happened? The Queen, entering into herself, sent for the saint, and humbly casting herself at his feet, promised with tears to do penance for her rashness.
Let us, then, endeavour to reform ourselves, if hitherto we have celebrated this great Sacrifice with but little reverence and devotion. Let us consider how great is the action we are about to perform, when we are going to celebrate Mass; and let us consider how great a treasure of merit we shall acquire by celebrating it devoutly. Oh, what a blessing for a Priest is Mass well celebrated! The disciple says, (Serm. 48.) Oratio citius exauditur in Ecclesia in præsentia Sacerdotis celebrantis. And if the prayer of a secular is more certainly heard by God when offered up in the presence of a Priest cele. brating Mass, how much more the prayer of the Priest himself, if he celebrates devoutly? He who says Mass every day devoutly, will receive from God a constant supply of heavenly light and strength: Jesus Christ will constantly instruct him more and more, console him, animate him, and bestow upon him all the graces which he desires. Particularly after the consecration, a Priest may be assured he will obtain from our Lord whatever he asks for. The Ven. P. D. Antonio de Colellis says: “When I consecrate and hold Jesus Christ in my hands, I obtain whatever I desire.”
Lastly, in speaking of the respect which is due to Jesus Christ offering himself in sacri. fice in the Mass, I would not omit the precept of Innocent III: Prcecipimus quoque ut Oratoria, Vasa, Corporalia, et vestimenta, nitida conserventur; nimis enim videtur absurdum in sacris negligere, quce decent in profanis. In Can. 1. Reling. tit. 44. This Pope had but too much reason for speaking in this manner, for, in truth, there were those of his day who did not blush to celebrate, or to cause others to celebrate, with corporals, mundatories, and chalices, which they would not have suffered to be used at their own tables.
OF THANKSGIVING AFTER MASS.
Finally, a Priest, after having celebrated Mass, must make a thanksgiving. St. John Chrysostom says, that if men expect us to be grateful for every little favour which they do us, and to recompense them; how much more grateful ought we to be to God for the great benefits which he bestows upon us, since without any view to recompense, but only for our advantage, he would have us be grateful to him. Si homines parvum benficium præstiterint, expectant a nobis gratitudinem ; quanto magis id nobis faciendum in iis quce a Deo accepimus, qui hoc solum ob nostram utilitatem vult fieri? Chrysost. Hom. 26. in cap. 8. Genes. If we, continues the saint, cannot thank God as he deserves; at least, let us thank him as much as we are able. But what a misery, what an abuse, to see Priests, as soon as Mass is finished, after having received from God the honour of offering up in sacrifice to him his own beloved Son, and after having partaken of his most sacred body, scarcely entered into the sacristy, with their lips still purpled with his blood, but after a short prayer muttered between their teeth, without devo