Category Archives: Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

Mass Unplugged

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Dear Catholics, it becomes more apparent every day that we are living in a very artificial and “adapting” world, with most of this adapting unfortunately based on materialistic and Modernistic principles.  While the use of today’s conveniences is often not sinful and sometimes even required for our age, it may threaten to diminish a sense of the supernatural in us.  The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass directly contrasts the modern world in that it is a timeless atmosphere, with everything surrounding the sacrifice coming from God.  As we better understand this eternal, supernatural character of the Mass, we will better appreciate the great and wonderful Mystery that surrounds the Sacrifice and everything involved with it.  Fr. Jordie Stephens, SSPX, explains in his April 2017 letter to Third Order members:

Dear Postulants and Professed members,

In my younger days I remember pop and rock bands doing sessions before a live audience that were called ‘unplugged’. Amplifiers were abandoned, synthesizers were softened, and a more relaxed atmosphere prevailed. Among other things, it was an opportunity for groups to convince their fans that behind the hundreds of electrical cords and dials there did in fact lurk real people with real musical skills.

The artificial and synthetic surrounds us, from our phones to our freezers. It is becoming increasingly novel to breathe un-air-conditioned air, to eat food from the garden instead of the packet, to see pictures without pixels and hear music without microphones. But both in body and soul we ourselves are far from synthetic: we are God-made, not man-made. We are designed by a mind dwelling not in time, but eternity. There is thus always a certain refreshment and invigoration when we encounter objects similarly God-made.

What has this got to do with Holy Mass? Well, if ever it were necessary to get away from the artificial and part with the plastic, to get ‘unplugged’ from the synthetic, it is certainly at Holy Mass.

To approach the tabernacle is to come into the presence of God in a unique way, since both His divine and human nature meet us. Now God dwells not in time but eternity. He is above, beyond and behind time. He is thus no more bound and conditioned by it than was Tolkien by the time scale and history of his Middle Earth. God lives in the perfect ‘all-at-once’ world of eternity, whereas we live in the imperfect ‘one-thing-after-another’ world where everything is still ‘on the way’ to its goal.

To enter a Catholic church, and especially to step into the Catholic sanctuary, is to approach at close quarters this timeless and eternal world of God. Everything in it and approaching should therefore taste of the timeless. Until the 1960’s, every traditional Catholic church and its liturgy savoured of this timeless and eternal atmosphere.

Just think of the timelessness of church objects. Flowers and floral designs; beeswax candles; marble, stone and wood; gold and silver; flowing robes; plant-based linen for altar cloths; sermons on timeless topics; timeless and ancient Latin. All these are ‘unplugged’ from any specific time or culture and are meant to help transport us into eternity.

This not to deny that all these natural objects are touched up and refined artificially. The flowers are arranged artificially, the stone, marble and wood are carved and cut elaborately and sometimes exquisitely. But these artistic modifications enhance and elevate the merely natural, redeeming it. True art always imitates nature, ensuring that the human touch should follow the contours and colours indicated by nature herself. Although nature is not the good God, she is a good guide.

Before electricity, the church and sanctuary were also quite literally ‘unplugged’. Until the 20th century Mass (excluding Midnight Masses of course) was celebrated only in the morning. Without electric lights to compensate one can imagine the semi-darkness that pervaded Mass for twenty centuries. This may be seen in the many artistic depictions of Mass, full of shadows and subtle plays of light. The morning sun is weak much of the year, even without taking into account any overcast days. One can thus understand how the two candles stipulated for Low Mass was more than just for decorative and symbolic purposes. They helped the priest to see.

Is there not a tendency sometimes to overuse electric lights in our churches? Granted, flipping a switch is easier than lighting a host of candles, which is both time-consuming and messy. We moderns want efficiency, and instantaneous light without labour is one more welcome time-saver. We are also compulsive consumers, with switchflipping and packet-scrunching a significant part of our day. We like turning things ‘on’. It makes us feel in control.

Our ancestors, however, saw a candle-lit church as mysterious and wonderful. We moderns are perhaps more likely to see the semi-darkness as somehow deficient, as needing ‘fixing’. So we turn on all the lights to remove all shadow. It is a symptom. We are far less mystical. We are accustomed to snow-white bathrooms and perhaps hypnotized by the sterile and lifeless light emitted by LED’s.

But Holy Mass is precisely a place of mystery. Banishing all shadow and obscurity is just what the New Mass and all its paraphernalia is about. Latin was removed precisely for its ‘obscurity’. The blaring lights of modern English were better, apparently. The revolutionaries applied this principle to every aspect of the liturgy as well as the church itself. As we know, all this removing of obscurity resulted paradoxically in the total obscurity and even eclipse of the Faith itself. This desire to see and understand everything at Mass is a novelty, unknown to Catholics who went before us. To conceal is to reveal. Less is more.

The availability of electric light coincided with the availability of the missal for the faithful at the end of the 1800’s. To read demands light, and naturally artificial light comes to the rescue. But our ancestors came to Mass often bringing nothing but themselves. Even after printing was invented in the 1400’s, a missal would have been useless for most, since only the minority could read. Many of us, however, feel uncomfortable and perhaps even guilty coming to Mass missal-less. We should not be. Yes, it may help us or our children concentrate and not fidget. As I have noted before, Mass is not primarily an instruction but a sacrifice. Neither Latin nor English can clarify the infinite mystery of Mass. Just like those standing at Calvary, the essential thing to know is that ‘My God is suffering and dying for me, a sinner’. We should often remind ourselves that the vast majority of Catholics attending Mass throughout history were armed with little more than this.

Attending Mass or making a visit is to enter an ‘unplugged’ world, the threshold of God’s timeless eternity. As much as possible let us leave the latest fashions and technologies at the door. Our clothes and gestures should likewise be affected by this breaking free of time. A buzzing mobile phone or a t-shirt with an offensive logo are inappropriate in church not just because of the irreverence: rather, they simply have nothing of the timeless.

This sacred space and sacred time into which we step is designedly opaque and shadowy, from its Latin to its lighting. It all ignites our sense of wonder and humility in the presence of eternal realities far, far beyond us and our particular time. May we love and treasure this sacred semi-darkness and dimmed divinity. It is eminently dignum et justum est, ‘meet and just’, that in God’s presence we are unplugged from the profane and plugged into the perpetual.

In the Sacred Heart of Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,

Fr Jordie Stephens

Spiritual Director of the Third Order of SSPX for Australia

 

~ Steven C.

Keep thy Priests

 

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“With all your soul, fear God, revere his priests. With all your strength, love your Creator, forsake not his ministers.”  ~Sirach 7:29-30

One of my favorite poems of all time is “Keep them, Dearest Lord,” a beautiful poem written for priests. I don’t know who wrote it. If anyone does, please comment below and let me know. I’ve always had a great devotion to the Priesthood and praying for priests. My trinity of devotions include the Holy Eucharist, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Catholic Priesthood, for these three are equally the foundation of the Church. Without one, we cannot have the other and without all three, the Church would lost her supernaturality.  Hence, why satan has attacked these three so viciously and continues to do, for He knows that Christ gave the Church the means of salvation through the Priest, who offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for us, the Victim and fruit of that Sacrifice being the Holy Eucharist, the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.

Let us love our priests and pray for them. I dedicate this poem to my own pastor, Fr. Greig Gonzalez, SSPX.  May God love and bless him, for his untiring love and dedication to his flock.

Keep them, I pray Thee, Dearest Lord,
Keep them, for they are thine,
Thy priests whose lives burn out
Before Thy consecrated shrine.

Keep them, for they are in the world,
Though from the world apart;
When earthly pleasures tempt, allure,
Shelter them in Thy Heart.

Keep them, and comfort them in hours
Of loneliness and pain,
When all their life of sacrifice for souls
Seems but in vain.

Keep them, and O remember, Lord,
They have no one but Thee,
Yet, they have only human hearts,
With human frailty.

Keep them as spotless as the Host,
That daily they caress.
Their every thought and word and deed,
Deign, Dearest Lord, to bless.

IMPRIMATUR 

+Henry Joseph O’Leary, D.D., Archbishop of Edmonton

Mary, Mother of Priests, pray for Fr. Gonzalez and strengthen him! St. John Vianney, St. John Bosco and all patrons of priests, intercede for the Priests of God!

~Damsel of the Faith

“Honor God and respect the priest”  ~Sirach 7:31

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Hear Mass!

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Let us hear Mass as much as possible this Advent!  What a source of great graces, the greatest in the world, coming from the Supreme and Eternal Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, Our Lord.

From The Incredible Catholic Mass by Fr. Martin von Cochem:

In every Mass, not earthly riches, but celestial riches from Heaven are showered down on all who are present, and all who are free to possess themselves of them.  But what are the riches which drop down from above?  An
increase of divine grace, an increase of merit and virtue, an increase of eternal glory, celestial consolations, the divine blessing in temporal affairs, the pardon of venial sins, the remission of a great part of the temporal debt due to Divine Justice, a share in the infinite merits of Christ.  Grace and mercy, temporal welfare and eternal salvation – such is the heavenly dew which distills from above…….Wherefore, if on account of the slight trouble it costs us or the trifling pecuniary sacrifice it entails, we omit going to Mass on weekdays when we might do so, we are guilty of great folly
…..

…….The object and end of our existence upon earth is to praise the Divine Majesty according to His great glory.  This cannot be done better than by hearing Mass, for it is the most Sublime Sacrifice of praise……….We cannot bear fruit better than by hearing Mass in the state of grace, for it is the most perfect Sacrifice of satisfaction.  We daily stand exposed to the danger of falling into sin, of being overtaken by misfortune; we cannot guard against these perils better than by hearing Mass, for it is the most efficacious Propitiatory Sacrifice.  Death and the devil constantly dog our footsteps and lay in wait for us, desirous to snatch us away and precipitate us into hell; we cannot shield ourselves against their arrows better than by hearing Mass, for it is the surest protection against the evils that threaten us.  Finally, let us not forget that in the hour of death we shall be in some need of the Savior’s assistance; there is no better means of assuring ourselves of this than by hearing Mass devoutly, for have we not heard how Christ Himself gave to one of His servants the promise that he would send for his solace and support at his last moments as many blessed spirits as he had heard Masses with devotion during his lifetime?  Reflect upon these truths and resolve from henceforth to hear Mass, if possible every day.  

How great is the Holy Catholic Mass of All Time!

~Damsel of the Faith

The 1962 Missale Romanum

An important post from The Knight of Tradition on the 1962 Missal:

For decades, some Catholics, particularly those in the sedevacantist movements, have criticized the Society of St. Pius X and other traditional priests for using the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal.  They often claim that this “Missal of John XXIII” reflects the Modernistic tendencies that had begun to infiltrate the Church structures.  Also, since an older edition would have been approved by a fully traditional Pope, Catholics might be safer to simply use that Missal, as if there was some hidden evil that great Catholics such as Padre Pio, Cardinal Ottaviani, and Archbishop Lefebvre did not find.

There are several objections put forth against this Missal, but this response is intended to take a more general approach.  However, I will specifically address two of the more common objections:

  1. The addition of St. Joseph’s name to the Canon of the Mass
  2. “If this Missal is so good, then why does the SSPX “re-insert” the second Confiteor(before Holy Communion)?”

All of these criticisms are not of little importance, since many Catholics of good will can be confused into having unnecessary scruples about the Masses they attend and the good priests that they support.  Archbishop Lefebvre and his Society have responded several times against these accusations, however, many traditional Catholics may not be fully aware of them.  I will thus attach some of the responses below, in the hope of reassuring these concerned Catholics.

This first article covers Archbishop Lefebvre explaining the principle of the Church and St. Thomas Aquinas in his decision for him and his order to use the 1962 edition of the Missal (I will post the article below):

http://sspx.org/en/only-when-faith-question

These featured items are responses by Fr. Peter Scott, SSPX, to the two most common objections noted above.

http://www.angelusonline.org/index.php?section=articles&subsection=show_article&article_id=3535 

http://www.angelusonline.org/index.php?section=articles&subsection=show_article&article_id=2396  

Part of this wonderful article notes the general reaction in the Church to the addition of St. Joseph to the Canon and also mentions the Divine Providence perhaps manifested by this action:

http://sspx.org/en/news-events/news/st-joseph-protector-universal-church-3579

May good Catholics always keep to the good Faith whole and entire, without giving into any dangerous compromises or excesses!

Only when the Faith is in question

Archbishop Lefebvre’s 1983 Ridgefield Conference

On April 24, 1983, Archbishop Lefebvre gave a conference to the seminarians at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Ridgefield, Connecticut. The background was the opposition of nine priests (one just ordained) and a few seminarians who had disobeyed His Excellency’s instruction to follow the 1962 liturgical books.

Despite their disobedience to his directive, the Archbishop attempted to remonstrate with them, but eventually was compelled to expel them from the Society of St. Pius X for obstinate refusal to obey their superior.

As the opposition had been led by the former seminary rector, Archbishop Lefebvre prudently decided to delay the diaconate ordinations that were scheduled for that year. He wanted to ensure that the future deacons would willingly follow the SSPX’s policy concerning the liturgical books to be used.

During the conference he explained his reason for deciding upon the 1962 liturgical books and the principle upon which it was based, asking the future deacons to consider this and thus determine their decision if they intended to remain faithful members of the Society of St. Pius X.

We present here three extracts from the conference outlining Archbishop Lefebvre’s exemplar attitude and firm response in dealing with this past historical event of the SSPX.

Extracts from Archbishop Lefebvre’s conference

What is the first principle to know what we must do in this circumstance, in this crisis in the Church? What is my principle?

The principle of the Church, it is the principle of St. Thomas Aquinas. It is not my choice; it’s not my favor; it is not my personal desire… I am nothing… I merely follow the doctrine of the Church. This doctrine is expounded by St. Thomas Aquinas.

So what does St. Thomas Aquinas say about the authority in the Church? When can we refuse something from the authority of the Church?

Principle: Only when the Faith is in question.

Only in this case. Not in other cases… only when the Faith is in question… and that is found in the Summa Theologica (II II Q.33, a.4, ad 2m): St. Thomas’ answer is that we cannot resist to the authority; we must obey:

  1. Sciendum tamen est quod ubi immineret periculum fidei.” Periculum fideii.e., the danger to our faith…
  2. etiam publice essent praelate a subditis arguendi.”, i.e., the subject can be opposed to the authority if the Faith is in question (“periculum fidei“);
  3. Unde et Paulus, qui erat subditus Petro, propter imminens periculum scandali circa fidem, Petrum publice arguit,” i.e., St. Paul opposed St. Peter because it was a danger for the Faith (cf. Galatians 2:11).

That is the principle (of St. Thomas), and I cannot harbor another motive to resist the pope… it is very serious to be opposed to the pope, and to the Church. It is very serious, and if we think that we must do that, we must do it (resist the Holy Father) only to preserve our Faith, and not for any other motive.

We must now do an application of the principle. For me I think that the liturgical reform of Pope John XXIII has nothing against the Faith. You can take the Pontificale, the Rituale, the Breviary, the Roman Missal, and… what is in these books of Pope John XXIII that is against the Faith? Nothing! And so [in an urgent tone]: …I cannot refuse this book (of Pope John), because he is the pope, and the pope gave me this book (and I must obey).

It is quite another thing with the reform of Pope Paul VI… in this book of reform of Pope Paul VI is a very grave danger to my Faith… it is precisely Periculum Fidei. So I refuse it, because ecumenism is the idea and motive of this reform… and this ecumenism… they say themselves, Pope Paul VI, Bugnini, etc., all say the motive of their reform is ecumenism, and this ecumenism takes away all (Catholic) things which are displeasing to the Protestant.

(…)

Some people abandon the Society on the left (i.e., moving towards the left), and some abandon her moving towards the right.

Those who abandon the Society on the left, they now use the rite of the New Mass… they are Progressivists… they are not against Progressivism any more.

Those who abandon us to the right, for them, there is no more any relations with Rome, no more relation with the Church, and they look (for a pope elsewhere)…as in the case of Fr. G–, where he went to Spain to see if the famous Palmar De Troya [a schismatic “traditionalist” cult in Spain who elected their own “pope”—Ed.], i.e., Clemente… he went there to see if Clemente is the true pope! Because such priests (who defect to the right) they look for authority; (by nature) they cannot remain without authority… because they have none… they have none.

(…)

This situation is very sad because I thought that I was helping my priests, (since I gave them) all my prayers, all my spirit, all my heart.

I gave all this to these priests… [“The Nine” who were expelled—Ed.] and they did good work… But it is a pity now… what will happen to the faithful? …the poor faithful, if they know that five or six or seven priests are no more members of the Society of St. Pius X?

What has happened? They will be bewildered to hear that it is true, these priests are not members of the Society any more… [with great distress and heartache]; …it is very sad, very sad for the faithful. I know these American faithful… they are very good people… and now… what can I do?”

Perhaps it is my fault, because I waited too long… if I took this decision three or four years ago, perhaps the situation would not be as grave as now. But perhaps I am too lenient, too tolerant, too good to them, because I do not like to go against my brothers, my priests.

So I tolerated them… I thought perhaps next year, or some time, things would change… but truly nothing has changed… it’s not better… in fact things have gotten worse with time.

Thus, we must pray… we must pray.

I hope, slowly, slowly, they can return in the good way, in the good progress of the seminary… and I hope I can give you ordination. We need priests… but we do not need priests that disobey, no.”

 

~Steven C., “Knight of Tradition”

 

 

 

The Perfect Mass

“Nicholas Wiseman was appointed as the first English cardinal and the first Archbishop of Westminster following the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy in England and Wales by Blessed Pius IX in 1850. This great pastor and scholar wrote, concerning the [‘Tridentine’] Mass that he celebrated each day of his priestly life: If we examine each prayer separately, it is perfect: perfect in construction, perfect in thought, and perfect in expression. If we consider the manner in which they are brought together, we are struck with the brevity of each, with the sudden but beautiful transitions, and the almost stanza-like effect, with which they succeed one another, forming a lyrical composition of surpassing beauty. If we take the entire service as a whole, it is constructed with the most admirable symmetry, proportioned in its parts with perfect judgment and so exquisitely arranged, as to excite and preserve an unbroken interest in the sacred action. No doubt, to give full force and value to this sacred rite, its entire ceremonial is to be considered. The assistants, with their noble vestments, the chant, the incense, the more varied ceremonies which belong to a solemn Mass, are all calculated to increase veneration and admiration. But still, the essential beauties remain, whether the holy rite be performed under the golden vault of St. Peter’s, or in a wretched wigwam, erected in haste by some poor savages for their missionary”   ~Michael Davies

Holy Thursday 2016

The Sacred Triduum begins.  Today Our Lord Jesus Christ gives us Himself in the Holy Eucharist by instituting the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Catholic Priesthood to continue His saving work. For Our Lord, His Love was so great that it wasn’t enough that He died a most gruesome and agonizing death for our eternal salvation, He also left us His very Self under the appearances of bread and wine.  To represent Him on earth, He left us the Priests to continue His everlasting Priesthood and to act in His Name. Let us give thanks to God for His great Love for us!

Meditation from Fr. Francis Xavier Weinger:

The Church observes the fast of Lent with the intention of preparing her children, in as perfect a manner as possible, for the glorious Easter-tide, that they may arise from a sinful, tepid, and imperfect state to a pure, holy, and even saintly life–a life most precious in the sight of the Lord. It is, therefore, the earnest wish of this most tender mother, that each of her children be penetrated with the greatest horror of sin, and, that every Christian, as he arises from the death of sin, shall also make fast the sepulcher of tepidity in which his soul has been for years, perhaps, buried. To this wish, and to the manner in which its realization can be accomplished, I will direct the attention of all whom I address during these three days of grace, asking them to consider with me the lives of three persons of whom Holy Scripture makes special mention in the history of the passion.

The first of the three is Judas, as he sat with the Lord at the Last Supper. Let us follow him until we behold him commit the dreadful crime which sealed his eternal ruin.

That the infinite merits of Christ may be effectually bestowed upon us, the first and most essential condition is, that we renounce sin entirely and forever, and thus, with hearts perfectly cleansed from the dust thereof, render ourselves worthy of the Table of the Lord, and thus, at this holy Easter-time, receive His precious Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity. A glance at Judas, the traitorous Apostle, will promote this condition of heart.

He is a mirror in which we may behold sin in all its depravity; in which every sinner, especially if he be a member of our Holy Church, may see reflected his own image, disfigured and distorted by the malignity of the crimes he has committed. This will be made clear to you today,–the day, upon which, in ages long gone by, our loving Saviour bequeathed to us His sacred Body and Blood.

O Mary, refuge of sinners, obtain for us a perfect knowledge of our sins and the grace of true repentance, that we may make a sincere confession of all our offenses against the law of God! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, for the greater honor and glory of God!

Several circumstances conspired to render the sin of Judas so enormous, the first one of which was his exalted position. He had been selected from among the millions of men who had lived up to that period on earth, and who would live until the end of time, to be constantly in the society of Jesus. Oh, what an honor! In proportion to it, therefore, his fall was immeasurably great.

Another serious aggravation of his crime was his abuse of the graces bestowed upon him to fit him for his vocation as one of the twelve Apostles,–one of the favored few who, for three years and a half, enjoyed the privilege of walking with the Saviour of mankind. He had, therefore, before him the most perfect example of virtue; he heard all His admirable discourses; witnessed His many miracles; beheld even the body of Lazarus, already touched with the blight of decay, arise at the word of the Lord, and yet all this was without effect! Oh, what emptiness of heart! what an abuse of grace! For his sin there was no excuse!

The next aggravating circumstance was the terrible indifference of Judas. Christ, in order to watch over and rescue the soul of this ungrateful sinner, endeavored to win his love and awaken his interest by selecting him from the twelve Apostles as the one to whom He entrusted the care of His own temporal affairs and those of the other Apostles. As a mark of confidence, He gave into his charge the alms they received to procure the necessities of life. This gave him occasion to speak often with the Blessed Virgin Mary, who followed Jesus, with other holy women, to minister to the wants of the little band. And yet Judas remained cold and indifferent to all these proofs of the searching love of Christ for him. Unhappy wretch!

Thirdly, the sin of Judas was enormously aggravated by his astonishing obduracy. Even, though already guilty of the basest treason, he dared to place himself, with the rest of the Apostles, at the table of the Lord– the Last Supper! There Christ, elevating His voice, pronounced those awful words: “One of you is about to betray Me!” Awe-stricken, the disciples asked, in trembling tones: “Is it I, Lord?” Judas remained obdurate. And again the Son of God broke the deep silence, saying: “The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of Him: but woe to that man by whom He shall be betrayed; it were better for him if he had not been born.” Terrible sentence! Mighty enough to move the mountains to their very foundations, and to penetrate to the inmost recesses of the ocean caves! And still that obdurate heart remained untouched; nay, he even dared to ask: “Is it I?” Then the divine eyes of the dear Saviour rested with loving pity upon him, as He replied: “Thou hast said it!” Obdurate still, his heart closed to the softening influence of grace; he received the Body and Blood of Christ unworthily; and thus, for the first time, was the sacrilege of an unworthy communion committed, and in that moment Satan took possession of his heart!

Fourthly, the crime of Judas was enormously aggravated by the incredible baseness of the treason. To betray his Lord and Master–his Saviour, who had given him such testimonials of His love–for thirty pieces of silver, the price demanded for slaughtering a head of cattle!–Can more unprecedented baseness be imagined? The enemies of Christ would gladly have paid him ten, fifty, a hundred times more for his most abominable treason had he but asked it. And with what bold assurance did he perpetrate the crime! He kissed the Saviour–the token of friendship to become the signal of treason! What greater hypocrisy can be imagined!

The last and most terrible characteristic of the crime of Judas was that hardness of heart which, culminating in despair, condemned him on the very day of redemption, when Christ gave Himself a willing sacrifice to die that he and all sinners might enter eternal life. This miserable being, unable to bear the weight of his crime, perished by his own vile hand! Oh, horrible sin! Oh, incomprehensible atrocity! Yes, well might Christ declare that it were better for that man had he never been born.

O sinner, you who, while listening to my voice, endure the gnawings of that worm which never dies– the reproaches of a guilty conscience–do you not shudder at the picture of that monster who, chosen of Christ to be one of His dearest friends, betrayed his Lord, and then put an end to his own wretched life? He longed to escape from the night of despair which darkened his wretched life; but the refuge he found was the deepest, blackest pit in the abyss of hell! Oh, that the tree upon which the despairing suicide ended his days, and the halter which deprived him of his life, were here before you, that you might witness the agony and pain of the faithless Apostle who betrayed the innocent Jesus! What a mirror of sin in all its blackest deformity! What a hideous reflection is therein presented! Sinner, do you not recognize it as your own? Do you not find it a perfect representation of your iniquitous soul? And O! may the grace of God so touch your hearts tonight that you repent, and tears entirely blot out that hideous image!

Many of you have, perhaps, heard an anecdote connected with a celebrated painting of the “Last Supper.” One who had been a dear friend of the painter happened to offend him so deeply that the painter, in order to make him feel his wrath, in depicting the traitor Judas upon the canvass, gave to him the face of the friend whom he had loved so well. When the king, who had ordered the picture and was well aware of the recent enmity, first saw and examined it, he smiled, and, turning toward the knight, said: “Excellent, my lord; you are drawn to the very life!”–Yes, sinner, look at the picture of Judas; you, too, are drawn to the very life!

What increased the malignity of the sin of this traitorous Apostle was the sublimity of his election. Sinner, Christ has also chosen you from among the multitude of nations who have lived and are living still in the darkness of infidelity and heresy! You are a Catholic! Glorious dignity to which you have been elevated through the infinite mercy of God; and yet, through your own choice, by the commission of mortal sin, you became a child of Satan. Oh, what a deep and damning fall!

What also aggravated the guilt of Judas was his wanton abuse of the graces granted him by the Saviour, that he might live and die as became a worthy Apostle of the Lord. What a multitude of graces, O sinner, has not God bestowed upon you through your call to the true Church? With what frequent instructions and encouragement have you been favored! how many confessions and holy communions have been vouchsafed to you! how many holy masses have you heard! and yet these graces have yielded no fruit! Oh, fatal instability of the human heart!

The treachery of Judas was aggravated by the manner in which he abused the grace of God. Imitate him not; but pause before it is too late! Judas was coldly indifferent to that love which impelled the Son of God to go in search of him, that He might win a return of love. Sinner, you know how mercifully Divine Providence has followed you! how lovingly the Saviour has gone in quest of you! Take courage from the very fact of your having come hither tonight. It is an effect of the endearing love of the Good Shepherd, who longs to bring you once more to the protecting shelter of His fold. Oh, hide no longer; but meet that loving Guardian, and let Him guide you home.

What rendered the sin of Judas so terrible in its enormity was his shocking obduracy of heart. You, also, are guilty in this regard; for, although you have received all the graces with which he was favored, you have also been endowed with many which were never bestowed on him. Judge, therefore, whether his obduracy was greater than yours.

Furthermore, Judas never had an opportunity of approaching the Sacrament of Penance. You enjoy that privilege; yet, perhaps, for years you have looked upon it with cold indifference, if not contempt. It may be that you have allowed years to pass without making a confession; or that, when you have attempted to blot out the sins of your life, you have but added to the long list of your crimes the damning guilt of sacrilege. And why, O sinner, is this? Because your heart refuses to give up its darling passions, and you continue to commit the same offenses as of yore. Judas did not, of himself, petition for the Holy Communion; while you have presumed to challenge the priest to open the tabernacle and place the Sacred Host upon your guilty tongue, that you may drag the Body of our Lord into the mire of your heart. When the agony of despair drove Judas to hang himself, he knew not of the prayer that went up that day from the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the cross: “Father, forgive!” Neither had he the example of the millions who, for nineteen centuries, have been guilty of grievous sin, yet repented and found grace, as you have ever before your eyes, O faithless child of the Church!

Judas betrayed his Lord but once, and upon that very day the grace of God forsook him and he perished miserably, while for you Christ has waited for years; and oh, for His dear sake–for the love of Him who, for three and thirty years, suffered cold and hunger, contempt and derision, and, at last, a painful death on the cross–let Him not wait in vain!

The crime of Judas was increased by the unprecedented baseness of his selling his Divine Master for thirty pieces of silver; but is there not some sinner in this very Church whose darling passion is impurity? who would betray his Saviour for the gratification of the most shameful desires? Is there no drunkard listening to my words who, to gratify his depraved and vicious appetite for drink, would give, if not his own existence, why, then, the lives of his wife and little children? Yes, I say the lives of those whom he is bound to love and cherish, for he is slowly murdering them by his neglect! You, then, O drunkard, betray your Master for a price even more base than thirty pieces of silver! Yes, sinners, by your crimes–be they what they may–you have all betrayed Him over and over again for the basest considerations!

Judas betrayed the Son of man with a kiss–the token of friendship and love; and the faithless Catholic would fain pretend to be a friend–an adorer of Christ–while he crucifies Him by his interior life.

Judas yielded to despair and hanged himself; but, for the love of God and His blessed mother, I beseech you, poor sinners, let the resemblance between you and the wretched suicide stop before you yield to the temptation of despair! He forgot Mary! Had he hastened to her, and implored her to intercede with Jesus for him, she would, doubtless, have done so, and Judas would have been saved. Do not imitate him in this forgetfulness of Mary. Fly to her; throw yourselves at the feet of the Mother of Mercy and refuge of sinners. Judas did not hear the words of Christ upon the cross: ” Woman, behold thy Son; thy Child.” You, beloved Christians, who have yielded to the tempter’s voice, may listen to them in spirit and in faith.

O Mary, Mother of Mercy, grant to my fervent prayer a gracious answer, and obtain tonight for every Christian present here, who, listening to the tempter, has betrayed thy Son, the grace of sincere conversion, that in these days of grace he may be reconciled to God, and no longer be deaf to the voice of grace. Pray for him, O dearest Mother, that, when appalled at the weight of his sins, the demon of despair draws nigh, he may remember the dreadful fate of Judas, and fly for refuge to thy maternal love–the surest haven for all repentant souls. Amen!


“Now, there was leaning on Jesus’s bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.”–John xiii, 23.

 

We all know the four divisions of the day–midnight, day-break, noon, and eventide; and each of them is marked by a special divine fact which speaks in the most emphatic manner to the heart. At midnight Christ entered the world; He was born in a poor stable at Bethlehem; and in the birth of this little Infant we behold the coming of Him Who was the Expected and Desired of nations. At midday was raised aloft the cross by which He redeemed the world. At earliest dawn the Saviour, bursting the trammels of the grave, arose to life once more, and gave to the world a splendid proof of His divine power. But there remains an eventide, glorified indeed through the divine love of the Saviour, which led Him thereon to leave us the most precious, the most sweet, the most consolatory legacy that a God could bestow. It is the evening of Holy Thursday, when the Sacrifice of the New Law was instituted to bless the children of men.

Where is the Christian who can speak or even think of this evening without the most holy sentiments of love arising in his heart as the scene of the Holy Paschal Table, round which Jesus and His disciples were seated, rises up before his spiritual view? What mighty love was that which impelled the Son of God to institute this Most Holy Sacrament, that He might remain with us even to the consummation of the world! What a pledge of this faithful love! And, of all the Apostles, none more fully realized this than St. John, the disciple whom Jesus loved; and who, on that evening, enjoyed the privilege and happiness of being nearest the Lord at the Last Supper, and of leaning his head on the bosom of Jesus. In the whole course of his life St. John never forgot that evening. He styles himself the disciple whom Jesus loved, and to whom this great grace was granted; but gives us to understand that we also are permitted to participate therein in its plenitude, for he says expressly: “Those whom Jesus loved, He has loved until the end of time.”

Yes, we may all, through the grace of Holy Communion, not only rest on the bosom of our Lord, but receive Him into our hearts. That we may do so with the purity of soul and fervor of love which distinguished the communion of the beloved disciple, let us glance at him as he sat at the Paschal Table on this happy eve. O Mary, obtain for us some portion of that ardent love which inflamed the heart of the beloved disciple toward thy divine Son! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, for the greater honor and glory of God!

To receive the Blessed Eucharist in as perfect a manner as St. John, depends, first, upon the preparation we make to approach the Table of the Lord; and, secondly, on the manner in which we make use of His presence in our hearts, rendering to Him our gratitude after the example of St. John.

But, alas! with too many Christians, the first requisite is wanting. Even in the time of St. Paul, as the Epistle for today asserts, many of the faithful did not make due preparation, so that there were frequently communions which, if not unworthy, yielded but little spiritual fruit. St. Paul writes: “Therefore many among us sleep, because they do not judge themselves, before they approach the Table of the Lord, whether they are worthy to receive His Body and Blood; “from which we are to understand that, even if they were not in a state of sin, the coldness of their hearts, and the little degree of fervor they evinced, prevented them from deriving the benefits and graces which were poured forth upon St. John after his fervent reception of the Body and Blood of Christ. I said: “Even if they were not in a state of sin;” but, of course, if the sin were mortal, such a communion would not only be ineffectual, but a fearful sacrilege.

That our reception of the Holy Communion, therefore, may be indeed like that of the beloved disciple, it suffices not that we are free from the guilt of mortal sin; but we must leave nothing undone to cleanse our souls from the dust of venial sins and deliberate imperfections.

The ceremonies attendant upon the institution of the Most Holy Sacrament, as described by St. John, are a proof of this. Jesus washes the feet of all His disciples; and our Lord’s answer to St. Peter shows that this act is emblematic of the removal of every defect and imperfection from the soul. Therefore, did St. Peter exclaim: “Lord, not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” But even yet this is not the perfect preparation for Holy Communion. St. John was next to Jesus. This illustrates the ardor and fidelity with which he followed the Lord from the very moment he was called by Him. He was one of those three highly-favored Apostles who were permitted to be in the closest proximity to Jesus, and who enjoyed the privilege of beholding Jesus in His transfiguration on Mt. Tabor; and, even among those three, he was the only one who followed Him to Calvary, and beheld Him on the cross.

This feature in the life of St. John–“the disciple whom Jesus loved”–should awaken in us the desire and resolution to make the most earnest efforts to please God, and so become more and more like that Divine Model, and, like St. John, to be faithful unto death.

But the generality of Christians care not to follow the admonition of Christ: “Be ye perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect;” and here we can find the cause of so many tepid and fruitless communions. Should any one ask why we feel so little fear of venial sins and trifling imperfections, I would say: As the fervent love of St. John is wanting, so also are the hunger and thirst of his heart after sanctity, lacking in the hearts of many who go forward to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. Whosoever loveth truly, my dear brethren, avoids everything, great or little, that might grieve or offend the beloved object; and the more ardent the love, the more earnest the effort to please. St. Paul tells us, in the most explicit manner, that there is no communication between light and darkness, between Christ and Satan, between heaven and hell.

The very ceremonies made use of in the administration of Holy Communion show how essential to its worthy reception is a repentant heart; for the Church has prescribed that the “Confiteor” be recited aloud, so that every communicant may make another act of sorrow for the most venial imperfection which rests upon his soul before he opens his lips to welcome the Lord of heaven and earth into his heart. But what urges us on and strengthens us to emulate the saints in their zealous imitation of Jesus is love. “The love, of Christ urges us,” cries out the Apostle.

But many Christians are wanting in this divine virtue; and thus it became necessary to proclaim that precept, the very existence of which should be considered a reproach by the lukewarm children of the Church: “Thou shalt receive the Blessed Eucharist at least once a year.” O dearest Christians! the soul of a St. John, burning with ardent love for God, required no such command. He hungered and thirsted after that divine food as the heart panteth after the fountains of water. St. Catherine of Sienna, frequently said to her confessor: “Father, I am hungry.”

When this love consumes our hearts, the second condition necessary to receive all those graces and blessings, conferred by a worthy reception of Holy Communion, will not be wanting–thanksgiving. But if it be a sad truth that many approach the Table of the Lord without due preparation, it is equally to be lamented that a still greater number receive the Body of Christ and turn away without a word.

This was not the case with St. John. Judas received Holy Communion, and his soul was instantly enshrouded in the deepest gloom of a night wherein there glimmered not the faintest ray of hope; and, after having received it from the hands of the Lord Himself, he arose, and rested not until the purchase-money, for which he had betrayed the loving Redeemer, was clutched fast in his avaricious hand! What a contrast! St. John, absorbed in love and joy, can find no words to express his gratitude.

Yes, Judas is also a type of those who receive Holy Communion without a sigh of thanksgiving. With the cold hand of despair clutching his treacherous heart, he leaves the abode of love and peace, and rushes away to satisfy his greed for gold! Behold these models of a worthy and an unworthy communion, and consider well which one shall be your choice!

Yet Judas is not to serve merely as a warning to the unworthy communicant; but also to those who, after receiving, plunge directly into the stir of worldly affairs and schemes to increase their wealth. Alas, that temporal interests should so soon draw them away from Jesus! We may well be astonished, and exclaim, with St. John Chrysostom: “How can it be possible that Christ becomes so soon indifferent to you, that you can devote but a few brief moments to render to Him acts of adoration, praise, and thanksgiving for a grace so infinitely great, for a happiness so exquisite as to render man an object of envy even to the angels, and for which a lifetime of thanksgiving would not be sufficient!”

And if, my brethren, you again ask whence arises this neglect, I would again reply: From a want of that love which burned in the heart of St. John. Those who love, long to be with the object of their love. When blessed Armella, whose dearest joy it was to spend hours and hours before the Blessed Sacrament, even when she had not the happiness of receiving Holy Communion, was asked why she did so, replied: “Because I love.” And, beloved in Christ Jesus, by frequently visiting Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament we will grow ever in the love and knowledge of Him.

St. John knew and loved Him in a greater degree than the other Apostles, because he was always nearest Him; and, at the Last Supper, his resting-place was the Sacred Heart.

Obtain for us, therefore, we beseech thee, St. John, some faint reflection of the ardent fire of thy love, that we may, by lives modeled upon thy own, show our gratitude and love to God; and, when we approach the Table of the Lord, may we taste the happiness which filled thy heart when thou didst receive the Body and Blood of Christ. Then will we, while still on earth, already taste the bliss of heaven, to which celestial joy the Church refers when she prays: “Lord, grant that we may forever rejoice in the delight of Thy Divine Majesty, which a worthy reception of Thy Body and Blood will afford us even here below.”–Amen!

 

 

Timeless and eternal

Once there was a time when the Mass was one and the same everywhere in the Latin Rite.  One and the same in its language, movements and ceremonies.  It was timeless, unchangeable and eternal.  On this side of Heaven, it was the most beautiful and holy act of worship to Almighty God. It remains such, for the truth cannot change.  Pray that the Traditional Latin Mass is restored to all the churches of the world, for the honor and glory of God and the salvation of souls.

“It came forth out of the grand mind of the Church, and lifted us out of earth and out of self, and wrapped us round in a cloud of mystical sweetness and the sublimities of a more than angelic liturgy, and purified us almost without ourselves, and charmed us with celestial charming, so that our very senses seem to find vision, hearing, fragrance, taste and touch beyond what earth can give.”   ~Fr. Frederick Faber

“It would not be an exaggeration to describe this Missal as the most sublime product of Western civilization, more perfect in its balance, rich in its imagery, inspiring, consoling, instructive than even the most beautiful cathedral in Europe.”   ~Michael Davies

“If there is anything divine among man’s possessions which might excite the envy of the citizens of heaven (could they ever be swayed by such a passion), this is undoubtedly the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, by means of which men, having before their eyes, and taking into their hand [referring here to priests] the very Creator of heaven and earth, experience, while still on earth, a certain anticipation of heaven. How keenly, then, must mortals strive to preserve and protect this inestimable privilege with all due worship and reverence, and be ever on their guard lest their negligence offend the angels who vie with them in eager adoration.”   ~Pope Urban VIII

“Three characteristics of which Our predecessor [Pope St.] Pius X spoke should adorn all liturgical services: sacredness, which abhors any profane influence; nobility, which true and genuine arts should serve and foster; and universality, which while safeguarding local and legitimate custom, reveals the Catholic unity of the Church.”   ~Pope Pius XII, “Mediator Dei”

“This was the only form of Mass which countless millions of Catholics throughout the nations and the centuries had known, and from which, together with a catalogue of saints too long even to begin listing, they drew the spiritual nourishment that gave meaning and purpose, consolation and inspiration to their existence. This was the form of Mass which the martyr-priests of England and Wales celebrated at the cost of their lives”   ~Michael Davies

“And whereas such is the nature of man, that, without external helps, he cannot easily be raised to the meditation of divine things; therefore has holy Mother Church instituted certain rites, to wit that certain things be pronounced in the mass in a low, and others in a louder, tone. She has likewise employed ceremonies, such as mystic benedictions, lights, incense, vestments, and many other things of this kind, derived from an apostolical discipline and tradition, whereby both the majesty of so great a sacrifice might be recommended, and the minds of the faithful be excited, by those visible signs of religion and piety, to the contemplation of those most sublime things which are hidden in this sacrifice [of the Mass].”   ~Council of Trent