ON THE DEVOTION WITH WHICH WE ARE TO ASSIST AT THE SACRIFICE OF THE ALTAR
Consider first, that those heavenly mysteries which we celebrate in the sacrifice of the altar, and the real presence of Jesus Christ the Son of God, whom we believe to be truly there both as priest and victim, require that we should assist thereat with all possible devotion, but especially with a lively faith, a love for that Lamb of God who there offers himself in sacrifice for us. The servants of God have sometimes seen angels assisting round the altar and adoring their Lord – open thou thy eyes, my soul, as often as thou art present at the sacred mysteries, to contemplate with a lively faith this Lord of angels upon our altars, accompanied with these heavenly spirits, and see thou worship him there with that awful reverence and tender affection which his infinite majesty and his infinite love for thee require at thy hands. Reflect on that profound respect with which the people of God in ancient times reverenced the sanctuary in which the ark of the covenant was deposited, so that no one but the high priest, and he but once a year, was allowed to enter within the veil. O how much more profoundly oughtest thou to reverence this true sanctuary of God, and the Lord himself of the covenant, present in our tremendous mysteries.
Consider 2ndly, that as this sacrifice has an especial relation to the passion and death of the Son of God, in such manner as to be in effect the same sacrifice, the same victim, and the same priest, so the devotion with which we are to assist at the altar should have a particular relation to the sufferings of Jesus Christ. As our Saviour himself here officiates in person, and acts as in a sacred tragedy his whole passion and death, we ought to accompany him in this action with suitable affection and devotion. Had we been present, with a true belief in him, when he was offering upon the cross the sacrifice of our redemption, with what sentiments of love and gratitude, with what deep sense of sorrow and repentance for our sins, with what fervour of devotion should we have waited upon him there, meditating upon his infinite goodness and love for us, manifested in his passion, and on the heinous enormity of our sins, which could not be expiated but with his sacred blood? With the like sentiments of devotion ought we to assist at this solemn memorial and representation of his passion in the eucharistic sacrifice.
Consider 3rdly, that as often as we assist at this sacrifice we are not only to commemorate by meditation the passion and death of the Son of God, but also to take along with us as it were to God the Father his Son slain for us, and his precious blood shed for us, and this in such a manner as to offer up ourselves also to him, with the whole church, which is the mystical body of his Son by his hands, and in union with the offering which he, who is our head, there makes of himself. We are also at the same time to join our intentions with his, as he is our chief priest and principal offerer, and with those of the whole people of God, according to the four great ends of the sacrifice, going as it were in a body, with Christ Jesus at our head; and with him we are to offer adoration, praise, and thanksgiving to God, and to pray and beg mercy through him both for ourselves and for all the world. Thus the whole church of God daily joins herself with Christ Jesus her head, both as the offerer and the offering, in these divine mysteries.
Conclude with a resolution of doing thy best to assist daily at this great sacrifice with a suitable devotion. Go thither in the same spirit as if thou wert going to mount Calvary to contemplate there thy divine redeemer offering himself a bleeding sacrifice for the sins of the world. And see thou remember to join thy offering of thyself by both his hands with the offering he there makes of himself, and thy intentions with his intentions.