THE SACRIFICE OF THE MASS
St. Bonaventure says that in each Mass God bestows on the world a benefit not inferior to that which He conferred by His Incarnation. This is conformable to the celebrated words of St. Augustine: “0 venerable dignity of the priests, in whose hands, as in the womb of the Virgin, the Son of God becomes incarnate!” Moreover, St. Thomas teaches that since· the Sacrifice of the altar is nothing else than the application and renewal of the Sacrifice of the Cross, a single Mass brings to men the same benefits and salvation that were produced by the Sacrifice of the Cross. St. John Chrysostom says: “The celebration of a Mass has the same value as the death of Christ on the Cross.” And of this we are still more assured by the holy Church in the Collect for the Sunday after Pentecost: “As many times as this commemorative Sacrifice is celebrated, so often is the work of our Redemption performed.” The same Redeemer Who once offered Himself on the Cross is immolated on the altar by the ministry of His priests. “For the Victim is one is one and the same,” says the Council of Trent: “the same now offering by the ministry of priests, Who then offered Himself on the Cross, the manner alone of offering being different. ”
In a word, the Mass is, according to the prediction ot the Prophet, ” the good and the beautiful thing” of the Church: For what is the good thing of him, and what is his beautiful thing, but the corn of the elect and wine springing forth virgins-(Zach. ix. 17). In the Mass, Jesus Christ gives Himself to us by means of the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar, which is the end and object of all the other Sacraments, says the angelic Doctor. Justly, then, has St. Bonaventure called a Mass a compendium of all God’s love and of all His benefits to men. Hence the devil has always sought to deprive the world of the Mass by means of the heretics, constituting them precursors of Antichrist, whose first efforts will be to abolish the holy Sacrifice of the altar, and, according to the Prophet Daniel, in punishment of the sins of men, his efforts shall be successful: And strength was given him against the continual sacrifice on account of sins-(Dan. viii. 12).
Most justly, then, does the holy Council of Trent require of priests to be most careful to celebrate Mass with the greatest; possible devotion and purity of conscience: “It is sufficiently clear that all industry and diligence is to be applied to this end, that it (the Mystery) be performed with the greatest possible inward cleanness and purity of heart.” And in the same place the Council justly remarks, that on, priests who celebrate this great Sacrifice negligently, and without devotion, shall fall the malediction, threatened by the Prophet Jeremias: Cursed be he that doth the work of the Lord negligently-(Jer. xlviii. 10). A servant of God used to say that the life of a priest should be nothing else than preparation, and thanksgiving for Mass.