How to benefit from the Holy Mass

June 20, 2021 • 5 min

From Introduction to the Devout Life, page 72
By St. Francis de Sales

Chapter XIV.

The most Holy Mass, and how we ought to hear it.

Hitherto I have said nothing of the most holy, sacred, and august sacrifice and sacrament of the Altar, the sun of spiritual exercises, the centre of the Christian religion, the heart of devotion, and the soul of piety; a mystery so ineffable as to comprise within itself that abyss of divine charity from whence God communicates Himself really to us; and, in a special manner, replenishes our souls with spiritual graces and favours.

When prayer, Philothea, is united with this divine sacrifice, 1t becomes so efficacious as to cause the soul to overflow, as it were, with heavenly consolations. Here she reclines upon her Well-beloved, who fills her with so much spiritual sweetness that she resembles, as is said in the Canticles, a pillar of smoke proceeding from a fire of aromatic wood, from myrrh and frankincense, and from all the most exquisite perfumes.

Endeavour therefore to assist at Mass every day, that you may, jointly with the priest, offer up the holy sacrifice of your Redeemer to God his Father, for yourself and for the whole Church.

The angels, says St. John Chrysostom, always attend in great numbers to honour this adorable mystery; and we, by associating ourselves with them, having one and the same intention, cannot but receive many favourable influences from such a holy society.

The choirs of the triumphant church, and those of the church militant, unite themselves to our Lord in this divine action, that with Him, in Him, and through Him, they may gain the heart of God the Father, and make his mercy all our own. Oh, what a happiness is it to a soul to devoutly contribute her affections for obtaining so precious and desirable a treasure!

Should some indispensable business prevent you from assisting in person at the celebration of this great sacrifice, endeavour at least to send your heart thither, to assist thereat by a spiritual presence, uniting your intention with that of all the faithful, and using the same acts of devotion in your closet which you would use were you actually present at Mass.

Now, to hear Mass in a proper manner, either really or mentally, you must:

  1. From the beginning till the priest goes up to the altar, make with him your preparation, which consists in placing yourself in the presence of God, acknowledging your unworthiness, and asking pardon for your sins.

  2. From the time he goes up to the altar to the Gospel, consider the nativity of our Lord and his life in this world by presenting a simple and general idea of them to your mind.

  3. From the Gospel till after the Creed, consider the preaching of our Saviour, and promise that you resolve to live and die in faith and obedience to his holy word, and in the communion of the holy Catholic Church.

  4. From the Creed to the Pater Noster (Our Father), apply your heart to the mysteries of the death and passion of our Redeemer, essentially represented in this holy sacrifice, and which, with the priest and the rest of the people, you must offer to God the Father, for his glory and your salvation.

  5. From the Pater Noster to the Communion, strive to excite a thousand desires in your heart, wishing ardently to be for ever united to your Saviour by everlasting love.

  6. From the Communion to the end, return thanks to Jesus Christ for his incarnation, life, passion, and death; as well as for the love He testifies to us in this holy sacrifice, beseeching Him to be for ever merciful to his whole Church;

  7. and, finally, humbling yourself, receive devoutly, with your whole heart, the benediction of God, which our Lord gives you by the ministry of the officiating priest.

But should you choose during the Mass to meditate on the mystery you proposed for your consideration on that day, it is not necessary that you should divert your thoughts to perform all these particular acts, but that at the beginning you direct your attention to adore, and offer up this holy sacrifice by the exercise of your meditation and prayer; for in all meditations the aforesaid acts may be found either expressly or tacitly, and in an equivalent manner.

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