Wednesday after the Fourth Sunday after Easter.

On Holy Mass as a Sacrifice of Atonement.

PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.

My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.

On Holy Mass as a Sacrifice of Atonement.

In beginning your meditation to-day represent to yourself the unspeakable trouble, the really touching efforts which were made by mankind before the coming of Christ to obtain reconciliation with God. Think how the blood of oxen and heifers, of calves and sheep cried daily to Heaven for mercy; how in their distress men even went so far as to put their brethren, nay, their own children to death, to slay them as sacrificial victims, hoping thereby to appease the Almighty, whereas in reality they only increased their guilt. There was only one oblation capable of effecting this atonement in its fullest extent, the sacrifice of the cross, perpetuated in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.

1st. Consider that the sacred sacrifice of the cross, renewed and continued in the Mass, possesses the greatest expiatory virtue, for the Victim offered is Christ Himself, of whom St. John says: “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” (I. Ep. St. John ii. 2.) And the Council of Trent declares that this holy sacrifice is a true sacrifice of atonement, so that whosoever is present at it with a sincere heart, with real faith, with fear and reverence, with compunction and profound contrition, will find mercy and forgiveness. And although holy Mass does not directly remit mortal sin as it does venial sin, yet it has power to awaken in those who are in mortal sin such deep penitence that this, being supernatural in its character, cleanses from sin, and at any rate is calculated to incite the sinner to betake himself thither, where he can obtain remission of sin, to the holy Sacrament of Penance. This marvellous effect produced by holy Mass will not surprise you when you consider further:

2d. That just as men are oftentimes induced to condone a wrong or an injury which was committed against them in consideration of some service rendered them or some gift presented to them, so in like manner Almighty God allows Himself to be appeased by this highest, most magnificent offering, the sacrifice of holy Mass. Consider moreover: How was it that the thief upon the cross was so suddenly touched with compunction, and forthwith was promised paradise as his portion? It was by virtue of the holy sacrifice which inspired him with such deep contrition and so firm a faith that from a robber he immediately became a saint. Now the same Son of God who once offered upon the cross that all-powerful oblation, offers it now in the holy Mass; consequently the sacrifice which is daily offered upon our altars has the same infinite value and tremendous efficacy as that which was offered upon Calvary. Thus holy Church justly says: “As often as the commemoration of this sacrificial lamb is celebrated, the work of our redemption is accomplished.” Now ask yourself, my soul, how often, if you are a Priest, during the ten, twenty, thirty or forty years that have elapsed since your ordination you have offered this efficacious sacrifice of atonement, or if a layman, how many times you have assisted at holy Mass, and yet perhaps you have scarcely ever rightly appreciated the vast power of expiation which flows therefrom upon all who are desirous of receiving it.

3d. Consider that holy Mass is consequently the best preparation for Holy Communion. In the first place it cleanses you from all the lesser faults and stains of sin which yet cling to you; in the second place it is a source of grace whence you can with greater facility than elsewhere draw the divine assistance which you need for the worthy reception of the sacrament, the devotion and reverence which are requisite and which you cannot of yourself acquire; finally what could be better calculated to cause your heart to melt in bitter tears of contrition, to inspire it with firm, child-like confidence, to kindle within it the flame of holy, fervent, glowing charity, the dispositions proper for a worthy Communion, than that you should whilst hearing Mass imagine yourself to be standing beneath the cross whereon your Saviour hangs bathed in blood, enduring excruciating torture? Yes indeed, if in spirit you embrace with Magdalen the cross whereon the Lord Jesus is fastened, if you feel dropping on you the blood your God sheds for you, you must unquestionably have a heart of stone if you do not, overflowing with contrition and charity, exclaim in St. Francis words: “Jesus my love, my God and my all!” Since dispositions such as these are certainly the best and most suitable for Holy Communion, endeavor to gain them by always, if you possibly can, devoutly hearing Mass before you approach the holy table.

PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.

My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.

Meditations on the Life, Teaching, and Passion of Jesus Christ

(Nihil Obstat and Imprimatur: New York, December 31, 1900)

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