On Holy Mass as a Peace-Offering.
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 Peace-Offering.
Only think what a vast multitude of entreaties and prayers ascend day by day from earth to Heaven! Who could attempt to form any estimate of their number? Now if you were standing before the king’s palace, and saw hundreds standing there before you, waiting to present their petitions to the monarch, an uneasy fear might well arise in your mind; you might ask yourself anxiously how you ever should be able to penetrate into the king’s presence and lay your needs before him. Under such circumstances how glad you would be to meet with a powerful friend, who would introduce you into the audience-hall and present your petition to the king. Now our Lord in holy Mass is the influential friend who intercedes for you with the King of Heaven.
1st. Consider that if you were desirous of obtaining a favor from your sovereign, the best and surest means would be to apply to the monarch through one of the royal princes. If therefore when you implore some grace from the celestial King, you implore it in and through holy Mass, then it is the King’s own well-beloved Son who presents your petitions to His heavenly Father. What a mighty intercessor we have in Him! Surely if God has already bestowed on you so many graces and benefits unasked, unsought, it is not likely that He will reject your petition if you address yourself to Him through His own Son. When Abraham was about to slay his son Isaac at the divine command, God could not refrain from making this promise to him: “I will bless thee and I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven.” (Gen. xxii. 17.) When David offered holocausts and peace-offerings the Lord stayed the pestilence that He had sent upon the people of Israel. When Onias the high priest offered sacrifice for Heliodorus’ restoration to health God heard and granted his prayer; and can we think that He will reject your petition and withhold His benediction from you, if His only Son offers Himself up on your behalf and for your necessities? Remember this, Christian; and especially you who have the care of souls, remember it when the duties of your pastoral office press upon you heavily.
2d. Consider that all good works receive a recompense from God and are repaid with graces. But if you put together all the good works which are or have been performed by ordinary men or by the saints, such as prayers, almsgiving, fasts, austerities, works of penance and of charity, all these taken as a whole do not surpass in value and in merit the holy sacrifice of the Mass. This sublime act of worship must therefore have wondrous graces and blessings attached to it, and well may St. Laurence Justinian exclaim in ecstatic amazement at the efficacy and virtue of the peace-offering of the New Testament: “There is no oblation greater, more profitable to man, more acceptable to God than this holy sacrifice. It gives glory to God, joy to the angels, peace to the nations; it opens Heaven to the weary pilgrim, it sheds light upon the understanding, it sustains the hope of the laborer and guides the wanderer into the right way.” Alas! how often do we stand beside this fount of grace without drinking of its waters! how often do we approach this fire without warming ourselves at its glow!
3d. Consider how you can obtain graces not only for yourself but also for others, especially for the holy souls, by virtue of this sacrifice. For this reason the Church is accustomed twice during the Mass, both before and after the consecration, in a memento to commemorate her children living and dead. When St. Francis Borgia celebrated Mass, he always pursued the following method: After having spent a short time in meditating upon the fact that it was in very truth the sacrifice of the cross which he was preparing to offer or at which he was about to assist, he laid all his petitions in the five wounds of Christ.
- In the wound of the right hand he commended to God the Pope, the Cardinals, the Bishops and all the clergy;
- in the wound of the left hand the ruler of the country and the secular authorities;
- in the wound of the right foot all the ecclesiastical and Religious Orders, especially the one of which he was a member;
- in the left foot his relatives, friends, benefactors, and those individuals for whom his prayers had been particularly asked.
- The wound in the side he reserved for himself; to it he withdrew, hiding himself as Holy Scripture says: “In the clifts of the rock and the hollow places of the wall.” (Cant. ii. 14.)
At the memento for the dead he observed a similar course. Act in like manner, my soul, and consider: If our Lord died upon the cross for all mankind, it will be peculiarly pleasing to Him if at the holy sacrifice you do not pray exclusively for yourself, but for all men, for the living and for the dead. And if you desire to obtain some grace and ask it at the holy Mass, you will be far more certain to receive it if beforehand, by praying for others, you have rendered yourself well-pleasing in God’s sight, for that is no empty promise that He made: “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.” (St. Matt. v. 7.)
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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