If all the prayers of loving hearts from the beginning of the world, and all the seraphic worship of the thrones and principalities of heaven, and the burning devotion and love of the Virgin Mother of God, and the million voices of the universe of all creatures of heaven and earth and sea were offered up in one universal and harmonious act of praise and adoration, they would not equal or even approach in value and efficacy the infinite worth of a SINGLE MASS.
Spot on, yes? A humbling thought for us presbyters, as, morning by morning, we stumble up the steps murmuring Aufer a nobis quaesumus Domine iniquitates nostras ut ad Sancta Sanctorum ...
30 October 2019
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And Dr Walsh is in the distinguished company of Fr Garrigou-Lagrange, who said much the same thing.
'Spirit of Vatican II' progressive types, most of whom have never read the council documents, affect to despise Garrigou-Lagrange, whom of course they have never read either. But it is largely due to GL and his teacher, Fr JG Arintero OP, the the universal call to holiness, founded on the sacramental realism of St Thomas, became common currency.
But, dear Fr H., do ever keep in mind the following diaconal exclamation in the Liturgy of Malabar:
"From everlasting to everlasting: the Altar is fire in fire: fire surrounds it: let Priests beware of the terrible and tremendous fire, lest they fall into it, and be burnt for ever."
— J. M. Neale, trans. The Liturgies of S. Mark, S. James, S. Clement, S. Chrysostom, and the Church of Malabar (London: J. T. Hayes, 1859), 151.
And as the early dawn light streams through the stained window behind the tabernacle into the otherwise dark church and the server murmers "Spera in Deo" we catch a faint glimpse of this.
Readers of this blog will recall that St Padre Pio said: "Only in Heaven will we understand what a Divine marvel the Holy Mass is."
Servant of God Cora Evans received a vision during an ecstasy that people will burn the Ten Commandments in effigy and the dictator will order that all priests are hunted down and killed. The last priest is saying Mass in a cave before a small congregation. The soldiers arrive and kill him. As he lies dying, Jesus arrives and finishes the last Mass on earth. The world comes to and end, with the evil going to Hell.
According to her vision, the Mass sustains the world.
Father, I hope you have not been influenced by the modern trend to misuse the word 'humbled/humbling'. I am left puzzled as to how winning an Oscar/Nobel Prize/British Bake Off is routinely described as "(truly) humbling". I have always understood the word, both theologically and in everyday use, as "taken down a peg or two", and applied to the "rich" and "mighty" in the Gospels and eg the All Blacks in the recent Rugby World Cup. I don't think that is quite the emotional hermeneutic you are referring to when contemplating the great privilege and responsibility of offering the Mass as so beautifully expressed by Dr Walsh. Perhaps "awe" and "wonder" come closer, and maybe we don't even have the vocabulary to express it.
Our young friend the Archbishop of Dublin may be right, but I think there is something more important than a mass.
Each of us is infinitely valuable.
For some of us, there is a moment where, after all their efforts, God and the angels finally convince us to offer up either (a) reparation for the sins we have committed in a hope to show God that we truly are aware of HIs goodness and want to dwell in Heaven forever or (b) forgiveness to those who did to us what evil-doers do, forgiveness for those who tried, with all the powers of this world, to make us think God is distant, that God is not our creator, that God did not do everything for us that the most loving God could ever do.
Such moments are, whatever our young friend the Archbishop of Dublin might say, extremely precious to God, and quite possibly more precious than the most precious Mass that was ever offered up by the greatest of saintly priests. Not by much, of course, but still .....
I think Saint Garrigou-Lagrange might agree, I could be wrong.
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