Making Sense of Sensus Catholicus (jun28ssc.htm)

Tuesday
June 28, 2005
vol 16, no. 179

Dispositions for Worship

        Make Amends before saying Amen, Ask forgiveness before asking for grace, Forgive before forming your Mass prayers. Otherwise, it won't amount to a hill of beans!
by
Father James F. Wathen

    "For Mass and Communion, the Lord requires that we be at peace with everyone, in so far as it rests with us; this includes Himself, and our own selves, as well as our neighbors. If we have wronged another in a serious way, we must seek his forgiveness. It is not sufficient to receive pardon in the confessional; we must ask forgiveness from the person we have injured. If we have cheated someone gravely, or stolen from him, or destroyed his property, or profited unjustly from anotherís loss, we must resolve such issues with him in order to be seen as a sincere and repentant worshipper by our Sovereign Master."


    "If therefore thou offer thy gift at the altar, and there thou remember that thy brother hath anything against thee; Leave there thy offering before the altar, and go first to be reconciled to thy brother, and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift" (Matthew 5:23, 24).

    When we attend Holy Mass, Heaven descends into our midst, we assist at a divine ritual, the renewal of the immolation of Christ to the Will of His Father. When we receive Holy Communion, the infinitely good and pure Son of God comes to us as our Food and Drink. Before we attend Mass, therefore, and before we receive the living Body of Christ, we must do all we can to be worthy of these sacred mysteries.

    It goes without saying that we must go to confession before receiving our Lord if we have committed serious sin. In the Mass, two times the Confiteor is recited by the servers for the people, once at the very beginning of Mass and once right before Communion. The Confiteor is an act of contrition, which we should say very thoughtfully and remorsefully.

    The quotation given above has to do with our disposition for worship with particular reference to the virtues of justice and charity. We should apply these words to ourselves respecting our offering of the Sacrifice, as well as our receiving Communion. We are not to take this injunction lightly, as Christ Jesus never said anything trivial or inconsequential.

    Therefore, before Mass begins (in some cases, before the day we go to Mass), we should examine ourselves. If there is anyone who has injured us, it is proper to forgive such a person. There should be no bitterness nor hardness in our hearts at Mass and when we receive Christ, Who is ready to forgive us everything. We should forswear the love of any sin or vice; renounce any sinful attachment. We must abjure all hatred or jealousy toward anyone. Do not attempt to offer your gift, that is, your tithe, or the Body and Blood of Christ to His Father, if you harbor thoughts of revenge, or are the cause of animosity towards ourselves or among others. Repent from the depths of your heart of anything that savors of lust or impurity; or the intention or desire for such sins.

    For Mass and Communion, the Lord requires that we be at peace with everyone, in so far as it rests with us; this includes Himself, and our own selves, as well as our neighbors. If we have wronged another in a serious way, we must seek his forgiveness. It is not sufficient to receive pardon in the confessional; we must ask forgiveness from the person we have injured. If we have cheated someone gravely, or stolen from him, or destroyed his property, or profited unjustly from anotherís loss, we must resolve such issues with him in order to be seen as a sincere and repentant worshipper by our Sovereign Master.

    All this means that at any Mass, but especially at Sunday Mass, when we make our offering of money to support the Church (which we are bound to do), there must be among all the sacrificients true charity and magnanimity. If there is anyone present whom we do not treat civilly because of some old hurt or slight or disagreement or grudge, that must be resolved if our Sacrifice and our Communion are to be pleasing to God. It is not unknown that family members. or fellow parishioners go for years without speaking to each other on account of some discordance that should long ago have been forgiven and forgotten.

    Let us be honest with ourselves: The reason such things are not cleared up is nothing but silly, sinful pride, the refusal to admit that we were wrong, or that we overreacted, or that we were overly sensitive, or we simply do not like the person whose forgiveness we must beg. It can happen that one goes for years trying (unsuccessfully) to convince oneself that the other was at fault and is the one who should make amends. It is because this is a matter of grave importance that the Lord included the following petition in the "Our Father": "Forgive us our trespasses, as we for those who have trespassed against us." In another place, He said: "But if you will not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive you your offenses" (Matthew 6:15). (Notice that He says that if we do not forgive our neighbor, the Father will forgive none of our sins.)

    Let us advert to what it is we are doing, what is happening to us, when we assist at Mass and receive Holy Communion. In the first case, we, insignificant creatures, are offering the Crucified Christ in sacrifice to His and our heavenly Father. We, at the same time utterly poor and supremely rich, present our Gift, to which none other can compare, than which none other is more acceptable, the Lamb of God. And when we receive Communion, in the form of Bread, Jesus our Risen Savior and Mighty Lord comes to us, enters our mouths, rests upon our tongue, is swallowed as Food, joins Himself to our bodies and souls as Food becomes a part of our body. While the species of bread remains within our bodies, Christ remains physically present within us. But He comes to us, not as a Conqueror or Master, but as our Host and Friend, our Shepherd and Healer, our Confidant and Spouse, our Comforter and Rock. It is all too stupendous for us properly to absorb or fathom. O Sacrum Convivium! O Sacred Banquet! Overwhelming as all this is, we have no difficulty comprehending how grave a duty we have to be suitably cleansed and properly disposed for these worshipful acts. If the Mass is a celebration and Holy Communion a blessed banquet, the House of God is a place of warmth and joy, and no place for a sullen, pouty face and a sour, embittered spirit.

_______________________________

    I thank again everyone who has been praying for me and beg him to continue. Thanks also to those who have encouraged me with good wishes and asssurances of prayers, and also those who have assisted me with contributions of money, which are very helpful. I send everyone my sincerest best wishes and priestly blessing.

In Christ,

Father James Wathen


    For past articles of Making Sense of Sensus Catholicus, see 2005ssc.htm Archives
    June 28, 2005
    vol 16, no. 179
    Making Sense of Sensus Catholicus