Chapter Three Part One|
THE GREAT SACRILEGE
A. The Holy Mass
Before going further, I ask you to remind yourself what is at stake, the most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Recall that God has given us nothing more perfect or tremendous, of which the Council of Trent said:
Our God and Lord, though He was by His death about to offer
Himself once upon the altar of the cross to God the Father that He
might there accomplish an eternal redemption, nevertheless, that His
Priesthood might not come to an end with His death, at the Last Supper,
on the night He was betrayed, that He might leave to His beloved spouse the
Church a visible sacrifice, such as the nature of man requires, whereby
that bloody sacrifice once to be accomplished on the cross might be represented,
the memory thereof remain even to the end of the world, and its salutary
effects applied to the remission of those sins which we daily commit, declaring
Himself constituted a priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech,
offered up to God the Father His own body and blood under the form of
bread and wine, and under the forms of those same things gave to the apostles,
Whom He then made priests of the New Testament, that they might
partake, commanding them and their successors in the priesthood by
these words to do likewise: Do this in commemoration of Me, as the Catholic
Church has always understood and taught. 10
10. Cc. Trid. Sess. XXII, Cap. I. Quoted
In The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Rev. Dr. Nicholas Gihr. B. Herder Book Co.
St. Louis. 1949. pp. 94-95.
Of the Mass the marvelous St. Leonard of Port Maurice said:
The sole sacrifice which we have in our holy religion, that is to say, holy Mass,
is a sacrifice, holy, perfect, in every point complete, with which each one of
the faithful nobly honors God, protesting at one and the same time his
own nothingness and the supreme dominion which God hath over him; a
sacrifice called, therefore, by David, sacrificium justitiae, "the sacrifice of justice"
(Psalm IV: 5); both because it contains the Just One Himself, and the Saint
of saints, or rather justice and holiness themselves, and because it sanctifies
souls by the infusion of grace and the affluence of gifts which it confers.
Being, then, a sacrifice so holy - a sacrifice the most venerable and the most
excellent of all - in order that you may form a due conception of so great a
treasure, we shall here explain, in the manner quite succinct, some of its
excellencies. To express them all were not a work to which our poor
faculties could attain.11
11. (The Hidden Treasure. St. Leonard of Port Maurice.
TAN books and Publishers, Rockford, Illinois. 1971-pp. 21-22).
Calling attention to the central necessity of the Mass in our lives, the great Fr. Fahey wrote:
…The great need of our generation, as of every generation since Calvary,
is the living of the Life of the Mystical Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ in its
fullness. Through Christ our Head the abundance of God's grace is at the
disposal of every generation, but, alas! "Jesus has now many lovers of His
heavenly kingdom, but few are willing to bear His cross…many follow Jesus
to the breaking of bread, but few to the drinking of the chalice of His Passion."
(From the Imitation of Christ, Book 11, Chapter xi) We should unceasingly ask
our Lord to give us saints who, by their example, may rouse us from the
torpor and mediocrity of our lives. For the need of our day is great. We seem
to be fast approaching the culminating point of the open revolt from God's
plan, which began with Luther in the sixteenth century. Luther's onslaught
on order was an onslaught on the Mystical Body. The central point of his
attack was directed against the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Sacrifice of
the Mystical Body, visible expression of our fallen race's solidarity with
Christ and of our dependence on Calvary for the possibility of presenting
fully ordered homage to the Blessed Trinity…
I have chosen these quotations at random. They could be multiplied indefinitely; books could be filled with them. Every saint has taken joy in speaking and writing about the glories of the Mass. Catholics have undergone most terrible sufferings and even death in order that they might attend it, and for having done so. Hardly a single Pope has failed to write some word of inspiration for the faithful about it. What can the lies of me add to such a tradition and to such a devotion?
We Catholics must, accordingly, put ourselves by intellect and will on the real
level of the struggle. If we in imagination take our stand behind the gibbet
of Calvary and see God the Father holding our His Son Crucified to men,
with the real life of the world coming from His Sacred Wounds to every
succeeding generation, we have a faint image of the reality. We are a fallen
race. Through membership of our Lord's Mystical Body, the Church, men
In every generation since Calvary have received back supernatural life. 12
The Mystical Body of Christ in the Modern World. Regina Publications.
Dublin, 1964. pp. 15051. It is my humble opinion that the writings of Fr.
Fahey, particularly this one, should be given the widest possible
circulation and attention. I know of no other books which succeed so well
in enlightening us on the history of this present era. These works are available
from the Christian Book Club of America, P.O. Box 638, Hawthorne, Calif. 92050,
and, Regina Publications, Y. P. House, Rotunda, Dublin, Ireland.
Yet I must make an effort, at this point, to recall something of the splendor and indispensableness of the Holy Sacrifice, in order that you may not fail to appreciate the seriousness of our present concern. For, one of the (countless) unhappy results of the coming of the "New Mass" is that words of thanksgiving and praise of the True Mass are less frequently heard, so that we are likely to treasure it less, or rarely to be reminded of its preciousness. I need also to make the effort to convince you that I would never write as I will in the pages that follow did the subject not require it. Even so, it will be painful enough. Perhaps this very anguish explains why it has not been done in a more worthy fashion by someone who is better qualified. Perhaps too, this is the reason why many others have not spoken out, it being not just a lack of courage.
As Mary and Joseph sought to protect their innocent Son from Herod, so we are all bound to protect and honor the Most Blessed Sacrament. We are not free merely not to profane it ourselves, but duty-bound to "throw our own bodies over it," as it were, to protect it from the least irreverence, to risk whatever consequences in the effort, and consider ourselves extremely blessed if we are called upon to do such a thing. There is simply nothing as holy and wonderful as the Mass.
The Mass is Christ in the act of offering His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, to the Father in sacrifice and to us for our spiritual nourishment, under the humble and belying appearances of bread and wine. Because it is, in essence, the same act as that Death consummated on the Cross, it is equal to it in beauty, in perfection, and in power. Nothing on earth could be more pleasing to God than for the True Mass to be offered worthily, nothing more expressive of the love that Christ our Savior has for His Father, an unquenchable and infinite love, nothing more suitable for manifesting the glory of the Divine Trinity.
Like the Sacrifice of Calvary, it would have been sufficient for the salvation of the world had the Mass been offered only once, by Our Lord at the Last Supper. But out of the magnificence of His love, God has granted that it may be offered numberless times, thus adding, with each celebration, bounty to bounty, grace upon grace, "…good measure and pressed down and shaken together and running over…" (Luke 6:38).
The Holy Mass is the "wonderful exchange" and continuing intercourse the Church holds with its Lord and God through Christ, the Eternal and High Priest. It is the source and center of the Church's life, because it is the Act by which the Church "barters" from God its Daily Bread, His Mercy, His grace, and His munificence, surrendering to Him ever and again its one and only priceless Possession, Its Head and Victim, His Only-begotten Son. Without the Mass, truly, the Church would die for want of nourishment. (Is anyone ready to deny that the present deterioration, anemia, and faithlessness to which have befallen the Church, and whose ravages can be seen in every quarter - but particularly among the clergy and religious - are anything else than the inevitable effects of the a most complete discontinuance of the True Mass in the Latin Rite? Who will deny that there is a "a grievous famine in Samaria?" ) (3 Kings. 18:2).
The same must be said of the souls of men. Neither can they live in Christ without His Sacrifice and Sustenance. It is a most harmful notion to imagine otherwise. Every man requires this Event and this Sacrament if he is to reach that sanctity to which he is called and to which his inner being is drawn. He needs this prayer and mutual exchange of selves and communion with the Triune God if he is to rise to that transcendent existence which conditions one for eternal life. And, despite the well-intentioned enthusiasm of the "born-again Christians," the words of Our Blessed Savior still hold true: "Except you eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you" (John 6:54).
What I say here is not new to Catholic readers. They are used to hearing it from their parish priests, or at least once were. They need to be reminded of such things afresh, as most of them have not yet considered the frightful vacuum into which they have been cast. No doubt, in many cases it is due to their previous poor attention to the Divine bountifulness of the Mass that they are now so indifferent to being deprived of it.
The basic thesis of this little tract requires that they themselves have a modicum of spiritual sensitivity, or, to say it better, love of God, lest they imagine my language too sharp or the issue here exaggerated. Unless they believe the dogmatic truth that they cannot be saved - and therefore will be lost - without the Holy Sacrifice and the "Bread of Angels," they will continue lackadaisically to trust their lackadaisical bishops and priests, who tell them anything to keep them quiet and benign, who themselves admit that they are resting their total faith on the strange and nebulous words of Pope Paul VI, all their previous credos and preachments and studies to the contrary notwithstanding.
Fr. James F. Wathen, O.S.J.
Next Issue: Chapter Three -
B. The Council of Trent and the True Mass part two
For installments to date, see Archives of The Great Sacrilege
THE GREAT SACRILEGE
by Fr. James F. Wathen, O.S.J.