By Prof. Michael Ogunu
The second Vatican Council teaches, “At the Last Supper, the night in which he was betrayed, Jesus instituted the Eucharistic Sacrifice of His Body and Blood, in order to continue the Sacrifice of the Cross through the centuries until His return”. (Sacrosantum Concilium, The Constitution of the Liturgy, n.47). Thus every Mass is worth as much as the sacrifice of our Lord's life, sufferings and death.
St. Thomas Aquinas, in an enlightening passage, wrote: “The celebration of the Holy Mass is as valuable as the death of Jesus on the Cross”. For this reason, St. Francis of Assisi said, “Man should tremble, the world should vibrate, all Heaven should be deeply moved when the Son of God appears on the altar in the hands of a priest”. “It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do so without the Holy Mass”, said St. Pio (Padre Pio) of Pietrelcina. He was following St. Leonard of Port Maurice who had said, “I believe that if there were no Mass, the world would by now have sunk unto the abyss under the weight of its wickedness. The Mass is the powerful support which sustains it”.
Great are the saving effects which every Sacrifice of the Mass produces in the souls of those who devoutly participate in its celebration. Among these favours or benefits as summarised by a spiritual writer, are the following:
· The Holy Mass is the most powerful atonement for your sins.
· At the hour of death, the Masses you have participated in will be your greatest consolation.
· Every Mass will go with you to judgement and plead for pardon.
· At Mass you can diminish more or less temporal punishment due to your sins, according to your fervour.
· By participating devoutly at Holy Mass you render to the sacred humanity of our Lord the greatest homage.
· He supplies for many of your negligences and omissions.
· He forgives the venial sins which you have not confessed. The power of Satan over you is diminished.
· You afford the souls in Purgatory the greatest possible relief.
· One Mass you personally participate in its celebration during life will be of more benefit to you than many “heard for you” after your death.
· You are preserved from dangers and misfortunes which otherwise might have befallen you.
· You shorten your Purgatory each time you devoutly participate in the celebration of Holy Mass.
· Every Mass wins for you a higher degree of glory in Heaven.
· You receive the priest's blessing which our Lord ratifies in Heaven.
· You are blessed in your temporal goods and affairs.
No human tongue, says St. Lawrence Justinian, can enumerate the benefits derivable from devout participation in the sacrifice of the Mass. “The sinner is reconciled with God, the just man becomes more upright, sins are wiped away, vices eliminated, virtue and merit gain growth and the devil's schemes are frustrated”.
Our Lord told St. Gertrude, “You may be sure that regarding one who devoutly assists at Holy Mass, I will send him as many of my Saints to comfort him and protect him during the last moments of his life as there will have been Masses which he has heard well”.
And St. Peter Julian Eymard exhorted: “Know, O Christian, that the Mass is the holiest act of Religion. You cannot do anything to glorify God more nor profit your soul more than devoutly assisting at it, and assisting as often as possible”.
In our daily lives, we ought to rank the Holy Mass ahead of any other good, for as St. Bernard says, “One merits more by devoutly assisting at a Holy Mass than by distributing all of his goods to the poor and travelling all over the world on pilgrimage”. And it cannot be otherwise because nothing in the world can have the infinite value of one Holy Mass.