The End and Effects of the Mass
As a reproduction of the redeeming sacrifice, the Mass has the same purposes and produces the same effects as the sacrifice of the Cross. They are also the same as those of a sacrifice in general, the supreme act of religion, but they are incomparably more sublime.
The sacrifice of the Mass renders to God an adoration which is absolutely worthy of Him and is infinite in the
strictest sense. This effect it always produces infallibly, by its own intrinsic power, even if those at Mass are all sinners. The reason is that the value of adoration depends on the infinite dignity of the principal priest who offers the sacrifice (Christ) and the value of the victim offered (Christ).
We should recall the great longing of the saints to give glory to God. With the Mass we give to God all the honour which is due to Him in recognition of His sovereign grandeur and supreme dominion, and this is done in the most perfect way possible, in an infinite degree. One Mass gives more glory to God than do all the angels and saints in heaven, including the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.
In return for this incomparable glory, God inclines lovingly to His creatures. From this proceeds the sanctifying value of the Mass. And to think that many Christians, even devout Christians, have not yet become aware of this, but prefer their routine practices of devotion to an incorporation and participation in this sublime sacrifice which constitutes the principal act of religion and of Catholic worship!
After adoration, there is no other debt which is more pressing than that of making reparation for the offences which we have committed against the Creator. In this sense also the value of the Mass is absolutely incomparable, because by means of it we offer to the Father the infinite reparation of Christ with all its redeeming efficacy.
The world is flooded with sin each day, and we may well ask why God does not punish us. The reason is that each day, indeed each hour, the Son of God, immolated on the altar, appeases the wrath of His Father and withholds the arm which is prepared to punish. Yet this reparatory effect is not applied to us in all of its infinite fulness, but in a limited and finite degree, according to our dispositions.Nevertheless, it is well to keep in mind the following points:
a) We receive, unless we place an obstacle to it, the actual grace which is necessary for repentance for our sins. Consequently, there is nothing more efficacious for obtaining from God the conversion of a sinner than to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for this intention, asking God at the same time to rid the heart of the sinner of the obstacles for infallibly obtaining that grace.
b) The Mass remits always and infallibly, as long as there is no obstacles, at least part of the temporal punishment which is due to sin in this world or in the world to come. Hence the Mass is likewise of great profit for the souls in purgatory. The degree and measure of this remission, however, will depend on our dispositions.
No suffrage is of such efficacious value to the souls in purgatory as the sacrifice of the Mass.
“ Our indigence is immense; we constantly need light, fortitude, consolation. We shall find all this in the Mass. There is, in effect, he who said: ‘I am the Light of the world, I am the Way, I am the Truth, 1 am the Life. Come to me, those who suffer, and I will refresh you. If anyone comes to me, I will not reject him.’ ”
Christ is offered to the Father in the Mass in order to obtain for us, through the infinite merit of His oblation, all the graces of divine life which we need. There He is “ always living to make intercession for us” (Heb.7:25), strengthening our supplications and petitions by His infinite merits. Therefore, the impetratory value of the Mass is incomparable. Of itself, infallibly and immediately, it moves God to grant to men all the graces they need, without exception, although the effective distribution of those graces will be measured by the degree of our dispositions and can even be frustrated completely because of a voluntary obstacle (i.e., serious sin) which we may place to it.
When incorporated with the Mass, our prayer not only enters into the river of liturgical prayer, which gives it a dignity and efficacy, but it blends it with the infinite prayer of Christ, and in attention to Him God will grant us whatever we need. Consequently, there is no novena or triduum which can compare to the impetratory efficacy of one Mass.
What a disorientation frequently exists among the faithful as regards the objective value of things! That which we cannot obtain by means of the Holy Mass cannot be obtained in any other way. It is very well and good to make use of other practices and exercises which are approved by the Church, and it is beyond doubt that God does grant many graces through them, but let us put each thing in its proper place. The Mass is above everything.
The immense benefits of the natural and supernatural order which we have received from God cause us to contract with Him an infinite debt of gratitude. An entire eternity would not suffice to pay this debt if we were not able to make use of other means which we are able to offer Him on our account. But there is at our disposition a wonderful means of completely liquidating our debt: the sacrifice of the Mass. Through it we offer to the Father a Eucharistic sacrifice or a thanksgiving which is more than our debt because it is infinite. It is Christ Himself who is immolated for us, and in our place He gives thanks to God for his immense benefits. At the same time, the Mass is a fountain of new graces because it pleases God to reward those who do good. The Eucharistic effect or thanksgiving is produced by the Holy Mass of itself always and infallibly and independently of our dispositions.
Such are, in brief, the infinite riches contained in the Mass. For that reason the saints, illumined by God, always held the Mass in the highest esteem. It was the centre of their life, the fountain of their spirituality, the resplendent sun around which all of their activities revolved. But in order to obtain the maximum sanctify ing benefits from the celebration of or attendance at Mass, it is necessary to insist on the necessary dispositions on the part of the one who celebrates or the one who attends.