21 July 2010

Being Equipped for Mass

The following reflection is from Saint Jean-Marie Vianney. These are wonderful words to reflect upon in preparation for the holy Sacrifice of the Mass. These saintly words teach us about postures, what our interior and exterior disposition should be, and this reflection also teaches us about where we really are during Mass – which is – Calvary.

The best way of hearing Mass is to unite ourselves with the priest in all he says, and to follow all his actions.

Be like penitents pierced with the keenest sorrow for their sins, and take for your model the publican in the temple. The Gospel says that he stood at the bottom of the temple, with his eyes on the ground, not daring to look at the altar, striking his breast, and saying to God, Lord, be merciful to me a sinner.

He stood at the bottom of the temple, in the least conspicuous place, thinking himself unworthy to enter. He was very different, then, from those nominal Christians who are never in a good enough place.

He kept his eyes on the ground, so ashamed was he at the sight of his sins. He did not behave like those Christians who enter our churches with a proud, arrogant air and a kind of contempt for God’s presence, and who seem to approach Him like people who have nothing on their conscience that can humble them before their Creator.

Be like ministers who offer Jesus Christ to God His Father and make Him the Sacrifice of all they are.

What progress he makes during the three hours that he finds himself in the company of his dying Saviour! First, he opens the eyes of his soul to recognize his Deliverer; then fastened to the cross, and having nothing that remains free but his heart and tongue, he offers both to Jesus Christ. He consecrates his heart to Him by faith and hope, and humbly asks of Him a place in Paradise; and he consecrates his tongue to Him by proclaiming His innocence and holiness: ‘It is just that we should suffer’, he says to his companion, ‘but as for Him, He is innocent’. He makes himself Christ’s panegyrist at a time when others think only of outraging Him, and so great is his charity that he does all he can to convert the other.

Consider yourselves as those who are to participate in Christ’s adorable Body and precious Blood, and be inspired with the sentiments of the Centurion in order to communicate spiritually and sacramentally.

The Centurion’s example is so admirable, that the Church seems to take pleasure in putting it before our eyes each day at holy Mass. Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof, said that humble officer, but speak only the word and my servant shall be healed. Oh, if the good God saw in us this same humility and realisation of our nothingness, with what gladness, with what abundance of graces would He come into our hearts; what strength and courage would He give us to overcome the enemy of our salvation!