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“Do this for a commemoration of me.”–LUKE xxii. 19.

The Sacrifice of the Mass, my beloved brethren, is offered up for four great ends:

1. To give fitting, or, in other words, infinite praise and honor to Almighty God. (a) The natural law, written in the heart of man, directs that every inferior should pay homage to his superior; and, futhermore, that this homage should be always in proportion to the rank and dignity of the superior. Now, this being the case, we should pay to Almighty God, as the Supreme Creator and Ruler of the universe, as our first Beginning and our last End, infinite praise, infinite honor. Anything short of the infinite would not be sufficient, nor would it be adequately worthy of His acceptance. But, since all our human offerings, all our human acts, are, like ourselves, finite, how can we offer any infinite gift to our good and merciful God?

If all the creatures of this world, no matter how rich, or beautiful, or delightful they might be in themselves, were brought to the feet of Almighty God, and laid there as an offering, they would not be worthy His acceptance; for there is nothing worthy of God’s acceptance except God Himself. Jesus Christ, then, seeing this great want on the part of man, has, in a marvellous excess of divine love, supplied it by offering Himself, a God of infinite worth, to His Eternal Father in the Sacrifice of the Mass. In that Holy Sacrifice, dear Christians, we can give infinite praise and honor to God, by uniting ourselves to the offering made to Him on our altars by the consecrated hands of His priest. Nay, more, by every Mass that we offer, or get the priest to offer for us, by every Mass at which we assist, we can co-operate in the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ in our behalf; for, thereby discharging our first and chief duty to God, we acknowledge our total dependence on Him, and return Him fitting praise and honor. The accumulated worship of the Saints and Angels in Paradise, of the Archangels, the Seraphim, the Thrones, the Dominations, and the Powers, is unspeakingly grand and pleasing to Almighty God; but it is, as it were, nothing in comparison with the praise and honor given to Him by a single Mass celebrated by a poor, obscure priest in some hidden corner of this lower world. For the praise of all those celestial beings, great though it be, is only finite, whereas the praise given by a Mass is infinite! Continue reading

Miraculous First Communion of Blessed Imelda Lambertini

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Miraculous First Communion of Blessed Imelda Lambertini

As spring approached, the sisters, who perhaps thought that they had succeeded in diverting Imelda’s “childish fancy” to go to Communion with the grown-ups, were a bit startled when she begged them insistently again, shortly before the feast of the Ascension, to receive her First Holy Communion. When the chaplain was consulted, he agreed with the sisters and responded with no hesitation that Imelda was much too young. On the Vigil of the Ascension Imelda was in her place in the chapel, quietly praying as the sisters received Communion. Then our Lord did a little “insisting” of His own. After Holy Mass, as one of the nuns was clearing the altar, she heard a noise and looked up to the choir to see Imelda, a glowing light shining above her head, with the Sacred Host suspended in the light. The chaplain was called at once, and he understood that Our Lord Himself was making his desire known. “But Jesus said to them: Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to me: for the kingdom of heaven is for such.” Matt xix:14. Hence the priest administered Imelda her First Holy Communion.


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Second Sunday after Pentecost

(Wherever the solemn celebration of Corpus Christi is observed on the Sunday, one high Mass is celebrated as on the feast itself, with commemoration and last Gospel of the second Sunday. After this Mass the procession takes place.)

For the feast of Corpus Christi, the Church has chosen the Thursday between the Sunday on which she speaks of God’s mercy towards men and the consequent duty of fraternal charity among Christians (First Sunday after Pentecost), and this Sunday when she resumes the same thread of thought (Epistle) and presents the Kingdom of Heaven in the form of the Parable of the Supper (Gospel). (This Mass was in existence, composed of its present parts before Corpus Christi was instituted.)

Nothing could be more appropriate to the Blessed Eucharist, as the banquet where all souls are united by love to Christ their Spouse and to all the members of His mystical body; no time could have been chosen better than when the history of Samuel is being read in the breviary; Samuel who was consecrated to God from his earliest childhood to dwell near the Ark of the Lord and to become priest in the sanctuary of the Most High.

In the liturgy for this season we see how this young child, offered to God by his mother, served the Lord in the Temple with a pure heart and nurtured himself on God’s truth.

“In those days,” the breviary tells us, “the word of the Lord was precious … there was no manifest vision”; for Heli was at the same time proud and weak; and his two sons Ophni and Phinees were faithless to God and slack in His service. Yet at that very moment the Lord revealed Himself to the child Samuel, for as our Lord tells us, He reveals Himself to “little ones”, and hides Himself from the proud.

“It is to the humble,” says St. Gregory, “that the secrets of the divine plan have been revealed, and that is why Samuel was called as a child.” (Commentary on Kings.) God foretold to Samuel the punishment which would fall on Heli and his house, and as a matter of fact soon after, the Ark was taken by the Philistines, Heli’s two sons were killed and Heli himself died. Moreover almighty God had withheld his revelations from the high priest, because he and his sons made too little of heavenly joys, symbolized by “the great supper” spoken of in to-day’s Gospel, and were more attached to the delights of the body than of the soul.

Applying to them a passage from St. Gregory in to-day’s homily we may say that they “had reached a state in which they had lost all appetite for interior joys, for the very reason that they had held aloof from them and had long lost the habit of relishing them. Since they were not willing to enjoy interiorly the sweetness offered them, they loved the hunger that came upon them from without.”

Heli’s sons had in fact been taking the meats offered to God and eating them themselves and Heli, their father had let them go their own way. It was in divine consolations alone that Samuel, who had always lived with Heli in the Temple, found his delight. The food of which he partook was that supplied by God Himself, When He told him His secrets in contemplation and prayer. “The child slept, which means,” says St. Gregory, “that his soul was at rest without care for earthly things.” The saint explains in his commentary on to-day’s Gospel that “the joys of the body which kindle in us beforehand an ardent desire for their possession, soon bring disgust upon him who tastes them, by the very fact of his satiating himself with them, while on the contrary, spiritual joys arouse contempt before they are possessed, but stir up desire for them when once they have been obtained; so that he who has tasted them is the hungrier, the more he is fed.”

And this explains how souls who find all their delight in the pleasures of this world refuse to share in the banquet of the Christian Faith, wherein the church nourishes all with the teaching of the Gospel. “Taste and see,” continues St. Gregory, “that the Lord is sweet. By these words the Psalmist expressly tells us: You do not know His sweetness if you do not taste it, but touch the food of life with the palate of your heart, that experiencing His graciousness you may be able to love Him.

“Man lost these delights when he sinned in paradise, out of which he came when he had closed his lips to the food of eternal sweetness. It follows from this that having been born in the pains of this exile, we reach such a state of disgust with our life here below, that we no longer know what we ought to desire.” (Matins).

But by the grace of the Holy Ghost, “we have passed from death unto life”, (Epistle), so that, like humble little Samuel, we, the weak, the poor and the lame of the Gospel should seek our joys near our Lord’s tabernacle and in intimate communion with Him. We must avoid pride and earthly things that we may be instructed in the fear and love of Gods Holy Name (Collect), and thus constantly directed by Him “our life on earth may more and more be likened to that of heaven,” that “it may be vouchsafed to us who have received the sacred gifts, that the more often we assist at the celebration of these divine mysteries, the more surely they may avail to the salvation of our souls” (Postcommunion).

Factus est Dominus protector meus, et eduxit me in latitudinem: salvum me fecit, quoniam voluit me. * Diligam te, Domine, virtus mea : Dominus firmamentum meum, et refugium meum, et liberator meus.

The Lord became my protector, and He brought me forth into a large place: He saved me, because He was well pleased with me. * I will love Thee, O Lord my strength: the Lord is my firmament, and my refuge, and my deliverer.

(Psalm 17:19-20,2 from the introit of Mass)

Sancti nominis tui, Domine, timorem pariter et amorem fac nos habere perpetuum: quia numquam tua gubernatione destituis, quos in soliditate tuae dilectionis instituis.

Grant, O Lord, that we may have a perpetual fear and love of Thy holy name; for Thou never failest to direct and govern by Thy grace, those whom Thou bringest up in the steadfastness of Thy love.

Second Collect of Corpus Christi: Deus qui nobis.

Continuation of the holy Gospel according to St. Luke.
At that time, Jesus spoke to the Pharisees this parable : A certain man made a great supper, and invited many. And he sent his servant, at the hour of supper, to say to them that were invited, that they should come, for now all things are ready. And they began all at once to make excuse. The first said to him, I have bought a farm, and must needs go out, and see it, I pray thee hold me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to try them; I pray thee hold me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. And the servant returning, told these things to his lord. Then the master of the house being angry, said to his servant: Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the feeble, and the blind and the lame. And the servant said : Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said to the servant: Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. But I say unto you, that none of these men that were invited shall taste of my supper.
(St Luke 14:16-24)

Sunday within the Octave of Corpus Christi

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Sunday within the Octave of Corpus Christi

“And they began all at once to make excuses.”–Luke 14.

The Church reads today the Sunday within the Octave of Corpus Christi a Gospel, which points not only to the table which Jesus, by the institution of the most holy Sacrament, has set for the children of His Church, but also to His great desire that they may all draw from this inexhaustible fountain of all graces the merits of the Redemption, to sanctify their lives and to secure for all eternity the salvation of their souls.

Indeed, we need not hesitate to say that the entire life of the children of the Church, if it is to be a truly Catholic life, depends on their benefiting by the presence of Christ in the most holy Sacrament, as was acknowledged so clearly and distinctly by the apostolic Christians.

The holy Eucharist is a source of grace to us in three ways. It is, namely, first a sacrifice; secondly, a banquet; and, thirdly, the Sacrament of Christ’s presence among us here upon earth. Unfortunately, so many children of the Church are inconceivably indifferent to the presence of Christ in the Most Holy Sacrament, and do not benefit by it as they should, they excuse themselves.

Let us consider, in order, the emptiness and frivolity of these excuses. I shall speak today, especially, of the high regard we should entertain for Holy Mass, and of the fervor that should animate us to derive from the holy sacrifice great fruit for our salvation.

Mary, thou who didst most highly esteem the presence of Christ, and most wisely benefit by it, increase in our hearts love and devotion to Jesus, especially in that character in which, as the sacrifice of the New Testament, He is offered to God upon our altars! I speak in the most holy name of Jesus, to the greater glory of God!

The first relation of Christ to us in the Most Holy Eucharist, is that of a sacrifice. Through the transubstantiation effected at Mass, Christ sacrifices Himself always anew upon the altars of the Church to His heavenly Father, and thus becomes the sacrifice of the New Testament, which, according to the words of the Prophet Malachias, would be offered to God over the entire earth “from the rising to the setting of the sun,” and until the end of time.

Let us consider, especially, two points; namely, esteem for this holy sacrifice, and participation in its fruits. Both of these points deserve the greatest attention, as they relate to the essential part ot external worship, namely, sacrifice, and to the countless graces which flow from this sacrifice to those who share in its fruits.

I say, first: The Most Holy Eucharist relates to the essential part of the external worship of God. The reason lies in the fundamental character of a sacrifice. The offering of sacrifice has been recognized since the creation of mankind by all nations of the earth, as an expression of devotion, and the highest and most proper way of worshiping God. Abel and Cain already offered sacrifices, and these were; surely preceded by Adam. The Patriarchs brought sacrifices, and so did Melchisedech and Job.

But we see also among all nations countless temples and altars, and the sacrifice which was offered there was at all times regarded as the highest act of the worship of God. And when God chose from among the human races a nation to prepare for the coming of the Messiah, He gave Moses manifold and minute commands in regard to the offering of sacrifices. He glorified, by a visible sign of His presence, the temple which Solomon had built, in order to give a special sanction to the sacrifices offered there by priests, forming a cast by themselves and separated from the people.

All these sacrifices, however, were only figures of that sacrifice which, according to the command of Christ, is offered upon our altars, and which, in overflowing fullness of graces, exceeds all its prototypes. To recognize this truth we need only think:

First: Who it is that offers, and what is offered, and in what way and manner. He who makes the offering in the person of the priest is Christ Himself, the incarnate Son of God. As St. Ambrose rightly remarks, the words of the transubstantiation remind us of this. The priest does not say: “This is the body this is the chalice of His blood;” but he says: “This is my body this is the chalice of my blood,” as if Christ Himself were speaking. Yes, indeed, it is Christ Himself, Who, through the words of transubstantiation uttered by the priest, offers the sacrifice to His heavenly Father.

Catherine of Bologna saw one day at Mass which was read by her confessor, St. Raymond at the moment when the priest took the host in his hand, two persons standing before the altar on the same spot St. Raymond and Christ in him. She saw at the elevation of the host, in the hands of the priest, the hands of Christ with the marks of His wounds! That which St. Catherine saw with, her bodily eyes, we see at every Mass with the eyes of faith.

And what is offered? Christ Himself lies upon the altar a victim, veiled in the sacramental species. This transubstantiation of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ is, according to St. Augustine, an infinitely greater miracle than the creation of the world, which God called into existence by the words: “Let there be light!” Then Omnipotence called finite beings into existence now the Creator Himself appears at the word of a creature of the priest. And how perfectly this sacrifice which Christ makes of Himself includes all the acts of worship which distinguish sacrifices, as, for instance, praise, adoration, thanksgiving, petition and atonement!

The reason is, that Christ is both priest and victim, and that by the personal union in Him of the word with the human nature, all His actions have an infinite value. No pure creature nor any number of creatures could make; an offering of equal value. The praise of the angels continued from the moment of their creation through the ages of all eternity, the praise of all the saints, their adoration, their thanksgiving, their prayers and intercessions all vanish in comparison with the adoration, praise, thanks, prayers and atonement which, in one holy Mass, Christ offers to His heavenly Father.

It is the sacrifice of the Mass that, like a sun, pierces and illumines the whole service of God, that gives our homage its highest meaning and makes it worthy of the Most High; it is to this sacrifice that all the grades of holy Orders have reference, by which the servants of the sanctuary are raised step by step to the dignity of the priesthood.

The Church explains all that we have to consider in this matter when she says, that Mass is the same sacrifice which Christ offered for us upon the cross, with only this difference, that it is not a bloody sacrifice. What a sight, what an impulse to praise and exultation must it not be for the angels when they look down upon the most holy Sacrament, which at every moment, in some part of the earth, is raised to heaven by the oblation of priests, to give thanks and praise to God, and to reconcile us to Him through our Lord Jesus Christ!

But if this is the case, oh how eager every child of the Church should be to assist daily, if possible, at holy Mass, and to unite his praise, adoration, prayer and atonement with the praise, adoration, prayer and atonement of Christ! How fortunate we should deem ourselves that we are permitted to assist at the offering of this sacrifice, and as the Church desires and demands of the faithful during Mass to unite our acts and prayers spiritually with those of the priest! It is for this reason that St. Peter calls the Christians a sacerdotal people, although priests alone are permitted to say Mass.

How sad to think that so many children of the Church do not value this sacrifice, yes, do not even seem to understand it, and, therefore, do not endeavor to assist as often as possible, even daily, at Holy Mass, but must be forced by the commandment of the Church to hear Mass at least on Sundays and holydays! And even on these days, not a few stay away through shere carelessness or indolence, and others, make the slightest inconvenience a pretext for absenting themselves.

But of those who assist at Mass, many by their willful distractions, their idle curiosity, their disrespectful behavior, offend God, even though they fulfill the command of the Church. We can maintain, on the contrary, with certainty, that those whoever they may be that endeavor to assist every day devoutly at the Mass, will lead, in other respects, too, the life of true children of God, and walk the path of salvation without hesitation.

Hence, how becoming, how profitable would it be if out of every family in the congregation, at least one member assisted each day at Mass! Streams of heavenly grace would then pour from the altar upon the whole congregation, conveying blessings for time and eternity, through Jesus Christ our Lord! Amen!

If in mortal sin, the Church calls on you to repent, and by a sincere and contrite confession be reconciled to God, and then approach the blessed Eucharist, otherwise you commit a sacrilege. The only condition which our Lord requires for admission to His holy table, is to be in a state of grace, and to have a desire to receive Him.

Prayer which may be said some days before Communion

O Lord Jesus Christ! whom I aspire to receive in a few days within the temple of my soul, I come to implore that Thou wilt Thyself prepare Thy destined abode, cleansing it from every stain, and enriching it with ornaments worthy of Thy presence. Grant me an increase of faith, hope, and charity; grant me true contrition, and profound humility; grant me to sigh with holy Simeon for Thy coming, and, like him, to centre in Thee alone the ardent affections and fervent desires of my heart. O Lord! whose throne is surrounded by cherubim and seraphim! whose presence is felt by all creation, whose spotless sanctity the angels themselves contemplate with awe, I acknowledge my extreme unworthiness to receive Thee; but animated with lively confidence in Thy paternal goodness, I conjure Thee to prepare me Thyself, and to supply from the treasury of Thy abundant mercies for all my deficiencies. O Thou who hast come on earth to save me, and who by Thy sufferings hast opened heaven to receive me, grant me grace to profit by all Thou hast done and endured for my salvation! Amen.

Lives of the Saints: Compiled from Authentic Sources with a Practical Instruction on the Life of Each Saint, for Every Day in the Year by Rev. F. X. Weninger. Permissu Superiorum. New York: P. O’Shea, Publisher, 67 Barclay Street and 42 Park Place. 1876.