Notes on Daily Mass by St. Leonard of Port Maurice


Many years I was not able to attend daily Mass because of homeschooling, pregnancies, toddlers, sicknesses, etc.  So this post is not to cause us to feel guilty and push us to neglect our home duties….

At the same time, it is a good reminder that, if we can,  take in an extra Mass during the week. And if we are in a time of life we can get to daily Mass, it will be the most efficacious thing you will do in your day!

It is also a call to priests to fulfill their serious obligation of offering daily Holy Mass….

Angelo is second altar server from the right.

from The Hidden Treasure by St. Leonard of Port Maurice, 1676


Many are the excuses which those who attend holy Mass grudgingly and with reluctance find for their tepidity. You may observe them all immersed in business, all anxious and intent (to use a common and most accurate expression) on promoting their own interests.

For these, every fatigue is a trifle; nor is there any inconvenience which they will allow to stand in their way; while, for attending holy Mass, which is the great affair of all, you will perceive them languid, cold, with a hundred frivolous pretexts at hand about important occupations, weak health, family troubles, want of time, multiplicity of business, and so on.

In short, if holy Church did not oblige them under pain of mortal sin to frequent the Divine Mysteries at least on festivals, God knows if ever they would visit a church, or bend a knee before the altar.

Oh, shame and utter disgrace to our times! Miserable that we are! How have we declined from the fervor of those first believers who, as I said before, every day assisted at the adorable Sacrifice, and refreshed their souls with the Bread of Angels, communicating sacramentally!

And yet they also were not without transactions and business and occupations; nay, by this very means their temporal business and interests, as well as their spiritual, got on all the better. Blind world, when wilt thou open thine eyes to recognize delusions so gross?

Up, and awaken, one and all! Be this your most sweet and beloved devotion—to hear holy Mass every morning.


An instance which came under my own observation will explain the first part of what I have to say to priests. A priest, by reason of a violent blow on the fingers of his right hand, was prevented celebrating for two months.

From saying Mass as formerly every day, never once omitting it, he now did not even communicate, though there occurred several high festivals; nor did he even attend Mass on days which were not of obligation.

And why? I blush to hint that for merely going to Holy Communion, or simply attending Mass, there was no motive of gain which could come into play.

How can one express the horror due to such a state of soul? Truly some offering is due to the priest who celebrates, because, qui altari inservit de altari vivere debet—“he who serves the altar shall live by the altar”; but it is necessary to say that this can never be the main object of a good priest—such offerings can never be justly given or received in the spirit of purchase.

Stir yourselves up, then, O priests of Christ, and make it your first point to be pure and single of eye, your intentions being entirely referred to God.

For this end, before commencing holy Mass, renew, at least mentally, the four ends indicated above, and prescribed by the Angelic Doctor. Then in your mementos, after applying the Sacrifice for those to whom you are under that obligation, make briefly the offerings aforesaid to the Most High, directing your act to those holy ends for which it was primarily instituted; that is, to honor God, to thank Him, to make satisfaction to Him, and to beseech all blessings from His goodness.

Use likewise all diligence to celebrate with the utmost modesty, recollection, and care, taking time to pronounce well and distinctly every word, and perfectly to fulfill every ceremony with due propriety and gravity; for words ill articulated, or spoken without a tone of meekness and awe, and ceremonies done without decorum and accuracy, render the divine service, instead of a help to piety and religion, a source of distress and scandal.

Let the priest keep the inner man devoutly recollected; let him think of the sense of all the words which he articulates, dwelling on their sense and spirit, and making throughout internal efforts corresponding to their holy suggestions. Then truly will there be an influx of great devotion into those assisting, and he will obtain the utmost profit for his own soul.

Now, on the supposition that such will be his method of celebrating, let every priest adopt the steadfast resolution of offering the adorable Sacrifice every morning of his life; for if in the primitive Church the laity communicated daily, with how much more reason must we believe that the priesthood celebrated daily?

Quotidie immolo Deo Agnum Immaculatum, said St. Andrew the Apostle to the tyrant; “Daily I offer the Immaculate Lamb to God” (ex Sur. 38, Nov.).

And St. Cyprian, in one of his epistles, says, Sacerdotes qui Sacrificium Deo quotidie immolamus—“We priests who celebrate and daily offer the sacrifice to God” (Ep. 54).

And St. Gregory the Great (Hom. 27, in Evang.) narrates of St. Cassius, Bishop of Narni, that, being wont to say Mass daily, Almighty God commanded one of his chaplains to say to him, as from Heaven, that he did well, that his devotion was very pleasing, and that He laid up a reward for him above.

But, on the other hand, as to those priests who through mere negligence fail to celebrate, who shall ever be able to calculate the loss which they inflict upon the whole Church?

The maxim of the Venerable Bede is well known: Sacerdos qui absque legitimo, impedimento missae celebrationem omittit, quantum in ipso est, Sanctissimam Trinitatem privat laude et gloria, angelos laetitia, peccatores venia, justos auxilio et gratia, existentes in purgatorio subsidio et refrigerio, Ecclesiam ipsam ingenti beneficio, et seipsum medicina et remedio—“The priest who, without legitimate impediment, fails to celebrate daily, deprives, so far as he can, the Most Holy Trinity of praise and glory, the angels of joy, sinners of pardon, the good of help and grace, the souls in Purgatory of succor and refreshment, the Church herself of immense benefit, and his own soul of medicine and remedy.”

Where will you find me a robber so notorious as at one stroke to execute a theft on such a scale as the priest who thus robs of blessing the living, the dead, and the whole Church? Nor can the excuse of occupation avail.

The Blessed Ferdinand, Archbishop of Grenada, who was at the same time prime minister, and consequently immersed in public affairs, yet celebrated every morning.

The Cardinal of Toledo gave him a hint (Rodriguez, Exerc. Perf. p. 2, tract. 7, c. 16) that the court murmured against him for celebrating daily, oppressed as he was with business. “For that matter,” replied the servant of God, “your highness having imposed a burden so exorbitant on my shoulders, I can find no better support against sinking to the ground than the Holy Sacrifice of Mass, from which I extract strength for the office laid upon me.”

Much less avails a certain sort of humility. St. Peter Celestine, from the great conception he had of the loftiness of such a function, was once disposed to cease celebrating daily, when there appeared to him a holy abbot (Sur. in Vit. ipsius. c. 3), from whom he had received the habit of a monk, and who thus addressed him in an authoritative manner: “What seraph in all Heaven will you find worthy to celebrate Mass? Almighty God has made, not angels, but men, the ministers of the Holy Sacrifice, and as men they are subject to a thousand imperfections. Humble yourself; yes, but celebrate daily, for such is the will of God.”


It remains to say a word about the acolytes who serve at Mass. In our days this office is imposed on boys and common persons, while, in truth, the highest crowned heads are not worthy of the honor.

St. Bonaventure called this an angelic office, since during the Holy Sacrifice many angels are in fact present, who serve God at that sacred function. (Ex. 1. 5, Spirit. grat.)

The glorious St. Mechtilde once saw the soul of a poor lay brother robed in marvelous splendor, because he had exercised his zeal in serving as many Masses as he could with a perfect diligence and attention.

St. Thomas Aquinas, who was the sun of the theological schools, well understanding the hidden treasure involved in this office of serving at Mass, was not satisfied after celebrating as priest unless he served at another Mass.

Sir Thomas More, the celebrated Lord Chancellor of England, centered his chief delight in the holy employment of serving Mass; and when one day rebuked by a dignitary of the kingdom with the suggestion that King Henry would be displeased with his lowering himself thus, More replied, “My king cannot be displeased at the homage which I offer to his King.”

Those persons are sadly astray—and they are often members of religious houses—who require to be begged and urged to serve Mass; when, in fact, they ought to compete with each other, and almost snatch at the missal, in order to gain the honor of fulfilling a function which the very angels and blessed ones in Heaven look upon with envy.

All pains, too, should be taken to instruct properly those who serve at Mass. They should do it with lowly eyes and every trace of compunction, earnestness, and devotion.

They should articulate the words distinctly, quietly, and leisurely, with voice neither so low that the priest should not hear, nor so loud as to disturb those who celebrate at adjoining altars.

All children of dispositions too trivial, who are tinged with levity of demeanor, not to speak of those who could dare to joke, trifle, or make any noise, should be carefully excluded from the altar steps.

I beseech Almighty God that He would enlighten men of judgment and education to undertake this holy and honorable office! It is the noble and the wise who should set the example to others.

“So the wife must seek that her husband be sweetened with the sugar of devotion, for man without religion is a rude, rough animal; and the husband will desire to see his wife devout, as without it her frailty and weakness are liable to tarnish and injury. St. Paul says that “the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband;” because in so close a tie one may easily draw the other to what is good. And how great is the blessing on those faithful husbands and wives who confirm one another continually in the Fear of the Lord!” -St. Francis de Sales

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