If the intrinsic wonder and glory of the Sacrifice move you not, be moved at least by the extreme necessity for its existence.
If there were no sun to shine on the world, what would it be? All darkness, horror, barrenness, and misery supreme.
And if there were not holy Mass in the world? O unhappy race! We should then be vessels empty of every good, and full of evil to the brim; we should be a mark for all the thunders of the wrath of God.
Some are surprised at its really seeming as if since ancient times our good God had in some sort changed His mode of government. He then caused Himself to be called the God of armies and of battles, and spoke to the people from the midst of clouds, with lightnings in His hand.
He then chastised sin with all the rigor of justice. For one adultery there fell by the edge of the sword 25,000 of the tribe of Benjamin. For the pride of David in numbering the people He sent a pestilence so malignant that quickly 70,000 persons were no more. For one curious and somewhat irreverent look He overthrew in frightful slaughter more than 50,000 of the Betsamites.
And now He will bear with patience not only vanities and frivolities, but adulteries the most base, scandals the most iniquitous, and blasphemies the most revolting, vomited forth against His most holy Name by many Christians every hour of the day.
How comes this? Why so great a difference of government? Are, perhaps, our sins of ingratitude more excusable than those of old? Quite the contrary. They are very much more culpable, since there is the addition of benefits so immeasurable.
The true reason of a clemency so stupendous is the holy Mass, in which is offered to the Eternal Father the great Victim—Jesus. Behold the Sun of holy Church, that scatters the clouds and renders Heaven again serene! Behold the heavenly Rainbow, pacifying the storms of divine justice!
For myself, I believe that were it not for holy Mass, at this moment the world would be in the abyss, unable to bear up under the mighty load of its iniquities.
Mass is the potent prop that holds the world upon its base.
Therefore, when we are assisting at it, we ought to practice that which once Alphonsus of Albuquerque did, who, finding himself with his fleet in danger of perishing during a fierce and terrific tempest, adopted the following means: He took in his arms an innocent little child which was on board his ship, and lifting it up toward Heaven, he said, “If we are sinners, this creature is certainly free from sin; O Lord, for love of this innocent, remit to us the death we deserve!”
Will you believe it? The spectacle of that stainless babe was so pleasing to God that He tranquilized the sea, and changed into joy for these unfortunates their terror of a death already imminent.
Now, what do you believe is done by the Eternal Father when the priest, lifting in the air the thrice-saved Victim, shows to Him the innocence of His Divine Son? Ah, then His compassion cannot resist the sight of the most spotless innocence of Jesus, and He feels as if compelled to calm our storms, and to provide for all our necessities.
Thus without that thrice-holy Victim, Jesus, first of all bloodily sacrificed for us upon the Cross, and daily since unbloodily upon our altars, it would be all at an end with us; each might say to the other, “We part to meet in Hell.” Yes, in Hell!
But possessing this treasure of holy Mass, hope breathes again; and if we but throw it not away by our own mismanagement, we have holy paradise within our grasp.
Well may we, therefore, kiss our altars, perfume them with incense and holy sweets; and, what is more, honor them with the utmost reverence and awe, since through them there cometh so much good.
And do you, O priests, join your hands in thanksgiving to the Eternal Father for having placed you in the sweet necessity of often offering to Him this Victim of paradise; and, still more, thank Him for the unbounded gain which you can gather from it, if you but be faithful, not only in offering it, but in offering it for the proper ends for which He bestowed a gift so precious.
“We’re terribly in danger all the time of taking God’s goodness too much for granted; of bouncing up to Communion as if it were the most natural thing in the world, instead of being a supernatural thing belonging to another world.” – Msgr. Ronald Knox, 1948