For some time now, I have been reading The Priest In Union With Christ written by the late Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, O.P., described by some as “probably the 20th century’s greatest theologian” and “one of the Church’s all-time greatest authorities on the spiritual life.”
Given the on-going attack on the nature of the priesthood, our priests and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, this is a book you should read and give to any priest you treasure.
The wonderful Father Garrigou-Lagrange urges all of his readers to always remember “that the principal Priest in the sacrifice of the Mass is Christ, and that the celebrant must be striving for an actual and closer union with Him.” Does this truth come as a surprise to you?
He then goes on to describe the different ways of celebrating Mass: the sacrilegious Mass, the Mass which is said hurriedly, the Mass which is outwardly correct but lacks the spirit of faith, the Mass which is faithfully and worthily celebrated, and the Mass of the Saints.
We would all do well to read, reflect and ponder these various descriptions. But I want to focus today on the Mass which is faithfully and worthily celebrated. – “a Mass offered in a spirit of faith, of confidence in God and of love for God and one’s neighbor”.
“In such a sacrifice, we witness the impulse and guidance of the Theological Virtues which inspire the virtue of religion. The Kyrie Eleison is a genuine prayer of petition; the Gloria in Excelsis Deo is an act of adoration of God on high; the Gospel of the day is read with keen belief in what it contains; the words of Consecration are pronounced by a minister in actual union with Christ the principal Offerer, by one who realizes to some extent the wide diffusion of the spiritual effects of his offering and sacramental immolation to the souls in this world and to those in Purgatory. The Agnus Dei is a sincere request for the forgiveness of sin; the priest’s Communion leaves nothing to be desired – it is always more fervent and more fruitful than the day before because of the daily growth in charity produced by the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The distribution of Holy Communion is not approached in any perfunctory spirit, but is treated as the means of bestowing on the faithful, superabundant life, of giving them an even greater share in the divine life…Afterwards the priest will make his private thanksgiving, which, if time permits, will be prolonged on certain feast days in the form of mental prayer. There is no more suitable time for intimate prayer than when Christ is sacramentally present within us, and when our soul, if recollected, is under His actual influence.”
But Michael, but Michael (imitating with great respect the literary style of Father Z): Father Garrigou-Lagrange wrote those words prior to the Mass changes implemented by Vatican II, so they have no relevance to us today. An expert I am not, but I do know this: Vatican II never mandated the removal of Latin from the Mass and never, and could never, change its supernatural nature or the reverence with which it must be celebrated. Man did this and we are now paying dearly for those errors.
To my simple layman’s mind, and with the aid of Father Peter Girard, O.P., I have come to understand that when we participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we are really being spiritually transported beyond the realm of earthly time and space and entering into the on-going heavenly liturgy which someday we hope to enjoy.
Is this how you experience Mass?
How blessed you are!