Jesus for me
HOLY MASS IS THE SACRIFICE OF THE CROSS
Only in Heaven will we understand what a
divine marvel the Holy Mass is. No matter how much effort we apply and no
matter how holy and inspired we are, we can only stammer if we would
explain this Divine Work, which surpasses men and angels.
One day Padre Pio of Pietrelcina was
asked, "Father, please explain the Holy Mass to us."
"My children," he replied,
"how can I explain it to you? The Mass is infinite, like Jesus . . .
Ask an Angel what a Mass is, and he will reply to you in truth, ‘I
understand that Mass is offered and why it is offered, but its value, its
worth, are beyond my comprehension.’ One Angel—a thousand angels—all
of Heaven knows this and think like this."
The Altar is Calvary
St. Alphonsus de’ Liguori went so far
as to say, "God Himself cannot bring about an action holier and
greater than the celebration of a Holy Mass." Why? Because Holy Mass
can be said to be a synthesis summing up the Incarnation and Redemption;
It contains the Birth, Passion and the Death of Jesus—mysteries which
God accomplished for our sakes. The Second Vatican Council teaches that
"at the Last Supper, the night in which He was betrayed, Jesus
initiated the Eucharistic Sacrifice of His Body and Blood, in order to
continue the Sacrifice of the Cross throughout the centuries until His
return." (Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 47).
Earlier, Pope Pius XII had also
formulated this stupendous insight: "The altar on Golgotha is not
different from the altar of our churches; even this is a mountain [like
Mt. Golgotha] on which stands a cross and the One crucified, where the
reconciliation between God and man takes place." St. Thomas Aquinas,
in an enlightening passage, wrote, "The celebration of Holy Mass has
the same value as the Death of Jesus on the Cross."
For this reason, St. Francis of Assisi
said, "Man should tremble, the world should quake, all Heaven should
be deeply moved when the Son of God appears on the altar in the hands of
the priest." Indeed, since it renews the Sacrifice of Jesus’
Passion and Death, the Holy Mass, taken alone, is great enough to restrain
divine justice. "All the wrath and indignation of God yield before
this offering," writes St. Albert the Great.
St. Teresa of Avila said to her
daughters, "Without the Holy Mass what would become of us? All here
below would perish, because that alone can hold back God’s arm."
Without it the Church certainly would not last and the world would become
hopelessly lost. "Without the Mass, the earth would have already been
destroyed by the sins of men many ages ago," teaches St. Alphonsus de’
Liguori. "It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun
than to do so without the Holy Mass," said Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.
He was echoing St. Leonard of Port Maurice, who had said, "I believe
that if there were no Mass, the world would by now have sunk into the
abyss under the weight of its wickedness. The Mass is the powerful support
which sustains it."
Wonderful are the saving effects which
every Sacrifice of the Mass produces in the souls of those who
participate. It obtains sorrow and pardon for sins. It lessens the
temporal punishment due to sins. It weakens the influence of Satan and the
untamed impulses of our flesh. It strengthens the bonds of our union in
the Body of Christ. It protects us from danger and disaster. It shortens
the punishment of Purgatory; and it obtains for us a higher degree of
glory in Heaven. "No human tongue," said St. Lawrence Justinian,
"can enumerate the favors that trace back to the Sacrifice of the
Mass. The sinner is reconciled with God; the just man becomes more
upright; sins are wiped away, vices uprooted; virtue and merit increases;
and the devil’s schemes are frustrated."
And so St. Leonard of Port Maurice did
not tire of exhorting the crowds which listened to him, "O you
deluded people, what are you doing? Why do you not hasten to the churches
to hear as many Masses as you can? Why do you not imitate the angels, who,
when a Holy Mass is celebrated, come down in myriads from Paradise and
take their stations about our altars in adoration to intercede for
If it is true that we all have need of
graces for this life and for the next, nothing can win them from God like
the Holy Mass. St. Philip Neri used to say, "With prayer we ask
graces from God; in the Holy Mass we constrain God to give them to
us." The prayer offered during Holy Mass engages our whole
priesthood, both the ministerial priesthood (even apart from that of the
individual priest at the altar) and the common priesthood of all the
faithful. In Holy Mass our prayer is united with Jesus’ prayer of agony
as He sacrifices Himself for us. In a special way during the Canon, which
is the heart of the Mass, the prayer of all of us becomes also the prayer
of Jesus, present amongst us. The two Mementoes of the Roman Canon, during
which the living and the dead are remembered, are precious moments for us
to present our petitions. And in those supreme moments when Jesus in the
Priest’s hands undergoes His Passion and Death, we can beg also for our
own needs and we can recommend both living and deceased persons who are
dear to us. Let us take care to profit by this. The saints held this to be
very important, and when they recommended themselves to the prayers of the
priests, they asked them to remember them above all during the Canon.
It will be particularly at the hour of
death that the Masses we have devoutly heard will bring us our greatest
consolation and hope. One Mass heard during life will be more profitable
than many Masses heard by others in our behalf after our death. St. Joseph
Cottolengo assures a holy death to whoever assists often at Holy Mass. St.
John Bosco also considers it a sign of predestination to participate in
Our Lord told St. Gertrude, "You
may be sure that to someone who devoutly assists at the Holy Mass, I will
send as many of My saints to comfort him and protect him during the last
moments of his life as there will have been Masses which he has heard
well." How consoling! The holy Cure of Ars correctly declared,
"If we knew the value of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, how much
greater effort we would put forth in order to assist at it!" And St.
Peter Julian Eymard exhorted, "Know, O Christian, that the Mass is
the holiest act of religion. You cannot do anything to glorify God more,
nor profit your soul more, than by devoutly assisting at it, and assisting
as often as possible."
The Angel counts the steps
For this reason we must consider
ourselves fortunate every time we have an opportunity to attend a Holy
Mass. In order not to lose the opportunity, we should never withhold
ourselves because it might cost us some sacrifice, especially on Sundays
and holy days; indeed on those days one is gravely obligated to
participate in Holy Mass whoever does not do so commits a mortal sin (Catechism
of the Catholic Church, n. 2181).
Let us remember St. Maria Goretti, who,
to go to Sunday Mass traveled on foot—a journey of 15 miles from home
(to and from). We should think of Santina Campana, who went to Mass while
she had a high fever. Think of St. Maximilian M. Kolbe, who offered Holy
Mass when his health was in such a pitiful condition that one of his
brothers in religion had to support him at the altar so that he would not
fall. And how many times Padre Pio of Pietrelcina celebrated Holy Mass
while he was bleeding and had a fever!
When illnesses sometimes prevented the
saints from taking part in Holy Mass, they united themselves at least
spiritually to the priests who were celebrating Masses in all the churches
of the world. This was what St. Bernadette, for example, did when she had
to be confined to her bed for a long time. She would say to her fellow
sisters: "Masses are being celebrated in different parts of the world
every hour. I unite myself to all these Masses, especially during those
nights when I cannot sleep."
In our own daily lives, we ought to rank
the Holy Mass ahead of any other good; for, as St. Bernard says, "One
merits more by devoutly assisting at a Holy Mass than by distributing all
of his goods to the poor and traveling all over the world on
pilgrimage." And it cannot be otherwise, because nothing in the world
can have the infinite value of one Holy Mass. "Martyrdom is
nothing," the holy Cure of Ars said, "in comparison with the
Mass, because martyrdom is the sacrifice of man to God, whereas the Mass
is the Sacrifice of God for man!"
All the more we ought to prefer Holy
Mass to mere amusements that waste our time and bring no profit to our
soul. St. Louis IX, King of France, attended several Masses every day. A
minister of the government complained, remarking that he could better
devote that time to the affairs of the kingdom. The holy king replied,
"If I spent twice that time in amusement, like hunting, no one would
have any objection."
Let us be generous and willingly make
sacrifices so as not to lose so great a good. St. Augustine said to his
Christians, "Every step one takes while traveling to hear Holy Mass
is counted by an angel. One will be given a high reward for them by God in
this life and in eternity." The Cure of Ars adds, "How happy is
that guardian angel who accompanies a soul to Holy Mass!"
DAILY HOLY MASS
Once one realizes that Holy Mass has
infinite worth, he is not surprised at the saints’ eagerness and care to
attend it every day, and even more often when they could.
One day Padre Pio of Pietrelcina said to
a penitent, "If men were to understand the value of the Holy Mass,
for every Mass such crowds would come to church that police would be
needed to keep order."
Perhaps, we, too, belong to that great
number of Christians who have not understood the value of Holy Mass, and
for this reason we lack the zeal and fervor that encouraged and inspired
the saints to attend Mass every day and even several times a day.
The hidden bell
St. Augustine has left us this praise of
his mother, St. Monica: "She did not let a day pass without being
present at the Divine Sacrifice before Your altar, O Lord." St.
Francis of Assisi usually attended two Masses each day; and when he was
sick he asked a friar who was a priest to celebrate Mass for him in his
cell so that he would not be without Holy Mass. Every morning after
celebrating Holy Mass, St. Thomas Aquinas served another Mass in
The shepherd boy, St. Paschal Baylon,
could not go to church to attend all the Masses he would have liked
because he had to take the sheep to pasture. But every time he heard the
church bells give the signal for Mass, he knelt on the grass among the
sheep before a wooden cross he had made, and in this way he would, from
afar, follow the priest as he offered the Divine Sacrifice. What an
affectionate Saint, a true seraph of love for the Eucharist! On his
deathbed he heard the bell for Holy Mass and had the strength to whisper
to his brethren, "I am happy to unite to the Sacrifice of Jesus the
sacrifice of my poor life." And he died at the moment of the
Consecration of the Mass!
When St. John Berchmanns was still a
young boy, he would leave his house every day to go to church at the first
break of dawn. Once his grandmother asked him why he would always leave so
early. The holy youth responded, "To win blessings from God I serve
three Masses before going to school."
St. Peter Julian Eymard, even while very
young, found delight in serving Holy Mass. At that time his town had this
custom: the boy who would serve Mass would be the one who, in the early
morning, would pass through the town ringing a small bell for a quarter of
an hour to alert the faithful. How many times little Peter Julian hid the
small bell the evening before to make sure of being the one to serve Mass
the next morning!
A mother of eight, St. Margaret, Queen
of Scotland, went to Mass every day and brought her children with her.
With motherly care she taught them to treasure a little missal which she
chose to adorn with precious stones.
"Bad management of time"
Let us manage our affairs so well that
we will not lack time for Holy Mass. Let us not say that we are too busy
with chores, for which Jesus could remind us, "Martha, Martha,
thou art troubled about many things; but one thing alone is necessary"
When one really wants to, one finds time
to attend Mass without failing in one’s duties. St. Joseph Cottolengo
recommended daily Mass for everybody—for teachers, nurses, laborers,
doctors, parents. To those who objected that they did not have the time,
he replied firmly, "Bad management! Bad economy of time!" And he
knew this generally was the truth. If we but appreciated the infinite
value of the Holy Mass, we would be very desirous of assisting and would
try in every way to find the necessary time.
When St. Charles of Sezze went about
Rome begging alms for his community, he would take time out to make visits
to a church to attend additional Masses. It was at the moment of the
elevation of the Host during one of these Masses that he received the dart
of love into his heart.
Every morning St. Francis of Paola went
to church, and he remained there to attend all the Masses which were
celebrated. St. Aloysius Gonzaga, St. Alphonsus Rodriguez and St. Gerard
Majella used to serve as many Masses as they could. (They did this with
such devotion and edification that they attracted many of the faithful
Venerable Francis of the Child Jesus, a
Carmelite, served ten Masses every day. If it happened that he had a few
less to serve, he would say, "Today I have not had my full
breakfast." And what can we say of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina? Padre
Pio heard many Masses every day. The holy Cure of Ars was not mistaken
when he said, "The Mass is the devotion of the saints."
"I would walk ten miles"
The same must be said of the love that
holy priests have had for celebrating Mass. It was for them a terrible
suffering to be unable to celebrate Mass. "When you hear that I
cannot celebrate Mass any more, count me as dead," St Francis Xavier
Bianchi said to a brother religious, during his ordeal of imprisonment was
that of not being able to celebrate Mass nor receive Holy Communion for
nine continuous months.
Obstacles and difficulties did not count
for the saints when it was a question of not losing so excellent a good.
For example, one day in the streets of Naples, St. Alphonsus de’ Liguori
suffered violent pains in the abdomen. The religious who accompanied him
urged him to stop and take a sedative. But the Saint had not yet
celebrated Mass and his prompt response was, "My dear brother, I
would walk ten miles in this condition in order not to miss saying Holy
Mass." And his sufferings would not move him to break the eucharistic
fast which at that time was obligatory from midnight. He waited until the
pain subsided a little, and then continued his walk to church and Mass.
The Capuchin, St. Lawrence of Brindisi,
was once a in a town of heretics. Since this town had no Catholic Church,
he journeyed forty miles on foot to reach a chapel cared for by Catholics,
in which he was able to celebrate Holy Mass. Not without reason he often
said, "The Mass is my Heaven on earth."
St. Francis de Sales one time was
staying in a Protestant town. To celebrate Holy Mass he had to go every
morning before dawn to a Catholic parish church which was on the other
side of a broad stream. During the autumn rains the stream rose more than
usual and washed away the little bridge on which the Saint had been
crossing. This did not discourage him. In the place where the bridge had
been, he threw a large beam on which he was able to cross over. In winter,
however, because of the ice and snow, there was serious danger of his
slipping and falling into the water. The Saint then devised a procedure
whereby he put himself astride the beam and maneuvered across on all four,
so that he might not miss his celebration of Holy Mass.
We will never succeed in sufficiently
pondering that Mystery beyond description, the Holy Mass, which reproduces
on our altars the Sacrifice of Calvary. Nor can we ever have too much
devotion for this supreme marvel of divine love.
"Holy Mass," wrote St.
Bonaventure, "is an achievement of God wherein He places before our
view all the love He has borne us. It is, in a certain way, a combination
of all the benefits bestowed upon us." Therefore St. John Bosco
earnestly exhorts us: "Take great care to go to Holy Mass, even on
weekdays; and for such a cause be willing to put up with some
inconvenience. Thereby you will obtain every kind of blessing from the
ACTIVE AND FRUITFUL PARTICIPATION
The infinite greatness of the Holy Mass
should enable us to understand the need of attentively and devoutly taking
part in this Sacrifice of Jesus. Adoration, love and sorrow ought to have
undisputed predominance among our sentiments.
In a very moving reflection, quoted with
emphasis by Vatican II, Pope Pius XII described the state of mind with
which one should take part in the Holy Mass: it should be "the state
of mind that the Divine Redeemer had when He sacrificed Himself—the same
humble spirit of submission—that is, of adoration, love, praise and
thanksgiving to the great majesty of God, so that we reproduce in
ourselves the condition of victimhood, the self-denial that follows the
Gospel’s teaching, by which of our own accord we make a willing
sacrifice of penance, sorrow and expiation for our sins."
Let us ask ourselves seriously: is this
the state of mind with which we participate at Holy Mass?
The Crucifix and the candles
True and active participation at Holy
Mass is what makes us into sacrificial victims like Jesus. Such
participation succeeds in "reproducing in us the pain-shared features
of Jesus" (Pius XII), bestowing upon us "a companionship with
Christ in His sufferings" and rendering us "conformable to
His Death" (Phil. 3:10). All the rest is mere liturgical
ceremony, external dress. St. Gregory the Great taught: "The
Sacrifice of the Altar will be truly acceptable as a Victim offered in our
behalf to God when we make ourselves into the Victim."As a reflection
of this doctrine, in early Christian communities, the faithful, wearing
penitential garbs and chanting the litany of the saints, went in
procession to the altar for the celebration of Holy Mass, with the Pope
presiding. If we would go to Mass in this spirit, we should want to make
our own the sentiment St. Thomas the Apostle expressed when he said,
"Let us also go, that we may die with Him" (John 11:16).
When St. Margaret Mary Alacoque attended
Holy Mass and would gaze at the altar, she would never fail to glance at
the Crucifix and the lighted candles. Why? It was to impress on her mind
and heart two things: that the Crucifix should remind her of what Jesus
had done for her; that the lighted candles recall what she must do for
Jesus—that is, sacrifice herself and be consumed for Him and for souls.
Every day the King of France, St. Louis
IX, would assist at Holy Mass on his knees, on the bare floor. One time a
valet offered him a kneeler, but the king told him, "At Mass God
offers Himself as a sacrifice, and when God sacrifices Himself, kings
should kneel on the floor."
St. John Bosco recommended that young
people participate at Holy Mass by following the method of St. Leonard of
Port Maurice, who divided the sacrificial part of the Mass into three
parts, whereby one meditates, first upon the Passion of Jesus (from the
offertory to the Elevation); second, upon our sins, the cause of the
Passion and Death of Jesus (until Communion); and third, upon the
resolution to live a pure and fervent life (from Communion to the end of
To be able to do this in the simplest
and most fruitful way, it is enough to commit oneself to follow
attentively the priest at the altar. In this way one overcomes more easily
the distractions and boredom. (And on Sundays one should not go in search
for—as some do—the shortest Mass, simply because they can hardly wait
for Mass to end!)
One day the father of Guido of
Fontgalland asked his son how one should occupy himself during Mass.
"During Holy Mass," the holy youth replied, "our single
occupation is to follow it. It is enough to read with the priest the
prayers that he recites at the altar. . ."
It is the same reply that Pope St. Pius
X gave to whoever wanted to know what prayers to recite during Holy Mass:
"Follow the Mass, say the prayers of the Mass!"
Be like Our Lady on Calvary
The best example of participation at the
Holy Sacrifice is given us at the foot of the Cross by the most Blessed
Virgin Mary, St. John the Evangelist and St. Mary Magdalene with the pious
women (John 19:25). To assist at Mass is very much like being at Calvary.
Pope John Paul II, in a discourse to youth, made this simple, moving
statement: "To go to Mass means to go to Calvary to meet Him, our
Redeemer." A meeting of love and sorrow with Jesus Crucified—this
is participation at Holy Mass.
St. Andrew of Avellino used to be moved
to tears as he said, "One cannot separate the most Holy Eucharist
from the Passion of Jesus."
One day a spiritual son asked Padre Pio
of Pietrelcina, "Father, how should we take part at Holy Mass?"
Padre Pio replied, "As Our Lady, St. John and the pious women did on
Calvary—with love and compassion."
In a missal of one of his spiritual
children Padre Pio wrote: "In assisting at Holy Mass, concentrate
intently on the tremendous Mystery which is taking place before your eyes,
which is the Redemption and reconciliation of your soul with God." At
another time he was asked, "Father, why is it that you weep so much
during Mass?" "My daughter," replied Padre Pio, "what
are those few tears compared to what takes place at the altar? There
should be torrents of tears!"
At another time someone said to him,
"Father, how much you must suffer by standing on the bleeding wounds
of your feet for the entire time of Mass!" Padre Pio replied,
"During Mass I am not standing, I am hanging." What a reply! The
few words, "I am hanging," vividly and strongly express what it
is to be "crucified with Christ"—of which St. Paul
speaks (Gal. 2:19). It helps us distinguish a true and full participation
in the Mass from an academic, vain, sometimes showy participation.
A little episode in the life of St.
Benedict is very beautiful. One day during Holy Mass, as soon as the words
"This is My Body" had been uttered, St. Benedict heard a
response coming from the newly consecrated Host: "And also yours,
Benedict!" True participation at Holy Mass should make us victims
(hosts) in company with the Divine Victim.
St. Bernadette Soubirous once expressed
this bit of wisdom to a new priest, "Remember that the priest at the
altar is always Jesus Christ on the Cross." St. Peter of Alcantara
vested for Holy Mass as though he were about to go up on Calvary. For, in
fact, all the priestly vestments have reference to the Passion and Death
of Jesus: the alb calls to mind the white tunic which Herod made Jesus
wear to make a fool of Him; the cincture recalls the scourging of Jesus;
the stole reminds us of the rough cords which bound Him; the tonsure
suggests the crown of thorns; the chasuble, bearing the figure of a cross,
symbolizes the Cross borne on Jesus’ Shoulders.
"Father, forgive them!"
Those who have assisted at the Mass of
Padre Pio recall those fervent tears of his, and his earnest request that
those present follow Holy Mass on their knees; they recall the impressive
silence in which the Sacred Rite unfolded; they remember the distressing
suffering which showed itself spontaneously on Padre Pio’s face when he
pronounced with great effort the words of Consecration; they can think
back on the awesome, impressive silence of the faithful who filled the
church while Padre Pio silently prayed several Rosaries for over an hour.
Padre Pio’s sentiment of sorrow during
Holy Mass likens him to the other saints. His tears were like those of St.
Francis of Assisi (who sometimes shed tears of blood), and those of St.
Vincent Ferrer, St. Ignatius, St. Philip Neri, St. Lawrence of Brindisi
(whose tears at times soaked seven handkerchiefs), St. Veronica Juliani,
St. Joseph of Cupertino, St. Alphonsus, St. Gemma Galgani. . . . But,
after all, how is it possible to remain indifferent before the Crucifixion
and Death of Jesus? We shall certainly not be like the Apostles who slept
at Gethsemane (Matthew 26:40-45), and much less like the soldiers who, at
the foot of the Cross, played dice (Matthew 27:35-36), heedless of the
atrocious death-agony of Jesus! (And yet, this is the distressing
impression that we get today when seeing some so-called "rock"
Masses, celebrated to the rhythm of guitars playing profane and cheap
tunes, with women in indecent attire and youths wearing the strangest
fashions. . . . "Lord, forgive them!")
St. John Bosco was also saddened at the
sight of many Christians who, when in church, were "voluntarily
distracted, showing neither modesty, attention, nor respect, standing (at
times for kneeling) and gazing here and there. . . . They do not assist at
the Divine Sacrifice like Mary and St. John, but are like the Jews—putting
Jesus again on the Cross!"
Let us look to Our Lady and the saints and imitate them.
Only by following them are we on that right road which "has
pleased God" (1 Cor. 1:21).
HOLY MASS AND THE SOULS IN PURGATORY
Once we have left this world, there is
nothing we should want done for ourselves as much as providing for the
celebration of Holy Mass for our souls. The Holy Sacrifice of the Altar is
the most powerful intercessory prayer. It surpasses every prayer, every
penance and every good work. It should not be difficult for us to understand
this, if we recall that the Sacrifice of the Mass is the same Sacrifice as
that which Jesus offered on the Cross and which He now offers on the altar,
with its infinite expiatory value. Our immolated Jesus is the true Victim
satisfying, or "propitiating, for our sins" (1 John 2:2),
and His Divine Blood is "poured out unto the remission of sins"
(Mt. 26:28). Absolutely nothing can be equaled to Holy Mass, and the saving
fruits of this Sacrifice can be extended to an unlimited number of souls.
"Every debt must be paid!"
Once during the celebration of Holy Mass
in the Church of St. Paul at Tre Fontane near Rome, St. Bernard saw an
unending stairway which led up to Heaven. By means of it very many angels
ascended and descended, carrying from Purgatory to Paradise souls freed by
the Sacrifice of Jesus—a Sacrifice renewed by priests on altars all over
Hence on the occasion of the death of a
relative, we should place much more importance in having Holy Masses
celebrated and hearing them, than in selecting sprays of flowers, finding
dark funeral attire, or arranging the funeral cortège. St. John Bosco said
that the "Holy Sacrifice of the Mass" is what "benefits the
poor souls in Purgatory; in fact, it is the most effective means of
relieving those souls in their sufferings, of shortening the time of their
exile and of bringing them sooner into the blessed kingdom."
Many apparitions have been reported about
souls in Purgatory who came to ask the offering of Padre Pio’s Holy Mass
for their deliverance from Purgatory. One day he celebrated Holy Mass for
the father of one of his fellow friars. At the end of the Holy Sacrifice,
Padre Pio said to the friar, "This morning the soul of your father
entered Heaven." The friar was very happy, but said, "Padre, my
good father died thirty-two years ago." "My son," Padre Pio
replied, "before God every debt must be paid!" And it is Holy Mass
which obtains for us a treasure of infinite value: the Body and Blood of
Jesus, the "unspotted Lamb" (Rev. 5:12).
During a sermon one day, the holy Curé of
Ars gave the example of a priest who, celebrating Mass for a deceased
friend, after the Consecration prayed as follows, "Holy and Eternal
Father, let us make an exchange. You possess the soul of my friend in
Purgatory; I have the Body of Your Son in my hands. You liberate my friend
for me, and I offer to You Your Son, with all the merits of His Passion and
"Nothing else but Masses!"
Let us remember: all prayers and good
works offered to God are good and commendable, but when we can, let us above
all have Holy Masses celebrated (especially the Thirty Gregorian Masses) for
departed souls who are dear to us.
In the life of Bl. Henry of Suso, we read
that as a young man he made this agreement with a brother of his religious
order: "Whichever one of us outlives the other, let him hasten the
glory of the one who has passed into eternity with the celebration of one
Holy Mass every week." The companion of Bl. Henry died first in a
mission territory. Blessed Henry remembered his promise for a little while.
Later, because he had been obliged to celebrate Masses for others, instead
of the weekly Mass which he had promised his friend, he substituted prayers
and penances. But his friend appeared to him in a vision, much distressed,
and reproved him, "Your prayers and your penances are not sufficient
for me. I need the Blood of Jesus." Indeed it is with the Blood of
Jesus that we pay the debts of our sins (Col. 1:14).
When St. John of Avila was on his
deathbed, his confreres asked him what he desired most after his death. The
Saint promptly answered, "Masses. . . Masses. . . nothing else but
Also, the great St. Jerome wrote that
"for every Mass devoutly celebrated, many souls leave Purgatory and fly
to Heaven." The same must be said for Holy Masses devoutly heard. St.
Mary Magdalene de’Pazzi, the well-known Carmelite mystic, was in the habit
of offering the Blood of Jesus in suffrage for the souls in Purgatory. In an
ecstasy Jesus showed her that many souls in Purgatory indeed were liberated
by the offering of the Precious Blood. St. Bernadette was also full of
compassion for the souls in Purgatory, and would often say to her religious
sisters: "I have heard Mass for the souls in Purgatory: nothing but the
Precious Blood of Jesus applied for them, can liberate them." Nor could
it be otherwise. In fact, as St. Thomas teaches, just one drop of that Blood
[if duly applied], with Its infinite value, can save the whole universe from
Let us, therefore, pray for the souls in Purgatory and
free them from their pains by hearing many Holy Masses and having Masses
celebrated. "All good works taken together," said the holy Curé
of Ars, "cannot equal the value of one Holy Mass; because they are the
works of men, whereas Holy Mass is the work of God."