Learning the Virtues Through the Mass
For Christians, our goal is the glory of our heavenly Father through sanctification by the Blood flowing from the Priestly sacrifice. Let the Mass be your addictive drug, and hence the redemptive Blood of the God-man will sanctify you, your family, and in God’s good time, your country.
This brings us to the first of the “religious” virtues which we will ponder. Obedience is our calling as we are creatures made for loving service toward our Creator; in this lies not only our judgment at death, but furthermore our happy freedom in life. Only the children who willingly submit their minds and wills to the reality of the established order can live out who and what they are. Otherwise, we are proud monstrosities breathing a fatal illusion which transforms us into slaves dependent on the world, the flesh, and the devil. This horror has the popular misnomer of “liberalism.”
Our Lord Jesus Christ is King; “Rex tremendae,” “Rex gloriae,” and He is the archenemy of independence from the divine will. At the same time, He is our means and exemplar for salvific obedience. What an impressive and beautiful figure that inspires awe! Humanity in perfection endowed with superabundant gifts and powers above and over nature…obedient…obediens usque ad mortem. To obey is to rule.
A religious son or daughter promises obedience in harmony with the life of the Savior; wishing to surrender his will to the will of the Divine. He knows with absolute certainty that His beloved Father can only will the good of His children: “My delight is to be amongst the children of men.” Did Christ feel like obeying the divine will in the accomplishment of the frightful Passion? “Father, take this cup away.” Yet He knew that the Father willed the glory of His Son and the salvation of countless sons and daughters by it: “Not My will, but Thine be done.”
Sacrifice of Obedience
However, we find it difficult to obey; we are children of disobedient first parents. Whether it is toward the commandments or precepts, toward superiors, toward a husband, or even at times toward just laws of the state, we incline so readily to say in effect “not Thy will, but mine!” Where then shall we turn? Daily Mass, daily living out our participation in the sacrifice of obedience. We must realize that the august bloody Sacrifice of Jesus Christ has been once accomplished. The daily unbloody extension of the same Sacrifice on the Church altars until the end of time is accomplished perfectly by the never ceasing oblation (offering) of the will of the High Priest and Victim. Obedience makes the Mass possible. We can only be made pleasing to God through, with, and in the chalice of His Precious Blood. Therefore, it is the Mass whereby we firstly learn the virtue of obedience and gain the strength toward Christological harmonization; “not my will, but Thine be done”…in season and out of season… when we feel like doing so and when we do not feel like doing so.
Obedience (that of the God-man) makes the Mass not only a possibility but also a living reality. From this we may safely conclude (even as does Satan) that to be rid of the Mass is to be rid of the religious virtue of obedience. History speaks of this sad fact.
“From the disobedience of one man, sin entered the world, and sin wrought death. From the obedience of one Man, grace entered the world, and grace wrought eternal life.” The Mass is the source of all grace; it is the gift of God which we shall never comprehend. It is the worst enemy of the prince of darkness. The true Mass robs him of souls to devour in the infernal hatred of hell. As the Good God is pleased to use instruments in the work of redemption, so the cunning serpent in perverse imitation does not hesitate to find destructive instruments. The Evil One found and prepared a pitiable slave (amongst his countless others) in the person of Luther. Protestantism was born, this monstrosity of the 16th century continues in the anti-Christ spirit of revulsion to humble obedience and to the Mass. The authority of Holy Mother Church was undermined and replaced with the very fallible and misleading authoritative guide of self.
Oh yes, we say, those poor blind Protestants! But this is to miss completely the point: we are the poor Protestants imbued and wrapped in the shedding serpent skin! Look how we mistrust authority, whether it be ecclesiastical, educational, or secular authority. But our self- appointed barrister (our self) righteously cries out: “Just look at the corruption in the Church, on the level of faith and morals! Just look at what teachers portray to our children today…sex education to grade-schoolers! Disgusting! Just look at what the state promotes…abortion, homosexuality, etc.! Do you expect me to have any trust in these jokers!” We now have the makings of a good protestant with pious sentiments. The coils of mistrust in authority squeeze tighter and tighter as we more and more form our own ideas of how things ought to be done.
Spirit of Utter Trust
See, dear sons and daughters, how innocuously dangerous is the air we breathe. Yes, it is true, that many pastors have become frightening wolves, that many educators are now leading the little ones into the darkness of lies and depravity, and that many government leaders abuse their authority; but this is precisely the argument of Martin Luther which caught the minds and hearts of numberless souls with its taint of truth. Will we fall into the same trap in our mistrust of authority?
We must turn and run to the spirit of the Mass. It is the spirit of utter trust and dependence on the authority of our heavenly Father, whether the authority is direct or intermediate (i.e. in the hands of a superior). Notice how the Sacrifice is offered each time to stringent rubrics laid down for each celebrant, notice how he must preach not his own doctrine but the word of God, notice how he is dependent on servers to assist him at the altar, and see how he kneels in submission to the High Priest. The splendor of the Sacrifice consists of hundreds of acts of obedience demanded by the Church, and this beckons the Christian spirit of dependence and trust in paternal authority (ecclesiastical, educational, and secular) when not clearly abused.
The Goodness of God has situated us in confusing times, yet in His superabundance we have undeservingly received traditional Catholic parishes and institutes of education. Let us beware of mistrust in their leadership, which leads one to become open prey to pride and the consequential downfall of oneself and even family and future generations. May we all be candles to support the light of authority especially by our adamant desire of and attachment to the Mass and to its supremely rich fruits.
“Be ye perfect as your heavenly Father” is a heavy saying of our Lord. It is not simply a wish or a request, it is a command from the Incarnate Word of God, from one who must be obeyed in all things. Who can stand it? Not very many, as is clearly manifest in the world. But the one who commands is also our Savior and omnipotent Brother who loves us with an everlasting love. He will not leave us orphans, but on the contrary will superabundantly grant unto His little ones the means and support needed to effectively strive toward holy perfection, the assimilation unto godliness. Will we trustfully take His pierced hand, or take the path of lukewarmness which is strewed with the vomit of independent and sad slavery to our own will?
The command of perfection is the calling to increase and grow in the grace received at baptism, the gift of the life of God within us. By philosophical principle, any operation must tend toward its perfection or else it simply dies out. Let us take, by way of example, a man who decides to build a shed. He has the manpower, he has the lumber, and he has the tools. He begins the building operation with the perfect shed in his mind’s eye. The moment he ceases the whole idea of the project, the operation will die out, the perfect shed never gets built, the chickens remain homeless. And what of the operation of sanctifying grace? The seed of grace must perfect the soul or it will die! How will we protect it from the weeds of the world, from the attacks of demonic crows or from the infertile ground of the flesh? “Pray ye always!”
Means Toward Perfection
Prayer, dear sons and daughters, is the means toward perfection. It is time spent with our heavenly Father which allows His Spirit to transform our souls into His garden wherein He will delight to be. “My delight is to be with the sons of men,” says the Good God through the mouth of His prophet. But is it our delight to be with Him? Or, rather, is prayer for us a burden, something that has to be done, to get out of the way so I can get to more pressing duties. The Sacred Heart pleads with us as He enters the olive garden where He will be pressed into sweating blood by our boundless sins and by the fear of the approaching butchering of His pure flesh: “Watch with Me…be a loyal friend…spend time with Me…do not abandon Me to the sleep of sin…stay awake to the grace of God…allow Me to be your perfection!”
The saints tell us by experience that prayer obtains every grace. Holy Mother Church orders us to pray. The man who perseveres in prayer will be saved. Do we lack a love for prayer or do we not know how to pray well? The solution to this too is to pray that we do obtain this knowledge and love. “Ask and you shall receive,” but we must ask and keep on asking on our knees with, through, and in the Anointed One. Our prayer is only pleasing to the Father as such. He will only recognize us as His sons and daughters in His only-begotten Son. The prayer of Christ is the only acceptable prayer; the Liturgy is the prayer of Christ. Disconnected from it, prayer has no life, no filial audience with the Father. Absorption in the sacred mysteries of the Liturgy (namely, the Holy Sacrifice) is par excellence the way to “watch with Me.”
To pray and watch always is to be obedient to the divine Master. Participation in daily Mass is the light and sweet path of being fashioned in the spirit of Christ, the spirit of prayer, the spirit of religious obedience, the spirit of divine love. It will unfailingly fortify and support the soul to live by and to increase in grace. It will carry the soul to be faithful to God in his daily duties offered to Him for His greater honor and glory, and thereby making each moment a moment of praise to the Triune God. The mother untiringly watching her children; the father still awake awaiting the teenager out past curfew; husband and wife lovingly striving to be attentive to the needs of one another; the single one trying to constantly give of himself to God in his neighbor—all of these are to “watch with Me.”
It is an immense joy for the priest to witness and administer the Body of Christ especially unto the daily Mass participant. For here is a soul that is striving to keep watch always with Christ, “for the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Here is a soul striving to obey the will of God toward perfect fulfillment. Here is a soul that will draw other souls around the unbloody Sacrifice “to watch and pray for the time is short” and eternity is forever.