The Spirit of Sacrifice and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

Rev. Philippe Pazat

How many people attend the Mass every Sunday but do not seem to receive any fruit or effects in their souls? The Mass does not seem to be the centre of their lives. They attend the Mass, asking the priest to celebrate Mass at the most convenient time so as not to disturb other activities of the day, looking for the most comfortable pew or bench, even reserving it if that was possible, hoping that the sermon will not be too long and preferring Low Mass because it is much shorter, criticizing the mothers with fussy babies, and going to the tea room as soon as possible to pour their coffee on top of the Blessed Sacrament they have just received, and then gossiping about the priests and other parishioners. They go home with a happy conscience to have fulfilled their Catholic duty or even with pride thinking that they are a defender of the Catholic faith just by going to the Latin Mass... How far away they are from the Catholic spirit! In fact they attend the Mass as a spectacle, with a pharisaical mentality just to have accomplished the Church Law. They follow the Protestant theology: Our Lord has done everything necessary for our salvation, therefore we don’t need to add our sacrifices. And if the attendance in the chapel is diminishing, they will feel “persecuted” rather than seeing the cause of it in their lukewarm attitude.

Is not the Christian life based on the imitation of Christ? Progress in the spiritual life and virtues cannot be separated from the most perfect possible imitation of Christ, and therefore, from the application of the Mass in our daily lives. As the Mass is a sacrifice, and the most perfect prayer, so should our lives be. In fact when Our Lady complained in Fatima that many souls fall in to hell, it is because nobody prays and offers sacrifices for them. She complained that nobody imitates the sacrifice of Our Lord renewed on our altars. It seems obvious that the words of Our Lady clearly indicate that the conversion of many depends on our prayers and sacrifices. Archbishop Lefebvre often said that the Mass is essentially “missionary” or apostolic.

A sacrifice by nature is the offering of a victim in order to praise God and to satisfy for the offenses we have committed against Him. And, as the etymology of the word indicates, “sacri facere”, is to make this action holy.

What should we offer to God as sacrifice?

Perhaps I should put “time” at the top of top of the list. It is scary to realise that one third of our time is gone in sleeping if we consider that an average person sleeps eight hours a night. If you are thirty years old, ten years have already gone in sleeping and if you are sixty, twenty years have gone. To this time of not doing too much for Our Lord we need to add the time we dedicate to eating or to relaxing, etc. At the end of the day there is not too much time reserved exclusively for the glory of God. Of course our morning offering can transform even our sleeping and eating time into something useful supernaturally. But also we have to consider the time when we offend God with our daily sins. It is quite amazing to consider how much we are attached to “our time”. See how you can be so upset because someone dares to disturb “your time”. But on the other hand you don’t make too much effort to arrive on time for Mass or for Confession. You are very impatient about "your time", but Our Lord can wait for you!

How many people complain because, according their view point, they do not have enough time to pray? But they find time to read the newspaper; to read every blog on the internet, to be “informed” about all type of opinions, mostly if they are against the SSPX; they have time for TV or entertainments... But there is no time for God, and their prayers are constantly interrupted by all these “news and opinions”.

After considering the time we should dedicate exclusively to God, perhaps we should also look at the time dedicated to help others. We are living in a world which is more and more selfish, self-centred and narcissistic. This mentality generates a strong spirit of independence because we don’t want to be submitted to the authority or to the needs of others. Maybe we should find in this selfish spirit, the root of the lack of priestly and religious vocations. Very often people ask me what my own parents did in order to have four vocations amongst ten children. Although it is certainly the work of the grace of God, I believe that the vocations came by the example of dedication to others. As a child, I remember the time when I used to visit the hospital for handicapped children to play with them all afternoon; or the poor old man going from door to door to sell small baskets and we bought all of them and then we gave him a meal in our kitchen; or the example of my father shortening a business trip to help someone who needed to be repatriated for medical reasons; or the example of my parents paying the school tuition fees of two orphans, etc. I am sure that many Catholic families were giving the same example of sacrificing their time, feelings and belongings to help others. Is this not what Our Lord has done for us in giving His own life on the cross? How can we proclaim that we love the sacrifice of the Mass, but that on the other hand we don’t want to sacrifice ourselves to help others?

Unfortunately we excuse ourselves with moral reasons: “they are not Catholic; they are liberals; they are modernists; they are ungrateful; they are unpleasant, etc.” This is a Pharisaical attitude to justify our laziness and selfishness. Third Order members should be the best example of dedication to others in our parishes.

Then we should sacrifice our passions and sensuality. Because of the disorder introduced by Original Sin in our nature, we have a tendency to abuse our senses. Our eyes are attracted by sinful objects; our ears by gossip, slander, calumnies, detractions, useless “news”; our taste is tempted by gluttony; or our sense of touch looks for sensual pleasure or laziness, etc... Saint Paul tells us, “They that are Christ’s have crucified their flesh, with the vices and concupiscences.” To crucify the flesh is to mortify our exterior senses in order to bring them in to subjection.

Perhaps the first example we can expect from Third Order members is the mortification of the tongue and ears. Saint John Bosco said, “If you do not

have anything good to say about a priest, just be silent." In fact, the same principle should be applied to everyone: if you don’t have anything good to say about your neighbour, keep silent. How many family or parish conflicts could we avoid by applying this simple rule? Saint Benedict teaches us that the monks should “honour” each other. To honour someone is to recognize his talents, virtues and qualities. It is to put the other person higher than yourself. Often in the spiritual life we talk about the Benedictine pax (peace). It is the motto carved in almost every Benedictine monastery. But it should be the air that we breathe in all our parishes. The only way to obtain it is through the same rule: honour each other. As the psalm says, “O quam jucundum habitare fratres in unum—"how joyful it is for brethren to dwell together in unity". (Psalm 133).

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