The Sacrifice of the Mass

The Prophet Malachias (1:11) foretold the nature and the universality of the sacrifice of the New Law. “From the rising of the sun even to the going down, My name is great among the Gentiles, and in every place there is sacrifice, and there is offered to My name a clean oblation; for My name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord of Hosts.”

Thus is the prophecy of Malachias being daily fulfilled in the repetition of that “clean oblation,” — that is, the sacrifice of the cross; and its repetition is nothing more nor less than the offering of the holy sacrifice of the Mass.

Sir Thomas More, the celebrated Lord Chancellor of England, took great delight in serving Mass, and, though much occupied with affairs of state, he often served several in succession. On one occasion, a certain courtier, sadly deficient in faith, said to Sir Thomas that King Henry would be displeased at his lowering himself to the duties of an acolyte. “Surely,” replied the chancellor, “the king cannot be displeased at the homage which I offer to his King.”

It is related of St. John the Almoner, Patriarch of Alexandria, in the commencement of the seventh century, that having observed that several of his parishioners, instead of going to the church to hear Mass on Sundays and holy days, stood about in the churchyard and talked together, determined to put an end to this misbehavior on their part. He devised a capital method for doing this. One Sunday, instead of going into the church to say Mass, he went and stood outside with the idlers. They were surprised at seeing their bishop join them, and looked inquiringly at him. Then he said: “You wonder to see me here, but it is nothing extraordinary. Where the flock is, there the pastor must be. If you go into the church, I shall go in also.” These words produced the desired effect. The loiterers entered the church immediately, and from that day forth no one was seen standing outside while Mass was going on within the church.

Text from Francis Spirago, Anecdotes and Examples Illustrating the Catholic Catechism (New York: Benziger, 1904).

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