One of the principle reasons why so many people exit the Catholic Church to enter another religion, give into the slavery of vices and addictions, or even categorically deny the existence of God is because they never understood the most sublime reality, dignity, and excellence of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Ironically, the biggest religious group in Europe, Latin America, the Philippines, as well as the United States are Catholics, but this must be underlined—Non-practicing Catholics!!!
Statistics never hit the mark with exactitude, but we can surmise that 50-60 years ago close to 80% of Catholics would attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass almost every Sunday, which means the rebellious 20% would skip out. Now, topsy turvy as this might seem, it is the exact opposite: 20% attend Sunday Mass, while the other 80% do not show up unless it is Christmas, Easter, or the death of a loved-one.
Bishop Robert Barron has stated time and time again with great fervor that we must do all we can to win back this generation of non-practicing Catholics. We must welcome home the Prodigal sons and daughters, seek out the lost sheep, and heal the wounded Christian soldiers.
The multiple pastoral approaches to returning these lost and wandering souls are many. However, maybe we can start with ourselves by studying the essence of the Mass, the parts of the Mass, the fruits of Mass and Holy Communion, and thereby cultivate a real love for Holy Mass. Then, once we are convinced of the sublimity of Holy Mass and our hearts are burning, set on fire for every Mass, from that we will be able to ignite the smoldering embers of lukewarm or non-practicing Catholics with a new dynamic energy.
Why was it that the Catholic Bishops of the United States launched a three year program on the topic of Holy Mass and Holy Communion? The response could not be more obvious: all too many Catholics do not attend Holy Mass. One of the principle reasons? Put bluntly, crass ignorance of what Holy Mass is and what is going on in Holy Mass.
Athletes will exert all of the energy in their bodies to win the prize. Students will burn the oil at night to excel in academics. The avaricious Scrooge type will bend over backwards to pocket an extra dollar. The Romeo will expend all that he has economically, emotionally, and even poetically to win the hand of his beloved Juliet.
In a parallel sense, should we not exert every fiber of our being to love Holy Mass, attend Holy Mass frequently, and thereby receive the most sublime Gift in the world—the Lord Jesus in Holy Communion? Indeed, one Holy Communion is worth more than the whole created universe because Holy Communion is God Himself—the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus, the Son of the living God.
Hopefully these few words can jump-start some of the wandering, confused, and forlorn non-practicing Catholics. Let’s read slowly and meditate on what some of the saints have expressed in human words about the sublime greatness of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass—the greatest Miracle beneath Heaven itself!
Of all the men and women that we should get to know, admire, speak to, love, and imitate, it must be the saints. They are God’s favorites, but also our dear friends. The Beatles song resounds clearly: “Get a little help from my friends.” Those friends? The saints!
THE LOVE OF THE SAINTS FOR THE HOLY SACRIFICE OF THE MASS
1. “When Mass is being celebrated, the sanctuary is filled with countless angels who adore the Divine Victim immolated on the altar.” (Saint John Chrysostom) Please view the movie “El Gran Milagro” or “The Greatest Miracle”. God’s angels will give you a wonderful tour and detailed explanation of Holy Mass. This can be seen in just over an hour and it is well worth your sixty minutes. Then encourage others to see the movie, especially lukewarm Catholics.
2. “If we really understood Mass, we would die of joy.” (Saint John Vianney—the Cure of Ars) Sadness invades the soul absent of God! Joy radiates from the soul replenished with God. Emmanuel means God is with us—especially in Mass and Holy Communion.
3. “The angels surround and help the priest when he is celebrating Mass.” (Saint Augustine) Let us make a constant and concerted effort to pray for more vocations to the priesthood, but holy priests, to sanctify the people of God through Word and Sacrament.
4. “It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than do without the Mass.” (Saint Padre Pio) As the sun warms our bodies and enlightens our path, likewise, Mass and Holy Communion enlightens our minds and set our hearts ablaze with the Fire of Divine Love. Jesus came to set the world on fire with the love brimming over in His Sacred Heart truly present in every Mass, but most especially in every Holy Communion.
5. “Put all the good works in the world against one Holy Mass, they will be as a grain of sand beside a mountain.” (Saint John Vianney) Our works, prayers, and sacrifices, even done by the most holy of saints, are still the works of man. However, every Mass offered, even if it were by a sick priest in a prison cell, is OPUS DEI—the WORK OF GOD!!! Every Mass has infinite value and human words fall short of explanation!
6. “No human tongue 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 are uprooted; virtues and merits increase; and the devil’s schemes are frustrated.” (Saint Lawrence Justinian) These few but poignant words of Saint Lawrence express the infinite power and efficacy of Holy Mass. In a word, the quickest Highway to holiness is to participate fully, actively, and consciously in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. (Sacrosanctum Concilium—Vatican II)
7. “The Eucharist is my Highway to Heaven.” (Blessed Carlo Acutis) Like Carlo, even teenagers can become great saints and quickly, if they choose the Highway to Heaven—frequent and fervent Holy Communions.
8. “How happy is the Guardian Angel who accompanies a soul to Holy Mass.” (Saint John Vianney) A simple suggestion: let us beg our Guardian Angel for the grace to avoid wandering eyes during Mass, but to have perfect recollection.
9. “When we receive Holy Communion we experience something extraordinary—a joy, a fragrance, a well-being that thrills the whole body and causes it to exalt.” (Saint John Vianney) How true, even our physical body, at times, experiences a true rejuvenation and revitalization upon receiving the Body of Jesus with great love and devotion. Saint Faustina experienced a strengthening of her lungs after receiving Jesus, the Divine Physician, in Holy Communion while sick in the Infirmary!
10. “I believe that were it not for the Holy Mass as of this moment the world would be in the abyss.” (Saint Leonard of Port Maurice) How true! With his arms elevated on high by Aaron and Hur, Moses helped the Israelites to prevail in war and conquer their enemies. Likewise, in the case of our present world, it is Jesus lifted on high in the hands of the priest in the Holy Eucharist in the Holy Sacrifice of Mass that saves the world from utter destruction.
Friends in Jesus and Mary, why not accept this challenge—a double challenge.
First, fortify your own faith, love, and devotion towards the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, as well as hunger and thirst for frequent and fervent Holy Communions. Set your hearts on fire for Jesus, the Bread of Life.
Second, make an effort to bring back a lost soul, a wandering sheep, a Prodigal Son or Daughter every month. Meaning the challenge is to aim at bringing back twelve lost souls a year! Beg for this grace! Once again let us fill to the brim our Catholic Churches with souls on fire with love for our Eucharistic Lord! This will be, in the words of Blessed Carlo Acutis, their Highway to Heaven. May Our Lady who said YES to God and received the Incarnate Word in her most pure womb, motivate us to move in haste to bring others to our Eucharistic Lord in our great love for God!