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ALTAR SERVER – THE GREATEST OF THE WORLD ARE NOT WORTHY OF SUCH AN HONOUR

ALTAR SERVER – THE GREATEST OF THE WORLD ARE NOT WORTHY OF SUCH AN HONOUR

SERVING AT MASS

In our days this office has devolved on mere boys or pious youths, though the greatest monarchs of the world are not worthy of such an honour. St Bonaventure tells us that this is the office of angels because during the Divine Mysteries many angels are serving God in this sacred function.

THE OFFICE OF ANGELS

This is confirmed by St Nilus, who saw hosts of angels assisting the ministers when St John Chrysostom celebrated. The glorious St Mechthilde saw the soul of a lay brother after his death crowned with ineffable glory, because he had always evinced extraordinary diligence and devotion whilst serving at Mass.

CROWNED WITH INEFFABLE GLORY 

Saint Thomas Aquinas, the “Angel of the Schools,” justly appreciating the hidden treasure contained in this office, would not be content, if, after offering the Sacred Mysteries, he were not allowed to serve another Mass.

FAMOUS ALTAR SERVERS: ST THOMAS AQUINAS AND ST THOMAS MORE

Blessed Thomas More, Chancellor of England, took the greatest delight in this holy work, so much so, that on one occasion, when taunted by a minister of state, who said that the king would be offended if he learned that the Chancellor had so humbled his dignity, he replied: “My lord, the king cannot be offended with me for the service I render to his Lord, nay, to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.”

THE SERVICE TO THE LORD OF LORDS

Some persons are often reluctant to perform this holy Office, so much so, that they must be almost compelled to serve Mass. This is a great folly; for instead of being forced to serve at the altar, they ought to desire ardently the honour of performing a service so holy, which the angels themselves, and the blessed in heaven, could envy.

GREAT VIGILANCE

Great vigilance, however, should be employed in instructing those who are permitted to serve at Mass. They must be taught to keep their eyes modestly cast down, and to observe that strict decorum, so necessary in the presence of that awful majesty of God Who is on the altar during the Adorable Sacrifice. Hence their whole exterior ought to exhibit the greatest reverence and compunction. They must, however, be taught to pronounce the words distinctly, slowly, and in such a tone as to be heard by the Priest, but not so high or loud as to distract those who are celebrating at other altars. Special care should be taken to exclude boys who cannot understand the dread function they are performing, and who may be a subject of annoyance and distraction to the celebrant and people.

MODESTY AND HUMILITY OF AN ANGEL

My earnest prayer to God is, that He will inspire men of good will to give edification to the people, by performing an office so praiseworthy and so holy; and that, like St Wenceslas, King of Bohemia, they will not only assist at several Masses every day, but also serve the Priest, as he did, with the modesty and humility of an angel.

– St Leonard of Port Maurice, O. F. M.; from: St Anthony’s Treasury, 1916

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2019 in Words of Wisdom

 

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IF MAN REALLY UNDERSTOOD THIS MYSTERY, HE WOULD DIE OF LOVE

IF MAN REALLY UNDERSTOOD THIS MYSTERY, HE WOULD DIE OF LOVE

THE HOLY MASS

All good works added together are not equal to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, for they are the work of man, and the Mass is the work of God. Martyrdom is nothing in comparison. It is the sacrifice which man makes to God of his life; the Mass is the sacrifice which God makes to man of His Body and Blood.

GOD’S WORK

At the voice of the priest Our Lord descends from heaven, and encloses himself in a little Host. The glance of God is arrested at the altar. “This,” He says, “is my Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased. He can refuse nothing to the merits of the offering of this Victim.

THE GOOD GOD IS PRESENT

How beautiful to think that after the Consecration the good God is present, as He is in Heaven! If man really understood this mystery, he would die of love. God considers our weakness… Oh! if we had faith, if we understood the value of the Holy Sacrifice, we should be much more zealous in assisting at it.

– Bl. Cure d’Ars, from: Laverty & Sons (eds.), 1905

 

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THE SCAPULAR OF MOUNT CARMEL

THE SCAPULAR OF MOUNT CARMEL

1. Secures one the special protection of the Blessed Virgin in all the necessities of life, at the hour of death, and in Purgatory.

2. It should be worn day and night over the shoulders. It must be received from a person duly authorised to confer it, and the recipient’s name must be entered on the register of the Confraternity.

3. No special prayers are ordained, but in order to secure the favour of being released from Purgatory on the first Saturday after death, chastity according to one’s state must be observed, and the Little Office of Our Lady daily recited. The blessing of the first scapular extends to those which are afterwards substituted. 

– From: St Anthony’s Treasury, 1916

 

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SACRAMENTAL CONFESSION IS “LIKE HAVING A TOOTH OUT WITH ANAESTHETIC”

Quick relief

Let me tell you a story about Bishop Fulton Sheen. It well illustrates how delicately God, through this sacrament of confession , takes away from us the terrible burden of sins. Really it’s like having a tooth out with anaesthetic. Jesus took all the pain in his Passion. We just feel the relief.

Bishop Fulton Sheen was on a plane journey, and after a time the man next to him, seeing he was a priest, said, ‘You know, Father, I’ve got all sorts of troubles.’ Fulton Sheen said, ‘What are they now?’

The man started telling him all his woes, and after a time the Bishop said, ‘You know, from the way you’re talking you might be a lapsed Catholic.’ And the man said, ‘Well Father, I suppose you could call me that.’

Fulton Sheen said, ‘How long is it since you went to confession?’

‘About twenty years.’

‘Are you married?’

‘Yes.’

‘Are you living with your wife?’

‘Yes.’

‘Are you having an affair with another woman?’

‘No.’

‘Well, fasten your seat belt, and I’ll hear your confession.’

When he had been to confession the man said,

‘You know, Father, I reckon God wanted me to sit here, because I had a seat reserved on a previous plane but I missed my connection, and I had to ring my wife and say I was coming on the next plane. This seat I’m sitting on was the only empty seat left on the plane.’

God’s plans

Fulton Sheen said, ‘Does your wife go to the sacraments?’ and the man said, ‘No.’ ‘Is it long since she went?’ ‘About the same as me.’

So Fulton Sheen said, ‘When we get there you must introduce me.’

At LA Guardia airport, the man introduced Fulton Sheen to his wife and they found a secluded part of the airport and he heard her confession too.

Now that incident shows how confession defuses what could be an explosive emotional situation, the return of the prodigal son.

Confession makes the return of the sinner to God easier, because it concentrates the sinner’s attention and energy on the one essential element in the whole process of reconciliation: the movement of the will away from sin and towards God, in other words, a change of heart. This sacrament cuts out the frills. It keeps emotion in a duly subordinate place and enables the sinner to come straight to the point.

God respects our free will

God respects our free will. He does not force anyone. He does not force the sinner to come back. But confession makes it all relatively easy and unembarrassing.

It took God’s wisdom and love to invent this sacrament, which frees us so gently from our sins. I once knew a nurse who worked in a maternity hospital. She was a very gentle soul, and she once told me that women who’d had surgery would ask for her to take their stitches out. They knew no one could be more gentle. That’s how Jesus is with our souls when he comes to us in this sacrament. No one could be more gentle.

But he does more than just take away our sins. He also strengthens us against further temptation. For there are other graces we receive in this sacrament besides the forgiveness of sins…”

– Fr Hugh S. Thwaites, S.J.

 

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HE WHO HONOURS A PRIEST HONOURS CHRIST

PRIESTS – ANGELS ON EARTH

 

If we understand the divine dignity of priesthood, we shall comprehend more fully the infinite greatness of Mass.

 

St Ignatius, Martyr, says that the priesthood is the most sublime of all created dignities.

 

St Ephrem calls it an infinite dignity.

 

Cassian says that the priest of God is exalted above all earthly sovereignities and above all celestial heights. He is inferior to God alone.

 

Pope Innocent III says that the priest is placed between God and man; inferior to God, but superior to man.

 

St Denis calls the priest a divine man and the priesthood a divine dignity.

 

St Ephrem says that the gift of the sacerdotal dignity surpasses all understanding.

 

Hence, St John Chrysostom says that he who honours a priest honours Christ, and he who insults a priest insults Christ.

 

St Ambrose has called the priestly office a divine profession.

 

St Francis de Sales, after having given orders to a holy ecclesiastic, perceived that in going out he stopped at the door as if to give precedence to another. Being asked by the Saint why he stopped, he replied that God favoured him with the visible presence of his angel guardian, who before he had received the priesthood always remained on his right and preceded him, but now since the moment of ordination walked on his left and refused to go before him. It was in a holy contest with the Angel that he stopped at the door.

 

According to St Thomas, the dignity of the priesthood surpasses that of the angels.

 

St Gregory Nazianzen has said that the angels themselves venerate the priesthood.

All the Angels in Heaven cannot absolve from a single sin. The Angel Guardians procure for the souls committed to their care grace to have recourse to a priest, that he may absolve them.

 

St Francis of Assisi used to say: If I saw an angel and a priest, I would bend my knee first to the priest and then to the angel.

 

St Augustine says that to pardon a sinner is a greater work than to create Heaven and Earth. To pardon a single sin requires all the omnipotence of God.

 

St Alphonsus: The entire Church cannot give God as much honour, or obtain so many graces as a single priest by celebrating a single Mass. Thus, by the celebration of a single Mass, in which he offers Jesus Christ in sacrifice, a priest gives greater honour to the Lord than if all men, by dying for God, offered Him the sacrifice of their lives.

 

St Ignatius: Priests are the glory and the pillars of the Church, the doors and doorkeepers of Heaven.

 

St Alphonsus: were the Redeemer to descend into a Church and sit in a confessional, and a priest to sit in another confessional, Jesus would say over each penitent: “Ego te absolvo.” The priest would likewise say over each of his penitents: “Ego te absolvo”, and the penitents of each would be equally absolved. Thus, the sacerdotal dignity is the most noble of all the dignities in this world.

 

St Ambrose says that it transcends all the dignities of kings, of emperors, and of angels. The dignity of the priest far exceeds that of kings as the value of gold surpasses that of lead.

 

St Cyprian said that all who had the true spirit of God were, when compelled to take the Order of priesthood, seized with fear and trembling.

 

St Epiphanius writes that he found no one willing to be ordained a priest, so fearful were they of so divine a dignity.

 

St Gregory Nazianzen says, in his ‘Life of St Cyprian’ that, when the Saint heard that his bishop intended to ordain him a priest, he, through humility, concealed himself. It is related in the life of St Fulgentius that he too fled away and hid himself.

 

St Ambrose, as he himself attests, resisted for a long time before he consented to be ordained.

 

St Francis of Assisi never consented to be ordained.

 

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THE SACRED VESSELS USED DURING HOLY MASS EXPLAINED

“SACRED VESSELS AND ACCESSORIES

• For the celebration of Holy Mass the priest needs two Sacred Vessels – the PATEN and the CHALICE. The Paten is a small plate of gold or gilded silver, on which is placed the HOST. The Chalice, also made of precious metal, contains the WINE. The Host is made of pure wheat flour and is baked between two irons. The Wine is unadulterated juice of the grape naturally fermented. In preparation for Mass the priest places on the cup of the Chalice a small linen cloth. It is used to wipe the Chalice before the Wine is put into it, and wipe it again after Communion. This cloth is called the PURIFICATOR.

• Over the Purificator the priest places the Paten, on the top of which he puts the PALL – a small square of stiff linen which prevents dust or other impurities from falling into the Chalice during Mass.

• Completely covering the Chalice is the CHALICE VEIL. It is a square of silk, fashioned of the same material and having the same colour as the vestments the priest wears. On the Veil is placed the BURSE in which is carried the CORPORAL. The Corporal is a Linen Cloth, approximately a foot square, that serves as a small tablecloth on which the Sacred Vessels rest during the Mass.

• The CIBORIUM is a vessel made of precious metal. It is usually larger than the Chalice and is covered with a lid. In it are kept the Sacred Hosts reserved for Holy Communion.

• For Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament the MONSTRANCE is used. It is made of precious metal and is designed to hold the Blessed Sacrament in public view for adoration and to be raised in blessing the Faithful. It contains the LUNETTE, a crescent-shaped device of gold or silver used for holding the Host in an upright position.”
– Brepols, 1952

 

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THE ALTAR AND ITS FURNISHINGS EXPLAINED

• “The ALTAR STONE is the main part of the altar. It may be the whole table of the altar or a stone placed in the centre of the table. In either case it must be consecrated by a Bishop. It is marked with five carved crosses, and should generally contain the relics of several Martyrs. The relics of one Martyr are sufficient for validity of consecration.

• The altar table should be covered with three ALTAR CLOTHS properly blessed. These should be made of linen, and the uppermost cloth should hang down on either side almost to the floor.

• In the centre of the altar table stands the TABERNACLE, an appropriate shrine in which the Blessed Sacrament is reserved. It should be wholly lined in the interior with white silk or gilded plating.

• The TABERNACLE KEY should be gilded and should be on a ribbon or chain. It is exclusively in charge of the priest, who has a grave obligation of keeping it safe from profane hands.

• A CROSS bearing a conspicuous FIGURE OF JESUS CRUCIFIED is placed in the middle of the altar between the candlesticks.

• On the main altar are placed six large candlesticks, between which the Crucifix has a prominent position. On the other altars at least two candlesticks should be placed. The CANDLES used during Mass are of beeswax.

• On the altar are three ALTAR CARDS – one in front of the tabernacle, and one at each side of the altar. Inscribed on these cards are some of the prayers said by the priest during Mass.

• The MISSAL (Mass-book) contains the text of the various Masses. During Mass it rests on the MISSAL-STAND.

• Near the altar on a small table (CREDENCE table) are placed the CRUETS containing wine and water, and also a bowl and SMALL TOWEL for the washing of the priest’s fingers at the LAVABO.

• On the step of the altar is kept the ALTAR-BELL. It is to be rung during Mass and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament to call the attention of those present to the more inportant parts of these services.

• Before the tabernacle in which the Blessed Sacrament is reserved there burns continually day and night at least one SANCTUARY LAMP, for which olive oil or beeswax is used.” (Slight changes have been made since, but the essence applies as always.)
– Brepols, 1952

 

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