Beware of saying: What use is it to hear Mass ? I am none the richer, none the happier, for it; it makes no difference to me whether I have or have not heard Mass. This is the way in which foolish and ungodly persons speak, who have no just idea of what holy Mass really is. Any one who has read this book will have learnt enough of the virtue and excellence of the Mass to make him rejoice in it. Hearing Mass is not only useful for the soul, but for the body as well; the benefit we derive from it is material as well as spiritual. As Fornerus says: “The very food thou dost eat on the day thou hast been to Mass nourishes thee better; thy work succeeds better; any troubles that weigh on thee appear less heavy.” Again another pious writer says: “He who begins the day by going to Mass will be attended by better fortune in his work, in his business, in whatever his hand finds to do, or wherever his feet carry him. And when thou hast heard Mass in the morning, if, later in the day, thou shouldst be suddenly overtaken by death, be assured that Christ will be present with thee in thy last moments, as thou wert present with Him at holy Mass.” Let words such as these, setting forth the great utility of the holy sacrifice, incite us to assist at it as frequently as possible.
We may go farther, and say, not only does holy Mass not hinder our work: it does more, it furthers it, as experience has often proved. It is related of St. Isidore, a Spanish saint of comparatively humble birth, that he was engaged by a wealthy nobleman of Madrid to cultivate his lands for a fixed annual salary. He fulfilled his duty with exemplary industry, but without discontinuing any of his religious exercises; every morning he heard Mass in more than one church, and spent some hours in prayer. His piety was so pleasing to God that an angel was sent to help him in his work on the farm lest any thing should suffer through his absence. However, the owners of the adjoining land, actuated by jealousy, accused him to his employer of neglecting the field-work to hear Mass, to the injury of the crops. The nobleman, greatly enraged at hearing this, went to the farm at once, and rebuked his steward in no measured terms for his dishonest conduct. The saint replied quietly: “ I know, sir, that I am your servant, but I have another master, the King of kings, to Whom I also owe obedience. If, however, you think that your interests suffer through my coming late to work, when harvest time comes, you can deduct whatever you think proper from my share of the produce.” Pacified by this answer, the proprietor said no more, and left the pious farmer to go to Mass as he pleased. Meanwhile he was desirous to know really how much time was taken from agriculture, so one morning he went very early to his fields, and concealed himself behind a rock. Finding that Isidore did certainly begin to plough at a very late hour, he went towards him, intending to take him severely to task. What was his astonishment when he descried two strangers, with a team of white oxen, ploughing one on each side of his steward. For a while he stood riveted to the spot, contemplating this extraordinary apparition. Then he advanced nearer, stepping over the newly-made furrows, but when he was almost close up to them they vanished out of sight, the unknown husbandmen, the snow-white oxen, and the plough they were driving. Overwhelmed with astonishment, he called out to Isidore: “ My good man, for God’s sake tell me who those men are who are ploughing this field with you.” The saint looked up with a smile, but answered nothing, for indeed he did not know what to say. His master continued: “I am positive that I saw two men at work with you, but as soon as I came near they both disappeared.” “ I declare before God,” Isidore replied, “ that I have not seen any one helping me; I have not even asked assistance from any one, except God, Whom I implore every day to come to my aid.” Then the proprietor of the estate knew that the laborers he had seen were angels, and congratulated himself on having so saintly a man in his service.
This story forcibly illustrates what has been said above, that hearing Mass is a help, not a hindrance, to our work, for God ordains that, for the service we render Him, we should do our work more easily and succeed better in it. The time we take from our daily avocations to spend in the service of God is not wasted; on the contrary, it is very well employed, and earns for us from God a temporal and an eternal reward. Has He not told us, with His own divine lips: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all these things shall be added unto you ? “ (St. Matt. vi. 33.) This is tantamount to saying: Hear Mass in the morning, and thou shalt have an abundant blessing on all thou doest in the day.
Great Merit is Gained by Offering Holy Mass in a Right Manner
Let me counsel thee, pious reader, to read the following chapter attentively, and impress well upon thy memory the truths it contains; for they are of great importance, and will, if duly carried out, be of no slight profit to thy soul. Bear in mind that holy Mass is the true and supreme sacrifice of the Christian religion, and that all those who would assist at it aright should join in offering it to the most high God. The Mass is not to the Christian merely a form of prayer, it is an act of worship and a sacrifice; for all who hear Mass offer the divine oblation together with the priest. First of all there is the great high priest, the chief sacrificer, Christ, Who Himself offers every Mass that is said to His heavenly Father. Then there is the officiating priest, who immolates the divine victim. Thirdly, there are the faithful, who, present at the holy sacrifice, have also the power of offering it, and in fact sometimes do so with greater profit than the priest himself. Fourthly, there are those who either pay for the Mass, or provide something necessary for celebrating it, such as the chalice or the vestment. Lastly those too must be included who, unable to assist in person, unite themselves in spirit to the priest, and join with him in his sacrificial act whilst remaining in their own homes. They also, since they participate in a certain measure in offering the holy sacrifice, participate in its fruits, and may, if they so will, assign to others the benefit of those fruits. Ponder well these truths, for they contain valuable instruction and comfort.
One of the greatest graces which are granted to the children of the Church is that the privilege of offering to the Divine Majesty the sacred and sublime sacrifice of the Mass is not the prerogative of priests alone, but belongs to the laity as well, to men, women, and children. This favor was not shown to the Jews; no one but the priest was permitted to offer the holocaust, or to kindle the incense in the temple. Any man presuming to do so would have been guilty of sacrilege. We read in Holy Scripture that when King Ozias desired to burn incense upon the altar of incense the priests withstood him, and said: “ It doth not belong to thee, Ozias, to burn incense to the Lord, but to the priests, who are consecrated for this ministry; go out of the sanctuary, do not despise: for this thing shall not be accounted to thy glory by the Lord God.” (n. Par. xxvi. 18.) Ozias was very angry at this, and, still holding the censer in his hand, threatened to revenge himself on the priests. And presently the Lord smote him with leprosy in his forehead, which when the priests saw they hastened to thrust him out.
— From The Incredible Catholic Mass