The Dignities and Duties of the Priest

by St. Alphonsus Liguori C.SS.R.
Doctor of the Church

The Celebration of Mass

Importance of the Holy Sacrifice and what it Exacts of the Priest

  For every high-priest taken from among men is ordained for men in the things that appertain to God, that he may offer up gifts and sacrifices for sins. [Heb. 5: 1] The priest, then, is placed by God in the Church in order to offer sacrifice. This office is peculiar to the priests of the Law of grace, to whom has been given the power of offering the great sacrifice of the Body and Blood of the Son of God-----a sacrifice sublime and perfect in comparison with the ancient sacrifices, the entire perfection of which consisted in being the shadow and figure of our sacrifice. They were sacrifices of calves and oxen, but ours is the sacrifice of the eternal Word made Man. Of themselves they had no efficacy, and were therefore called by St. Paul weak and needy elements. 

But ours has power to obtain the remission of the temporal penalties due to sins, and to procure an augmentation of grace, and more abundant helps for those in whose behalf it is offered.

   The priest who has not a just idea of the Mass shall never offer that holy sacrifice as he ought. Jesus Christ performed no action on earth, greater than the celebration of Mass. In a word, of all actions that can be performed, the Mass is the most holy and dear to God; as well on account of the oblation presented to God, that is, Jesus Christ, a victim of infinite dignity, as on account of the first offerer. Jesus Christ, Who offers Himself on the altar by the hand of the priest. "The same now offering," says the Council of Trent, "by the ministry of priests, Who, then offered Himself on the Cross." St. John Chrysostom said: "When you see a priest offering, do not believe that this is done by the hand of a priest; the offering is made rather by the hand of God invisibly stretched out."

   All the honors that the Angels by their homages, and men by their virtues, penances, and martyrdoms, and other holy works, have ever given to God could not give Him as much glory as a single Mass. For all the honors of creatures are finite honors, but the honor given to God in the sacrifice of the altar, because it proceeds from a Divine person, is an infinite honor. Hence we must confess that of all actions the Mass, as the Council of Trent says, is the most holy and Divine: "We must needs confess that no other work can be performed by the faithful so holy and Divine as this tremendous mystery itself." [Sess. 22, Decr. de obs. in cel M.] It is, then, as we have seen, an action the most holy and dear to God-----an action that appeases most efficaciously the anger of God against sinners, that beats down most effectually the powers of Hell, that brings to men on earth the greatest benefits, and that affords to the Souls in Purgatory the greatest relief. It is, in fine, an action in which, as St. Udone, Abbot of Cluny, has written, consists the entire salvation of the world: "Of all the favors granted to me this is the greatest: it is truly by the most generous ardor of His love that God instituted this mystery, without which there would be no salvation in this world."

And speaking of the Mass, Timothy of Jerusalem said that by it the world is preserved. But for the Mass the earth should have long since perished on account of the sins of men.

St. Bonaventure says that in each Mass God bestows on the world a benefit not inferior to that which He conferred by His Incarnation. This is conformable to the celebrated words of St. Augustine: "O venerable dignity of the priests, in whose hands, as in the womb of the Virgin, the Son of God became incarnate!" Moreover, St. Thomas teaches that since the sacrifice of the altar is nothing else than the application and renewal of the sacrifice of the Cross, a single Mass brings to men the same benefits and salvation that were produced by the sacrifice of the Cross. St. John Chrysostom says: "The celebration of a Mass has the same value as the death of Christ on the Cross." And of this we are still more assured by the holy Church in the Collect for the Sunday after Pentecost: "As many times as this commemorative sacrifice is celebrated, so often is the work of our redemption performed." The same Redeemer Who once offered Himself on the Cross is immolated on the altar by the ministry of His priests. "For the Victim is one and the same," says the Council of Trent: "the same now offering by the ministry of priests, Who then offered Himself on the Cross, the manner alone of offering being different."

   In a word, the Mass is, according to the prediction of the prophet, "the good and the beautiful thing" of the Church: For what is the good thing of Him, and what is its beautiful thing, but the corn of the elect and wine springing forth virgins?" [Zach. 9: 17] In the Mass, Jesus Christ gives Himself to us by means of the most holy Sacrament of the altar, which is the end and object of all the other Sacraments, says the angelic Doctor. Justly, then, has St. Bonaventure called the Mass a compendium of all God's love and of all His benefits to men. Hence the devil has always sought to deprive the world of the Mass by means of the heretics, constituting them precursors of Antichrist, whose first efforts shall be to abolish the holy sacrifice of the altar, and, according to the prophet Daniel [8: 12], in punishment of the sins of men, his efforts shall be successful: And strength was given him against the continual sacrifice because of sins. [Emphasis added.]

   Most justly, then, does the holy Council of Trent require of priests to be most careful to celebrate Mass with the greatest possible devotion and purity of conscience: "It is sufficiently clear that all industry and diligence is to be applied to this end, that it [the mystery] be performed with the greatest possible inward cleanness and purity of heart." And in the same place the Council justly remarks, that on priests who celebrate this great sacrifice negligently, and without devotion, shall fall the malediction threatened by the prophet Jeremiah: Cursed be he that doth the work of the Lord negligently. [Sess. 22, Decr. de obs. in cel M. in reference to Jer. 48: 10] And St. Bonaventure says that he who approaches the altar without reverence and consideration, celebrates or communicates unworthily. In order, then, to avoid this malediction, let us see what the priest must do before Mass, during Mass, and after Mass. Before Mass preparation is necessary, during the celebration of Mass reverence and devotion are necessary, after Mass thanksgiving is necessary. A servant of God used to say that the life of a priest should be nothing else than preparation and thanksgiving for Mass.

The Preparation for Mass

   In the first place, then, the priest must make his preparation before Mass.

   Before we come to practice, I ask how does it happen that there are so many priests in the world and so few holy priests? St. Francis de Sales called the Mass a mystery which comprises the entire abyss of Divine love. St. John Chrysostom used to say that the most holy Sacrament of the altar is the treasure of all God's benignity. There is no doubt that the Holy Eucharist has been instituted for all the faithful, but it is a gift bestowed in a special manner on priests. Give not, says our Lord, addressing priests, that which is holy to dogs; neither cast ye your pearls before swine. [Matt. 7: 6] Mark the words your pearls. In the Greek the consecrated particles are called pearls; but these pearls are called, as it were, the property of priests: your pearls. Hence, as St. John Chrysostom says, every priest should leave the altar all inflamed with Divine love, so as to strike terror into the powers of Hell: "Like lions breathing forth fire should we leave that table, so that we may become terrible to the devil." But this is not the case. The greater number depart from the altar always more tepid, more impatient, proud, jealous, and more attached to self-esteem, to self-interest, and to earthly pleasures. "The defect is not in the food," says Cardinal Bona. The defect does not arise from the food that they take on the altar; for, as St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi used to say, that food taken once would be sufficient to make them Saints, but it arises from the little preparation that they make for the celebration of Mass.

   Preparation for Mass is twofold: remote and proximate.

  The remote preparation consists in the pure and virtuous life that a priest should lead in order to celebrate worthily. If God required purity in the priests of the Old Law because they had to carry the sacred vessels, Be ye clean, you that carry the vessels of the Lord, how much greater should be the purity and sanctity of the priest who has to carry in his hands and in his body the Incarnate Word, says Peter de Blois. But to be pure and holy it is not enough for the priest to be exempt from mortal sins: he must be also free from venial sins that are fully deliberate; otherwise "he shall have no part with Jesus Christ." "Let no one," says St. Bernard, "disregard little faults, for thus it was said to Peter, that unless Christ purifies of them, we shall have no part in Christ." Hence all the actions and words of the priest who wishes to celebrate Mass must be holy, and serve to prepare him for the worthy celebration of the sacred mysteries.

   For the immediate preparation, mental prayer is, in the first place, necessary. How can the priest celebrate Mass with devotion without having first made mental prayer? The Venerable John d' Avila used to say that a priest should make mental prayer for an hour or, at least, half an hour, before Mass. I would be content with half an hour, or, and for some, with even a quarter of an hour; but a quarter is too little. There are so many beautiful books containing meditations preparatory to Mass, but who makes use of them? It is through neglect of meditation that we see so many Masses said without devotion and with irreverence. The Mass is a representation of the Passion of Jesus Christ. Hence Pope Alexander I justly said that in the Mass we should always commemorate the Passion of our Lord. And before him the Apostle said: For as often as you shall eat this bread and drink the chalice, you shall show the death of the Lord until He come. [1 Cor. 11: 26] According to St. Thomas, the Redeemer has instituted the most holy Sacrament that we might always have a lively remembrance of the love that He has shown us, and of the great benefits that He obtained for us by offering Himself in sacrifice on the Cross. But if all should continually remember the Passion of Jesus Christ, how much more should the priest reflect on it when he goes to renew on the altar, though in a different manner, the same sacrifice which the Son of God offered on the Cross!

   Moreover, even though he had made his meditation, the priest should before he begins Mass always recollect himself at least for a short time, and consider what he is going to do. The Council of Milan, in the time of St. Charles, ordained that all priests should do so. In entering the sacristy to celebrate Mass the priest should take leave of all worldly thoughts, and say with St. Bernard: "Ye cares, solicitudes, earthly troubles, remain here: let me go freely to my God, with all my intelligence and with all my heart, and when we have adored we shall return to you; we shall return, alas! and we shall return too soon." In a letter to St. Jane Chantal, St. Francis de Sales said: When I turn to the altar to begin Mass, I lose sight of everything on this earth. Hence, during the celebration of Mass, the priest should take leave of all worldly thought, and should think only of the great action that he is going to perform, and of the heavenly bread he is going to eat at the Divine table. When thou shalt sit to eat with a prince, says Solomon, consider diligently what is set before thy face. Let him consider that he is going to call from Heaven to earth the Incarnate Word; to treat with Him familiarly on the altar; to offer Him again to the eternal Father; and finally to partake of His sacred Flesh.

In preparing to celebrate, Father John d' Avila would endeavor to excite his fervor by saying: "I am now going to consecrate the Son of God, to hold Him in my hands, to converse and treat with Him, and to receive Him into my heart."

   The priest should also consider that he ascends the altar to perform the office of intercessor for all sinners, says St. Laurence Justinian. Thus the priest on the altar stands between God and men, presents their petitions, and obtains for them the Divine graces, says St. Chrysostom. It is for this reason, says St. Thomas, that the sacrifice of the altar is called the Mass: "On this account it is called Mass, because the priest sends his prayers to God through the Angel, and the people send them through the priest." [P. 3, q. 83, a. 4] In the Old Law the priest was permitted to enter the holy of holies only once in the year; but now every priest is allowed to immolate every day the Lamb of God, in order to obtain the Divine graces for himself and the entire people, says St. Laurence Justinian. Hence, according to St. Bonaventure, in going to celebrate, a priest should propose to himself three ends: to honor God, to commemorate the Passion of Jesus Christ, and to obtain graces for the whole Church."

The Reverence and the Devotion with which the Priest Should Celebrate Mass

   Secondly, it is necessary to celebrate Mass with reverence and devotion. It is well known that the maniple [seen as worn by the priest on his left arm, between the wrist and the elbow; it always has a cross appliqué] was introduced for the purpose of wiping away the tears of devotion that flowed from the eyes of the priest; for in former times priests wept continually during the celebration of Mass. It has been already said that a priest on the altar represents the very person of Jesus Christ, says St. Cyprian. There he says in the person of Jesus Christ, hoc est corpus meum: hic est calix sanguinis mei. But, O God! it would be necessary to weep, and even to shed tears of blood, at the manner in which many priests celebrate Mass. It excites compassion to see the contempt with which some priests and religious, and even priests of the reformed Orders, treat Jesus Christ on the altar. Observe with what kind of attention certain priests celebrate Mass. I hope their number is small. Of them we may well say what Clement of Alexandria said of the pagan priests, that they turned Heaven into a stage, and God into the subject of the comedy. But why do I say a comedy? Oh! how great would be their attention if they had to recite a part in a comedy! But with what sort of attention do they celebrate Mass? Mutilated words; genuflections that appear to be acts of contempt rather than of reverence; benedictions which I know not what to call. They move and turn on the altar in a disrespectful manner; they confound the words with the ceremonies which they perform before the time prescribed by the rubrics, although these rubrics are, according to the true opinion, all preceptive. For St. Pius V in the Bull inserted in the Missal commands us "strictly, by virtue of holy obedience," to celebrate Mass according to the rubrics of the Missal: "According to the rite, mode, and norm prescribed in the Missal." Hence he who violates the rubrics cannot be excused from sin, and he who is guilty of a grievous neglect of them cannot be excused from mortal sin.

  All arises from an anxiety to have the Mass soon finished. Some say Mass with as much haste as if the walls were about to fall, or as if they expected to be attacked by pirates without getting time to flyaway. Some priests spend two hours in useless conversation, or in treating of worldly affairs, and are all haste in celebrating Mass. As they begin the Mass without reverence, so they proceed to consecrate, to take Jesus Christ in their hands, and to communicate with as much irreverence as if the holy Sacrament were common bread. They should be told what the Venerable John d' Avila said one day to a priest who celebrated with haste and irreverence: "For God's sake treat Him better, for He is the Son of a good Father."

The Lord commanded the priests of the Old Law to tremble through reverence in approaching his sanctuary: Reverence My sanctuary. [Lev. 26: 2] And still we see scandalous irreverence in priests of the New Law while they stand at the altar in the presence of Jesus Christ; while they converse with Him, take Him in their hands, offer Him in sacrifice, and eat His Flesh. In the Old Law the Lord threatened several maledictions against priests who neglected the ceremonies of sacrifices, which were but figures of our sacrifice. But if Thou wilt not hear the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep . . . all His ceremonies, . . . all these curses shall come upon thee . . . cursed shalt thou be in the city, cursed in the field. [Deut. 28: 15] St. Teresa used to say: "I would give my life for a ceremony of the Church." And will a priest despise the ceremonies of the holy Mass? Suarez teaches that the omission of any ceremony prescribed in the Mass cannot be excused from sin; and it is the opinion of many theologians, that a notable neglect of the ceremonies may be a mortal sin.

In my Moral Theology I have shown, by the authority of many theologians, that to celebrate Mass in less than a quarter of an hour cannot be excused from grievous sin. This doctrine rests on two reasons: first, the irreverence that in so short a Mass is offered to the holy sacrifice; secondly, the scandal that is given to the people.

  As to the reverence due to the sacrifice, we have adduced the words of the Council of Trent, commanding priests to celebrate Mass with the greatest possible devotion: "All industry and diligence are to be applied that it be performed with the greatest possible outward show of devotion and piety." [Sess. 22, Decr. de obs. in cel M.] The Council adds, that to neglect even this external devotion due to the sacrifice is a species of impiety: "Irreverence that can hardly be separated from impiety." As the due performance of the ceremonies constitutes reverence, so to perform them badly is an irreverence which, when grievous, is a mortal sin. And to perform the ceremonies with the reverence due to so great a sacrifice, it is not enough to go through them; for some who are very quick in their articulation and motions may be able to perform the ceremonies in less than a quarter of an hour, but it is necessary to perform them with becoming gravity, which belongs intrinsically to the reverence due to the Mass.

   To celebrate Mass in so short a time is also a grievous sin on account of the scandal given to the people who are present. And here it is necessary to consider what the same Council of Trent says in another place, that the ceremonies have been instituted by the Church in order to excite in the faithful the veneration and esteem due to so great a sacrifice, and to the most sublime mysteries that it contains. "The Church," says the holy Council, "has employed ceremonies, whereby both the majesty of so great a sacrifice might be recommended and the minds of the faithful be excited, by those visible signs of religion and piety; to the contemplation of those most sublime things which are hidden in. this sacrifice." [Sess. 22, Decr. de obs. in cel M. c. 5] But instead of inspiring reverence, these ceremonies, when performed with great haste, diminish and destroy the veneration of the people for so holy a mystery. Peter de Blois says that the irreverence with which Mass is celebrated makes people think little of the most holy Sacrament. This scandal cannot be excused from mortal sin. Hence in the year 1583 the Council of Tours ordained that priests should be well instructed in the ceremonies of the Mass: "For fear that the people entrusted to their care, far from entertaining veneration for our Divine mysteries, might regard them only with indifference."

How can priests expect by Masses said with such irreverence to obtain graces from God, when during the oblation of these Masses they offend and dishonor Him more than they honor Him? Should a priest not believe in the most holy Sacrament of the altar, he would offend God; but it is a still greater offense to believe in it, and to celebrate Mass without due reverence, and thus make the people who are present lose their veneration for the holy Sacrament. In the beginning the Jews respected Jesus Christ, but when they saw Him despised by their priests they lost their esteem for Him, and in the end joined in the cry of the priests: "Away with this man; crucify Him!" I And in like manner, seculars, seeing a priest treat the Mass with such irreverence, lose their respect and veneration for it. A Mass said with reverence excites devotion in all who are present at it; but, on the other hand, a Mass celebrated with irreverence destroys devotion and even faith in those that are present. A religious of high reputation told me that a certain heretic had resolved to renounce his errors, but having been afterwards present at a Mass said without reverence, he went to the bishop and said that he no longer intended to abjure his heresy, because he felt convinced that priests who celebrated Mass in such a manner did not sincerely believe in the truth of the Catholic Church; and added: "If I were Pope, and knew that a priest said Mass with irreverence, I would command him to be burned alive." After these words he withdrew, resolved to continue in his heresy. 

   But some priests say that seculars complain when the Mass is long. Then I ask: Shall the want of devotion in seculars be the rule for the respect due to the Mass? Besides, if all priests said Mass with becoming reverence and gravity, seculars would feel the veneration due to so great a sacrifice, and would not complain of being obliged to spend half an hour in attending Mass. But because Masses are frequently so short, and so little calculated to excite devotion, seculars, after the example of priests, attend Mass with indevotion and with little faith; and when they find that it lasts longer than half an hour, they, on account of the bad habit that they have contracted, grow weary and begin to complain; and though they spend without tediousness several hours at play, or in the street, to pass the time, they feel it tedious and fatiguing to spend half an hour in hearing Mass. Of this evil, priests are the cause. To you, O priests, that despise My name, and have said: Wherein have we despised Thy name? . . . In that you say: The table of the Lord is contemptible. The want of reverence with which many priests celebrate Mass is the cause that it is treated with contempt by others.

   Poor priests! Having heard that a priest died after celebrating his first Mass, the Venerable Father John d' Avila said: "Oh what a terrible account shall he have to render to God for his first Mass!" But what should Father d' Avila say of priests who have for thirty or forty years said Mass with haste and irreverence, so as to scandalize all that were present at it? And how, I ask again, can such priests propitiate the Lord and obtain His graces, when by celebrating in such a manner they insult rather than honor Him? "Since every sin," says Pope Julius, "is wiped out by the holy sacrifice, what would be offered to the Lord in atonement of sin if in offering the sacrifice sin is committed?"

Miserable priests! and miserable the bishop who permits such priests to celebrate. For, as the Council of Trent prescribes, bishops are bound to prevent all irreverences in the celebration of Mass: "The holy synod decrees that the ordinary bishops of places shall take diligent care and be bound to prohibit irreverence, which can hardly be separated from impiety." Mark the words, shall take diligent care and be bound; they are bound to suspend the priest who celebrates without due reverence. And this they are obliged to do even with regard to regulars; for in this every bishop is constituted a delegate of the Apostolic See, and is therefore bound to seek for information regarding the manner in which Mass is celebrated in his diocese.

   And let us, dearly beloved priests, endeavor to amend, if we have hitherto offered this great sacrifice with a want of reverence and devotion. Let us, at least from this day forward, repair the evil we have done. Let us, in preparing for Mass, reflect on the nature of the action that we are going to perform: in celebrating Mass we perform an action the most sublime and holy that man can perform. Ah, what blessings does a Mass, said with devotion, bring on him who offers it, and on those that hear it! With regard to the priest who offers it, the Disciple [John Herold, called the Disciple] writes: "Prayer is more quickly heard when recited in the presence of a priest saying Mass." Now, if God hears more speedily the prayers which a secular offers in the presence of a priest celebrating Mass, how much more readily will he hear the prayers of the priest himself if he celebrates with devotion! He who offers the holy Mass every day with devotion shall always receive new lights and new strength from God. Jesus Christ will always infuse increased knowledge and consolation; He will encourage him, and grant him the graces that he desires. A priest may feel assured, particularly after the consecration, that he shall receive from Jesus Christ all the graces he asks. The Venerable Father D. Anthony de Colellis, of the Congregation of the Pious Workers, used to say: "When I celebrate and hold Jesus Christ in my hands I obtain whatsoever I wish for." With regard to him who celebrates, and to those that hear Mass, it is related in the life of St. Peter of Alcantara that the Mass that he so devoutly celebrated produced more fruit than all the sermons preached in the province in which he lived. The Council of Rhodes commanded priests to show their faith and devotion towards Jesus Christ by pronouncing the words with piety, and performing the ceremonies with reverence and devotion towards Jesus Christ, Who is present in the Mass. "The external deportment," says St. Bonaventure, "is what shows the interior dispositions of the celebrant." And here let us call to mind, in passing, the command of Innocent III: "We also command that the oratories, vases, corporals, and vestments should be kept clean; for it seems to be absurd to neglect in so holy actions what would be unbecoming in profane actions." O God! the Pontiff has too much reason to speak in this manner; for some priests have no repugnance to celebrate with corporals, purificators, and chalices which they could not bear to use at table.

Thanksgiving after Mass

 In the third place, after Mass thanksgiving is necessary. The thanksgiving should terminate only with the day. St. John Chrysostom says that for every trifling favor that they confer upon us men expect that we should show our gratitude by making some return. How much more grateful should we be to God, Who expects no recompense for His gifts, but wishes us to thank Him solely for our welfare! If, continues the Saint, we are not able to thank the Lord as much as He deserves, let us at least thank Him as much as we can. But what a misery to see so many priests who, after Mass, say a few short prayers in the sacristy, without attention or devotion, and then begin to speak on useless subjects or on worldly business, or perhaps leave the church immediately after Mass, and carry Jesus Christ into the street! They should be treated in the manner in which Father John d' Avila once acted toward a priest who left the church immediately after celebrating Mass. He sent two ecclesiastics with lighted torches to accompany him; when asked by the priest why they followed him, they answered: "We accompany the most Holy Sacrament which you carry in your breast." To such priests we may well apply the words of St. Bernard to the Archdeacon Fulcone: "How is it possible that you so quickly grow tired of Christ?" O God! How can you become so soon weary of the company of Jesus Christ, Who is within you?

   So many books of devotion exhort thanksgiving after Mass; but how many priests make it? It is easy to point to those who practice it. Some make mental prayer, recite many vocal prayers, but spend little or no time with Jesus Christ after Mass. They might at least continue in prayer as long as the consecrated species remain within their breast. Father John d' Avila used to say that we ought to set great value on the time after Mass; he ordinarily spent two hours in recollection with God after celebrating Mass.

   After Communion the Lord dispenses His graces most abundantly. St. Teresa said that then Jesus Christ remains in the soul as on a throne of grace, and says to her: "What do you wish that I should do for you?" Besides, it is necessary to know that, according to the opinion of Suarez, Gonet, and many other theologians, the more the soul disposes herself by good acts, while the consecrated species remain, the greater the fruit she derives from the holy Communion. For, as the Council of Florence teaches, this Sacrament has been instituted in the form of food, and therefore as the longer earthly food remains in the stomach the more nutriment it gives to the body so the longer this Heavenly Food continues in the body the more it nourishes the soul with grace, provided there be corresponding dispositions in the communicant. This increase of grace is the more confidently to be expected, because during that time every good act has greater value and merit; for the soul is then united with Jesus Christ, as He himself has said: He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, abideth in Me, and I in him. [John 6, 57] And according to St. John Chrysostom, the soul is then made one thing with Jesus Christ. Hence, good acts are then more meritorious, because they are performed by the soul while she is united with Jesus Christ.
  But, on the other hand, St. Bernard tells us that the Lord will not lose His graces by giving them to the ungrateful. Let us then remain, at least for half an hour, with Jesus Christ after Mass; or at least for a quarter. But, O God! a quarter of an hour is too little. We should remember that from the day of his ordination the priest belongs no longer to himself, but to God, says St. Ambrose. And before him God Himself said the same: They offer the burnt-offering of the Lord, and the bread of their God, and therefore they shall be holy.

The Priest who Abstains from saying Mass

   Some abstain through humility from the celebration of Mass. A word on this subject. To abstain from saying Mass through humility is a good act, but it is not the most perfect: acts of humility give God a finite honor, but the Mass gives Him infinite honor, because this honor is offered by a Divine person. Attend to the words of Venerable Bede. "A priest who without an important reason omits to say Mass robs the Blessed Trinity of glory, the Angels of joy, sinners of pardon, the just of Divine assistance, the Souls in Purgatory of refreshment, the Church of a benefit, and himself of a medicine." St. Cajetan, while in Naples, heard that a Cardinal in Rome, a particular friend, who was accustomed to say Mass every day, had begun to omit it on account of his occupations. The Saint resolved to go, and actually went to Rome, in the burning heat of summer, at the risk of his life, in order to persuade his friend to resume his former custom.

  The Venerable John d' Avila, as we read in his life, going one day to say Mass in a hermitage, felt himself so feeble that he began to despair of being able to reach the place, which was at a distance, and intended to omit Mass; but Jesus Christ appeared to him in the form of a pilgrim, uncovered His breast, showed him His Wounds, and particularly the Wound in His side, and said to him: "When I was wounded, I felt more fatigued and feeble than you are." He then disappeared: Father d' Avila took courage, went to the oratory, and celebrated Mass.

Prayers from the Raccolta for Priests to Say 
Before and After Mass

     A Form of directing one's intention before Mass

I wish to celebrate Mass and consecrate the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ after the use of the Holy Roman Church to the praise of Almighty God and of all the Court of Heaven, to my own benefit and that of all the Church militant: for all who have commended themselves to my prayers, in general and in particular, and for the happy estate of the holy Roman Church. Amen.

    Joy and peace, amendment of life, room for sincere repentance, the grace and comfort of the Holy Spirit, perseverance in good works be given to us by the almighty and merciful Lord. Amen.

A Prayer to be said after celebrating Mass

I beseech Thee, sweetest Lord Jesus Christ, let Thy Passion be my strength, whereby I may be fortified, protected and defended: let Thy Wounds be my meat and drink, wherewith I may be fed and filled to overflowing with spiritual joy: let the sprinkling of Thy Blood be to me a cleansing from all my sins: let Thy death be to me life unfailing, and Thy Cross my everlasting glory. In these let me find refreshment, exultation, healing and sweetness in my heart: Who livest and reignest world without end. Amen.