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We must withdraw our souls from the world and participate with great inward focus at the Mass November 19, 2013

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Eucharist, fun, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Holy suffering, Interior Life, priests, sanctity, Tradition, Virtue.

Fr. Nicholas Gihr, in his book The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass Dogmatically, Liturgically, and Ascetically Explained, highlights true active, interior participation at the Mass in a section explaining the exalted prayers of the Preface, the common parts of which date to Apostolic times according to Fr. Gihr, one of the greatest scholars of the Mass in the history of the Church.  Active participation is not running around performing various jobs during Mass, or acting in what from time immemorial was the place of the priest in the distribution of Holy Communion.  Participation is inward, does not require the understanding of every word spoken at Mass, and is focused above all on turning out thoughts away from the world and its illusions, and focusing them on God and our need for contrition and repentance. Pages 555-557 below, I add emphasis and comments:

Sursum corda! “Lift up your hearts!” The meaning of these words is most comprehensive: they signify that we should withdraw all the faculties of our soul from what is earthly, and consecrate them exclusively to intercourse with God and divine things. For this is, above all, necessary to turn mind and spirit from worldly objects and to close them to distracting thoughts, so as to be immersed with all one’s might and Gold_fr-barth-1st-mass-07attention in holy meditations.  If the mind be penetrated with a higher light from above, then the will also will be incited to devotion. The heart becomes aglow with holy love of God, and disengages itself from the bonds of worldly inclinations and desires, that enchain it in the dust; it rouses itself from its sluggish indolence and tepidity, that it may with holy ardor soar heavenward with all its powers. ”Hearts on high!” This applies principally to the time of Mass. It, of course, requires serious effort on our part to raise mind and spirit on high, and keep them recollected and disengaged from what is earthly and perishable; human frailty and the inconstancy of man being so very great. To persevere in undisturbed recollection and communion with God, is possible only to a soul that daily endeavors to divest itself of all earthly dross and bonds, and labors to attain a permanent direction upward. [So, we must practice penance and mortification regularly to improve our ability to participate actively and inwardly at the Mass.]  Hence the words of the Apostle: “Our conversation is in heaven” (Phil. 3, 20). What does this imply? That we should not grovel like worms in the dust, Easter_Vigil_TAR_2013but like the birds in the air we ought to soar in spirit heavenward ; we should not burthen and oppress our hearts with the thoughts and desires, with the cares and pleasures of this life, but we should so divest ourselves of the earthly and of the love of perishable goods, that our soul may aspire with ease to Heaven with lively hope and ardent desire. “Mind the things that are above, and seek for what is above” this is the wisdom of Christian life. The Sursum corda, therefore, admonishes us, especially at the Sacrifice of the Mass, to have our mind occupied with heavenly things only and to be intent upon them. “No one should be present in such a manner, that, although he may say with the lips: ‘We have lifted our hearts to the Lord,’ his thoughts are directed to the cares of this life. We should indeed think of God at all times; but if this be impossible, on account of human frailty, we should take it to heart most especially at least during the Holy Sacrifice……

……The more estranged the soul becomes from frivolity and the distractions of the world, the more she rises above all created things, the more clearly and profoundly also will she perceive that God is the eternal love and the fountain-source of all that is good: she thereby becomes penetrated with a lively sense of grateful praise to Him.

———End Quote———

Thus Father Gihr presents the timeless wisdom of the Church on pious participation at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We are very frail creatures. Maintaining our focus for even an half hour on thoughts of God and heavenly things is very difficult. We can only achieve such through practice. This practice should really begin outside the Mass with focused times of prayer, meditation, and spiritual reading.  It is not a trivial task.

But when we think of what the Mass is, what awesome events transpire there, and what the Mass means for our souls, even a large effort seems to pale in comparison to the august Gift we receive every time we worthily participate in the Mass and receive Our Blessed Lord in the Eucharist. It is the Source and Summit of our Faith, and worth our utmost efforts to participate with the most reverent and deeply engaged participation possible.

I found the picture below on Ars Orandi. What a glorious photo – I love the tonsure!  Religious simplicity does not mean we can not render proper honor and glory to God at the Mass!

Gold_Capuchin Friar3



1. Gina Florencia - November 19, 2013

That’s Whalen my vail comes really at use…it gives me privacy!!!
Great article, thanks.,,Gina

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