Of The Attention And Devotion Of The Assistants. And How The Same May Be Obtained By Hearing Of Mass.

c. 1335

Of The Attention And Devotion Of The Assistants. And How The Same May Be Obtained By Hearing Of Mass.

1. For as much as upon all festival days a man must either say Mass, or at the least, hear Mass, by the express commandment of the Church: it is great reason, that this work, should be well and orderly performed, according as is convenient, and as the weight and importance of the thing itself requireth. First then, we must procure to have an ardent and inflamed desire to hear the same with fruit, and with the greatest attention that possible we may: which desire ought to be accompanied, with a lively faith, of the presence of Jesus Christ our Saviour, who with such exceeding love, vouchsafe to come to visit us.

2. Secondly, it will help very much, to think upon the wonderful greatness and dignity, of this most holy Sacrifice, whereof I have spoken a little before.

3. Thirdly, to remember our own vileness and abjectness, reputing ourselves most unworthy, to be present at so excellent and divine a mystery, in the presence whereof, the very Angels do humble and bow down themselves with most divine reverence: wherefore, with far greater reason ought a wretched sinner to do the same, and after the example of the Publican holding down his head for shame, to knock his breast, saying Dues propitious esto mihi peccatori. God be merciful to me a sinner.

4. Fourthly, it is also requisite, that a man go to Mass, out of mortal sin, for as much as this greatly hindereth, both devotion and due attention, as also the fruit which he might otherwise draw from the same. Yet, if a man be fallen into any great sin, he ought not therefore to leave to hear Mass: for albeit it serve him not then to merit eternal life, yet it serveth him nevertheless to satisfy the commandment of the Church, which is, to hear Mass on the festival days: which if he perform not, he doth add another mortal sin to his former.

5. Fifthly, that our end, or intention be right: which is, that we purpose to do that which our holy mother the Church doeth, who in the Sacrifice of the Mass, maketh an offering and present, to the eternal Father, of his only Son, of his most holy Passion, and of his merits, in satisfaction of the sins of her children. Whereupon we ought to accompany and join our desires with those of the Priest, and to beseech the divine Majesty, that it would please him to hear us, and that he would mercifully pardon both our own offences, and those of our neighbors, and that he would graciously assist us in all our necessities, and that in the virtue of this most holy Sacrifice.

6. Sixthly, to endeavor to conceive within ourselves, a holy fear, and a wonderful reverence, considering that we are present in a place that is holy, and specially dedicated to the service of God: remembering how God commanded Moses to put off his shoes, for reverence of the place whereon he stood. Deut.

7.  Seventhly, besides the sanctity and holiness of the place, we ought to consider, the presence of our Lord and Saviour himself, who at that time, causeth his blessings and graces to rain down in great plenty and abundance upon all those, who are there present, with pure, unfeigned, and profound devotion.

8. Eightly, when we see the priest coming towards the Altar, we ought to lift up our eyes (especially those of our understanding) to heaven, and to imagine, that we see descend, as by Jacobs ladder, a multitude of Angels, who come to present themselves at this most holy Sacrifice, & with their presence to honor it, in such wise, that all the Church is filled with Angels, which busy themselves here, and there amongst the people, inciting them all to modesty, devotion, and reverent behavior in the presence of this most holy and dreadful Sacrament.

9. Ninthly, the great and loving desire that our Saviour himself hath to come unto us, and therefore, to lift up anew our eyes to Heaven, and with a lively faith , to behold the Son of God, fitting at the right hand of his Father, being ready and prepared, to be present (so soon as the words of consecration shall be pronounced) in the hands of the Priest, in the sacred Host, and with a longing desire, waiting and attending (in some sort) the time and opportunity to come unto us.

10. Tenthly, consider the cause, and end of our Saviours coming, & so contemplate the greatness of him that commeth, who is infinite. The end for which he commeth, which is, to be offered up for us, to his heavenly Father Whether he commeth, into earth (the place and habitation of beasts) The manner wherein he commeth, hidden under the forms of bread and wine.

Finally, to maintain the honor of this holy Sacrifice against all enemies, and to use the same aright as we ought to do, we must every day assist thereat, without distraction of spirit, in silence and decent composition, and be persuaded this to be the principal & chiefest of all our actions, and which deserveth, that we dedicate unto it the beast and most convenient hour of the morning. And in so doing, our merciful Lord will doubtly send down his blessing upon us, in great abundance, and the better, prosper all our affairs and business, in the day following.

A Devout Exposition Of The Holy Masse 1622
By John Heigham