Of The Excellency And Dignity Of The Holy Masse: And Of The Great Worthiness Of The Things, That Are Handled Therein

WEYDEN, Rogier van der 
c. 1441


Of The Excellency And Dignity Of The Holy Masse: And Of The Great Worthiness Of The Things, That Are Handled Therein 

Amongst all the things that give testimony of the sweetness, benignity, and love of God towards man, one of the chief and principal is, this most divine, and most excellent Sacrament of all Sacraments. The which, because of the great and super abundant grace, which it containeth, is therefore worthily called Eucharist, or good grace. For this most sacred and holy action, is of it self, and by itself. both a Sacrament, and Sacrifice, and that the most noble, divine, and most worthy that ever was offered, nor can there possibly be a greater, it being no other then the only, true, and eternal Son of God himself.

2. To prefigure unto us the dignity of this Sacrifice. our Lord in the old Testament, would, that the Priest entering into the Sanctuary, should be arrayed with most rich and precious ornaments: and those most costly and artificial wrought: to the end, that the people seeing him to enter so venerable, should know the greatness of God, to whom he went to speak, and to render due honor.

3. In like manner, the riches and divers ornaments, the magnificent Churches, the Altars so sumptuously adorned, the great number of lights, & all other ceremonies which the Catholic Church doth now use in celebrating this Sacrifice, were ordained to this end, to declare the greatness, sanctity, & virtue of this mystery. For even as he who entering into a great Palace, seeing the walls of the chambers hung with Arras, or Tapestry, commeth  to know the greatness, the nobleness, and the riches of the Personage that dwelleth therein (for as much as poor folks, or people of mean estate. cannot be fitted with such costly furniture) even so & no otherwise happeneth it unto him, who entereth into the Church, and seeth Mass to be celebrated with such curious ornaments: for as much as wise and virtuous men would never be at so great expenses, nor ever labor so much for the performance thereof, if they knew not full well, this work  to be the greatest, that possibly a man can practise in the world.

4. Another thing, which doth most singularly demonstrate unto us the dignity of this Sacrifice, is, that it is a perfect Epitome, or abridgement, of all the works of Almighty God, and of the whole old and new Testament, comprising briefly and summarily, all that which is contained therein. The Trinity, Unity, Eternity, Omnipotence, Glory, Majesty, Infinity, and Excellency, of Almighty God  The creation of Heave, Earth, Angels, Men, and of all Creatures. The Incarnation, Nativity, Preaching, Miracles, Life, Death, Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension of our Saviour Jesus: and consequently, our Redemption, Vocation, Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification, together, with whatsoever else concerneth the glory of God, or salvation of man.

John Heigham
A Devout Exposition Of The Holy Masse 1622