Of The Faults And Abuses, Which May Be Committed In Hearing Of Mass

Crucifixion with Saints and Donor


Of The Faults And Abuses, Which May Be Committed In Hearing Of Mass

First, it were an intolerable abuse, if any (which God forbid) should go to Mass, to content their eyes, with wanton and dishonest sights, making the church a shop of their disordinate appetites, not having any respect, either to the presence of God, or of his Angels, nor to his divine service, nor to the time, in which is represented the greatest benefit that our Lord hath done for man.

2. The second abuse were, to hear Mass only for fashion, and much more to spend the time in idle talk: without any attention or devotion, for this were not only to depart without fruit, but to loose much by that, they might gain exceedingly.  For even as you pray not, but those who labor in your vineyard (not those who go thither to see and behold it) even so our Lord doth not give his hire, but to those who are attentive to the work of his divine service, such persons should sin most grievously.

3. The third abuse, were to be present with such distraction, and vagation of spirit, that instead of thinking upon the holy mysteries of the Mass, one should call to mind his worldly business, bethinking himself of the means where with he should have prosecuted some negotiations, which therefore came not to so good effect and issue, as he desired: and discoursing of the circumspection which he must use for the time to com in some other business, which he hath yet to do, and so as we may say, build castles in the air. Surely the spindle, of wheel or a mill, doth not turn so much as doeth the spirit of such a man, being present at Mass, suffering himself to be carried without bridle, whether so ever his wandering fancy shall please to move or transport him. And of these, I say, as of the  former,t hat they should offend in the same degree, and loose the fruit and merit, which they might reap by hearing Mass devoutly.

4. The fourth abuse were, to seek for the shortest Masses, and to think the time long that we are present at this divine sacrifice. For surely this sheweth, that our minds are more set upon earthly, then heavenly things, since that we find no such irksomeness in corporal banquets, plays, or other vain sights. But we should rather consider, how our Blessed Saviour thought not the time of three hours long to hang upon the Cross for our sakes: in which respect, their devotion is very  commendable, who use to hear more Masses then one every day, according as their necessary business will permit them. Yea, if the fire of the love of God, were perfectly enkindled in our hearts, all then while that the Mass should last,  would surely seem unto us very short and little: like as the Scripture saith of Jacob, that he served the space of 14 years to have Rachael in marriage, and that he esteemed all those years but as a few days, in respect of the love he bare unto her.

5. The fifth abuse were, to be over curious in adorning ourselves, when we go to Church, and in this women, especially of young years and good calling, must be more wary, because they may otherwise, not only hinder their own devotion, but that of others also. It is strange what caveats St. Paul and the holy Fathers give them in this kind: For surely when they go to Church, they should rather seek to please God, then men. Neither can they easily excuse themselves, if they do otherwise. To conclude, when we repair to the Temple of God to pray, we ought to lay away all toys and vanities, which anyway may hinder our devotions, and carefully recollect our spirits, and drive away all distractions, that we may without any perturbation, freely lift up our hearts to God, and devoutly employ the time, in holy, pious, and wholesome meditations, according as shall hereafter is declared. And now to speak of the Altar itself.

A Devout Exposition Of The Holy Masse 1622

By John Heigham