Skip to main content


The Happy Priest On The Mass: The Greatest Act on the Face of the Earth

let us ask ourselves on this Holy Thursday about our attitudes and dispositions regarding the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass

The Catholic Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the greatest act that takes place on this earth.Even more important than cell phones going off during Mass, let us ask ourselves on this Holy Thursday about our attitudes and dispositions regarding the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the awesome gift of the Eucharist?


CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - American conductor and violinist Alan Gilbert is currently the music director of the New York Philharmonic.  Back in January, he was conducting Mahler's Ninth Symphony when all of a sudden a cell phone went off during the final page of the astonishing composition. 

A classical music enthusiast sitting in the front-row had forgotten to turn off his cell phone which pealed through the symphony hall during the Philharmonic's magnificent climax. 

While the mortified spectator tried to turn off the iPhone marimba ringtone, something happened that he could not turn off his phone.  The conductor was frustrated to no end. 

Gilbert stopped the orchestra, turned to the man with the out of control cell phone and said "Are you finished?" The stunned man could not answer the maestro audibly, causing Gilbert to finally say "Fine, we'll wait."

The famous conductor received assurance that the cell phone would not go off again.  He then spoke directly to the audience, "I apologize.  Usually, when there's a disturbance like this, it is best to ignore it, because addressing it is sometimes worse than the disturbance itself.  But this was so egregious that I could not allow it."

According to news reports, the concert hall erupted into applause as the Philharmonic Orchestra continued Mahler's Ninth Symphony without any other interruptions. 

My dear friends, the Catholic Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the greatest act that takes place on this earth.  It is far greater than any symphony.

Even more important than cell phones going off during Mass, let us ask ourselves on this Holy Thursday about our attitudes and dispositions regarding the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the awesome gift of the Eucharist?

Do we miss Mass on Sundays?  How do we dress for Mass?  Do we pay attention during Mass?  Are we late for Mass?  How are our genuflections?  Do we receive the Eucharist worthily? 

On this Holy Thursday night let us reflect upon the words of one of the most famous modern converts to the Catholic Faith, Dr. Scott Hahn: 

"Then one day, I made a 'fatal blunder' - I decided that it was time for me to go to Mass on my own.  Finally I resolved to darken the doors of Gesu, Marquette University's parish.  Right before noon, I slipped quietly into the basement chapel for daily Mass.  I wasn't sure what to expect; maybe I'd be alone with a priest and a couple of old nuns.  I took a seat as an observer in the back pew."

"All of a sudden lots of ordinary people began coming in off the streets; rank-and-file type folks.  They came in, genuflected, knelt and prayed.  Their simple but sincere devotion was impressive."

"Then a bell rang and a priest walked out toward the altar.  I remained seated; I still wasn't sure if it was safe to kneel.  As an evangelical Calvinist, I had been taught that the Catholic Mass was the greatest sacrilege that a man could commit - to re-sacrifice Christ - so I wasn't sure what to do."

"I watched and listened as the readings, prayers and responses - so steeped in Scripture - made the Bible come alive.  I almost wanted to stop the Mass and say, 'Wait.  That line is from Isaiah; the song is from the Psalms.  Whoa, you've got another prophet in that prayer'.  I found numerous elements from the ancient Jewish liturgy that I had studied so intensely."

"All of a sudden I realized, this is where the Bible belongs.  This was the setting in which this precious family heirloom was meant to be read, proclaimed and expounded.  Then we moved into the Liturgy of the Eucharist, where all my covenant conclusions converged."

"I wanted to stop everything and shout, 'Hey, can I explain what's happening from Scripture?  This is great!'  Instead I just sat there, famished with a supernatural hunger for the Bread of Life."

"After pronouncing the words of consecration, the priest held up the Host.  I felt as if the last drop of doubt had drained from me.  With all of my heart, I whispered, 'My Lord and my God.  That's really you! And if that's you, then I want full communion with you.  I don't want to hold anything back" (Rome Sweet Home, pp. 87-88).

As I wrote in my book Get Serious! A Survival Guide for Serious Catholics, what would happen if you were in a prolonged situation where you did not have the regular availability of a priest?  What would happen if even Sunday Mass was no longer accessible? 

Many of our brothers and sisters throughout the world experience these kinds of terrible situations.  One example can be found in the life of Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan.

Francis was a Catholic priest from Vietnam.  He became a bishop in 1975 and later was chosen to be a cardinal.  Only a few months after he became a bishop, he was arrested by the Vietnamese government and imprisoned for thirteen years.   Nine of those thirteen years were spent in solitary confinement! 

During the Jubilee Year 2000, Pope John Paul II invited the Cardinal Van Thuan to direct the annual Lenten spiritual exercises for himself and the Roman Curia.  The collection of meditations that were delivered make up an amazing book entitled Testimony of Hope.

In one of the meditations, Cardinal Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan movingly describes what it was like not to have the Eucharist readily available and what he had to do to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

"When I was arrested, I had to leave immediately with empty hands.  The next day, I was permitted to write to my people in order to ask for the most necessary things: clothes, toothpaste.I wrote, 'Please send me a little wine as medicine for my stomach ache.'  The faithful understood right away.

"They sent me a small bottle of wine for Mass with a label that read, 'medicine for stomachaches.'  They also sent some hosts, which they hid in a flashlight for protection against the humidity.  The police asked me, 'You have stomach aches?  Yes.  Here's some medicine for you.'

"I never will be able to express my great joy!  Every day, with three drops of wine and a drop of water in the palm of my hand, I would celebrate Mass.  This was my altar, and this was my cathedral!  It was true medicine for soul and body, 'Medicine of immortality, remedy so as not to die but to have life always in Jesus', as St. Ignatius of Antioch says."

-----

Father James Farfaglia is the Pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Corpus Christi, TX.  Check out Father's updated website to learn more about his books, homilies and audio podcasts."

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2014
Christmas, hope for humanity:
That the birth of the Redeemer may bring peace and hope to all people of good will.
Parents: That parents may be true evangelizers, passing on to their children the precious gift of faith.

Keywords: Fr. James Farfaglia, Lent, spirituality, prayer, Liturgy, Get Serious, Lent, Holy Thursday, The Mass, The Eucharist



NEWSLETTERS »

E-mail:       Zip Code: (ex. 90001)
Today's Headlines

Sign up for a roundup of the day's top stories. 5 days / week. See Sample

Rate This Article

Very Helpful Somewhat Helpful Not Helpful at All

Yes, I am Interested No, I am not Interested

Rate Article

1 - 4 of 4 Comments

  1. Lonny D'Agostini
    2 years ago

    In Canada we've been praying for over forty years for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, for a revival in religious practice, an end to abortion, etc. but nothing has happened. And nothing is going to happen until we start teaching the people to respect Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. ...............................

    In the 1967 ecclesial document Memorial Domini, the majority of bishops (64%) were opposed to communion in the hand. So what happened to that wisdom? Although not sacrilegious in and of itself, communion in the hand is not a fitting discipline for our times - for a society which has become exceedingly proud, complacent and casual in their attitude towards Almighty God. In her visions, Blessed Emmerich saw how Holy Communion was administered in the early Church and how these disciplines changed overtime, (May 30, 1820) "Jesus placed the morsels on a flat plate like a patena and, taking them one by one in His right hand, He communicated all present…in course of time whiter bread was used for the Blessed Sacrament, and the morsels were smaller. Even in the time of the Apostles, I saw St. Peter, at Jerusalem, giving only a morsel to communicants; at first it was square, but at a later period it was round…When men communicated, they received the Sacred Host in their hand and then swallowed It; but the women made use of a small linen cloth…In the early ages and afterwards at certain periods, I saw the faithful very enlightened, full of faith and simplicity; but later, I beheld them straying, misled, and persecuted. I saw the Church inspired by the Holy Spirit, introducing various changes in her discipline when devotion and veneration toward the Blessed Sacrament had grown weak." According to one German mystic, Maria Simma, this issue is so serious that the bishops who introduced Communion in the hand are condemned to remain in Purgatory until the day that it is forbidden in their dioceses. ...................................

    As Jesus told Luisa, (Libro di Cielo) "My daughter, how offended I am by priests! The superiors do not watch over my sacramental lot, and expose Me to enormous sacrileges." ....................................

    What sacrileges is Jesus speaking of? Here at home, I have seen people going up to receive Holy Communion who don’t have the slightest clue what they are doing. Some of them are talking, giggling and chewing gum - possibly even mingling it with the body of Christ. Others unknowingly trample their Eucharistic Lord underfoot - because of the small particles which have fallen from the hands of those who preceded them. Let’s be clear. These are not regrettable inevitabilities, these are total outrages which the angels would avenge, if given permission. Jesus is the most precious treasure we have in our churches and yet people treat Him as though He were less important than the garbage lying on the floor on the church. I know of cases where sacristans have found consecrated hosts inside hymnals and under kneelers. I’ve had to stop people who were carrying off Jesus in their hands - bound for goodness knows where. I've continue to see women showing up for Mass dressed inappropriately - flaunting their cleavage, legs and posterior for all to see. Such persons attempt to steal from God - and within His own sanctuary - the worship and attention which is reserved for Him alone. .........................................

    Other sacrileges are not so obvious. Like those who present themselves for communion in a state of mortal sin: blasphemers, practitioners of the occult, defectors of the faith, Sabbath breakers, revilers of parents, abusers of alcohol and drugs, promulgators of evil laws, defrauders of wages, murderers of the unborn, self-abusers, fornicators, users of pornography and contraception, adulterers, sodomites, thieves, pernicious liars and slanderers. Many show up week after week expecting to receive Holy Communion - entering the church with their own preconceived ideas on religion and morality - and whenever they hear something from the priest that they don’t agree with they simply bracket it. Others reluctantly file into the Communion line and receive simply to avoid the scrutinizing eyes of family or parishioners. How do these people hope to escape eternal damnation? (Hebrews 10:28) "A man making void the law of Moses dieth without any mercy under two or three witnesses: How much more, do you think he deserveth worse punishments, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God and have esteemed the blood of the testament unclean?" These dangerous pretenders are destroying the Church and their souls with their sacrilegious Communions. This is not behavior consistent with the children of God. This is behavior consistent with the children of Satan. If we have a serious fall we need to swallow our pride and go confession. Period. If we are not prepared to do that then we shouldn’t be going up to receive Holy Communion. ....................................

    Next are the heretics, the pagans and freemasons who either out of curiosity or malice slip into our communion lines in an attempt to steal that which does not belong to them. Of these our Lord said, (Matthew 7:6) “Give not that which is holy to dogs.” ...........................

    Lastly, are the late-comers who think they’re doing God a favor by showing up half way through the Mass (being more punctual and respectful for weddings and court appearances than with Divine appointments); the back standers who position themselves close to the exit so that they can bolt for the door as soon as the recessional hymn starts; many go to Sunday Mass only because they’re scared that something bad is going to happen to them if they don’t. O foolish people! How long do you think God is going to put up with your nonsense? ....................................

    And what are our leaders doing about this? In some cases, absolutely nothing. They have lots of time for unimportant things but for the most important things they have no time, (Libro di Cielo) "Ah! my sweet Jesus, instead of telling these things to me, go to the leaders, to the bishops; and they who have authority can manage to content You on this point...{Jesus:} My daughter...to the leaders, to the bishops? The poison of interest has invaded everyone, and since almost all of them are taken by this pestilential fever, they lack the courage to correct and to check those who depend on them. And then, I am not understood by those who are not stripped of everything and of everyone. My voice resounds very badly {harsh} to their hearing; even more, it seems an absurdity to them - something that is not appropriate for the human condition." .............................................

    Some leaders even reach the point where they try and hinder attempts to curbs these abuses. These are not true shepherds, they are hired hands who are simply presiding over the destruction of their churches, (John 10:11) "...the hireling...seeth the wolf coming and leaveth the sheep and flieth: and the wolf catcheth and scattereth the sheep." The prophet Isaiah calls them, (Isaiah 56:10) "dumb dogs not able to bark." They savor dignities and loathe confrontations. When informed of problems they simply turn a blind eye - yielding to human respect and to mammon (money). In them are to be found no deeds, only excuses. Of one thing I am absolutely certain: none of them would put up with the kind of abuse which they expect Jesus to receive in the Holy Eucharist. ...............................

    The Faith is almost extinguished among the peoples. The role of the Priest is to help the good to become better, the weak to become good and to kick out the wicked - telling them to come back when they’re ready to follow Christ. Anything else is from the evil one. ................................

    (Libro di Cielo) "when I allow that churches remain deserted, ministers dispersed, Masses reduced, it means that the sacrifices are offenses to Me, the prayers insults, the adorations irreverences, the confessions amusements, and without fruits. Therefore, no longer finding my glory, but rather, offenses, nor any good for them, since they are of no use to Me any more, I remove them."

  2. abey
    2 years ago

    One of the surest way of knowing whether one is a marker of Christ is that he becomes hated & accused, but to his innocence, true to the words of Jesus "They will hate you for my sake" 'cause the world hates the Truth, in the ignorance/arrogance of a Pilate who stands before the truth to ask "What is truth". If one wants to hear about Faith go among the pastors & if one wants to see Faith go among the poor, in the communion of the Holy Mass, to receive it, for that is where & how the Saints come, in the Faith that was once delivered unto them, to the continuation, a faith that is become rarer & dearer by the day.

  3. Mary
    2 years ago

    Father Farfaglia, thank you for your always inspiring and lovely, heartfelt writings so desperately needed in our world today. God is beaming! God bless you.

  4. Andrew
    2 years ago

    I have often thought about this fact, though it may be unecumenical. If you were to put together all the prayers (5x daily) and all the pilgrimages to Mecca of every Muslim from Muhammad to the present, and bundle these all up and offer them God, they would be of less value than one mass offered by a Catholic priest in the most ramshackle of churches.

Leave a Comment

Comments submitted must be civil, remain on-topic and not violate any laws including copyright. We reserve the right to delete any comments which are abusive, inappropriate or not constructive to the discussion.

Though we invite robust discussion, we reserve the right to not publish any comment which denigrates the human person, undermines marriage and the family, or advocates for positions which openly oppose the teaching of the Catholic Church.

This is a supervised forum and the Editors of Catholic Online retain the right to direct it.

We also reserve the right to block any commenter for repeated violations. Your email address is required to post, but it will not be published on the site.

We ask that you NOT post your comment more than once. Catholic Online is growing and our ability to review all comments sometimes results in a delay in their publication.

Send me important information from Catholic Online and it's partners. See Sample

Post Comment

More Easter / Lent

'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead' - Luke 24:46

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption. continue reading


Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four canonical Gospels. (Mark 11:1.11, Matthew 21:1.11, Luke 19:28.44, and John 12:12.19) ... continue reading


Holy Week

On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the first joy of the season, as we celebrate Our Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcomed by crowds worshiping him and laying down palm leaves before him. It also marks the beginning of Holy Week... continue reading


Holy Thursday

HOLY THURSDAY is the most complex and profound of all religious observances. It celebrates his last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover ... continue reading


Good Friday

On Good Friday, each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Holy Week we unite ourselves to our Savior, and we contemplate our own death to sin in the Death of our Lord ... continue reading


Easter Sunday

Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I (Sermo xlvii in Exodum) calls it the greatest feast (festum festorum), and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter. It is the centre of the greater part of the ecclesiastical year ... continue reading


Fasting and Abstinence

For most people the easiest practice to consistently fulfill will be the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the United States as elsewhere. Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed (Lk. 5:35). continue reading


FAQs About Lent

Everything answered from when does lent end, ashes, giving something up, stations of the cross and blessed palms. The key to understanding the meaning of Lent is simple: Baptism... continue reading


Stations of the Cross

Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion. First Station: Jesus is condemned to death... pray the stations now


What did you give up for Lent?

What did you give up for Lent?

From the humorous to the bizarre, people have had interesting Lenten experiences. Tell us about what you are going to give up for this Lenten Year.
What others gave up »

Lent / Easter News

  • 5th Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion
    Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014

    This Sorrowful pilgrimage now brings me here to this lonely hill. All the agony, the beatings and the bleeding have led me somewhere I do not want to go; somewhere I resist going with all my ...Continue Reading

  • 4th Sorrowful Mystery: The Carrying of the Cross
    Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014

    I wonder if perhaps it was tempting for Jesus to just lie down on the dirt road and die right there. Completely sapped of strength and in agonizing pain, I wonder if He was tempted by the ...Continue Reading

  • 3rd Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning with Thorns
    Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014

    Humiliation, in one form or another, is part of the package.  It is only avoidable if we decide to deny Christ. WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) - 3rd Sorrowful Mystery:  The Crowning ...Continue Reading

  • Good Friday Reflection on the Nature of Sin
    Michael Terheyden - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014

    The Passion of Christ represents the most atrocious miscarriage of justice in all of human history. So when we come face to face with the crucified Christ on Good Friday, it is only natural for us to ...Continue Reading

Good Friday

  • Good Friday

    On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption.

    The Cross

    In the symbol of the Cross we can see the magnitude of the human tragedy, the ravages of original sin, and the infinite love of God. Learn More

Ash Wednesday

  • Ash Wednesday

    Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.

    The Ashes

    The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. Learn More

Stations of the Cross

  • Stations of the Cross

    Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion.

    Opening Prayer

    ACT OF CONTRITION. O my God, my Redeemer, behold me here at Thy feet. From the bottom of my heart... Pray the Stations

Fasting & Abstinence

  • 'Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed' Lk. 5:35

    Abstinence. The law of abstinence requires a Catholic 14 years of age until death to abstain from eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted.

    Fasting. The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday (Canon 97) to the 59th Birthday (i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday) to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal.
    Learn More »


Newsletter Sign Up

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Samuel 1:24-28
When she had weaned him, she took him up with her, as well as a ... Read More

Psalm, First Samuel 2:1, 4-5, 6-7, 8
Hannah then prayed as follows: My heart exults in Yahweh, in my ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 1:46-56
And Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and ... Read More

Saint of the Day

December 22 Saint of the Day

St. Chaeromon
December 22: Bishop of Nilopolis, in Egypt. When the persecution was ... Read More