Back on the 4th we celebrated the memorial of St John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests, who lived in France from 1786 until 1859. He was the pastor of St Sixtus Parish in Ars-Sur-Furmans, France, where his incorrupt body is entombed above an Altar. He is known for his homilies and catechetical teachings that transformed his parish.
Today his small parish church is a basilica and pilgrimage site. St John Vianney taught the following about the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass: “All the good works in the world are not equal to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because they are the works of men; but the Mass is the work of God. Martyrdom is nothing in comparison for it is but the sacrifice of man to God; but the Mass is the sacrifice of God for man.” The current Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) looks to this truth by calling worship “the work of the Holy Trinity.” As I have stressed over and over, worship of God is less about what we do and more about what God does for us. The Second Vatican Council spoke of this in its first document, Sacrosanctum Concilium, when it said, “In the earthly liturgy, we take part in a foretaste of that heavenly liturgy which is celebrated in the Holy City of Jerusalem toward which we journey as pilgrims, where Christ is sitting at the right of God...” (SC 8). So every time the Holy Mass is offered, those present are drawn up outside of space and time and into the Heavenly abode of God, where we are all destined to live with Him at the end of time.
Sadly, though, in modern times we have come to put so much focus on what we are doing at Mass as opposed to what God is doing for us. Is the music energetic enough? Is Father’s homily worth a darn? Can we see his face? But at the end of the day, none of this matters. Certainly none of it measures up in comparison to the grace of God—His divine life that He infuses in us by our reception of the various Sacraments through the Church’s public worship.
A common name for all of the public worship of the Catholic Church is “Liturgy.” The word “liturgy” comes from the Greek composite word leitourgia, which means “public work” or a “service in the name of/on behalf of the people.” Truly the sacred liturgical worship of the Catholic Church fits those definitions since it is through our liturgical worship that “Christ, our redeemer and high priest, continues the work of our redemption in, with, and through His Church” (CCC 1069). So even though we offer our “Liturgies” on behalf of society, it really is not our work that we are accomplishing. Rather, it is God’s work as He has given it to us through His Church, so as to bring His Kingdom to life on Earth.
When we consider the Holy Mass (and all the Church’s public worship, including weddings and baptisms) in this light, we see that nothing compares to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because it is the work of God.
Fr. Scott and Fr. Mark plan to trade months in offering a weekly reflection or catechesis in our future bulletins. Be sure to check out what they have to share!
Spiritual Leader: Fr. Scott Thomas – Group Leader: Erica Unz, DHS
May 3 - 12, 2021
Make your way through the Holy Land to experience Him, follow in His footsteps, and see Him in the works He performed - your footsteps will become His. Celebrate votive Masses in the very places where these miraculous gifts became pages in the Gospel. See where He was back then, and feel how He is still there today!
For more information visit Father Scott's webpage.