The value of a single Mass


#1

Hi everyone,

I remember hearing before that a single Mass has infinite value, and is the most powerful prayer you can offer for anyone.
Is it true that it has infinite value?
If so, why is a Mass offered for someone not always efficacious (in terms of granting them grace of conversion etc)?
And why the tradition of thirty Gregorian masses?

Thanks for any insight offered.


#2

Because our receptivity of the graces of the Mass is limited. By that I mean our ability to receive the graces of the Mass is limited.


#3

[quote="YoungTradCath, post:2, topic:309488"]
Because our receptivity of the graces of the Mass is limited. By that I mean our ability to receive the graces of the Mass is limited.

[/quote]

Thumbs up for the perfect reply!

And yes, the value of a single Holy Mass is infinite, actually it is more than that: it is not quantifiable, it is ineffable. All of heaven is present at Mass, and the praise offered to God is equally infinite: for it is Christ Himself who celebrates the Mass and is offered in the Mass:

Therefore the Father loves me: because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No man takes my life away from me: but I lay it down of myself, and I have power to lay it down: and I have power to take it up again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

The Eucharist, this great mystery, this inconceivable act of love!

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-_VevB9vAvUg/UC00-gDhu9I/AAAAAAAAD1Q/dsWB_N-7rK0/s1600/Holy+Mass.jpg

(17th century painting by Juan Carreno de Miranda)


#4

Thank you for your responses -- so heartwarming.


#5

Holy Mass is indeed of infinite value as it is the continuation and renewal of that made on Calvary with the difference of being unbloody. A quote from The Hidden Treasure by St. Leonard of Port Maurice regarding the application of the graces of Holy Masses:

You will, perhaps, say to me, “it suffices, then, to hear one single Mass to strike off the heaviest debts due to God through many committed sins, because Mass being of infinite value, we can therewith pay to God an infinite satisfaction”. Not so fast! by your leave: because though indeed Mass is of infinite value, you must know, nevertheless, that Almighty God accepts it in a manner limited and finite, and in degrees conformable to the greater or less perfection in the dispositions of him who celebrates or who assists at the Sacrifice. “Quorum tibi fides cognita est, et nota devotio,” says Holy Church, in the Canon of Mass, suggesting by this method of speech that which the great teachers expressly lay down, (Lug. dist. 9, num 103,) to wit, that the great or less satisfaction applied in our behalf by the Sacrifice, becomes determined by the higher or lower dispositions of the celebrant or of the assistants, as just now mentioned.

The devotion exercised during the Holy Mass is so important that St. Leonard claims having one devout Mass is better than fifty less so.


#6

Thank you all for your replies. Together they have helped me gain a clearer understanding, particularly the St Leonard quote.

Here’s a few follow on questions:
Would one devout Gregorian Mass account for 30?
Does the value of the Mass offered depend on the priest and the congregation together? For example, if a priest was not displaying a strong level of devotion during the Mass, does that have a detrimental effect on the prayer value of that Mass regardless of the devotion of the congregation, and vice versa?
Can a Mass be offered for several people and be as efficacious for each individually as it would be if it were offered for one?

Thanks,

Contardo


#7

Would one devout Gregorian Mass account for 30?

Can a Mass be offered for several people and be as efficacious for each individually as it would be if it were offered for one?

I was unable to find direct answers to these two questions. St. Leonard gives an example of a very efficacious Holy Mass by saying that “through one single Mass, attended with singularly perfect devotion, it might possibly happen that the justice of God would remain satisfied for all the transgressions of some great sinner.” With this and the notion about the fifty Masses it seems probable that one Holy Mass can profit a group of persons more individually than another Mass benefit one person, especially if the former Mass is very devout and the applied group not too large. Likewise one Mass might be more powerful than a series of others. As with the Sacraments mathematical precision can be hard to reach while devotion definitely matters.

The Hidden Treasure:

“And truly, while I exhort you to the best of my knowledge and power to attend many Masses, I yet admonish you to have far more regard to devotion in hearing, than to the number heard; because, if you shall have more devotion in one single Mass than another man in fifty, you will give more honour to God in that single Mass, and you will extract from it greater fruit, in the way called ex opere operato, than that other with all his fifty.”

Summa Theologica (III:79:5):

“But in so far as it is a sacrifice, it has a satisfactory power. Yet in satisfaction, the affection of the offerer is weighed rather than the quantity of the offering. Hence our Lord says (Mark 12:43; cf. Luke 21:4) of the widow who offered “two mites” that she “cast in more than all.” Therefore, although this offering suffices of its own quantity to satisfy for all punishment, yet it becomes satisfactory for them for whom it is offered, or even for the offerers, according to the measure of their devotion, and not for the whole punishment.”

Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma by Ludvig Ott:

“As the Sacrifice of the Mass does not work mechanically any more than the Sacraments, the receiving of the fruits of the Sacrifice demands certain due moral dispositions, and the measure of the fruits received is dependent on the quality of these dispositions (cf. D 799).”*

Does the value of the Mass offered depend on the priest and the congregation together? For example, if a priest was not displaying a strong level of devotion during the Mass, does that have a detrimental effect on the prayer value of that Mass regardless of the devotion of the congregation, and vice versa?

Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma makes three distinctions as to the efficacy of the Mass:

“a) As the self-sacrifice of Christ, the sacrifice of the Mass works quasi ex opere operato, that is, independently of the moral worthiness of the celebrating priest and the co-sacrificing faithful. The Council of Trent declared: “This is that clean oblation (Mal. I, II) which no unworthiness or turpitude of those who offer it can stain.” D 939.
b) As a sacrifice of the Church the sacrifice of the Mass works quasi ex opere operato, because the Church, as the Holy and immaculate Bride of Christ (Eph. 5, 25 et seq.), is always pleasing to God.
c) As a sacrifice of the celebrating priest and of the co-sacrificing faithful the sacrifice of the Mass, like every good work, works ex opere operantis corresponding to the intensity of their personal moral disposition. S. th III 82, 6.”

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia both the active participation of the celebrant and of the congregation are relevant:

*"With Christ and His Church is associated in third place the celebrating priest, since he is the representative through whom the real and the mystical Christ offer up the sacrifice. If, therefore, the celebrant be a man of great personal devotion, holiness, and purity, there will accrue an additional fruit which will benefit not himself alone, but also those in whose favour he applies the Mass. The faithful are thus guided by sound instinct when they prefer to have Mass celebrated for their intentions by an upright and holy priest rather than by an unworthy one, since, in addition to the chief fruit of the Mass, they secure this special fruit which springs ex opera operantis, from the piety of the celebrant.

Finally, in the fourth place, must be mentioned those who participate actively in the Sacrifice of the Mass, e.g., the servers, sacristan, organist, singers, and the whole congregation joining in the sacrifice. The priest, therefore, prays also in their name: Offerimus (i.e. we offer). That the effect resulting from this (metaphorical) sacrificial activity is entirely dependent on the worthiness and piety of those taking part therein and thus results exclusively ex opere operantis is evident without further demonstration. The more fervent the prayer, the richer the fruit. Most intimate is the active participation in the Sacrifice of those who receive Holy Communion during the Mass since in their case the special fruits of the Communion are added to those of the Mass.*

St. Leonard follows similar line in The Hidden Treasure:

“It is true, according to St Thomas (3 p. qu. 82. a. 6.) that all the sacrifices are, as sacraments, equal in rank; but they are not, therefore, equal in the effects resulting from them; when the greater the actual or habitual piety of the celebrant, so much the greater will be the fruit of the application of the Mass; so that not to recognize the difference between a tepid and devout Priest in respect to the efficacy of his Mass, will be simply not to heed whether the net with which you fish be small or great. The same reasoning applies in regard to those attending the Mass.”


#8

Thank you very much for such a considered reply. Very helpful.
God bless :)


#9

on the feast of all souls.. we at church had written the names of our loved ones and the prayers offered as a collective community in mass was said by the priest leading to be more powerful than hundreds perhaps even thousands of rosaries, i find truth in this because of the magnitutde , the devotion, the number or people, the collective mind, and the fact that christ is present amongst


#10

The Saints associate numerous special graces to the practice of attending the Holy Mass with devotion. St. Gregory the Greats says attendants are freed from both seen and unseen evils and dangers while St Augustine tells that by all possible devotion at Mass we are preserved from sudden death. According to a Revelation of Christ to St. Gertrude we receive a Saint to comfort us at death for each Mass we hear with devotion and a Revelation to St. Mechtilde relates that habitually hearing the Holy Mass with devotion merits the presence and protection of the Angels and Saints at death. St. Leonard writes that the Mass brings down repentance for sins, victory over temptations, aid of grace, holy inspirations and temporal blessings. Cf. The Power of the Mass


#11

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