§ 38. High Mass of Requiem.
208. When the Holy Sacrifice is celebrated in the form of a High Mass, the fruit which comes to it by the prayers of the Church is increased. For the greater the solemnity with which the Church celebrates Holy Mass for the glory of God, the more pleasing to God and the more efficient is her prayer. Therefore she calls a greater number of persons to aid in the celebration of the sacred mystery, and invites all nature to implore God for the relief of the Suffering Souls. The three children in the fiery furnace (Daniel 111.) invited all creatures, water, fire, heat, cold, light and darkness, hills and valleys, seas and rivers, etc., to bless the Lord. The soul of man honors God by sentiments of faith, hope, charity, humility, gratitude, submission, etc.; and it is the office of the body to express these sentiments by its attitudes, because the human body is the king of material creation formed by the Almighty's own hand. "And God created man to His own image." (Gen. 1. 27.) In man's body all material creation, so to say, does homage to God. This the Church acknowledges to the fullest extent. Hence she first sanctifies all nature, and then employs it for her purposes. At a solemn Mass the external accessories are of much greater splendor than at a private Mass.
209. At solemn High Mass the Church employs a greater number of ministering officials : deacon, sub-deacon, acolytes; she employs more precious vestments and sacred vessels; the number of lighted candles is greater; there are incensations, singing and ringing of bells. All these accessories are for the greater glory of God, and to increase the devotion of the faithful. Hence the Church accords special privileges to the solemn High Mass of Requiem, so that it can be celebrated every day except on Sundays and higher feasts.—How wise and compassionate is Holy Mother Church! Imitating our Divine Savior she makes animate and inanimate creation serve her purposes. Jesus Christ sanctifies water in the name of the Triune God thereby to make us heirs of heaven; He makes use of bread, wine, oil, etc., in the holy sacraments to confer on us the graces of salvation. In the same manner Holy Church blesses and uses water, salt, incense, vestments, bells, etc., to make us share in the treasury of grace entrusted to her by Christ. Whosoever regards Christ as his Redeemer must needs have a firm faith in His infallible Church and cherish all her ordinances. Hence St. Cyprian aptly says, " Whosoever has not the Church for his Mother cannot have God for his Father."—How sacred then must be the rites which the Church employs in the celebration of the august Sacrifice for the Suffering Souls, who were her faithful children on earth!
210. Christ delivered Himself substantially to His Church, not only to be her Oblation, but also that she might be able to offer herself in and with this Oblation of infinite value. She does this by living the whole life of Jesus Christ, in intimate union with this Oblation, through the entire course of every, year. Guided by the Holy Ghost, she is intent on giving due expression to her faith by this Oblation as well as by her whole cult; and therefore she watches jealously oyer its purity. Hence the more solemn the ecclesiatical service, the more valuable and effective is the Sacrifice. This is demonstrated by the learned Pasqualigo. He answers the question whether a solemn and a private Mass are of the same value with reference to the Suffering Souls as follows:
"It must be admitted, first, that a solemn Mass in its character as a Sacrifice of impetration is more effective than a private one for the person for whom the Sacrifice is. offered—offered as it is by the Church.
" It must be admitted, secondly, that a solemn Mass, offered by the Church as a Sacrifice of atonement for any individual, is more effective than a private Mass.
"It must be admitted, thirdly, that the Sacrifice solemnly offered is more effective than a private Mass in virtue of its own efficacy, as also in its character of a Sacrifice of propitiation, atonement and impetration.''
In explanation of the last observation Pasqualigo adds that since Christ has left the Sacrifice to the Church for the purpose of applying the fruits of His passion to the souls of men, its solemn oblation must in equity be productive of more abundant fruits.
211. Hence the greater the solemnity with which Holy Mass is celebrated, the more enhanced the majesty of the august Sacrifice becomes; and the greater is also the glory it gives to God, the more abundant are its blessings for the Church by whom it is offered. That fruit of Holy Mass which grows out of its own efficacy is the surest and most abundant, it is the essential and special fruit of the Sacrifice, because the value and efficacy of Holy Mass depend solely on the divine character of Christ and on the infinite merits of His Sacrifice on the cross. But in order that the faithful may have a greater share in this fruit of the Sacrifice, the Church surrounds Holy Mass with the greatest solemnity possible; she adorns it with expressive ceremonies and sends her prayer to heaven in suppliant chant. These accessories are not aimless, nor without signification; they are not made use of for the purpose of doing honor to man : they have a true value of their own. What incongruous ideas so many Catholics entertain concerning the solemnity of divine service! The increased ceremonial, the solemn Mass is not instituted for the entertainment of the congregation, or to foster the ambition of individuals, but for the purpose of moving God more effectually to grant the graces we implore; or in other words, to render the supplications and petitions of the Church more effectual.
212. Everything pertaining to faith and to the service of God, even the minutest detail, usage and custom, was regarded by the Venerable Catherine Emmerich as most sacred. She remarked, "Nothing is mere ceremony; all is essence and efficacy manifested by signs. All that is performed by the Church, even though her ministers through human frailty may be actuated by profane motives, is performed by the direction of the Holy Ghost. Animated confidence joined with simplicity changes everything into essence and substance.''
St. Mechtildis often saw saintly Sisters of her convent released from Purgatory after the first Mass celebrated for them. Sometimes she beheld Christ, the Blessed Virgin and numerous other saints surrounding the altar and offering up their merits. Some souls are privileged to assist at the Mass said for their release, and then go directly to heaven.